I grew up in a very religious family that was, to state things mildly, a little obsessed about "the End Times." Being constantly immersed in a cultureI grew up in a very religious family that was, to state things mildly, a little obsessed about "the End Times." Being constantly immersed in a culture of anticipating the Apocalypse with glee did something of a number on my head, a trauma which even well into my skeptical and atheistic adulthood can sometimes still rear up and give me a case of the cold sweats or worse. That's why it took me four months to finish this book: because it's so vividly written that I found myself having to put it down again and again and give myself long breaks, or risk a long string of debilitating panic attacks.
Adams creates a plausible and frightening near-future world in which humans have become...no longer human. Or most of them. I don't want to spoil it for you. And through this non-human world, one woman and her companions move and try to retain their human-ness in the face of some terrifying and bizarre circumstances.
It's gorgeously written, combining the best aspects of literary and science fiction into one delectable wordfeast. But it's not all about the words, either. The book moves at a tight pace, pulling the reader along (unless she has to take forced sanity breaks for her own good.) A less traumatized reader could easily find herself totally unable to put this one down. I had to really be mindful of my mental health as I read, and shut the book away where I couldn't find it until my overheated noggin could cool off and stop panicking.
As you may expect, I don't read a lot of Apocalyptic or Dystopian fiction. Two I have read and loved were The Road and The Hunger Games. While White Horse really isn't in the same realm as The Hunger Games (it is decidedly adult, not YA, and it's less reliant on action and more on inner struggles...though don't get me wrong, there is plenty of outside action for protagonist Zoe and her companions to face), it ought to appeal strongly to adult fans of Suzanne Collins' series. It is much more comparable to The Road in its believable and vivid portrait of society falling apart, but unlike The Road, it has, thank god, an ending full up uplifting promise, leaving the reader eager for more (and more is forthcoming.) ...more
Fast-paced, inventive, with a plausible use of real science, The Games is an exciting and fun read. Kosmatka's writing in this novel is sturdy and comFast-paced, inventive, with a plausible use of real science, The Games is an exciting and fun read. Kosmatka's writing in this novel is sturdy and competent and straightforward, and that's the reason for a three-star review instead of a four or five. I'm a big fan of the author's short fiction, which flawlessly blends hard science with intensely emotional, gorgeous prose and literary-style character depth. I was hoping for an entire novel of that kind of writing in The Games, but instead I got a sci-fi action book...a good sci-fi action book, for sure, but not the kind of thing I usually come back to read over and over again.
It's a fun book, with some cool monsters and a great, fresh premise. Worth reading!
Even more worth reading are Ted Kosmatka's short stories. Hunt them down wherever you can. They're amazing....more
Five stars for amazing writing. Didn't finish because it depressed the hell out of me and eventually I couldn't function from the downer-ness of thisFive stars for amazing writing. Didn't finish because it depressed the hell out of me and eventually I couldn't function from the downer-ness of this book (and its vividness.) Had to quit early. Still don't know how it ends....more
I just finished my third or fourth re-read of this book, and it occurred to me that I still haven't reviewed it. What a crime! Because this is one ofI just finished my third or fourth re-read of this book, and it occurred to me that I still haven't reviewed it. What a crime! Because this is one of the finest novels in the sci-fi genre, and one of the best books I've read of any genre.
Orson Scott Card's writings from early in his career -- say, everything from Ender's Shadow and earlier -- are really amazing works. Whatever you may feel about him as a person, given his (in my opinion) odious political views, it's hard to deny that early on, he was a superlative writer. His work is emotionally deep, lyrically written without ever turning purple, and absolutely haunting in theme and imagery. In his younger days he also took more risks with theme and plot, writing books that walked the very fine line between disturbing and unforgettably brilliant on the tips of their toes. Back then, Card's stories meant more because they delved into parts of the human experience where we often fear to tread, pushing us past the artificial boundaries of propriety and tradition.
Wyrms is one such book. In a bold move for a very religious author, this novel explores the nature of "God." And the nature of god which Card presents, in the end, is something entirely unexpected from the pen of a very religious author. As an atheist, I appreciated the intellectual honesty of Card's exploration. As a human being, I loved the uplifting nature of the book's ultimate message.
