Okay, I'm not rating this one because I didn't really finish it and I don't think I'm gonna.
While there are a lot of parallels between this and World...moreOkay, I'm not rating this one because I didn't really finish it and I don't think I'm gonna.
While there are a lot of parallels between this and World War Z - unfortunately I found that Robopocalypse rather emphasized some of the issues I had with WWZ and didn't have a lot of the positive elements of WWZ.
Issues: 1. It was too easy for me to put down. The characters change every, single chapter. While this happens in WWZ, the documentary style of WWZ was very consistant and added continuity. In Robopocalypse, the various robotic recordings weren't consistant. One's an audio. One's a security camera. And the narration doesn't reflect the content. This bothered me.
2. While robots kills with impunity and are a definite threat, I wasn't clear on what consituted an actual robot vs what was a machine. There are Jetson-style housekeepers, robotic dolls, and then - when everything goes down - the cars are taking over in the street? I just couldn't follow what was supposed to be scary. If you unplug a food processor, then it's rendered useless, but these battery-operated thingy-bobbers are okay for an undetermined amount of time? (This kind of stuff might very well be answered later in the book, but I didn't love the story enough to continue to find out...and I think that kind of thing might need to be clearer from the get-go.)
3. I couldn't quite get a gauge on the world. WWZ is pretty much set in a time like ours, with our technology. Robopocalypse starts in the future, then flashes back to a time that's still in the future (albeit not very far into the future) and I wasn't sure what the technology was.
I might give it a try again after the movie comes out - maybe having a visual will help me. But, for now, it will remain where it is on my shelf. (less)
"If there's a better book than this, I haven't written it." ~Stephen Colbert, quoted on the back of American Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never...more"If there's a better book than this, I haven't written it." ~Stephen Colbert, quoted on the back of American Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't
I think the first book review of the year should set the tone for the rest of the year. And what better way to start the year 2013 than reading and reviewing the book that has everything? In fact, it has so much of everything that I used every single one of my shelves to label it. I'm pretty sure that I'm still short a couple subjects.
Sure, I could've been reading Anna Karenina and learning about Imperial Russia with the rest of my book group instead of learning about the present American stuff I already know. But since my reading goal this year is 100 books - which is like reading everything - I should start my odyssey with the book that has everything. Everything American, that is. Anna Karenina just has affairs and trains and Keira Knightly and other stuff.
Tolstoy's book doesn't have anything that Colbert's book doesn't have.
Anna Karenina has extramarital affairs: America Again has illicit relations between politicians and food.
Anna Karenina has people who hate their jobs: America Again has resume how-tos.
Anna Karenina has 2-D: America Again has 3-D.
Anna Karenina has Siberia: America Again has North Dakota.
Anna Karenina was translated into English: America Again was written in American.
It's probably this last one where Tolstoy has managed to one-up Colbert. America Again has no, count them: none, award winning translators. We're just expected to understand paragraphs like: "But the Real Question is: are America's best days behind us? Of course they are, and always have been. We have the greatest history in the history of History. But never forget, our best days are also ahead of us, and always will be. Because America also has the Greatest Future in the history of the Future. It's our Present that's the problem...and always is be."
I mean, Colbert began two sentences in that paragraph with But. And fragments. You just don't do that. A good translator would've saved him some face-saving. (less)
After The Night Season I was a little worried that we'd veered too far away from the evil incarnate that is Gretchen Lowell. But Cain brought it back...moreAfter The Night Season I was a little worried that we'd veered too far away from the evil incarnate that is Gretchen Lowell. But Cain brought it back around beautifully and all the angst and personal interplay between Archie, Susan, and Gretchen is present and accounted for. And, again, I'm floored by how well the idea of a female serial killer works in these stories.
"Some professor wanted to look into the experience that time slows in life or death situations and he tied some graduate students to Bungee cords and pushed them off a ledge, and studied the results. His conclusion? In normal circumstances our brain culls details. In tense situations our mind stops culling – it notices everything – because you don’t know what detail is going to save your life. This is what creates the experience of time slowing—lots of details. The next time you’re writing a tension filled scene – maybe there’s a serial killer in it, maybe your character is asking someone out to prom – remember to stop culling. Notice everything. The acne on her forehead. The buttons on her shirt."
