I liked that the violence between survivors, while still central to the story, wasn't overplayed. I think we're very desensitized by post-apocalypticI liked that the violence between survivors, while still central to the story, wasn't overplayed. I think we're very desensitized by post-apocalyptic raving bands of thugs and camps filled with psychopaths of varying natures.
I used to applaud novels that dealt with "WHAT HAPPENS AFTER" specifically - people living together and relying on one another for protection and resources, but who probably don't LIKE each other, and with all the variety of personal conflict that would ensue. Now I am just tired of watching what feels increasingly like reality television unfold in my favorite sub-genre, and my non-confrontational self feels like my "oh, of COURSE there's a giant asshole in the bunch, for no particular reason other than DRAMA" reaction is overworked.
On the other hand, I disliked somewhat the "everyone is tied together in some way in the end!" trope. I think that's quite overdone. But it was somewhat interesting that more than Arthur Leander tying everyone together, it was more the few comics written by a character long dead. I found myself forgetting about Arthur entirely, who was sort of likeable, but also not, and wishing Miranda had been the one who survived, or that there were more of her comics, or something... more, of her imagined world.
I guess that says more about the place of art in society, and memory, than a lot of the other details in this book. A long time from now I will forget what actually happened in this novel, but I'll remember Dr. Eleven and Station Eleven and the Undersea, and what I imagined they looked like. I wish I could see them but maybe it's better if I cannot. ...more
Much better than I expected. I would love to read this in a book group, or hopefully I can recommend this to a few friends to discuss.
I will admit thMuch better than I expected. I would love to read this in a book group, or hopefully I can recommend this to a few friends to discuss.
I will admit the story kinda creeped me out a bit in many places, because it made me think about how complacent I've become re: usage of tech gadgets in my life, games taking over free time I used to spend reading, being lazy in regards to writing - or even thinking in full sentences, or thoughtfully structured paragraphs. Also about just how much Google and a few other large conglomerates are are a part of EVERY part of my life.
I want to recommend this to a bunch of people to read. My first instinct was to "recommend" it on Goodreads. Now that I"m done reading, somehow, I think it will be more meaningful to bring it to someone's house in person, maybe with a short list of names, and instructing them to pass it along to whoever is next on the list. ...more
**spoiler alert** I've liked some of Jeannette Winterson's books in the past - most notably Oranges Aren't the Only Fruit and her more typically surre**spoiler alert** I've liked some of Jeannette Winterson's books in the past - most notably Oranges Aren't the Only Fruit and her more typically surreal (and admittedly a little schmaltzy) The Passion. There were some really interesting ideas in this book that were sort of shallowly explored. I love the idea of a 'Robo sapiens' - the first of its kind perhaps - falling in love for no particular reason. But there really was no particular reason, other than falling in love with the sort of main character is the easiest way to tell that story. But that whole story could have been so much more - not as a romance but as an exploration of humanity, and emotion, and who you allow yourself to have feelings for and uncanny divide type prejudices... but really it was just... shallow and frustrating. There was a bit of ... sort of time-hopping? or something going on that was honestly a little confusing. I mean, Winterson's sort of famous for that kind of stitching together of different perspectives in different times, but this one felt a little pat and over-reached. It reminded me a little of The Fountain, too, or something like that, with its attempt to almost reincarnate people "meant to be together" in different places and times. That's frankly something I've never liked, and am growing quite tired of - and that's when it's done in such a way that it makes sense. And some attempt was made, that for me at least totally failed, to connect these different time periods and different failing societies in history and different explorers 'discovering' new worlds to each other with some kind of metaphor - particularly something was going on in trying to reach for a larger metaphor with the title. I'm assuming the author was trying to reference what happened to the people on Easter Island when they realized they had doomed themselves with their overuse of resources, particularly to build their giant and now famous statues. But this attempt at meta just doesn't work. I get the idea, and the message... but, I really feel like this book could have been really interesting if it had just been written by someone else. Or perhaps if Winterson had tried to venture a little further away from her usual style of writing. Winterson's style leaves a little too much hanging in the surreal to make enough connections or sense, or to explore any of her most interesting ideas in any real depth. Fans of Winterson might feel differently, but this book was ultimately disappointing for me. ...more
All the fun and interesting things about Ember are gone from the series, it seems, now that the Emberites have come above ground. I would have liked tAll the fun and interesting things about Ember are gone from the series, it seems, now that the Emberites have come above ground. I would have liked to see more of what it's like for people who've lived below ground and relied on electricity for their entire lives to come above ground, in the sunlight, and to live completely without electricity. I liked that Doon gets to inspect a whole world of new insects, and that Lina has never seen fire and is naturally very afraid of it, but I wish things like that would have been gone into in a little more depth. That could have been really interesting, and maybe not too much to ask for after having sacrificed the whole cool underground sort of steampunk society aspect of the series in the first book. However, that just wasn't the focus of this book - the focus was mainly on the clashing of two societies which is used to examine in a more general sense the nature of conflict, and the beginnings of war. That part of the book is done, I think, extrememly well, especially for a YA novel. A great many things are over-simplified in order to bring the reader into a pretty raw contact with what kinds of things will pit two societies who mean well against each other. I think this is a great YA level examination of conflict and the causes and mentalities that produce war.