But you shouldn't be led to believe by this review that Wyrms is a feel-good novel. Card weaves a dark, strange atmosphere where religious zealotry and racial prejudice are serious threats to the central characters. The main character, Patience, bred by an unseen, unknown being to fulfill a prophecy of sorts, is hardly more than a child but is already trained as a "diplomat," which in this book really means "assassin," and Patience is often quite callous about her duties. She is not a perfect main character, not by a long shot -- which only underscores the strangeness of the book's central prophecy. As she moves along her path to fulfill the prophecy -- or not fulfill it; the reader is never quite sure which way she'll swing until the climactic scene ultimately comes, very late in the novel -- Patience travels through a world that merges old-fashioned sci-fi weirdness with images that seem more haunting for their contemporary treatment.
Card creates an umber-hued world of alien strangeness into which the reader cannot help immersing herself. Once you have read this book its central message and its intensely dark imagery will never leave you. Highly recommended....more
Well, it's been about three months since I started this book. I got about halfway through it before I "took a break," and I think at this point it's cWell, it's been about three months since I started this book. I got about halfway through it before I "took a break," and I think at this point it's clear that the break will be permanent.
This book was very highly recommended to me by many friends, and I can see the strong attraction to it. When I read the prologue, which was gorgeously written and very intriguing, I thought, "THIS! IS! AWESOME!!" and I was thrilled at the prospect of having a huge, nearly-500-page epic space opera full of delicious imagery and beautiful language to plow through. I love that crap. It's what I live for as a reader.
However, the more I read the more disjointed this novel felt, and not in a good, artsy-fartsy way. I understand well that Vinge chose separate voices for his varying POV characters -- I had no beef with Jefri's narration, for example, being more simplistic, since Jefri is an eight-year-old kid. But Ravna's narration was so bad as to be torture to read. Vinge's repeated use of qualifying descriptions rather than just using a character's name grated on my nerves. The prime example, and I paraphrase, was the way he'd repeatedly refer to Pham (via Ravna's POV) as "the redhead" or similar descriptors. JUST CALL HIM PHAM. JEEBUS.
Narration in third-person perspective is the equivalent of a POV character's thoughts, but with the "camera" pulled back to some distance. The problem with Vinge's narrative choices was a serious lack of believability. People don't think that way. Refer to a stranger or a newly introduced character as "the redhead" all you want (within reason, for the love of god), but once your narrator knows that character well -- and has even slept with him -- to continue to refer to him with "stranger descriptors" is just weird and distracting.
Ravna's narrative stretches were crammed with these unlikely narrative quirks. I came to dread her parts of the novel so much that I ultimately couldn't bring myself to continue. Ravna just pissed me off too much.
Comparing Ravna's narrative to the ecstatically lovely narrative in the prologue -- when the unknown being is making its escape -- and even to the highly skilled narrative of the Tines, with their unusual physiology and their very non-human approach to sensory detail, made me feel as if this book was written by two different authors, one of them FAR more skilled than the other. The fine-honed craft shown in the Tines' narration is admirable and worthy of study -- in fact, I have already given this novel a strong recommendation to more than one author who's wondered how to write convincingly in an animal's POV. The lack of craft in Ravna's scenes is frustratingly reminiscent of beating one's head against a brick wall, or of reading fanfiction -- take your pick.
I'm in the middle of the road with this book. I didn't finish it because of its odd narrative schizophrenia, but I admire it for its isolated patches of sheer brilliance. If only the jarring parts were less jarring, this one would probably find its way onto my to-read-again shelf.
Ahh, Dune. Where to begin? What can I even say about this masterpiece among all genres?
Dune isn't a book everyone will love. I wouldn't call it "accesAhh, Dune. Where to begin? What can I even say about this masterpiece among all genres?
Dune isn't a book everyone will love. I wouldn't call it "accessible." It's a dense read, and you need to pay close attention while you read it to pick up on all its intricacies. That can often be hard, because in my opinion the central character, Paul Atreides, is an insufferable little prick, and he never changes much throughout the novel, except to get more perfect, and therefore more pompous and annoying.
However, Dune's other features are more than ample compensation for the irksome nature of its main character.
The writing itself is stunningly gorgeous, prose worthy of any literary award. The other characters are delicately and subtly drawn, but so distinct from one another that you feel you are reading a well-written biography, not a work of fiction. And the story itself is one of those that is so true it crosses the boundaries of genre and resonates with any intelligent person who reads it. I think it's a particularly important book right now, given the impact terrorism has had on the world.
You should read Dune. Everybody should read Dune. Be prepared for a cerebral, often challenging read, but be prepared also to feel wiser and more responsible toward your planet and your community by the time you reach the last page....more