the first half of Grant's now Hugo-nominated novel starts off as the best sort of sci-fi. it's not all about flashy gadgets as an excuse for a big spethe first half of Grant's now Hugo-nominated novel starts off as the best sort of sci-fi. it's not all about flashy gadgets as an excuse for a big special effects budget, but instead a big "what if" exploring how the world changes when world-changing technology arrives. based on "the hygeine theory," which says that the reason we're afflicted with a rising count of allergy and autoimmune diseases is because our immune systems are all dangerously bored in our modern sterile world, 'parasite' proposes the titular solution. soon, everyone in the developed world is sporting their own gene-spliced Intestinal Bodyguard (tm) tapeworm, which secretes regulated insulin to diabetics, provides reliable birth control without the pill, or calms the symptoms of anaphylactics. the expensive infrastructure to deal with daily pill-popping simply no longer exists out of lack of necessity.
and then, instead of exploring WHY this change is interesting, after setting up this richly-imagined world, Grant goes with the whole mad scientist "we did it because we can!!!" thing, and this veers off into being a horror novel instead. and hey, who doesn't love a solid thriller now and then? well, apparently, me, if the science behind it swerves so sharply from interesting to WTF. apparently, 'round about page 261, the background researcher got fired, because we have only misused buzzwords instead of the actual science concepts from the first half. given that i'm a research scientist myself, this will likely drive me far, far more bonkers than it would the average bear, and i'd be willing to roll my eyes and continue a suspension of disbelief if the main character then did something other than let circumstance and side characters push her into being in a plot. i consider it a major failing when i can see the huge plot twist from 200 pages away, since i'm most typically surprised by everything. but when the big reveal happens halfway through, and everyone looks at the main character to see if she's gonna figure it out, then they all shrug and go on until it dawns on her that (effectively) soylent green is people on the very last page? sheesh, girl, now you just look like a dim bulb next to all the far more fascinating mad scientists....more
myfanwy thomas (don't worry, that welsh mouthful gets pronounced for you on the first page) wakes up in a downpour, surrounded by corpses, no4.5 stars
myfanwy thomas (don't worry, that welsh mouthful gets pronounced for you on the first page) wakes up in a downpour, surrounded by corpses, not knowing who the hell she is. turns out she's highly placed in a somewhat different branch of her majesty's secret service, and she just got burned. figuring out which of the psychically and supernaturally gifted members of her organization did the burning, while not letting anyone know she's not herself anymore, sets up a delightfully twisty mystery that's richly punctuated with moments of hilarity (dry british wit FTW!!) and surprises.
'the rook' is a fast-paced mashup of bits of the x-files, the x-men, and torchwood, with perhaps a bit of thursday next thrown into the mix. the tropes of "burned secret agent seeking revenge" and "amnesiac figures out what happened" are nothing new, but O'Malley mixes everything together in a very fresh way that ends up being an intriguing examination of how you could live up to your potential if only the baggage of being you wasn't in the way. in a refreshing departure from the increasingly formulaic urban fantasy standard, our heroine isn't a cookie-cutter leather-clad vampire-flirting tough, but instead, a very competent and capable administrator (in fact, a few times too competent for someone who's lost her mind). we get to explore this bizarro world with her, and it's an awfully fun ride....more
3.5 stars. it's a lot of fun, but in a popcorn-chomping summer movie kind of way.
zach is a bratty, entitled white house staffer, straight out of cent3.5 stars. it's a lot of fun, but in a popcorn-chomping summer movie kind of way.
zach is a bratty, entitled white house staffer, straight out of central casting's stock of "smart-mouthed whippersnappers." for reasons he never completely figures out, he gets assigned to be the liaison for the president's vampire. turns out, Andy Jackson bound the bloodsucker with a magical oath to uphold the integrity of the union, so the US has its own one-man black ops team; supernatural hijinx ensue, ass is kicked.
this book reads a whole lot like a summer action flick. it's quick and compellingly readable, full of the sort of sassy, snappy (i.e., ridiculous) dialogue that Bruce Willis would toss out of the corner of his artfully bruised mouth during a torture/interrogation scene. both of the major characters are fairly one-dimensional, and besides a couple of bit parts, there's not really any women to get in the way of the budding bromance. villains get to monologue as heroes realize they just screwed up. flipping to the back page's author's blurb, one finds out that he's a Hollywood screenwriter, so the only surprise at this point is that they haven't gotten around to filming this just yet. ...more
review of the first two books, because the first alone feels more like a sketch than a full story arc. and, no, it's more a 3 star than a 4 if I thinkreview of the first two books, because the first alone feels more like a sketch than a full story arc. and, no, it's more a 3 star than a 4 if I think about it too much, but I have to give credit to anything so engagingly written that I burn through it in 24 hours or so.
jd robb is writing romance/mysteries. that slash is very important (no pun intended, though these are chock-full of bloody murders), since thusfar the books' page time is about equally devoted to tough-as-nails NY-of-the-near-future chick cop eve's police procedural as it is to her whirlwind love with dangerous bazillionaire roarke. as mystery novels, these are succeeding quite well, with twisty plots sprinkled with realistically gritty working-cop details. there's plenty of "futuristic" touches to keep this world fresh and interesting, and the straightforward writing style makes them quick, snappy reads. as romance novels, though, meh. I like characters to have to work a little harder for perfect love, not have everything instantly flawless with minimal growth of their relationship. oh well, poor eve has to work too damn hard at everything else, why ot throw her a slow pitch now and then?
besides, there's 30-something more books for trouble to inevitably show up in paradise. ...more