I think we're all familiar with the trend of YA trilogies that start out strong, and then kind of sputter to an end in the second or third books.
Wel I think we're all familiar with the trend of YA trilogies that start out strong, and then kind of sputter to an end in the second or third books.
Well, I'll give Dan Wells' Partials trilogy this: it ends stronger than it started.
I liked the first two books well enough, but I'll be honest: this last one is my favorite. (Probably. I think. I only hesitate because, for some reason, I really enjoyed the description of an abandoned, half-flooded Chicago in the middle of the second book.)
But I knew I liked this one when I found myself wandering around, the first couple of days after I finished it, thinking, "Man, I really want to read something moody and atmospheric and post-apocalyptic . . . why do I want to read something like that?" and then realized, "Oh! it's because I really enjoyed that Dan Wells book."
I wouldn't start with this one, but I would read the trilogy, if you're a fan of YA, sci-fi, and post-apocalyptic. This third book isn't just a third book so that there'll be a third book; it's a satisfying end to the whole series. And, given how hopeless the genre can be, it's a surprisingly uplifting end to the series, too. I don't want to spoil it, but I do really like the way he concluded the main technological problem of the book. It's an end that could have been downright cheesy if it hadn't felt so natural to the story he'd set up - so full props to him for being able to pull it off....more
“Steelheart” is the latest YA offering from Brandon Sanderson. I loved Sanderson’s “Legion”* and “The Emperor’s Soul”, so I was excited to read this o“Steelheart” is the latest YA offering from Brandon Sanderson. I loved Sanderson’s “Legion”* and “The Emperor’s Soul”, so I was excited to read this one.
In the world of “Steelheart”, superheroes have appeared, only they’re anything but heroic. Instead, they’re greedy and violent and they oppress ordinary citizens. David, our young protagonist, watched as his father was killed by one particular Epic (as these superhuman are called), and he’s dedicated his life to getting revenge.
Overall, I liked “Steelheart”. It didn’t quite rise to the level of Sanderson’s other work for me, but that might partly be due to the fact that I’m not the target audience, seeing as how I’m well out of my teens. The set-up felt a bit slow, but it really sped up at about the mid-point, and I enjoyed the last third of the book very much, racing through it to see how it was all going to turn out.
One of the interesting things about this book is that I enjoyed the adult characters far more than the younger characters. And I’m not sure this was a problem with Sanderson’s writing, in any sense. A lot of the character-related bits of the plot revolved around David’s inexperience and sort of one-sided view of the world (revenge is all he’s shaped himself around), and so it made sense that the adults around him, who’d already had a chance to grow and change in a way he hadn’t, were more layered and interesting. In fact, they served as excellent foils.
I’m also curious to see whether this series turns out to be sci-fi or whether it’s actually fantasy. I don’t think Sanderson’s shown his hand yet in that regard, and that intrigues me.
I would recommend this to anyone looking for a fast, fun trip through a well-imagined near-future world. I had fun trying to guess how it was all going to turn out, and was delighted to find out at the end that I’d guessed wrong, and that the author had thought out a much cooler ending than the one that had occurred to me....more
An enjoyable sequel to the post-apocalyptic YA novel "Partials", my favorite part of "Fragments" was the setting. After introducing us to the war-and-An enjoyable sequel to the post-apocalyptic YA novel "Partials", my favorite part of "Fragments" was the setting. After introducing us to the war-and-disease ravaged city of New York in the first book, Dan Wells dives even further into his world-building as we follow the heroine, Kira, on a desperate search across the abandoned and decayed United States.
I loved seeing both how consistent and how novel the world in this story was. Consistent, because all the destruction followed logically given the disasters of the plot, and novel because the disaster had affected all the different parts of the country in different ways. After being introduced to the looted and overgrown city of New York in the first book, this time we got to see the half-sunken city of Chicago and the acid-rain decayed metropolis of Denver and all the crazy countryside in between. Loved it!
In the beginning I didn't care as much about the mystery of the plot as the main characters did, which was too bad, but it was still interesting enough to push the story along, and it really picked up steam by the end. Meanwhile, I was enjoying the tour of the re-imagined United States too much to abandon the story. I think the third book will probably take us back to New York, but I have a kind of forlorn hope that for some reason the characters will have to cross the Pacific or Atlantic in order to find out the result of the plague on other continents. I'd love to see what Wells would do there....more
Sanderson's known for his huge, symphony-like epic fantasy, but this novella proves he can play a mean little jig too. He's doing about five differentSanderson's known for his huge, symphony-like epic fantasy, but this novella proves he can play a mean little jig too. He's doing about five different things at the same time in this novella - it's a mystery, it's a speculation on the nature of faith and science, it's a study of a fantastical psychological ailment, it's a sci-fi (or is it fantasy?), it's a character (characterS?) study - and it reads really, really fast.
