The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and and Mr. Hyde read. Thoughts:
* First of all starts with very thick, heavy, elaborate writing. At first very hard toThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and and Mr. Hyde read. Thoughts:
* First of all starts with very thick, heavy, elaborate writing. At first very hard to comprehend and frequently felt like a slog to get through.
* In some ways the story doesn't really work nowadays. Pretty much everyone knows that Hyde is Jeyll, so the build up and the speculation surrounding it is kind of lost from the beginning. Oh well.
* Weird way of writing. Pg 35 is a good example. In speech Stevenson put parenthesis. Who the hell talks like that? It's really weird seeing a whole section of text and then "( )" in the middle of it. It doesn't really make sense either, as when you are talking, you don't stop, say the words "open parenthesis" and then "closed parenthesis" when speaking, which is what writing like this implies. Small and petty but particularly odd to me.
* Strangely little action. I don't know why I expected it to have it, but in my mind I imagined like, I dunno, a chase scene or something across smoky Victorian London. But there really isn't. Its mostly just elaborate Victorian dialogue.
* Mostly hugely underwhelming. There honestly isn't really a story. or rather there is one, but it's incredibly small.
* Ending was really bad. Builds until the reveal of Jekyll turning into Hyde, then final chapter is a long-winded, waffling, incoherent, boring, obnoxious infodump that tells us everything that we basically already knew.
* The notes page is very interesting and useful at getting a better understanding of elements of the text).
So all in all, kind of enjoyable, but disappointing.
The Body Snatcher:
* Good, spooky fun, but so short there isn't much substance to comment on.
Ollala: * As of 06/11/13, this is actually shaping out to be the best of the three. I actually think this is far superior to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The mystery is unfolding in a much more elegant way that DJMH, it's foreshadowing and gentle hints at the more sinister side to the faimly are well placed and in general it feels are far more sophisticated and intelligent than DJMH, despite being far less known.
There's such alot of good stuff in this book. It acts in a way similar to Who Killed Kennedy? did, in that it gives someThis was stonking good fun. :)
There's such alot of good stuff in this book. It acts in a way similar to Who Killed Kennedy? did, in that it gives some background to events that occurred in season 7, and substantially explores the shadowy C19 organisation that was introduced in that book. And even if it's not Gary Russell's creation, lots of elements he adds to it are inspired. The Pale Man with the scar is a wonderfully nasty character, and visually striking to boot. He's also been enhanced with cyber-technology (in a similar way to Tobias Vaughn, complete even with a scene in which the Pale Man's chest is filled with smoking bullet holes) with gives us some really cool moments of him denting a bottle of glass, and smashing another bottle so hard together that instead of smashing it, he compresses it into tiny little bits. Along with him is the blond man (who is thoroughly repugnant) and the Irish Twins, a deliciously creepy couple, who do everything in perfect unison (as they've been injected with Nestene blood, turning into semi-Autons. Also cool).
As you may have gathered, the idea of a shadowy organisation working behind the scenes, as people referred to as just the "x man" positively oozes X-Files. By no means is this a bad thing, and in fact I think only adds to the appeal of this story to me, and also gives a whole new added depth to the UNIT stories.
There's also features like the Vault, a large secret base underneath the Cheviot Hills, where the blunderings of former stories are used for experiments. Really, this is where the fan boy jizzum starts spilling. Throughout that section, I was like "ooh! WOTAN!" and !ooh! Mars Space Probes!". I love it when Doctor Who manages to wrap up its own continuity into a more organic whole, (something which the 90s books did particularly well), and this book does it incredibly well. It was also one of the reasons I really liked Who Killed Kennedy?, of which this book is quite similar, and it justs makes for a much more satisfying reading experience to have a sense of all the Doctor Who stories being a real, functioning world, with elements from previous stories having effects on later ones (as it would in the real world).
There's also a secondary story of the Sea-Devil/Silurian hybrids. As this review points out, there's no real point for them being Silurians, but I'm more than glad their in there. It makes for a really interesting addition to the story, and Russell anyway does manage to flash out their culture and society much more, making them a far more worthwhile addition than simply a stock monster fill.
