Yagharek is a garuda, an eagle-man from the desert, who has lost his wings in punishment for one of the worst crimes among his people. feeling trapped...moreYagharek is a garuda, an eagle-man from the desert, who has lost his wings in punishment for one of the worst crimes among his people. feeling trapped earthbound, he journeys to the crowded, crumbling city of new crobuzon to seek help from
Isaac is a rogue scientist; he can't be bothered to teach a steady class at the university, and he'd much rather dabble in research on whatever topic catches his fancy. Yag's need to fly, and the possible solution in Isaac's pet theories on crisis energy launches him into a creative frenzy. when he comes up for breath, he slips away from the censure of the nearby faculty to live his open secret cross-species love for
Lin, an up & coming bohemian artist, is a khepri - a russet-skinned woman with a scarab beetle head. she's just taken a once-in-a-lifetime commission for a truly grand sculpture, one that will require her most bravura work. she'll never gain fame from this potential masterpiece, given the requirement of secrecy from the patron
Motley is possibly the city's prime crime lord, a shadowy figure with webs extending everywhere into the city's underbelly. he's cornering the market on a new drug who's effects are far worse than sobriety ever could be, something that will take many lives in its production.
these people's lives interlock in ever-closer patterns along with beautiful monsters, , robo-monkeys, steampunk clockworks, demons that exist in alternate planes of existence, AI, Shelob (?!), Crime and Punishment and Justice, and the crumbling mucous-dripping stained stench of the decaying city streets. Mieville gets full marks for creativity - this book is overflowing with imaginative ideas & nightmares. getting to all those pearls, though, necessitates have to wade through a whole lot of baroquely ornate prose rife with excessive descriptors. more than once, it starts to feel a bit too clever for its own good (e.g., my dictionary says that palimpsest = "writing material used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased", though each of the half-dozen times that word ostentatiously crops up, it generally means something closer to "a stench of many layers"). the first 200 pages are a slowly meandering stroll through the gritty, tired city before the story sharply veers off into exciting horror novel territory, and then finally fizzles some under its own weight. it felt like work to push through the last chunk of it, and i put down the book feeling it was solidly (somewhat disappointingly) a 3 star read.
24 hours later, though, all those ideas are still boiling up through my brain, and it occurs to me that the idea of "choice-theft" as the highest form of crime is a far more elegant way of phrasing my own personal morality. something that gets that far under your skin is pretty damn impressive, even with all the palimpsests of mucous.(less)
an atmospheric what-if tale, where tombstone arizona in the era of wyatt earp is the gathering place for a double handful of men with "the talent". la...morean atmospheric what-if tale, where tombstone arizona in the era of wyatt earp is the gathering place for a double handful of men with "the talent". lacing subtle magic through the old west is a fantastic idea that i was ready to be enchanted with...but the plot reveals so very very slowly that to rehash any of it even as a review would be a bit spoilery. characters are engaging and complex, and really do deserve a story with more get-up-and-GO.(less)
somewhen during WWII, there was a boy on the verge of young manhood whose mother died. his grief understandably made him perhaps just a little crazy,...moresomewhen during WWII, there was a boy on the verge of young manhood whose mother died. his grief understandably made him perhaps just a little crazy, or else opened a gap between his world and the next; either way, his nightmares were made incarnate, and he set off to understand them, if not outright do battle with them.
Connolly is more known for his detective fiction, but his infrequent fantasy novels (this one and 2009's The Gates) come highly recommended to me, and I now find myself wondering why on earth I've ignored those recommendations this long. the book starts off with a "once upon a time" and continues in the stately, deliberate pace of a fairy tale, though with plenty of divergent kinks in the old familiar stories. some of those little twists are slyly hilarious (the diamond-hoarding seven dwarfs are a communist collective), but most of them are rather sinister. insinuations of child abuse and a high body count mean that no one is safe or protected in this story, proving neatly that every coming-of-age tale about a not-yet adult main character is not automatically shelved with the kids & young adult books. full of inevitable danger and stylized peril, and graced with an ending that's utterly perfect, though that of course isn't a carbon copy of mother goose, either.
"Um, and what about 'happily ever after'?" asked David, a little uncertainly. "What does that mean?" "Eaten quickly," said Brother Number One.(less)
THIS, dear readers, is total fluff. if the O-face in shadow on the front cover wasn't enough of a tip-off, let me clear up all doubts that this book i...moreTHIS, dear readers, is total fluff. if the O-face in shadow on the front cover wasn't enough of a tip-off, let me clear up all doubts that this book is about much more than teh sexaytimes.
that being said, bonus points for Arthur by figuring out that the PNR/UF trope of making time for a quick shag while hiding from the bad guys is utterly silly...unless you have a compelling reason to do so. we meet heroine riley walking home from work (in 6" heels, natch) just about to start the "moon dance" phase of a werewolf's monthly cycle. see, when the moon's about to get big, so does all lupine sex drive, to a level of undeniable biological imperative: this book spends a lot of time with any and all of the characters romping through the sort of no-hang-ups friendly sex that would be the reasonable result of actually being in heat. in between all the supernaturally beautiful people bumping, uh, pretties? there's a mystery to be solved, involving megabillionaire secret cloning conglomerates & illegal designer drugs. it's a fast-paced, fluffy bit of cheesecake, with some touches of interesting worldbuilding that may make future installments in the series more interesting if the ratio of story:sex gets adjusted a bit.