It's just fun to read something so well-executed and engaging that you can gulp down in an hour - fast enough that you can hold all the different aspects of the story in front of your eyes at once and enjoy how well they play off each other....more
This was one of the most tightly-written, compelling books I've read in a good long while. Page-turning, riveting, interesting from beginning to end.
BThis was one of the most tightly-written, compelling books I've read in a good long while. Page-turning, riveting, interesting from beginning to end.
But I'm still not sure I'm glad I read it.
"World War Z" tells the story of a zombie pandemic and my favorite part of this book is the great detail with which Brook considers how such an event would affect different, wide-spread areas of the globe. It's an "Oral History" and so you get a picture of the catastrophic events through the words of many diverse characters and the picture that's painted is both horrific and fascinating.
The only reason I can give for disliking this book (other than the fact that I now have a few more dismaying mental pictures of violent death than I had before) is how oddly depressing it was, how empty it felt.
Some of that is just because there's so much violence, but when I got to the end, and asked myself, "so what was the point?", the only answer I could come up with was that the book was written to comfort.
Weird conclusion, I know, but look at it this way: how often have you thought, "what's the worse that could happen?" as a means to reassure yourself? I do it all the time. You ask, "what's the worse that could happen?" and then you imagine how you'd get through it. If you can imagine a happy ending to that question, well, then you're comforted. You think, "Even if X happened, I'd still have Y."
Brooks' novel seems to me to be saying, "Even if an unspeakable, global disaster happened, humanity would survive. Some of us would make it."
And I get that. But . . . I'm sorry, it didn't seem that comforting to me. There wasn't any transcendent hope and, frankly, once you've gotten used to the glorious hope of Christ, anything less strikes a duller note and can't quite satisfy.
I fully realize that Brooks probably doesn't share my beliefs, so this isn't a proper criticism, really. It's more like picking up an Amish romance and complaining there weren't enough vampires. :) I realize that and I don't want to come across as trashing a really excellently-executed novel. It totally succeeds on its own terms. This is just an explanation of why the part of the book that didn't work for me didn't, well, *work for me*. All the imaginative, detailed, fascinating, "what if" bits? Totally worked. Really spectacular book. I just didn't like the aftertaste....more
The reason I read this book is that it was described to me as "a YA/sci-fi version of Jane Austen's Persuasion". And I? Love both Jane Austen and scieThe reason I read this book is that it was described to me as "a YA/sci-fi version of Jane Austen's Persuasion". And I? Love both Jane Austen and science fiction.
"For Darkness Shows the Stars" didn't disappoint me.
Now, to be clear, I read this on vacation, when I was disposed to like everything I read just because I was so happy. (Being up in the Sierra Nevada will do that to me.) But I don't think I was too prejudiced.
Peterfreund did a good job of lifting the main interpersonal plot points of "Persuasion" and transporting them into a new world, all of her own building. (Though, I think I recognize New Zealand as the geographical basis for the post-apocalyptic landscape?) I did think it was a little odd that, even with the new belief system she develops for the denizens of her new world, that there is little trace of Christianity or any other major world religions post-disaster. I think beliefs are more persistent than that, so my credulity was strained at that point.
But I enjoyed reading about how she envisioned society re-stratifying itself after a disaster, and the way those who weren't satisfied with the new order subtly rebelled. And the way she named her characters was so fun. :)
My one last quibble was that I felt a bit cheated on the world-building. It's not that the world-building wasn't good - it was; in fact, it was fascinating. But I'm used to sci-fi or fantasy books where the authors explain it all by the end, and at the end of this book, the nature of the apocalypse was left unexplained.
That might be realistic - how often in real life to we get complete explanations for world events? - but as a reader, it left me unsatisfied.
However, two mitigating factors: 1) The romantic thread came full circle, and I found it satisfying. 2) Apparently, there's a sequel.
So, I'm hopeful that more of the nature of the apocalypse that caused the situation will be explained in the sequel. It's on my reading list, and I'm looking forward to getting it....more
A friend of mine complained recently about the passivity of YA heroines. My suggestion to her? Try "Partials" by Dan Wells.
I just finished this post-A friend of mine complained recently about the passivity of YA heroines. My suggestion to her? Try "Partials" by Dan Wells.
I just finished this post-apocalyptic novel - and yes, it's another post-apocalyptic YA novel, but it distinguishes itself from the pack by being *good*.
What's good about it? Well, to start, the proactive heroine. Kira's strongest characteristic is that she does what she thinks is right, even if it costs her. Does she always have enough information to choose the right thing? No, and that's why we have a plot. But I liked reading about a girl who was actively doing her best to fix the problems in front of her, and that without being idiotically headstrong either (she takes her time to think about things - at least when events give her time enough to do so).
The plot works too. The action and complications tick over nicely, and the main story has a satisfying resolution, while still leaving plenty of interesting questions for the sequel. The setting matters, but this isn't a book with a ton of sensory detail, it's more about character and action than about all-encompassing sensory immersion in the world.
