Coming of age, adventure, fantasy-road-trip, Neil Gaiman? Yes please. Not the heaviest book, and it would be perfect for younger kids were it not forComing of age, adventure, fantasy-road-trip, Neil Gaiman? Yes please. Not the heaviest book, and it would be perfect for younger kids were it not for one oddly explicit sex scene and an f bomb (but let them read it anyway).
I've heard that the movie is better. Those people are wrong....more
So, yeah, I'm an unabashed Chuck Wendig fan. He's so damn prolific it's hard to read things that aren't by him. Dinocalypse Now was a bit of a departuSo, yeah, I'm an unabashed Chuck Wendig fan. He's so damn prolific it's hard to read things that aren't by him. Dinocalypse Now was a bit of a departure for him, as there was no grit, no profanity. No uncomfortably specific descriptions of gore and violence.
Thankfully he gets right back into his old habits with Blackbirds.
I think I've finally found the book I'd recommend people start with if they want to check out Chuck Wendig. Irregular Creatures is good, but it's short stories and maybe weird Asian stripper demons aren't peoples' thing. Double Dead was fun, and I love the over-the-top premise of "a vampire has to fight zombies," but if someone were to roll their eye and say "Ugh. Zombies.", I'd understand.
Blackbirds still has everything I want but without some of the trappings that might turn others off. That's not to say that it's generic or cookie cutter in any way: Wendig just has a style, and I quite like it. ...more
Short chapters, high energy, never stopping. Chapter. Chapter. Chapter. Action. Never resting. Characters are goingThis book was like a Ramones album.
Short chapters, high energy, never stopping. Chapter. Chapter. Chapter. Action. Never resting. Characters are going to do something uninteresting for a minute? End chapter, switch to new characters, they're in the middle of an action scene. Run away from dinosaurs. Plan escape to Hawaii. Boat you're on explodes. Back in Hawaii. Now New York City. Boom boom boom.
It was actually sort of tiring to read, sometimes, but it kept me engaged. Plus, I mean, it's got psychic dinosaurs and an army of warrior apes. How can that not be exciting?
After reading A Feast for Crows and finding many of my favorite characters were missing, I was really looking forward to this book (and again, I readAfter reading A Feast for Crows and finding many of my favorite characters were missing, I was really looking forward to this book (and again, I read it after it had already come out, so there was none of that "waiting for six years" nonsense). In many ways it was fulfilling: lots of Tyrion, for one thing, and we get to find out the fate of another character.
This book and its predecessor were supposed to be one, initially, and had to be split up due to length. That shows: I think that taken together quite a lot happens, but given the sheer number of pages together not nearly as much as in A Storm of Swords. That's probably silly quibbling on my part; things don't need to go to hell in every book.
And yet once again Dany sits on her ass not doing anything for an entire book. She was my favorite character in the first and third books, but in the second and fifth she just does nothing. None of that empowered female that takes matters into her own hand; just sitting around letting her world go to hell.
Dorne is still a sticking point with me. I'm trying to see where he's going with that storyline, but in many ways I just can't. The ending of this book makes me question whether or not I trust Martin; but then, whenever I've thought that (Jon leaving the Watch, Bran and Rickon dying) I've been proven wrong. So my trust stays, but cautiously. I'm definitely looking forward to what happens next....more
"Oh my god, all those exciting events in A Storm of Swords! It's going to be so great reading the next book!"
"Meanwhile, in the middle of a desert...""Oh my god, all those exciting events in A Storm of Swords! It's going to be so great reading the next book!"
"Meanwhile, in the middle of a desert..."
I'm not hating on Dorne. Okay, maybe a little bit. Yanking Tyrion, Dany and Jon away from me and replacing them with a plot arc that wouldn't really get moving until the next book, though... at least I had Arya to keep me entertained. Plus you get a ton of insight into Jaime and Cersei.
This book is good! It's just not necessarily what you thought it would be. Similar to A Clash of Kings, there aren't really any world-changing revelations, but that's okay. I don't need a constant adrenaline drip. It seems the even numbered books contain the development that's harvested in the odd.