Russell also develops the characters much better than they were presented in the show. Season 7 has to be one of the coldest, bleakest and darkest seasons in the show's history (which by no means is a bad thing, as is actually my reason for it being my favourite Jon Pertwee season), and one of the reasons for this is how unpersonal the characters are. We don't really learn anything of either the Brigadear of Liz's lives, so this book is able to really open them up properly.
The Brig's story is tragic in this book. It's heartbreaking to see the slowly crumbling and decaying relationship he has with his wife ...more
Publisher's summary: "On a moon of the ruined planet Akoshemon, an age-old terror is about to be reborn. Something that remembers the spiral of war, pPublisher's summary: "On a moon of the ruined planet Akoshemon, an age-old terror is about to be reborn. Something that remembers the spiral of war, pestilence and deprivation – and rejoices in it. The Fifth Doctor joins a team of archaeologists searching for evidence of the planet's infamous past, and uncovers more than just ancient history. Forced to confront his own worst fears, even the Doctor will be pushed to breaking point – and beyond."
Well, this seems to be another book that I really damn enjoyed but the majority of people had problems with. Ah, well.
Anyway, remember me saying that Ten Little aliens was dark? Well, compared to this book, that book is like the Cat in the fucking Hat.
To put it bluntly, this book is savage. It's the epitome of the word "bleak". It's brutal, it's hard and it's unrelenting in it's passages of death and emotional torture. The whole book is utterly without any sense of happiness or hope, and throughout the book you just get a really heavy hanging sense of dread. The setting is suitably grim, with our characters on an empty rock far away from any civilisation, right by a dead planet consumed by volcanic fire, a monstrous creature that is seemingly indestructible is hunting them all down, characters who are kind and nice and witty and intelligent die in the most horrendous of ways and there's seemingly nothing that the Doctor can do to stop it all. It really pushes him to his limits.
I think it was a very smart move to make this a Fifth Doctor book. More than any other doctor before or since, you get a sense of fallibility with him. A feeling of perhaps this time it won't turn out all right (as it did in Earthshock). As Baxendale so eloquently put it in his introduction "Often in the TV series, he would come up against some of the bleakest and meanest of worlds: mercenaries and machine guns , voracious corporations, cold-war computers, and they were just the product of human beings. Our most "human" of Doctors was often faced with our species at our most inhuman ".
And he's right, when you think back over some of his stories. Earthshock, Terminus, Warriors of the Deep, Frontios, Resurrection of the Daleks, The Caves of Androzani, all bleak, bleak stories (or at least for Terminus and Warriors, bleak on paper). So that's why putting him in a situation like this one is so suited. Other Doctor's like the Fourth or Sixth, who are very confident and self-assured, you would feel like they would have the situation in their control and come up trumps in the end. But with Davidson's Doctor, the more caring and gentle side to him is going to be harder hit then most when tragedy comes a' knocking. It makes you feel things really will end badly, which makes it automatically much more terrifying.
Suspense in this book is built terrifically well in the opening chapters of this book. There's the "Bloodhunter" (the hideous creature that is running around sucking the blood out of the characters), lurking somewhere in the darkness, and you have no idea when it's coming. And then when it does come it seems to happen so fast and with such ferocity that it seems almost unstoppable. It really puts you on edge and it's really genuinely creepy and nerve-racking. With the first death of the book being a really heart-stopping moment.
One factor of this success is Baxendale's powers of descriptive writing. He can use the English language in such a way to conjure up apocalyptic, almost Biblical images of terror and destruction. The horrific, nightmarish feel to the book is created because of his choice of words. Page 145 is a particular highlight for me: "He heard it then: unmistakeably, the horrifying shrieks and cries of a thousand million beings consumed by blackness. It was very distant, made almost imperceptible by time but it pushed a cold blade of despair deep into his chest. The agony of all those tormented souls welled up inside him like a physical pain." Bloody good stuff.