Actually, this book was a bit hard for me to read because the conflict brewing between the people of Sparks and the refugees from the city of Ember was so emotionally potent, and I'm generally a conflict-averse type person. As soon as I could see the telltale signs of a real clash between the societies coming, I started to shy away from the book altogether. (YA books are increasinly dark and gritty lately, it seems, perhaps following behind the more general literary trend. After reading especially realistic and/or gritty YA stuff like the Hungry City chronicles as well as Life As We Knew It and How I Live Now I was imagining all kinds of horrible outcomes that I just wasn't in the mood for.) About two thirds of the way through the book I just couldn't bring myself to read any more for a few weeks. I'm glad I eventually went back and finished the book, because I really enjoyed it. I think it's a mark of the author's ability to engage the reader that I was affected as strongly as I was, and that I was forced to take a break from reading until I was ready to handle what I felt was coming in the plot. I am excited to read the next two books in this series, even though I understand the next book is a prequel, back to the early days after 'the Disaster' and really I'm more interested in seeing what happens to the Emberites and People of Sparks next. ...more
I really really love the idea of a post-disaster society of people living underground. And I especially love the idea of reading about that society seI really really love the idea of a post-disaster society of people living underground. And I especially love the idea of reading about that society several generations in, where they no longer remember what daylight is, or why the city they live in is theren- or even where exactly their city is. I like the idea of this society making up their own myths about 'the dark' and having new origin stories and singing songs amid candles lit against the ever-present night. However, all those enchanting pieces of The City of Ember are just tiny footnote details in what's really a fairly decent adventure story. The setting of an underground sort of steampunk like society surviving post-collapse without any connections to their past is merely the place where this book begins. I really enjoyed this story, and am excited to read more in the series, but I wish this book had been about twice as long and had about three times the depth. I really feel like the author here was on the verge of creating a whole new world, maybe not with the intricacy and pull of the Harry Potter universe, but something heading in that direction. Instead everything - setting and plot and characters et cetera - is at a pretty basic level and merely serves as the dressing around the main story, which is a somewhat didactical examination of the ills of society and scarcity mentality hidden inside an engaging adventure story of two plucky pre-teens trying to save their people....more
Once I had started, I could not stop reading this book. It wasn't necessarily blow me away amazing, but I really, really loved it. It could be at leasOnce I had started, I could not stop reading this book. It wasn't necessarily blow me away amazing, but I really, really loved it. It could be at least partly because I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic scenarios in general, especially anything that involves extremely cold weather. There were some really great bits of this that I want to quote but I don't have the book in front of me, so I'm probably going to edit this later. Suffice to say that this book made me think - not for the first time but once again and with a surprisingly new intensity - about who I want with me should the world fall into fimbulvinter someday.
I hope you know who you are.
This book has also given me, in a typically synchronous fashion, food for thought on something that's been on my mind a lot lately, which is how to get along with less, and appreciate what I do have more. The author accomplished this in a real and non-cheesy way, which is saying something for post-apocalyptic books as a genre, I think. This is one of about 100 reasons I enjoyed Life As We Knew It much better than the more recent and more adult post-apocalyptic book The Road.
I liked the main character, Miranda, although she sometimes made me groan with her here and there Judy Bloom like statements about wanting to go to the prom, wanting to be kissed, wanting chocolate and general complaining about her period. There was an awful lot about her fighting with her mom, in a sort of typical girl-grows-up story fashion. But, that being said, it was not out of place. All of those elements were quite excellently fit into the setting of a post-apocalyptic world and a family trying to survive it, which is I think more real. I love that the format of the book was a sort of Anne Frank post-apocalyptic diary; it's probably been done before (anybody have book recs? I would be interested) but I don't care. It was new and interesting to me. Also, I thought it really drove home the title, and the last few bits at the end of the book that brought about the titular line were some of my favorites, most of all:
"Sometimes I think I'm writing this for the day that butterflies can read."
It has some earlier story significance, but is also inherently kind of beautiful....more
The best part about this second volume for me were the last two issues included at the end; a story of Zee and how her new life began post collapse, aThe best part about this second volume for me were the last two issues included at the end; a story of Zee and how her new life began post collapse, and a sort of sketchbook collage of interviews with denizens of the city maps and stuff. That last bit more than anything else gave me a sense of how things really work in this fictional post-collapse NYC and what interesting things could be coming up in the future of this series. ...more
This is basically a post-apocalypse or post-collapse scenario, in NYC, and a look at how the city and its people function afterwards, as told from theThis is basically a post-apocalypse or post-collapse scenario, in NYC, and a look at how the city and its people function afterwards, as told from the perspective of a young, twentysomething inexperienced journalist.
