**spoiler alert** A friend with usually very reliable taste recommended this book to me. It was [Author:Larry Niven], to boot. Of course it was going**spoiler alert** A friend with usually very reliable taste recommended this book to me. It was [Author:Larry Niven], to boot. Of course it was going to be good, right?
spoiler alert follows
Sadly, it was a bug hunt. Not that I've got anything against bug hunts, but the prose was oblique and occasionally opaque. The characters were simplistic, unsympathetic, and, frankly, sexist in many places. The main character is a geek's Mary Sue -- an exhaustingly perfect warrior with a Cassandra complex who has all the answers, is the only one who can save Mankind, the perfectly lonesome brooding outsider surrounded by idiot-geniuses.
The ending was so lame I laughed. Then I read it again, assuming I'd read it wrong, and I hadn't and I laughed again. If you're going to base your ENTIRE BOOK on a BIG SCARY MONSTER that kills and eats people, on a giant army swarming towards you of these scary scary monsters, on the last-ditch, last-stand battle against these monsters, if you spend something like the last quarter of the book in this giant to-the-death, end-of-civilization battle, your big resolution shouldn't be...
.. after two days of fighting, the surviving monsters learn to not eat humans.
That's right. Despite being so hungry they cannibalize their young, they avoid the tasty humans and their livestock after just two days.
The Beowulf parallels were labored. The relationships smacked of high school boys' fantasies. The plot was lame, the denouement baffling.
There's a sequel, too. Beowulf's Children. I opted not to read it, so bored was I by this thing, and instead read the summary on Wikipedia. Wow and I glad I didn't waste more than two minutes reading that!
Sigh. It's always sad when one of your favorite authors lays such an bad egg....more
**spoiler alert** A re-read and, IMHO, one of the best Plum books.
This books shows a writer who isn't complacent in her formula. She's got descriptiv**spoiler alert** A re-read and, IMHO, one of the best Plum books.
This books shows a writer who isn't complacent in her formula. She's got descriptive paragraphs about the Burg and the weather and general life, which disappear in later books except for loving details of the two men.
She's also got darker stuff, most of which has disappeared in the later books. There's an abused woman who gets a five-line cameo. No hand wringing or anything, just Stephanie saying "She looked invisible, that look abused women get." And then after the quite funny "stun gun in the bare ass" scene, the abused woman panics and Stephanie says, simply, "He can't hit you if you're not here."
Finally, she's got Stephanie being competent. She runs sometimes and know what a cop killer is and is trying to educate herself. She hasn't resigned herself to being Ethel and Lucy with guns. She's still trying -- the author and the character.
And, of course, it's got Grandma Mazur in the morgue with a gun. Which is funny and tense all at the same time.
**spoiler alert** There is a certain category of "chick lit" that I never ever seek out. Occasionally, I get suckered into one; my mom loaned me "The**spoiler alert** There is a certain category of "chick lit" that I never ever seek out. Occasionally, I get suckered into one; my mom loaned me "The Friday Night Knitting Club" an excellent example of this genre.
The premise is always that a group of disparate women (usually referred to as "the girls") have a tight sisterhood (literal or metaphorical) as they bounce through life's challenges. There's always a single mom, a super successful uptight one, a crazy and embarrassing older relative, and a variety of other one-dimensional characters easily summed up as three-adjective archetypes.
Men are pretty much either objects of derision, disgust, or impossible perfection.
The commonalities are actually pretty blatant. There is the universal quest for love, which include the trials of dating (usually including one or more disastrous and therefor hilarious bad dates).
The wacky family dramas which always include one holiday scene.
And then there's the cancer. There's always cancer. Sometimes the character dies. Sometimes it just draws everyone together and teaches valuable life lessons.
I accidentally grabbed this book because it was on a stack of Jennifer Crusie's for a quarter apiece and she never bothers with the serious crap. I must have misjudged my grab and then I was stuck with this as the only book I had one day when I was waiting for a few hours.
It opened with our main character as a young widow because he husband had just... died of cancer. WHOO, I thought. Let's get the big C out of the way early!
