The story continues in the wonderful alternate universe created in the first book, with many of the same characters and plenty of new ones as well. Richard Burton is assigned another case to investigate: that of the Tichborne Claimant. This is an interesting bit of history even in our universe, but it becomes more exciting in the Albertian England where technology is advancing faster than even the tech-savvy can keep up with it and the supernatural is actually possible. Always entertaining, at times hilarious, and with multiple intriguing mysteries going at once, this book is a fantastic read. There are ingenious inventions and innovations, fascinating differences between this universe and ours, and wonderful characters anyone would love to read about. And since the story is full of actual historical figures and events, this book might possibly be even more fun for those who know a lot about the time period.
The writing is just as strong and funny in this second book book as it was in the first, although since the story takes place over a much longer stretch of time, there are periods and events that are skipped over in the telling, which was a bit disconcerting. Even so, I truly enjoyed every page of this book, and desperately hope there will be more in the series. I picked up the first one because the cover looked cool on the front and beautiful on the back--and I ended up with a new favorite author and a new favorite series! I can't say how excited these books make me without sounding like a teenage girl, but I genuinely do love this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who's read the first book.
Here are some of my favorite bits: The zombie rakes very politely trying to eat people (sadly, I didn't copy any of my favorite lines from this part, and I'm moving soon and have already packed the book away). Parakeet message:
"'Message from that dung-squeezer, Detective Inspector Trounce. Message begins. Word has reached me that you're back on your feet, you dirty shunt-knobbler. I'll call round at eight this evening. Message ends.'"
There are of course plenty of Oscar Wilde quotes:
"'Ah, well now, whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.'"
"'It seems to me that the only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.'"
"'Have you seen the news yourself, sir?' 'Not yet. I've had my nose in books.' 'Then you must be the exception that proves the rule, for I have it in mind that the difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read!'"
Herbert Spencer's philosophizing:
"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance--that principle is contempt prior to investigation; contempt carved from the immovable rock of faith."
"'It isn't possible to know if the reality you perceive is all there is. You can only deal with what you are cognizant of.'...'Knowledge is phenomenal?'...'We might only be aware of a small portion of reality, but it is reality nevertheless, so however we apprehend it, that apprehension has validity. Existence is, then, I posit, a continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations.'"
"Resistance to aggression is not simply justified, but imperative."
"In fact, I contend not only that anyone can do it, but that we all do! Destiny is not fixed. It is the ever-changing consequence of uncountable actions--actions undertaken by every single person of the face of the planet...even the most obscure, uneducated, unimaginative nobody can, and does, make a difference."
And one more parakeet:
"'I think I can safely predict that this attempt will be a great deal less traumatic than the last!' Pox let loose a terrific shriek: 'Bollocks!'"
What an unexpectedly amazing book! The title caught my eye, because I had just read some Norse mythology, so I picked it up hoping it would be a silly...moreWhat an unexpectedly amazing book! The title caught my eye, because I had just read some Norse mythology, so I picked it up hoping it would be a silly but fun read (and fearing it would be garbage). To my surprise, however, the story was epic, deep, moving, fascinating--and, yes, fun. The title, cover, and blurb on the back do not do any justice to the quality of the book, or accurately represent what it's about.
Ragnarok is approaching; the chain of events leading up to it were set in motion long ago. But Hermod, son of Odin, is worried that he's accidentally sped things up, and he doesn't really want that kind of responsibility. After all, he hasn't been to Asgard in thousands of years, and he hasn't kept in touch. Mist, meanwhile, has only been a Valkyrie for three months--since she and her sister were killed in a drive-by shooting--but she's already ready to take matters into her own hands and rescue her sister from Helheim and from Hel, the terrifying queen of the dead. Only one person has ever been to Helheim and back, and that's Hermod. Together, they just might be able to accomplish both goals...but destiny can be pretty hard to escape from.
They imagine the chain of events like a line of dominoes, and they want to figure out how to stop them all from being knocked over. So along with Mist's partner Grimnir and Hermod's dog Winston, and a few other people they meet along the way, they journey through Helheim and among the nine worlds that make up Yggdrasil, the world tree, looking for the piece to remove. But everything they do seems to topple yet another domino and bring them closer to Ragnarok.