Then there's the other main enemy itself, the entity simply known as "The Dark". It's a truly terrifying threat, partly because of how unknowable it is. It's implied to be a being of the Pre-Universe , and personally I like to think it's one of the pantheon of beings known as the Great Old Ones, as hinted in the book (and only die-hard Whovian-nerds will know about them really), and as such has powers and abilities far beyond anything in our regular universe. It is mostly because of it's physical appearance, i.e none. It's just a huge mass of amorphous black liquid that you can't kill, won't kill, and is just going to keep killing and killing until nothing else is left alive. It's a really horrible and disturbing villain.
This book starts depressing and just gets more depressing. Despite the fact it's meant to be set in Season 20, it feels more a Season 21 affair with the body count. Out of all the supporting characters, only the Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa survive, and it makes the whole book feel really bitterly, tragically sad as a result. One of the main characters called Stoker finally manages to make up and fall in love again with a captain of a ship that comes to rescue them. But just as soon as they find each other again, it all ends in tears. The captain guy ends up being used by "the Dark" and ends up crashing the ship, leading him dead. Or is he? Turns out he is alive, but just barely. He's turned into a grizzled, barbecued human just barely recognisable. And then he dies properly, along with Stoker afterwards. Things like that just add to the despairing feel you get with the book, and makes you sigh very heavily indeed.
Now, this book would've been a good un' in my mind with probably a 5-star rating. Except for one thing: the ending. My god it's terrible. All that build-up, all that suspense and horror and heartbreak, all to be undone in a chapter. It's a major let-down on all fronts. The Dark, which was previously this unstoppable Lovecraftian horror, achieves final corporeal form, and guess what? He's turned into a bore. He's now a cliché, generic ranting megalomaniac spouting stock "I will destroy the universe!" phrases, who's threat and menace have instantly disappeared. It also feels rushed and anti-climatic, a simple add-on used to simply give it an end. Stoker's death as well feels unnecessary and forced, as if Baxendale was thinking "Oh well I've killed everyone else of, so I might as well kill her as well". It feels like it was merely obligatory and not a meaningful, needed death.
It does have a good epilogue though. Anytime the Doctor reflects on the death toll of his adventures, and questions whether he really is a force for good in the universe, are good in my book. And also confronts the eternal curse of time travelling, in which you could feasibly change the events of the past, and stop millions of people dying and suffering, but can't because of numerous disastrous consequences of such a change.
A great shame then, that a book that starts and continues so good, should end of such a resounding thud. The rest of the book is mostly gold. Bleak and tragic with a chilling ambience of fatalistic doom. The entire time you're on tender hooks, constantly fearing for the character's lives and feeling tremendously sad when they do inevitably perish. Suspense is built wonderfully and the whole book has a really truly grizzly, adult feel to it.
So, apart from the stupid ending, I'd thoroughly recommend this. Be warned though, prepare something nice and happy to read afterwards, because you're gonna need it....more
Publisher's summary: Deep in the heart of a hollowed-out moon the First Doctor finds a chilling secret: ten alien corpses, frozen in time at the momenPublisher's summary: Deep in the heart of a hollowed-out moon the First Doctor finds a chilling secret: ten alien corpses, frozen in time at the moment of their death. They are the empire's most wanted terrorists, and their discovery could end a war devastating the galaxy. But is the same force that killed them still lurking in the dark? And what are its plans for the people of Earth?
Ten Little Aliens is the first in a series of reprints of old Doctor Who books, done to commemorate Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary. Now if you've already read these books then there really is no point in you getting them, as aside from the new author's introduction, there is nothing new in these. But for someone like me, who completely missed out on the entire BBC books range for Doctor Who, this is a really useful chance for me to read some of these now long out-of-print books, and Ten Little Aliens is one of them that I very much enjoyed.
At first I thought it was odd to choose the First Doctor for this type of book, seemingly with the style and type of the story being completely out of place with this Doctor's era. At the time of William Hartnell being the Doctor, the stories were generally meant to be for families, with the Doctor being the leading "grandfather" figure to guide the stories through for the children. The stories of this period are usually rather charming, quirky, and sometimes a bit crap. They are about flying butterfly people or meeting Richard the Lionheart or becoming really small and meeting giant ants. On the whole, gritty space thrillers in the style of Starship Troopers or Alien aren't at all common in this period. It would seem like this would be better suited to any post-Troughton Doctor really.
