Facing holiday travels and the question as to whether or not I might need literary escapes during times withReview also posted on Metageekery Studies
Facing holiday travels and the question as to whether or not I might need literary escapes during times with family, I grabbed several books from the library right before I was to fly out. Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn. A few months back, I had greatly enjoyed another of her books, After the Golden Age, which was Vaughn's take on the ramifications of superheroes is essentially our current society. This book is in a similar vein and builds a world to explain mythology, magic, and what exactly is a god.
This is all seen through the eyes of two main characters, but I'll focus on the primary protagonist, Evie Walker (a surname of deep meaning). Evie is the writer of one of the most popular comic book series in which an elite team of American mercenaries help fight for freedom while enmeshed in stories that reflect current international situations. Anyone who knows of the gender imbalance scene in the comics industry will enjoy some of the subtle commentary about what Evie has/had to reach her success. Her work is further challenged by that dedication to staying true to current events. Her world makes ours seem more peaceful. Terrorism is more rampant both domestically and abroad. In the space of one week, the world goes from teeth-grinding tense to nuclear brinkmanship and worse. The new issue is in need of constant rewrites every four hours.
Evie's mind is elsewhere, though, as she has fled Los Angeles to see her father who is dying from cancer. He's given up on treatment and has decided to die at home... the family home for many generations. The house has a historical legacy in the form of a large cellar. The storage room is where magical relics are kept until they are needed again. Evie learns of her family's inheritance of being guardians, doling out the powerful treasures to only those who rightfully may claim them. Unfortunately, an ancient goddess desires a dangerous artifact that she will use to bring upon an apocalypse. Evie has to stop her.
Plenty of other reviews will probably reveal more. For a book I devoured in pretty much a day of flying and then a few hours the next day, what I more want to comment on is the artful success that Vaughn accomplishes in building her world's rules and functioning. What exactly is magic and how it works is not delved into, nor are there dense pages of icons, incantations, rituals, and flibberdyjam. The whole system of how gods work, why magic was more in the past than today, and why the storage room exists is slowly drawn out and revealed over the entire work. A person who knows mythology will pick up hints along the way, but surprises still sneak up on the reader. The whole solution is never laid out in one succinct dialogue, which would have been of a great disappointment. Even better, not everything is explained. Tolkien used to say that every good narrative needed some open mysteries. I finished the book wanting there to be more answers because my curiosity and mind were intrigued. I have no anger over such mysteries, much unlike the gnawing desire to know who the heck was Tom Bombadil.
That being said, the book does end. Some might say it ends with a sequel hook. I for one do not want a sequel. For some stories, the characters go on to live their lives. Despite my desire to follow them, I know that my time with those characters is over. Evie Walker goes on to live a life in her world that has greatly changed since the start of the book. I could relate and follow her tale for we were from similar places. By the end, what her world and her life entail is too distant. Vaughn crafted a great world in her book, but as the story goes, that world evolves. Any further works would be fairly alien. What happens next is certainly a mystery to be left unsolved....more
I'm sort of torn on this book. I rounded down from a 3.5. I'd say the book is 3/4 about a rookie police officer dealing with a lot of stress in his liI'm sort of torn on this book. I rounded down from a 3.5. I'd say the book is 3/4 about a rookie police officer dealing with a lot of stress in his life, while the remaining 1/4 is about the dead being antagonized by dead criminals. Maybe. The majority of the book by far is about Mercer dealing with the issues in his life. The death part, while interesting, is not fully fleshed out. That is not an attempt at a pun--the nature of how the afterlife works is not detailed in the book. In terms of world-building, it's rather disappointing.
It's a hard book to judge, and I don't know if I can do more of a review than that. It's a character study of multiple people with a bit of afterlife fantasy added in. Still, I enjoyed the book enough to not want to put it down. I even spent the last two hours fixated on finishing it... sleep be damned.
Probably not a book I'll ever re-read, but it was a good companion the past several days....more
One of the luxuries of the library is the ability to browse shelves. While I savor recommendations from frien Review also posted at Metageekery Studies
One of the luxuries of the library is the ability to browse shelves. While I savor recommendations from friends or automated algorithms, some of the best books one can find is from taking the time to peruse.
Admittedly, my finding of Draw the Dark did not come from humble amble through the shelves of Fremont Library. I had returned two books and was hurriedly looking for something new to read before rushing out to a bus for an appointment later that day. I wasn't sure if would find anything. Fortunately, a librarian had pulled the book for display. I saw it, perused the description and back cover blurb and went with it.
I do not regret the finding. After all, I just spent two hours intentionally forbidding sleep to finish the book.
