A couple of the stories in here were really great - I especially liked the ones by Ellen Klages, Kage Baker, and Cory Doctorow. Even the ones that did...moreA couple of the stories in here were really great - I especially liked the ones by Ellen Klages, Kage Baker, and Cory Doctorow. Even the ones that didn't really grab me were pretty good, just not my taste. Overall I found this to be an enjoyable, thought-provoking, and worthwhile anthology. (less)
I was surprised that I liked this as much as I did. It's highly abstract, amazingly weird, mildly amusing; droll even. The book definitely got better...moreI was surprised that I liked this as much as I did. It's highly abstract, amazingly weird, mildly amusing; droll even. The book definitely got better as it went along, although I found the end to be disappointing (but perhaps mostly because it was such a tease). Now I have another series from Jasper Fforde that I can't wait to read the next of!(less)
I read this in maybe my freshmen year of college when my cousin Nicole recommended it to me. I don't remember much about it other than it was the firs...moreI read this in maybe my freshmen year of college when my cousin Nicole recommended it to me. I don't remember much about it other than it was the first Asimov book I had ever read and that I loved it. This is totally going on my reread list; I just hope it's as good the second time through.(less)
**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...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 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. (less)
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 t...moreAll 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. (less)
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 se...moreI 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.(less)
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 leas...moreOnce 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.(less)
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 i...moreI 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. (less)