But despite that, Cole still pulls it off. Having Ben as the companion does help, as he's the energetic young man needed for a story like this. And really it works fine with the 1st Doctor and this is largely down to how well Cole writes for him. He nails all the mannerisms of Hartnell's Doctor perfectly, and every time he utters a little "Hmm", or a "Dear, dear" and calls people "child" and "sir", I am instantly able to hear his voice in my head, which is a credit to Cole's masterly writing.
The first words that I would use to describe this book straight from the word go would be "dark", "tough and "moody", or similar synonyms of these words. By making the opening of the book seen through Shade's (one of the main characters) eyes is a clever way of conveying the usual exposition that is needed for futuristic books, and at the same time giving us an insight into Shade's world-view, thus making us sympathise with the character more.
It's clear right from the head-off that this book is considerably adult in tone, with Shade being shot right in front of the whole military academy as an example of the cell-replacing suits they wear. Cole manages to conjure a really very nasty image of Earth's future empire, with it being authoritarian, repressive and being almost monomaniacally fuelled by blind hatred of "others". They have headsets in this time, which are used by soldiers in training sessions and your thoughts are capable of being looked at and recorded for training purposes. The idea of anyone managing to read your thoughts is a horrific, and only gives us an insight into how we as a species presumably feel about individual's privacy by this time, adding to the bleak and repressive ideas behind Earth's first Empire.
Cole continues to present us with this vision of a cold, uncaring future throughout the book, and he does this partially through the supporting characters, who are nearly all dicks. Almost every character (Aside from The Doctor, Polly and Ben) are shown to be pricks. They are nearly all shown to be xenophobic, jingoistic, selfish, indifferent, bullying, reactionary asses, often needlessly cruel to one another and indifferent to the suffering of others. One character named Frog was repeatedly raped as a child, and her father slashed her face open one night when she came home late, and the other characters who tell this story merely reply that that's the thing to do to "wayward 14-year olds". Jesus christ.
It makes you really despair sometimes, to think that one day this could just be common viewpoint amongst people. It also makes me despair to think Earth could one day very much have a bloated, grotesque empire in which there's rabid hatred for anything "non-human", and a callous disregard to other planets and the people on them. In which there's a "kill-or-be-kill attitude" in everyone's mind that makes them hostile and unfriendly as a result of it. Although another part of feels that is merely be the next logical step for humanity, judging by people's attitudes already.
Anyway, if you are squeamish, beware. This book is quite graphic. People don't just die, they get their body mangled up. The character of Frog almost get's turned into a Schirr (the villains of this piece who are seen on the original front cover of this book), with huge white bits bulging out of her body like some living creature. The way she tries to deal with it is by stabbing herself repeatedly, making blood squirt out rapidly. Another character called Joiks has his arms and legs ripped from his body and then the remaining torso ripped to pieces a dumped into a massive engine. Things like that add to the bleakness of Cole's universe, as no one can even die nicely. They lived horrible lives and they have horrible deaths. Nothing can ever be peaceful or happy. That's why I like it so damn much.
This book is also quite experimental in nature, with a "pick your own adventure" section towards the end. It's a neat inclusion and a fun thing to actually read, and also quite impressive when you realize how complex it is, and how badly someone like me would have probably screwed it up.
However, I find the ending to be a little lacklustre. We've gone through quite a bit in this story, and seen plenty of graphic, horrific and also incredible things. And then it just ends. They all just sort of joke merrily about their adventure and then they say goodbye. It's such an anti-climax. Nothing particularly dramatic happens, no one saves their own life for the sake of the crew or anything bold like that. It's just "bye" and then that's it. For a book so bleak, ending it like the end of a ThunderCats episode and have everyone laugh their traumatic experiences off, felt slighty out of place. But whatever, in some ways it's calming to know things went alright in the end.
So all in all, a book I like. Dark and grim, with just enough gore in it to be readable, it's the kind of book I like. ...more
Well Notes From Underground left me with a different combination of thoughts and emotions.
Basically, the book is about a bitter, misanthropic recluseWell Notes From Underground left me with a different combination of thoughts and emotions.
Basically, the book is about a bitter, misanthropic recluse that most critics call "The Underground Man" and it follows his rants, raves and rambles about his view on life and the universe and a series of socially awkward events that happen to him.