I don't know what else to say . . . is this the book that's going to revolutionize literature? No. But it was just a thoroughly good read. I liked it a lot and I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next....more
Here is my theory - and if anyone besides me has noticed this, I haven't read about it, so it's just begging for a English term paper to be written onHere is my theory - and if anyone besides me has noticed this, I haven't read about it, so it's just begging for a English term paper to be written on it - I think that Lois McMaster Bujold's novella The Borders of Infinity is (among other things) a riff on Dante's Inferno.
Why? (Here there be spoilers. For both works.)
1. The Borders of Infinity opens with Miles Vorkosigan thinking, "How could I have died and gone to hell without noticing the transition?" Hell. Yes. That one word is part of my evidence. But, folks, it's the paragraph, and it sets the tone for the rest of the story. Miles is in Hell.
2. The prison camp is circular. So is Dante's Hell.
3. There are circles within the circles (see the women's section of the camp).
4. Miles has a literary (okay, at least literature-obsessed) guide. Yes, I am saying that Suegar=Virgil.
4a. You could argue that Oliver=Suegar. Okay, go ahead: convince me.
5. There is even someone running in circles. Yes, I know that sounds more like the Purgatorio than the Inferno, but, you know, it's still Dante.
6. BEATRICE LEADS HIM UP. Yes, I'm shouting. Yes, that's my biggest piece of evidence. (Term paper folks still with me? Okay, here's your paper topic: why does the Virgil figure go up in Bujold's version, while the Beatrice figure falls? Aaaa. Yes. Hmm.)
6a. If Beatrice is Beatrice, does that make Cordelia the Virgin Mary? C'mon, you can't argue that that's pretty much Cordelia's place in the Vorkosigan cosmology.
7. Just try to count the references to damnation (all the things the prisoners have done with and to each other), redemption, and sin. Just try.
8. What's the theme? The harrowing of hell. Yes it is. (Term paper people: is Miles a Christ figure? What does that mean for his relationship with his mother? Make sure you use the pond incident from Komarr in your answer. Also, reference his fourteen-shuttle-groups-for-the-fourteen-apostles statement.)
9. The saints (i.e., the Dendarii observers, Elena and Elli) are watching and listening to Dante's (Miles') prayers. (Term paper people: is this evidence against the thesis put forth in point 8?)
10. Suegar's scripture is from Pilgrim's Progress, about when the pilgrims finally make it to Heaven. HA! "HA!", I say.
Hee, hee, hee. Okay, that was so much fun.
What do you think? Did I make my point? More importantly, did I miss anything?...more
Great book! I think I read this one in under 24 hours - it certainly grabs the attention and holds it. It has the movement and ferocity of a Sharpe noGreat book! I think I read this one in under 24 hours - it certainly grabs the attention and holds it. It has the movement and ferocity of a Sharpe novel with the humanity of something by Asimov or Clarke. Looking forward to reading the sequels!...more
"After the Golden Age" by Carrie Vaughn has a logline as high concept as any movie's: what if your parents were super-heroes, but you were just a squi"After the Golden Age" by Carrie Vaughn has a logline as high concept as any movie's: what if your parents were super-heroes, but you were just a squib?
Celia West is the daughter of Captain Olympus and Spark, two superhumans who have saved their cities countless times over the years, but don't seem to know what to do with their ordinary human daughter.
The book starts, hilariously, with several kidnappings in a row; Celia is the constant target of villains who grab her in order to manipulate her parents. She's always fine, of course, because her parents always come to her rescue. But the constant hijinks make it difficult for her to pursue her own life, which includes a career as an accountant. Celia may be less flashy than her parents, but she pursues justice in her own quiet way, following the numbers and nabbing wrong-doers by finding out cases of tax fraud and other financial malfeasance.
I don't want to go much further into the plot or I'd start giving away the fun stuff, but suffice it to say that the rest of the plot is very fun - there's a super-villain and conniving politicians and a mind-altering ray gun, just to start - and I think anyone who enjoys superhero stories will enjoy this. Celia's not an anti-hero and this isn't superheroism gutted and rebuilt, but "After the Golden Age" definitely does tell the same old story from a new and intriguing point of view. And it includes a romantic subplot that I liked very much*.
I also found the end more moving than I expected, probably because it ended differently than I expected it to, and I'm still pondering the ideas about sacrifice and love that the climactic scene of the story provoked.
It's not meat and drink, like Lewis and Sayers, but it was a fun story, well-told. I'm definitely going to look for more by Carrie Vaughn, and I even quite hope she writes in this world again. There are characters here I'd like to see more of.
To copy Lars Walker's warning: this book contains adult situations and language.
*mild spoiler alert: the romance is not what you think it is when the book starts - though I guessed where it was going earlier than the author officially tipped her hand, which only added to the fun, for me....more