Then the utterly evitable line-up of characters -- the skinny perfectionist eldest sister, the beautiful middle one with a dirt bag heroin-shooting ex, and the wacky stereotypical Jewish mother. The love interest was the dead husband's best best best friend. There was a quirky kid, some very bad dates (including a SPANKER! OH, wow, look at the funny kinky people!), a drunken Thanksgiving scene with a old lady who groped hot young men.
And while it was not great, it was pleasantly mild and unoffensive. I laughed a few times. I didn't care about the characters but I don't hate them. It's certainly better than four-year-old auto magazines at the damned waiting room. And then, three quarters of the way through....
ONE OF THE SISTERS GETS CANCER!
Oh you've GOT to be kidding me!
What's more, it takes this extreme trauma for the main (spunky, EveryWoman single mom) main character to realize that she's in love with the stunning, devoted, sweet, kind, funny, unreasonably perfect man who has been throwing himself at her the whole book.
I kinda feel bad for literary cancer -- it's got such a heavy burden, teaching all these people all these lessons.
Oh, and did I mention that the dead husband showed up in a dream to tell her she deserved to be happy and should move on?
Anyway, the sister lives. Each sister winds up with the perfect man for her. They reaffirm their bond of sisterhood. They learn a little something about their mother and her sacrifices and feelings. And the dipshit ex-husband (who is stealing his kid's Ritalin) grows breasts because his wife puts her progesterone pills in the bottle. That was the funny thing that made this a two star instead of a one star rating.
The thing I like best about Tanya Huff is her astounding versatility. The Keeper books (which I've read before) are fast, funny, fluffy romantic superThe thing I like best about Tanya Huff is her astounding versatility. The Keeper books (which I've read before) are fast, funny, fluffy romantic supernaturals. But her Torin Kerr series is hard-core military hard sci-fi at its best.
She's even got a vampire mystery series that's... well, you know... a vampire mystery series. But her other books are fan-damn-tastic.
**spoiler alert** As the mercury crested 96 degrees today, I was locked into an Arctic chill reading the latest Anna Pigeon.
As ever, you read Nevada B**spoiler alert** As the mercury crested 96 degrees today, I was locked into an Arctic chill reading the latest Anna Pigeon.
As ever, you read Nevada Barr for her near miraculous evokation of the natural landscape, not for her clever mysteries. Which isn't to say her mysteries don't occasionally enthrall, it's just that I come for the nature.
In this one, the landscape was beautifully drawn -- vicious, brutal, brilliant, lovely. Lake Superior in January sounds like the next best thing to Hell, frankly, but Ms. Barr makes it sound like a lovely and lonesome Hell. The wolves at the heart of the titular study are wild and lovingly drawn. If I had ten dollars to spare, I'd donate it to the Study.
She also captured the mystical, self-feeding, spinning, gnawing insanity that can sweep over a handful of people caught in an isolated community on the fringe of civilization. I felt bewildered by the presence of people every time I dragged myself out of the book, stunned to be stuck in a crowded city in the summer instead of stranded on an island in the middle of a brutal cold snap.
However -- the mystery was a bit too clever. The mano-y-mano ending was a bit drawn out. Poor Anna took a lot of abuse in this one, more than usual. And the conflagration of plots was a bit contrived.
That said, it was a fantastic read for the first smotheringly hot day of the summer. ...more
I want to give this 3 1/2 stars, which isn't an option. But it's closer to 4 than to three, so...
This trilogy wasn't quite as all-absorbing as the firI want to give this 3 1/2 stars, which isn't an option. But it's closer to 4 than to three, so...
This trilogy wasn't quite as all-absorbing as the first one -- Imriel is a less interesting hero than Phedre, I think. I understand what Ms. Carey was trying to do -- Phedre was a little too perfect, a little too self contained, so she wanted to write a character who evolved. But Imriel was just so whiny in the start, so brooding and unnecessarily angsty (okay, he had tons of reasons to be angsty, but it was still dull) that I just never connected to him the way I did to Phedre. But Sidonie was more interesting than Josselin, so it all works out.