Firstly, I think I should say that the book is in two parts. And the first part for me is where most of my criticisms lies. In short, he rambles waaaay to much. It's incredibly long-winded, incoherent and to me un-followable most of the time. He jumps around taking about any old shit and half the time after I had read a page I just sat back and thought "Well, what the hell did that mean?!" To me reading this book was a bit like if you're at a pub
The second half however was quite different. Instead of being a series of rambling monologues about what he thinks of the world, it's changed to stories about how the main character ...more
It shames me to say that the only reason I picked up this book was because of the title. Just the image of Abraham Lincoln running around sReview here
It shames me to say that the only reason I picked up this book was because of the title. Just the image of Abraham Lincoln running around slashing vampires was too irresistible in my mind not buy.
But sadly the rest of the book does not live up to it's awesome title.
First of all, the most annoying thing about this book is the constant switching between first and third person. The first being Abe's journal and the third being Grahame-Smith's Narration. It immensely annoying to be constantly juddering back-and-forth between the two and it's almost completely unnecessary. If he had just stuck to one or the other viewpoint he could of made a much better book.
Also, I have some issues with taste. I mean, did he really need to take one of the most admired figures in history and dumb his down simply as a "vampire hunter". I mean what next? "Mahatma Gandhi: Zombie Slayer", or how about "Martin Luther King: Alien Killer". It just doesn't seem particularly respectful to me. But perhaps that's just me being a pussy. (Shrug)
My other big taste issue is the idea that vampires were responsible for the slave trade. Lines like "slaves began revolting against their vampire captors in the wake of the Emancipation Proclamation" make me feel a little uneasy. And I know it's just a work of fiction but to me it just feels like passing the blame. It feels somehow rather wrong to me for him to essentially place the fault of something on someone/thing else outside of humanity's influence. It was our fault, and I think it should always be portrayed as our fault and shown as the disgusting, horrific act of human evil that it was.
But despite it's faults, it is readable. It's has decent plot development that goes along at a steady pace and I found myself rarely bored by what I was reading. The other good thing was the historical bits detailing his life. Having known nothing of Abe Lincoln other then he was the leader of the north in the American Civil War, freed the slaves and wore a top hat it was genuinely interesting reading about his life. However having seen at the back that the author used Wikipedia as one of his sources I wonder how efficient and detailed his accounts were.
On the whole, I probably wouldn't bother reading it. Out of the many good books to read out there in the world I wouldn't recommend this as one. I mean you can if you want, as it's not the worst thing ever committed to paper. But as we have a limited time span here on Earth, don't kick yourself if you skip this one. Even if it does have a kick-ass title. ...more
Y'know sometimes buying a book on a whim reaps great benefits. As soon as I purchased this book and started gettingFull review here
Y'know sometimes buying a book on a whim reaps great benefits. As soon as I purchased this book and started getting into it I knew I was going to enjoy it.
As stated above this book is a very dark and grim book that deals with the dark nature of humanity and how in McCarthy's eyes is (or rather was considering this takes place in the 80s) getting worse.
The plot centres around a man named Llewellyn Moss who one day when out deer hunting comes across a scattering of dead bodies and broken cars, most importantly though amongst all the wreckage he finds a satchel full of money. Feeling greedy, he takes it. Generally this was bad move on his part as this means that an unrelenting force of death called Anton Chigurh is hunting him down. Them two in turn are being searched for by the authorities and the ageing Sheriff Bell. So it's essentially a wild goose chase between those three. But to merely call it a "wild goose chase" is a vast understatement.
By far the most interesting character is Anton, one of the most chilling and scarily unpredictable villains in the whole of literature. Anton is from what I've read meant to be more of a symbol than a character. An embodiment of an idea if you like, in this case death. Someone/thing that doesn't necessary have a bias to who he/it kills , but will kill you anyway. An unstoppable killing machine that is bearing down on his victims that cannot and will not be halted. He's truly a character who plays into the darkest recesses of human fear.
