Doodling by Jonathan Gould is absurd, quirky, breezy, fun and a total delight to read. It is also a witty little metaphor for today’s social climate,...moreDoodling by Jonathan Gould is absurd, quirky, breezy, fun and a total delight to read. It is also a witty little metaphor for today’s social climate, without being preachy or heavy-handed. The book makes some subtle observations while maintaining its air of entertainment.
The book begins with Neville Lansdowne falling off the world. Literally. After the shock wears off he sets out exploring a nearby asteroid field, and finds out he’s not the only one who fell. From there his adventures just commence.
The premise of Doodling is unusual, surreal and not the least bit scientific, but from the moment you begin reading, the book enchants with its style. It weaves an alluring charm with its eccentric farce that amuses and captivates. Odd characters and fantastic situations abound, flit through your imagination with verve, before settling around you in a warm, clever cosiness. I couldn’t help but imagine this book as a wonderful animated film.
Doodling is a thoroughly pleasing book and I highly recommend it. (less)
Shadow of a Dead Star by Michael Shean is grungy, slightly nihilistic, fabulously enigmatic cyberpunk at its best, painted in the hues fashioned by Ph...moreShadow of a Dead Star by Michael Shean is grungy, slightly nihilistic, fabulously enigmatic cyberpunk at its best, painted in the hues fashioned by Philip K. Dick. The world inside the pages is screaming neon, ad driven, nanotech chic laid over top a seedy underbelly of dissipation.
The novel begins with Agent Thomas Walken investigating the arrival of contraband tech into the futuristic city of Seattle, just another corrupt excess imported from a place called Wonderland. But this routine bust turns into a something else, a blood-soaked conspiracy that turns Walken into a fugitive looking for elusive answers to a very sinister problem.
The author knows how to build a futuristic world, and some of the best passages in the book are the way he describes the landscape and surroundings in which the characters live and breathe; he vividly creates a Seattle fallen through a cyber-tech rabbit hole. And the inhabitants that dwell among the distorted spires are brought to life with equal skill, showing a darker side of humanity, with their flaws and self-interest on display. Even the protagonist has a murky, bitter side that unfolds as he plummets into the mystery he is trying to unravel.
It is that mystery that is at the center of a well-written, complex, multi-layered plot that peels away with suspense and tension, drawing the reader ever further into its web. I thought I knew where the book was headed until the finale took a sudden turn, morphing from the body of the story, and twisting everything that went before into an enigmatic question. While I suspect some readers may find the conclusion disconcerting, I thought it was an interesting and bold choice. It may not have been the ending I wanted as a reader, but I think it fit with the overall tone of the book and it does leave you thinking.
Shadow of a Dead Star is a fascinating book, and a definite recommend.
What do you get when you cross a 1950’s sci-fi satire with a gangster flick and throw in some emotional subplots for good measure? One heck of a good...moreWhat do you get when you cross a 1950’s sci-fi satire with a gangster flick and throw in some emotional subplots for good measure? One heck of a good book, that’s what. Die Laughing by Louis K. Lowy is an impressive and terrific novel.
On the surface, Die Laughing is both a satire and homage to the culture of the 1950’s, rifting through such icons as comedians, gangsters, science fiction movies, comic books and television. The author knows the era and recreates 1950’s America -from Las Vegas to New York- perfectly. There are subtle touches masterfully done and as a sci-fi geek, I loved the references to the old movies and comic books. It even has a good dose of jokes, sprinkled in 1950’s cheese.
But Die Laughing also has a subtle and well crafted emotional depth that lifts it above light entertainment and gives the reader strong, flawed characters. There is also a multi-layered plot undercurrent that moves the pace and tension of the book to keep the reader hooked. This novel steers you in familiar directions, but still manages to keep you guessing until the finish with ambiguous possibilities and outcomes. Even the end itself was left a little up in the air, while still concluding the storyline. Die Laughing is complex, fun and highly enjoyable. (less)
The Egyptian is an engaging blend of corporate espionage and paranormal conspiracy wound together a tense, gripping thriller. It has a tight, well con...moreThe Egyptian is an engaging blend of corporate espionage and paranormal conspiracy wound together a tense, gripping thriller. It has a tight, well constructed plot, engaging characters and did a nice job of pulling me, the reader, through to the end while retaining that air of mystery.
I liked the book and found it a compelling read. The characterizations in this novel are excellent, bringing vigorous personalities to life with both strengths and flaws. All the individuals portrayed are absorbing as they play their parts in the taut cat-and-mouse drama of the story. And I appreciated that the romance subplot was built without the overkill of the typical “damsel-in-distress” mentality.
I enjoyed the subtle undertone of the arcane in the book. It never develops into a full-blown paranormal, but maintains its hint of the unknown enough to keep the reader intrigued. The author walks the fine line between realism and fantasy expertly. Also, the plotline was logical, flowed with a good pace and the science was worked in to the story without boring the reader. A few times I thought the book was headed into standard thriller territory, but the plot never became overly predictable. The ending was an especially nice surprise, avoiding any inevitable showdown clichés.
The Egyptian is an entertaining, fully satisfying book that kept my rapt attention from start to finish. (less)