The NorseCODE genome project is actually a great idea, and it might be fun to read a book or short story just about that, but it's only a very tiny part of this story. And that is not a complaint. The scope of this novel is so much greater than just a clever idea. Here we deal with destiny, with betrayal, with responsibility, with staying true to oneself, with love...Hel, there's a freaking apocalypse! There's also plenty of buttkicking and swords and even zombies, in the form of draugr, the shambling dead. There are also a lot of details and imagery from Norse mythology, which were done excellently. There are also some different and fascinating interpretations of aspects of some myths, which didn't detract from the originals in anyway, but made them more meaningful.
The characters in this story are mythic and legendary, but even though some of them are g-ds, they're so very human. There are many heroes, but there are also many characters that the heroes are fighting against, many of whom I would hesitate to call villians. After all, everyone already knows that Ragnarok will happen and what the result will be, and most know their own parts to play in it. If some are tired of waiting around for it, or have plans to make the best of it, does that really make them bad guys? This is one of the many interesting questions that this book raised in my mind.
I was really not expecting to like this much, but holy crap was it good. Great, actually. You have to get past the title--it's cute and clever, but it trivializes the book and it's almost completely unrelated to the plot--the cover, which is not a good representation of the epic-ness and the many heroes and POVs of the story, and the summary on the back, which is kind of misleading, and you'll find a real gem.
First line of the Prologue: "On the last true day of spring the nine world will ever know, my brother and I fly recon through the land of the g-ds. From this high up, Asgard shimmers. The shields that roof the timber halls glimmer like golden fish scales. It's all green grass and fluffy white sheep and fresh red blood. A very pretty scene." First line of Chapter One: "Only two hours into Mist's first job, things were already going badly. For one, the duct tape had come loose over the recruit's mouth, and he was screaming so loudly that Mist was sure he'd be heard through the walls of the van, even above the roar of Route 21 traffic."(less)
Quite possibly my favorite book ever. And maybe also the best. Of course I've thought each of those things about other books, but not always both abou...moreQuite possibly my favorite book ever. And maybe also the best. Of course I've thought each of those things about other books, but not always both about the same book. I can't imagine any kind of person who wouldn't enjoy Jane Eyre. Read it.(less)
This book is wonderful. The writing is excellent, and Malcolm X's life story is as amazing as anyone could imagine. Incredible highs and lows are vivi...moreThis book is wonderful. The writing is excellent, and Malcolm X's life story is as amazing as anyone could imagine. Incredible highs and lows are vividly portrayed (for me, one standout is the degradation of Malcolm having to rinse the chemicals out of his hair in toilet water--this incident makes me physically cringe and feel pain for him), and thrilling and fascinating episodes leave me marveling that one person could achieve and experience so much. Later in his life, as his understanding of humanity expands and deepens, my respect and admiration for him likewise grows. I can't adequately describe either the book or the way I feel about it.
I first read this for school, but as I was reading it I knew it was something that I'd truly appreciate and come back to over and over again.
This is a really interesting fantasy adventure that takes normal guy Richard Mayhew on a dangerous quest through the hidden and forgotten bits of Lond...moreThis is a really interesting fantasy adventure that takes normal guy Richard Mayhew on a dangerous quest through the hidden and forgotten bits of London with a number of mysterious, fascinating, creepy, and wonderful characters. There are twists and turns, celebrations, frustrations, tube maps, betrayals, and reunions, there is confusion, hilarity, oddness, violence, terror, and leather clothing. It's fun, interesting, exciting, scary, and satisfying.
Neverwhere is London in book form. While reading it, I almost felt I was back in London, walking the streets and seeing all the buildings and storefronts and landmarks that Neil Gaiman described so accurately and put so perfectly in their real places. (So perfectly, in fact, that I felt like he must have repeatedly walked the same blocks--particularly Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road--that I and many others walk(ed) all the time.) The familiarity and recognition his description of the city streets caused was powerful. And then to be introduced to the personified neighborhoods of the city! And to learn about the extent of the tube lines! These and a thousand other things in this book touched me deeply. Plus, I found out that you can sing the lyrics of one song to the tune of another, and sometimes it works really well.(less)