i've never felt the need to put a TRIGGER WARNING in a review before, but there were a couple of things that most definitely qualify. (view spoiler)[this book has a lot of "grey" rape in it*. there's not so much stereotypical brutalization of women to be found here, since the heroine is herself a rather tough supernatural creature. however, she is drugged by a long-term consensual sex partner, which results in sex without her knowledge, and the "moon heat" being brought to life-threatening levels results in her having sex with this same jerk later, after she's said she wants nothing to do with him again. the heroine views all of these episodes as non-consensual, and never makes excuses for the weasel or justifies what he's done to her. at no point does her inner monologue touch on the self-loathing or terror of being traumatized, though, so we have a depiction of the actuality of rape without a lot of the horror that survivors often go through. everyone's experiences of such things are reasonably self-defined, and it's handled in a way here that's appropriate to the character.
*"grey" being used here the way that idiot politicians would. there is no doubt that this character is raped. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
initially somewhat confusing as the book shifts from narrator to narrator, it all works marvelously when you give up trying to figure out identities o...moreinitially somewhat confusing as the book shifts from narrator to narrator, it all works marvelously when you give up trying to figure out identities of who's speaking and just bathe in the stream-of-consciousness. once you just let it wash over you, all of a sudden, the shifts are perfectly reasonable, and each narrator has their own "voice" anyway. it should scare the hell out of me that doctorow has won a faulkner award being as how i absolutely despised the faulkner i was bashed over the head with in grade school. apparently, this stuff is better when done well.
but what is it about? well, life, NYC, and everything, pretty much. the blurb on the cover tells you it's all about a cross stolen off the top of a run-down church that somehow ends up on a newly-started synagogue, but that's really just a small starting point for a tale that rolls back into the past (and will on into the future past the events described). possibly my favorite holocaust book ever, though it's not really about the holocaust; also possibly one of my favorite discussions on loosing one's religion, though it's not completely about religion or loosing it.
not a perfect book in the least - you don't get to jump around with perception and tone and narrator so swiftly and not come off just a little gimmicky, and it doesn't help if one of those speakers is overly dull - but a lyrically beautiful one, and well worth the time.(less)
somewhen in the future, north america has become a collection of districts ruled over absolutely by the central capitol. as permanent penance for the...moresomewhen in the future, north america has become a collection of districts ruled over absolutely by the central capitol. as permanent penance for the long-ago lost revolution, each district must send an annual tribute of 2 teenagers to fight to the death in the capitol's arena. when hunter Katniss' sister is chosen as tribute, she takes the younger one's place and is shipped off to be brusquely prepped to kill her peers in the annual hunger games.
though it's tempting to dissect this down to it's constituent ideas (decadent mother Rome harvesting gladiators from everywhere in her scattered empire; the princess stepping up to take everyone's place in 'dragonslayer's lottery, the brutality of 'battle royale'), this is so much more than the sum of these parts. Collins skillfully creates a tale where the emotional stress and moral ambiguity of killing to survive feels horribly real. characters are vividly unique and utterly memorable, each with their own motivations and responses to the pressures to do whatever is necessary to survive. somewhat flawed by an overlong post-climax and soft ending, but more than enough to make you want to immediately snap up the sequel.(less)
a son of a sultan sneaks out of the palace at night to listen to a more-than-half wild creature tell him wonderous tales. she's an orphan of unknown p...morea son of a sultan sneaks out of the palace at night to listen to a more-than-half wild creature tell him wonderous tales. she's an orphan of unknown parentage living out in the gardens of the palace, and she has innumerable stories inked across her eyelids that she spins out unfinished night to night like Scheherazade. as the characters in each tale interact with someone else, they begin telling their own tale before finishing the first, resulting in a russian-nested-dolls approach to storytelling. in the hands of a less-gifted author, the approach would have come off as gimmicky or forced; in Valente's hands though, it's utterly fascinating and makes this book extremely hard to put down. it's not an easy book, as you're required to keep threads of many different lives straight at once, but those threads are each very brightly colored and the effort is well worth it. fans of old stories and myths will be consistently delighted at the tales that are clear variants of old faves, and perhaps even more so that the many shiny new workings that sound just as familar.
highly recommended, with the caveat that the 2nd book is a continuation of the first rather than a sequel.(less)
a beautifully written book that absolutely lives up to the praise heaped upon it.
it starts off simple and innocent enough ("we trekked into the jungle...morea beautifully written book that absolutely lives up to the praise heaped upon it.
it starts off simple and innocent enough ("we trekked into the jungle carrying betty crocker cake mixes") and then slowly and steadily snowballs into 'heart of darkness' hell. fascinating to explore how much of hell is your own making, and how much is that which is made of the world all around you.(less)
a delightfully fun comedy of manners that happens to be about a woman immune to the supernatural powers of the vampires and werewolves in queen victor...morea delightfully fun comedy of manners that happens to be about a woman immune to the supernatural powers of the vampires and werewolves in queen victoria's employ. if you think comments like "the vampire howled in pain and the sat back upon the treacle tart," are charmingly hilarious, this book is highly recommended. sweet and funny without being obnoxiously twee or precious; in other words, a rather more saucy Austen sensibility will do you well here. (less)