And that's how Cain pulls off making a believable woman serial killer. In the scenes where Gretchen Lowell makes an appearance, time seems to slow down. Archie - who is generally the POV character - sees every crease and pore in her face. He picks up the subtle nuances in her gestures and translates them for the reader. The details - and, in turn, Gretchen's darker motivations - come into stark relief. The result? The reader is totally invested in whether or not Gretchen has a razor blade or hypodermic needle hidden in her hand. Or is it just a hairbrush?
Cain takes the time to make Gretchen scary. And serial killers need to be scary. So, if you want to be scared - go read this book right now. (less)
I received this book as an ARC and I got halfway through it before my son took it away from me. (I'd mentioned I was reading a book he might be intere...moreI received this book as an ARC and I got halfway through it before my son took it away from me. (I'd mentioned I was reading a book he might be interested in and he stole it right out from under my nose.)
The reason I mention this is because there were a couple moments in which I, as an adult reader, had some trouble accepting certain aspects, like CIA agents dropping in on parents and feeding them a random story about how Linc - their son - was a punk who needed boot camp...and then go on to recruit their son into a super-spy lifestyle. Kinda defies logic.
I am an adult. And nowhere was this made more clear to me than when my 10-year-old son snatched the book away and proceeded to read it cover-to-cover in the space of a day.
He came back to me and told me he loved it. I asked him what he loved about it. His answers: action, adventure, twists and turns! He liked the surprises. (Who is really the bad guy? Etc.)I wanted to ask him - what about the chickens (read the book)? Do you really believe that CIA agents would show up at a house and recruit a kid? In short, I wanted to ask him all of the adult questions that an adult reader demands of a book.
I sat back down with the book - now that I was allowed to have it. I contemplated it. I started it again and tried to imagine myself as a ten-year-old boy. Then I saw it: this book has everything kids like:
1. A smart, funny main character. Linc reminds me very much of Ash on Pokemon. (Bear with me.) Ash has left his family in search of adventure and training. He's off exploring the world on his own terms and he has a good heart. Linc leaves his family - to help them. He doesn't want his folks to suffer. The choices he makes are based on his internal compass.
2. The classic "You are chosen for something important." Every kid - I don't care who they are, where they come from or whatever - wants to be special. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Harry in Harry Potter wants to be loved and accepted. Kids live vicariously through heroes like this. Linc has been chosen to beat bad guys and right wrongs. That's fun stuff.
3. Hero's journey! I mean, come on, Luke had to leave Tatooine - Dorothy had to leave Oz - Frodo had to leave the Shire. Linc has to leave the U.S. for Paris...and kids can actually aspire to go there.
4. Twins/lookalikes. Sweet Valley High and all the spinoffs went for years. Parent Trap. Nuf said.
So, it turns out - despite my hesitant start - I really enjoyed this book. Kinda harkens me back to afternoons of cartoons. Over-the-top, just-for-fun fun.
P.S. Every year my son's school allows Halloween costumes...if the costume is of a character in a book. My kiddo has chosen to go as Linc. I've told him he's not allowed on field trips for that day. (less)
So this book was pretty awesome. I read it quick and dirty -- and not just because the library was demanding it back for the hordes of other readers t...moreSo this book was pretty awesome. I read it quick and dirty -- and not just because the library was demanding it back for the hordes of other readers trying to get to it. This one is a lot of fun.
First and foremost, I must say that these characters are some of the best drawn characters I've read in a long time. Each one of them has a fantasy "surface" and then Abercrombie throws a wrench in your prejudices.
You've got Logen Ninefingers -- the Bloody Nine. And he's pretty much what you expect when you read "fantasy barbarian." He's a thug. He's killed lots of people. Then you start to feel the weight of his past battles. You start to feel his scars. The opening scene of the novel is a fight scene. Pretty typical, yes? Immediately after, you learn that Logen's whole family has been killed. He's alone. The paragraph that breaks the Death of the Family news to the reader was heartbreaking (Logen already knew it).
Then there's another layer added: Logen can speak to spirits.
After that, as a reader you learn to expect the unexpected.
But the best character award goes to Glokta. The tortured torturer. That's all I'll say on that. He's awesome. And evil. And not evil. And good. But not good.
Really, my only issue with this book is that it's a first book. So there's a lot of introduction and intrigue...and I'm not 100% convinced the intrigue is going anywhere. Maybe it is. But nothing was tied up at all in this. You read and read and read. You love it love it love it. Annnnnnd the journey starts. The End.
Which is kinda funny, since the first chapter is call The End.
For me, I would've been happier with the story if some thread, somewhere had been tied off. As it is I was left with a wide open set of possibilities that can only be answered by the next book...
