I'm about 2/3 of the way through this book, but I already know how to rate it. Even though Amazon advised me that this book was low on the Top Gear beI'm about 2/3 of the way through this book, but I already know how to rate it. Even though Amazon advised me that this book was low on the Top Gear behind-the-scenes anecdotes I was hoping for, I bought it anyway, ready to be satisfied with some rather than none. I thought it was a good read-- a bit repetitive at times when retelling his early races, but also (unpopular opinion) genuinely gripping at times, a view I'm sure can only be shared by someone who watches Top Gear as avidly as I do. And of course, there were anecdotes: not as many as I would have liked, but combined with the light and quick read in a book that isn't my usual genre, it made it worth the 6.99 I paid for the ebook....more
How do I describe this book? The best metaphor I can come up with is that of a glacier faced with global warming: slow-moving for most of its long lifHow do I describe this book? The best metaphor I can come up with is that of a glacier faced with global warming: slow-moving for most of its long life, and then catastrophically quick at its end. The same goes for this book. Even in its most glacial and irrelevant passages (of which there are surprisingly few for such a brick-- nearly every scene is relevant or in some way serves to progress the journey of the characters) you may find yourself putting it down out of boredom only to take it back up minutes later, too intrigued to leave it alone for long.
And this takes us nicely from progression of plot to progression of characters. Rarely have I witnessed such radical character arcs so subtly defined. You will barely notice the changes that Norrell and Strange undergo until practically the end-- but by then they will be entirely evident, and if you chance to glance back at the last 600 pages or so you will see that they have been building all along, right in front of your eyes.
If you're looking for something to tide you over before The Winds of Winter comes out, this book is not for you. I have read ASoIaF, and I dearly love it, but this book is a different kind of "fantasy" epic. It is fantasy for literature buffs. It is fantasy for those who want to chew over what they're digesting instead of hurling themselves pell-mell through swordfights and battles. But it will engage you with its characters just as deeply as GRRM can, and if you have half a heart, you will feel the ending just as deeply as I did.
If you find yourself struggling to complete this book, I encourage you to persevere. Skip the footnotes if you must, as they are interesting but not imperative to the understanding of the story, but if you can make it to page 600 or so, it is in the last 180 pages that you will see Clarke's simmer turn to a boil. ...more
The premise of a superhero story told by the villain is what first attracted me to this story, and I feel that my expectations were not entirely fulfiThe premise of a superhero story told by the villain is what first attracted me to this story, and I feel that my expectations were not entirely fulfilled. Still, this book gets a solid three stars from me for the things that it does do right.
It's conflicting-- on the one hand, this book exhibits clumsy exposition, lackluster moralization, and a lazily paced first half. On the other hand, the haltingly delivered backstory was cunningly woven into the meaning of the overall plot, forming a cohesive and satisfyingly circular chain of coincidences and events. And for all the slowness of the beginning-- when randomly interspersed flashbacks keep constantly interrupting the flow of the glacial plot-- once this book gets going, all those seemingly disconnected pieces begin to form important backstory and provide crucial insight into the characters' past and motives.
I would've liked a bit more from the characters in terms of development. Doctor Impossible remains static throughout the whole of the novel, if you don't count the flashbacks to his younger years (which I do not). Fatale is slightly more dynamic, but not to any satisfying degree. Interrstingly, the character who caught my attention most was Lily, who is only a secondary character, but who has large impacts on both Doctor Impossible and Fatale's narratives.
Tl;dr: A light, enjoyable book overall-- just make sure to root for the villain and don't to take any of the purposefully cliche superhero elements too seriously. (I think a lot of the reviewers who were disappointed with this book missed the satire.)...more