I continue to be fascinated by the elegance of the world Ms. Carey has drawn. Her magic is unusual, lovely, and elegant. In particular I find her creation of the Terre d'Ange gods -- Elua and his companions -- to be heartbreakingly lovely.
Also, her alternative Europe is unique. So often we tromp through psuedo-Medieval or sorta-Renaissance Europes and they all look alike. This one was deeply researched, lovingly drawn, brilliantly conceived, and singular.
**spoiler alert** Tight, taut, spare, a classic R.B. Parker. Should have been a great book.
Alas, it was undercut by a few things.
Crow is a little too**spoiler alert** Tight, taut, spare, a classic R.B. Parker. Should have been a great book.
Alas, it was undercut by a few things.
Crow is a little too Mary Sue for me -- Mr. Parker clearly was a bad ass back in his day, but now he's remembering his days a little too fondly and Crow is too... something. Too perfect, too idealized, too raunchy. Jesse is flawed, at least -- there's the drinking and there's the whole Jenn thing. But Crow is clearly Nietzsche's superman -- beyond the pull of normal moral considerations.
Jenn, too, is another flaw with the book. Jenn is so irritating as to make me want to beat her head in with a bat. Mr. Parker is a noir writer and, as such, when it comes to women at least, a misogynistic ass. All of his women are sexy, slim, and hot to trot, usually for our main character. But usually they are smart and savvy as well. Fat women are either stupid, evil, drunk, all three, or lesbians.
Jenn is... dumb. She's got no redeeming qualities at all. She's evolved past a liability in this novel -- a little -- but mostly, I think, as a reflection of Jesse's work with his shrink.
I did like that he was never explicit about just exactly why Amber is so messed up -- there were two hints that he father abused her, and Jesse surmised as much, but it wasn't spelled out in gory detail.
I'm a little sick, though, of his heroes saving broken young adolescents and taking semi-responsibility for them. He's done it for each hero, so far, with varying degrees of success. I'd like to see Amber show up again, occasionally, unlike the kid Sunny saved, who was so transitory and unmemorable that I can't even recall her name.
So, withal, an okay book. Not one of his best, but not a flabby mess either, like some of them lately. ...more
**spoiler alert** Plot? Plot? Anyone? Someone? Please.... a plot?
I've given up on Anita after almost every book since Narcissus and this is no excepti**spoiler alert** Plot? Plot? Anyone? Someone? Please.... a plot?
I've given up on Anita after almost every book since Narcissus and this is no exception. I'm not sure if this is the one that will truly keep me away -- it's better than some of the others, really -- but dear god, I'd kill for a flipping plot.
Seriously -- this is the author who could make me stay up late needing to know what happened next. And in this slim little installment, we take a trip into sit-com land: she's got Anita impersonating Jason's girlfriend to make his dad think he's not gay(!?), a case of Prince-and-Pauper mistaken identity, anonymous sex with random weretigers, another pregnancy scare, and, oh yes, Richard has a jealous spaz Anita.
Oh, and Anita gets yet more amazing powers and we discover that anyone who has sex with Anita gets more amazing powers because Anita is the bestest bestest mostest amazingest sexual person ever ever and she's way more powerful than anyone in the history of humans.
An entertaining if slightly adolescent romp through a trans-human take on cyber-punk. It's just a bit derivative of Nueromancer -- right down to the dAn entertaining if slightly adolescent romp through a trans-human take on cyber-punk. It's just a bit derivative of Nueromancer -- right down to the decrepit wealthy eccentric-cum-perverted family at the center. His characters and action are more fun than Gibson's, though his prose lacks Gibson's elegance.
The book could be read (by people who say things like "could be read") as a meditation on the nature of identity and reality and their intersection with new technology. However, it could have been a much stronger book if the character hadn't taken the time to literally meditate on these things, often in italics and flashback, including an awful and clunky conversation with him self. The only bad bit of the book.
All that said, it was fun, fast, and ferocious. The plot galloped along, the world was well drawn, and the narrator compelling. I loved the psychopathic-codependent hotel AI, and the various (and variously chilling) uses of virtual worlds for more than just 'hacking'.