...which I'm going to go hunt down right now. (less)
So far, I think this is one of my favorites in Defoe's Pirates! series. Who would've thought that the Pirate Captain's true competition was the egotis...moreSo far, I think this is one of my favorites in Defoe's Pirates! series. Who would've thought that the Pirate Captain's true competition was the egotistical, not-as-short-as-you-think European dictator?
I wish I had more to add, other than "Really enjoyed it!" But that's pretty much how it goes down. I liked it. The story perked up an otherwise dull afternoon, and made me want to see the movie. My only really wish is for Defoe to hurry up and write more adventures, because I finished this one* and immediately started hunting around for the next one.
What fun this was! I was really pleasantly surprised - I was looking for a 'quickie' read (which generally means a book to pass the time until I find...moreWhat fun this was! I was really pleasantly surprised - I was looking for a 'quickie' read (which generally means a book to pass the time until I find a 'real' book I wanna read) and I couldn't put it down. Finished it super-fast. This book magically has everything: a funny, intelligent heroine; a scruffy hero; intrigue with weird contraptions and political conniving; and some sex and violence. What more could a reader possibly want?!
Miss Tarabotti is a charmingly Italian heroine. Her sense of propriety in the midst of werewolves eating the faces off of people (okay, it never gets quite that bad) is worth a smile or two from the most stalwart of readers. That same sense of propriety also allows the sexier scenes to not take themselves too seriously, so you're not bogged down by rigid/tumescent/turgid members...which I'm kinda grateful for.
I enjoyed the steampunk elements - 'glassicals' and weird blood-sucking machines that make vampires look like a dustbuster compared to a Hoover.
The side characters are also charming. Loved Lord Akeldama, the 'rove' vampire, Miss Hisselpenny (what a FANTASTIC name), and Professor Lyall - the Beta of the werewolf pack. And those three characters are also used to great effect in establishing the hierarchies of Carriger's supernatural London. Probably the make-it-or-break-it moment in fantasies is the world establishment. In this book, the rules are very nicely defined, easy to grasp quickly, and - perhaps most important - are interesting.
And let's not forget that the cover is kickass.
My only beef with this novel: The POV jumps from head to head really quickly. Luckily, Carriger does it so gracefully that it's almost seamless. But just fair warning that sometimes you've gotta read a sentence or so over in order to understand whose thoughts you're hearing. (less)
3.75 stars...I know that I'm ranking it lower than just about everyone on earth but I'm not *quite* there for a four star ranking.
Like everyone else...more3.75 stars...I know that I'm ranking it lower than just about everyone on earth but I'm not *quite* there for a four star ranking.
Like everyone else on earth: 1. I found it funny. LOL kinda funny. Sometimes ROFLMAO funny. Since the stated goal of both Pratchett and Gaiman was to make his co-writer laugh, I think they did their job with bells on. Because if the reader laughing is any indication of how they made each other laugh, I am certainly living proof that they accomplished what they set out to do.
2. I agree that epic battles between good and evil make for damn good plots. There's plenty of action here to keep you turning pages.
And where I'm running into a .25 star-short-of-a-full-4 star mark... 1. The characters. (I know! What?) They're well drawn, they're fun. First off, there are a ton of them. (It's always a risky sign when you have to put your Dramatis Personae before the book opens.)
And second, for me, they didn't go anywhere. The angel, Aziraphale, and the demon, Crowley, were by far the best drawn of the cast. But others, who felt as if they would play central and driving parts - particularly Newt and Anathema - fell waaaay short. Not to spoil anything *SPOILER ALERT* but they don't do anything.*END SPOILER ALERT*
2. This is related to the characters, but is not direct. I was slightly irritated by the device of switching the POV to a side character who observes (often wittily, often humorously) the main characters doing something the reader knows is important to the plot. Yes, it's funny. But after a while - especially during climatic scenes - I just thought "Get to it, already."
3. Finally, and again this is about a humorous device, there were footnotes.*
I'd like to reiterate that I enjoyed the story, and that I did certainly laugh. More than once I was reminded of P.G. Wodehouse (if that gentleman ever wrote fantasy, I'm pretty sure he would have written something very similar to this). If you have a chance, you should definitely read this book. As the writers emphasize in their intro: "Believe us: We have signed a delightfully large number of paperbacks that have been dropped in the bath, gone a worrying brown color, got repaired with sticky tape and string, and, in one case, consisted entirely of loose pages in a plastic bag." It is a well-loved story, and I can totally see why.