We never get any real reason for his killings (which is better, as it makes him far more ambiguous and mysterious), but the explanation we do get is rather weird. It seems that rather than he wanting to kill people, he feels he has to, as if this is the natural course for him regardless of whether he wants to or not. Yeah, it's a twisted way of looking at things to say the least. But it makes him far creepier as a character as a result of that.
But even if he is the most interesting character that doesn't mean the rest aren't, far from it. Even the most incidental character is still full of well-developed characteristics and personality and is still as detailed and interesting as the main ones.
The novel itself is written very oddly. There are no speech marks for dialogue and the sentences lack any kind of punctuation. It makes for very weird reading first time and I wasn't sure if I liked this at first, but I actually really admire the McCarthy decided to say "fuck you" to grammar. It's a fresh approach to writing that hasn't been done before.
Also, the southern dialect is written superbly in this book. It is so fantastically rich and strong you'll find it near impossible not to read occasional words aloud in a southern accent.
I didn't know about Cormac McCarthy before this book. Now I do, and I sure as hell am glad I found him. I look forward to reading more of his work in the future. ...more
**spoiler alert** Well this was certainly a refreshing change.
A quick look at my favourites list will show that I mostly read dark, heavy and often bl**spoiler alert** Well this was certainly a refreshing change.
A quick look at my favourites list will show that I mostly read dark, heavy and often bleak books. No Country for Old Men, A Clockwork Orange, Watchmen, yeah, cheery books like those. So for me for once it was nice to have a book that was pretty much pure escapism. Normally with my reading choices I've got quite a load of heavy philosophy behind it, with normally some kind of deep, underlining message and theme to it. And as much as I do like that, I was kinda revealing to just have a piece of work that is what it is. A book I can just sit back and enjoy.
So what's the book about then? Well, set in the land of Middle Earth, it is about a Hobbit called Bilbo Baggins who abruptly breaks from his cosy and calm life in Hobbiton after being asked out for an adventure by the wizard Gandalf to kill a dragon that is currently residing on the home the of 13 dwarves he is travelling in. It's a simple premise but a brilliant one.
The thing I think I like most about this book is how quirky and full of life it is. The other LotR books (from what I can gather from the films) often seem heavy-going and plodding, whereas this book nips by at a delightful pace. It is short, in fact almost brutally so. There are literally sections that go something like:
"Gandalf would have stayed, but he had errand somewhere else. But enough about that..."
Literally just like that. This book wastes no time in getting the story told and I admire that. There's a definite air of mystery about this book and I like the fact we are kept in the dark for a lot of the book. So often in books I get
The world created in this interesting and engaging and you genuinely enjoy spending time in it. It was fun meeting Beorn and the three trolls and the Master of the Laketown. It was fun looking at the map at the back and following Bilbo's journey. ...more
"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me".
- Hunter S. Thompson
Christ almighty they take a lot of drugs in this book don't they?
Although if anything actually that's my main problem with this book. And don't get me wrong I'm a big pro-drug legalization supporter so I'm fine with them taking it, it's just that it seems to be the only real hinge to the book.
It's as if when Thompson was pitching this to the publisher he was like:
"Right, okay! So first there in a car...on drugs! Then they go into a casino...on drugs! Then they go back to there hotel room...still on drugs! Then they have to go to a drug conference...on different drugs! Then they go to an airport...on even more different drugs!"
I just got the overwhelming feeling when I finished it of "Really? They get high all the time and then go on crazy hijinks in Las Vegas and then the book ends? Seriously? That was all there was too it?"
But I wouldn't say the book was completely without merit. There are some great bits of social commentary in-between all the drug taking. Thompson provides despairing passages on the failure of the sixties dream throughout. I wasn't born in the sixties so I have no experience of what it was like, but for me there was a tinge of sadness in me knowing that all the positive sixties idealism shrivelled and died to make way for the harsh seventies.
In all honestly though I found most of this book rather underwhelming. And weirdly despite the myriad of twisted and insane things that go on in the book, I actually found it pretty unmemorable. Suffice to say, this book was a bit of a disappointment and didn't leave that much of a mark on me. This is a case in which Goodreads rating system is flawed, as this book is much more a 3 and a half than just a direct four. But failing to have that I think four sums it up best. ...more