Okay, so this is one of the coolest set-ups on the planet, right? A flu-like virus -- which is still active -- has the unfortunate side-effect of lockOkay, so this is one of the coolest set-ups on the planet, right? A flu-like virus -- which is still active -- has the unfortunate side-effect of locking a certain percentage of sufferers into their bodies. The victims, known as "Hadens," after the first lady who suffered from the disease, are fully aware but their bodies can't respond to the brain's signals. So many people are affected by this that the whole fabric of society has changed. Companies make billions off of the technology created: neural networks that connect Hadens to robotic bodies ("threeps"), other humans ("Integrators") who can allow their own bodies to be used by Hadens, and the Agora -- a virtual world created for Hadens.
Bunches, and bunches, and bunches of cool stuff.
I wish that a few things had been explored a little closer because, while there's a murder mystery and all kinds of neat bits and bobs, the inherent element that has created this world -- lock in -- is never portrayed in a really interesting way.
Here's a disease that, without technology, renders a human helpless. Helpless. But I never got the sense that Hadens were anything other than mildly inconvenienced, and in some places were even super-human. Chris Shane, our hero, who has been a Haden since he was two years old, gets shot, moves across the country in the space of seconds, and is not once slowed down, because he can jump mentally from robotic body to robotic body.
But the disease is such a terrifying thing. I wanted to know what it was like to actually be locked in. And no character is ever presented in lock-in. I wanted the sense of not being able to do anything. I wanted this not because I'm some kind of masochistic asshole, but because I wanted to understand the consequences of failure. If the heroes lose, what happens to all these people? The stakes never got high enough to convince me that the good guys would do anything other than triumph.
Sometime in the near future, sex offenders are locked away in their own special hell-prison. Tuck, imprisoned for taking nude photos of underage girlsSometime in the near future, sex offenders are locked away in their own special hell-prison. Tuck, imprisoned for taking nude photos of underage girls, is being considered for release from the jail where prisoners who try to escape are shot by civic-minded residents of the surrounding town. But releases are not granted easily.
This is a very dark vision of a penal community -- which, strangely enough, is not hard to imagine happening. The play raises great questions about the limits of power, the consequences of actions, and crime and punishment in general.
Lee Blessing has a great talent for dark material. I saw Two Rooms when I was sixteen and I still remember going "Whoa!" This has a similar Whoa factor. ...more
The Henry plays -- and a great deal of Shakespeare's history plays -- were written prior to 1594. These are Shakespeare's early attempts and a lot ofThe Henry plays -- and a great deal of Shakespeare's history plays -- were written prior to 1594. These are Shakespeare's early attempts and a lot of critics have pointed out: it shows.
Henry VI, Pt 2, is definitely rough. There are a crap-ton of characters, some of whom only show up once for a couple lines and then disappear. In a production of these plays, a lot of these roles would be doubled-up. The result is a somewhat chaotic read, though I bet it's much easier to follow on stage.
All I really have to say about this play is: Early Shakespeare is Still Shakespeare!
And I think Shakespeare might've missed his true calling: dark-Kill-Bill-style comedy.
Yes, I think Shakespeare and Quentin Tarantino should get together. Wait, scratch that. They'd never shut up so they'd never get anything done. Both are kind of long winded.
However! Jack Cade, the badass-but-not-too-bright leader of the rebels, who appears near the end of the play, is the epitome of a Tarantino talky-crazed bad guy. He makes decapitated heads kiss each other. He kills people for calling him the wrong name. He proclaims random laws. His scenes are straight out of Pulp Fiction. It's a good thing Shakespeare didn't have access to needles. (Or, maybe, a bad thing.)
Some of that shit was so disturbing I laughed out loud.
Do the nobles plot for an unreasonable amount of time? Yes. Is it sometimes difficult to follow characters and their motivations? Sometimes. Yes.
But I liked it way more than I thought I would. ...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"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. ...more
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 intereI 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. ...more