I think the violence and language are too gratuitous, and too casual, even for a book set in a war zone. In some ways it's coming from that 'guy' mentality, and it makes the book read a little like a blockbuster action movie. But the parts that explore the city and its denizens and how they are coping are fantastic and mostly make up for the rest.
I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to get into a new ongoing comic series, as well as to anyone who likes post-apocalyptic fiction or fiction that explores cities. ...more
I thought the third volume picked up again quite a bit in action and excitement. Natalya is one of my *favorite* characters and that whole plot line iI thought the third volume picked up again quite a bit in action and excitement. Natalya is one of my *favorite* characters and that whole plot line is pretty brilliant. ...more
This series had some ups and downs but overall was one of the best ongoing series I've followed in several years. This first volume is a solid start -This series had some ups and downs but overall was one of the best ongoing series I've followed in several years. This first volume is a solid start - things get much better from here. ...more
The Road got a lot better for me by the end. Though there was an overall intensity to the narrative that after a while started to resonate as flatnessThe Road got a lot better for me by the end. Though there was an overall intensity to the narrative that after a while started to resonate as flatness - like if you shout all the time or always write in all caps - the book was pretty exciting. A couple of things I found problematic were certain attitudes, phrases, et cetera that the boy picked up seemingly from nowhere and that the boy was always so genuinely terrified, about everything, which doesn't seem realistic if the horrible post-apocalyptic world they were in was the only world he had ever known. I would expect him to be more desensitized. However, those points didn't detract from the book too much for me, and are interesting points of debate anyway. (I'm not entirely sure I can't be talked out of whether those things are really problematic or not.) The language of the book became less irritating to me, or maybe I just got used to it and stopped noticing. I'm really curious to try and re-read this someday and see if I notice it at all; it might be a product of the particular reading given on audio book, and disappear for me if I actually read the printed text.
Overall I enjoyed this, but it didn't thrill me like post-apocalyptic stuff usually does. I liked The Brief History of the Dead much better.
I'm actually listening to this on audio book right now. Maybe it's less noticable when actually reading, but if the dad says, "Yes, of course" "Yes, you can" or "Yes, [any other two word phrase]" much more I'm going to start hoping he dies sooner rather than later.
I guess I'm having a real problem with the language of the book. I like the ideas explored in The Road, I find everything I've read about The Road to be interesting... but the synopses I've looked over are more entertaining to read than the novel itself, which I find slow moving, stilted, and in some places bordering on cheesy.
I'm hoping it gets better as more starts happening....more
I don't know how it's possible but this series is really growing on me, and the books keep improving as the series goes on. Usually I find books aboutI don't know how it's possible but this series is really growing on me, and the books keep improving as the series goes on. Usually I find books about the children of main characters insufferably annoying, but this one surprised me. And true to the form of the past books, so did the characters. I don't want to spoil anyone's read but I have to say that my favorite thing about this author and this series is that the characters often do things I don't expect, but more than that, neither do they do the opposite of what I expect. They usually do something completely askew that is foolish and bizarre, but realistic, totally in line with their established character, and utterly... human. That being said, from where things left off in this third installment, I can't wait to read the next (last?) book in the Hungry City chronicles now. ...more
This was a gift from around the time of my new job and zombie party. I still haven't gotten around to reading it yet, though. I may regret that somedaThis was a gift from around the time of my new job and zombie party. I still haven't gotten around to reading it yet, though. I may regret that someday.......more
I like this book unreasonably, irrationally. I cannot pick it apart. I read this for the first time about two year ago, and just reread it again earliI like this book unreasonably, irrationally. I cannot pick it apart. I read this for the first time about two year ago, and just reread it again earlier this summer. It lost nothing for me the second time around. I'll be rereading this again and again for some time. ...more
This book is sort of a bizarro post-apocalyptic "How Green Was My Valley" - with clones. But it's very well-written, and I found it to be fairly engroThis book is sort of a bizarro post-apocalyptic "How Green Was My Valley" - with clones. But it's very well-written, and I found it to be fairly engrossing, and an interesting exploration of indiviuality, without getting into all that rah-rah-be-selfish! Randian objectivism.
Sometimes one of the main characters, Mark, was a little too perfect for my taste, but I fell in love with the character Molly a bit. Her struggle to maintain her hard-won individuality was more moving than Mark's.
The clones in the book are also an interesting exploration of collective identity; it's too bad that for the message the book is trying to send or the ideas it wants to explore they had to be made out more or less to be the evil collective. They were also so much more than that, really, and the potential was there for the novel to go in another direction entirely with that, if she so desired.
I think this book has one of the best titles of all time. Also, it won a Hugo award....more
I'm mostly interested in the adaptation here, and in Stever Niles's art. Also I think this might be a shorter and more accesible version of what I oriI'm mostly interested in the adaptation here, and in Stever Niles's art. Also I think this might be a shorter and more accesible version of what I originally found to be a less than engrossing novel....more