What is Draw the Dark about? It's about a young man named Christian who is gifted with great art skill---drawing specifically. To be fair, that's not completely true. He has ability to connect with people through his art in ways deeper than one would expect. This does not make him well liked, though. The opposite is perhaps more true. He is alienated. His parents disappeared when he was young. He's known death too well. His art is often viewed as creepy or dark.
Fittingly, he lives in a town called Winter... in Wisconsin. Apparently, the founders needed to be reminded that is gets cold and snows there. Still, it's a better name than calling it Cheese or Beer or Beer Cheese. The dismal town name bodes further darkness in the town's history. There is a German movie called Nasty Girl which chronicles a woman's discovery of her town's complicity in the Holocaust. The story of winter is similar in that its buried history involves Jews and Nazis. Christian's art and talents is about uncovering the hidden truth.
In describing this book, there is certainly a fantastical element to it. A mysterious power. Dark omens. Paranormal insights. Normally, such books can be very hit or miss for me. I did cringe at moments of grasping-at-straws science to explain what was happening.
In many other ways, though, this book is also a story about how history can be deliberately buried. I think this aspect is what drew me in the most. I stopped caring about the initial mystery of Christian's powers and the fate of his parents. What happened in the town of Winter was a greater question. Even Christian found new energy in untwisting the lost story. That kept me reading.
Ilsa J. Bick further enhances the story with strong prose that is not overly flourished. As the tale is told by Christian himself, the words she chose sound like those that would be said by young man of seventeen years who was a loner, a ruminator of thoughts, and artistically inclined to the point of obsession.
I don't know if this would be a book for everyone. There are certain some loose aspects. I don't fully agree with all the choices the character makes at the end. There are invocations into religion and higher powers that prattle into little debates and discussions in the back of my mind. I question the actions of a certain doctor/therapist. There is a cliff at the end of the book that I know certain readers would beg for a glider to end that hanging. If there is such a sequel, I don't think I want to read it. The ending reminds me in some ways of a reverse The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Like with Bod, Christian's story doesn't end; the book does. I'm okay with that. After all, the main story is about the power of drawing and what happened to the little town of Winter when the Nazis came to live there....more
I will admit to having not read the book. However, I was interested.. until I read the description. I'll just put it nice and simple:
NOT ALL GEEKS AREI will admit to having not read the book. However, I was interested.. until I read the description. I'll just put it nice and simple:
NOT ALL GEEKS ARE GUYS!
Added on December 11, 2013:
Given that this short little review continues to get likes and comments, I thought I should comment further as to why I originally posted it. As of the time of this posting, I still have not read this book. I turned down the author's offer of an ARC due to having too many aggravating things going on in my life at the time (and said aggravations have not lessened sadly) and could not dedicate the time to give the book a decent review. That being said, I have noticed that the book is available at my local library, so I'll give it a grab after the holidays.
Despite all this, I stand by my original statement: "NOT ALL GEEKS ARE GUYS!" Clearly, this simple review resonated with a lot of folks on Goodreads. The mere concept of female geeks is often outright ignored; forced into narrow, allowed areas; or outright challenged and denied. The book's description is clearly for the male geek only, and this all to common focus just brought up so many connections to how my geekiness is not relevant simply due to my gender. If I mention I read comics, the assumption is usually that it's either Wonder Woman or manga love stories. We had the whole "fake geek girl" rant from Joe Peacock all too recently. I'm sure that plenty of the people who liked this review could share similar stories, either personal or one's they have heard from others.
Moreover, even if the book focused on the guy's point of view, the book description makes clear that this is about dating a non-geek. Again, the idea of a female geek is being ignored. My feminine sensibilities do not make me immediately adverse to Star Wars bedsheets. A guy going on and on about Metal Gear would drive me away, however. I'm just not into console gaming. Frankly, the perils of inter-geek dating are far more interesting. I'm an indie and webcomics geek with a small passion for some tabletop gaming. How would I connect with a console or Internet-gaming geek whose only comic interests are mecha manga?
Maybe I shouldn't be so preemptively judgmental, however. I have been told the advice is mostly universal. Yet, I feel persnickety to ask why couldn't the book be written from that view. Don't force it into geek male dating non-geek female. Geek dating a non-geek is a worthy topic, and--hey--you automatically avoid being called heteronormative by not insisting on which gender dates which gender. Fundamentally, the book's title is where my problems with it start. If it is focused on just geek guys dating non-geeky women, just call it what it really is: A Geek Guy's Guide to Dating Non-Geek Girls.
-- metageek 'an academic geek gal seeking actual, useful advice on dating while being geeky'...more