(I laughed at the note at the end, about how A Dance With Dragons would be out the next year. My wife waited six years for that book; I walked upstairs and picked it up when I was done with this one.)...more
I had mild criticisms for A Clash of Kings because it was less exciting than A Game of Thrones. Not so A Storm of Swords. In addition to more character development (and a welcome return to action for Dany), the last 100 pages at least are pure insanity. George R.R. Martin likes to set up a tower of blocks and then kick it over, laughing maniacally at you. Just when you think it's safe, that you know where the story is going, everything changes. I love not feeling secure that the characters I love are safe. Three books of character development? Screw that, they're dead. It's not chaos for chaos' sake, either: the deaths, murders and revelations progress the story forward, just not in the direction I was expecting. You know nothing, Jon Snow....more
It was good, though slower and not as exciting as A Game of Thrones. Which is okay: characters we had been introduced to were developed, and it was moIt was good, though slower and not as exciting as A Game of Thrones. Which is okay: characters we had been introduced to were developed, and it was more of an adventure than all-out insanity like in the first book. My only real complaint is Dany, who does absolutely nothing. She was one of my favorite characters, having grown into a strong woman/girl not content to be told what to do, but in Clash of Kings she mostly twiddles her thumbs. Small complaints, really, because Arya more than picks up the slack....more
It didn't try to tie in with the movie as much as the play did, which I was thankful for, but it still did try to fit around it more than I'd have likIt didn't try to tie in with the movie as much as the play did, which I was thankful for, but it still did try to fit around it more than I'd have liked. Many people disliked the ending 1/4 or so of the book, but I didn't see what the issue was. I liked it, but not necessarily enough to read the rest of the series....more
The second entry in a trilogy is often, in my opinion, the best. The author doesn't have to introduce the universe or the characters, as they did in tThe second entry in a trilogy is often, in my opinion, the best. The author doesn't have to introduce the universe or the characters, as they did in the first installment, but they don't need to worry about wrapping up all the plot points either. Instead, the focus can be on 'the good stuff': elaborating on the story, teasing us more, giving action, chopping off Luke's hand and so on. Instead of the good stuff, in The Subtle Knife I feel as though we've had a bait and switch pulled on us.
In The Golden Compass, we were treated to a rich alternate universe that had elements that were similar to our own, like some of the geopolitical structure, and elements that were entirely fantastical, like armored polar bears and witches. The Subtle Knife, however decides that most of this is insignificant and takes place almost entirely in different universes. It seems like Philip Pullman wanted to reel us in with fantasy before he could preach at us.
Some of these elements are expanded upon in The Amber Spyglass, which I'm currently reading, so forgive me if they don't all apply. I had heard before I started the series that they were 'about killing God.' This seemed highly unlikely, and was probably a knee-jerk reaction from people who heard it from other people who read a synopsis of the book, etc. But... no. Some of the main characters have decided to wage war on 'The Authority.'
Herein lies my main concern with the series as a whole: it's not (excuse the pun) subtle. I'm an agnostic, so these complaints don't come from someone insulted by the material, they come from someone unhappy by their handling. I love plots that put a spin on traditional religion (Waiting for the Galactic Bus, for example), but it seems like Pullman came up with a story involving a culture's religion and then decided to make it fit with the Judeo-Christian framework no matter how hard he had to push.
The concept of Dust is interesting. Adapting it to fit with concepts of physics in our world works because it uses something we only know a little about. Once you try to toss in angels and consciousness and so on (which is insulting in a children's book, as he's claiming that children are entirely self involved until puberty), though, it seems contrived and silly.
I may have been more willing to swallow his philosophy, such as it is, if there hadn't been a complete lack of the elements I liked in The Golden Compass: there were no Gyptians, there were no panserbjörne... they seem to make a reappearance in the final book of the series, but why spend so much time on their culture in the first book if you aren't going to include them in the second? (I know that the panserbjörne's culture is basically that of any warrior society, but they're still armored polar bears and the ten year old in me think that's awesome)
It's not so much that the book is bad, per se, though I do think it becomes too dark for the age group I initially thought it was written for. I just don't think Pullman is writing for the same reason I want to read: he wants to write religious commentary while I want to read fantasy....more
I made the mistake of seeing the movie first, which is never a good thing because then you run right out and buy the book and see how much better theI made the mistake of seeing the movie first, which is never a good thing because then you run right out and buy the book and see how much better the original version is. Which is, of course, what happened.
The more fantasy I read, the more I realize that I'm not under the spell of J.K. Rowling anymore. Harry Potter just isn't all that good. The world that Philip Pulman has created is simply wonderful: you feel the scope of it, both through actual travel between the different locales and through discussion of other cultures.
While children can certainly enjoy the book, there are some nonessential references that they probably won't get: it's not clearly stated until The Subtle Knife that the series is set in a parallel universe, but there are references made though most of the book that let adults know: the formation of nations never happened quite as it did in our universe, so Moscow is still independent, Texas is in New Denmark and the last Pope was John Calvin. It doesn't subtract from the experience if you don't know history as well as the author, but there are some amusing references inserted in the text.
My main complaint with the book, and I suspect with the series as a whole, is that Pullman isn't particularly subtle with his references to religion. The material itself doesn't offend me, but it feels as though I'm being hit over the head with anti-Catholic rhetoric. Thankfully, most of the book ignores the religious theme and delivers a solid fantasy tale (though it seems to be the focal point of the rest of the series). It seems as though the direct explanations could have been avoided and the reader left to figure out for themselves that religion is bad, the Church wants to control all information and crush dissenting viewpoints, ad nauseum. It's bland, unoriginal and not strictly true; give me more armored polar bears and less Ayn Rand style polemic.
On the whole, though, the book was an entertaining read. Portions may be a bit dark for younger readers, but the serious philosophy/physics discussions play a relatively small part....more