Until 3/4s of the way through this novel, I was into it. There was an intriguing crime, some interesting suspects, and cops who behaved in a smart manUntil 3/4s of the way through this novel, I was into it. There was an intriguing crime, some interesting suspects, and cops who behaved in a smart manner.
Then came the final 1/4 -- which was, in a word, disappointing. Without giving too much away, Maeve Kerrigan, the main character, gets shunted to the side at a very key moment. Seriously, she's been smart and active up until this VERY IMPORTANT MOMENT and then BOOOOOM! She's taken out of commission and her handsome, male co-worker gets the glory (and a strange I-need-to-get-certain-information-across POV chapter). Essentially, she's reduced to a damsel in distress, at the point when she's supposed to be the hero.
It's rather disappointing, considering the lead-up.
Then it happens again.
At another key moment -- when they find the big bad guy (thanks to Kerrigan's top-notch detective work, which makes you think that maybe she'd have some kind of influence on the catching of said baddy) she's relegated to the background AGAIN. The bad guy basically monologues like nothing else (after being confronted by another handsome male character and some evidence) and the whole thing ends rather disappointingly.
There's a lot of good stuff here, but it all gets dropped in the last little bit, which is very frustrating when you've come to understand that this is the opening book of a series featuring Maeve Kerrigan -- who is well worth getting behind. It's really kind of a shame that the storyline drops her so heavily. ...more
I've had so many weird dreams since starting this book. Reading it before bedtime puts your head in a strange space. (Kinda cool -- you should try it.I've had so many weird dreams since starting this book. Reading it before bedtime puts your head in a strange space. (Kinda cool -- you should try it.)
The story itself is pretty straightforward: a small group of specialists goes into a odd landscape called Area X. They explore and encounter all kinds of weird, dangerous things. And then things go wonky. Of course. It's a storyline we've heard before.
However, VanderMeer's narrative is almost stream-of-conscience and lovely like a dream itself. Yet, you know, just know you're being manipulated. Things are left out. Questions aren't answered. But somehow, by the end, you think it might just be in your best interest not to know. Do you know how hard that is to pull off in fiction?
I'm already grabbing the sequels...but I'm nervous that if this Area X gets explained too much it'll ruin it.
Had I just picked this up having never read Chelsea Cain before, I think I might've rated this one higher. However, I really love Gretchen Lowell (welHad I just picked this up having never read Chelsea Cain before, I think I might've rated this one higher. However, I really love Gretchen Lowell (well, not love in her case...more love to hate) and Archie. The characters -- Kick and Bishop -- in this new series aren't quite as get-behind for me.
Some of that has to be that I felt like Cain was keeping her cards too close to her chest in order to have something else to write about in the next book. By the end (this may be a spoiler?) we still don't know anything about Bishop that's real -- who his wife is (does he really have one?), who he works for, etc.
And, speaking of Bishop, I didn't like his introduction either. Cain presents him as someone who 'gets it' in an almost prescient sense. So, if he's someone who understands Kick and her situation and he's behaving the way he is...well, he's a dickhead. And I don't know if I'll like him, in spite of the fact that I feel like I'm supposed to like him.
I don't know if any of that made sense.
Cain's strength here is the same as always: how the hell does she make these crazy situations seem plausible? Sexy female serial killers? Incredibly wealthy hunters of sexual predators?
I think it's because the characters (most of them, but Kick especially) behave the way a normal person would in those extraordinary conditions. Kick's bond with her dog, with the FBI agent who rescued her, and even with her kidnappers is wrenching to watch/read. Here I am, reading this kinda unbelievable situation, and I'm tearing up.
So I'm gonna pick up the next book when it comes out...just so I can see those cards Cain is holding so close. ...more
I saw an interview with Maya Angelou. One of the questions (and I'm paraphrasing all of this) was something along the lines of: What do you want to acI saw an interview with Maya Angelou. One of the questions (and I'm paraphrasing all of this) was something along the lines of: What do you want to accomplish with your writing?
Angelou answered that she wanted to tell the truth. She wanted readers, no matter where they live or who they were to read her stories and say, "Yes, that's what it's like to live as a little Black girl in Stamps, Arkansas in the 1930s." It's the truth.
The only thing I can really say about this book is that it feels like the truth. It's beautiful, it's sad, and I believe every word. ...more
First, a brief low-down: A young man drives a Mercedes into crowd of job-seekers at a job fair. He kills eight people, wounds a bunch of others, and tFirst, a brief low-down: A young man drives a Mercedes into crowd of job-seekers at a job fair. He kills eight people, wounds a bunch of others, and then seems to drop off the face of the earth. Then we jump a year later and meet retired Detective Kermit William Hodges, a.k.a. Bill, who was the lead investigator on the case. Bill is depressed and considering suicide when the Mercedes Killer sends him a letter telling him to go ahead and off himself, unwittingly giving Bill a reason to live: namely, to hunt down the bastard who ran through a mass of people with a stolen Mercedes.
For those who may be looking for a horror fix...this isn't it. (Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.) Mr. Mercedes has more in common with Sue Grafton and J.K. Rowling's alter-ego Robert Galbraith than it does with The Shining or It. As a reader, I don't mind that at all. The bad guy is definitely bad and the good guy has enough questionable motives to make it a quick, interesting read.
There are definitely some plot holes and leaps of faith that the reader has to make, but if you read it quick enough (like I did) you won't think about the problems long enough to truly distract you.
My biggest issue (not counting plot holes and leaps of faith) with the novel related to a more basic issue -- it felt like the beginning of a series. I felt only marginally introduced to the main character (strange, right?) and his former partners. I was only gonna give this book two stars...then, lo, I arrive at Goodreads and find this is the first part of a trilogy? I have rounded my star rating up in hopes that the next couple novels will fix the distance-y issues I was experiencing.
An example of a 'distance-y' issue (a term I have coined my own self): The sidekicks. Jerome and Holly. First off, the sidekicks don't come into the story in any measurable way until almost the end, which was a bummer because they were great foils for Hodges that were massively under-utilized -- they could have presented the arguments and counter-arguments to Hodges thought process...rather than the reader going "What the hell, dude?" And considering the pivotal roles they play, it's kinda disappointing to not spend more time with them.
But, I mean, dudes, it's still King. Plenty of attitude and spark through the pages to keep 'em turning. I especially love the emails between hero and villain. Snarky. Good times. ...more
This is the beginning of King's Dark Tower epic. And, for me, it felt very much like a beginning...and only a beginning.
Roland, our titular2.5 Stars.
This is the beginning of King's Dark Tower epic. And, for me, it felt very much like a beginning...and only a beginning.
Roland, our titular gunslinger, is crossing a desert, chasing after the man in black. Then he chases the man in black across some mountains. Some violent stuff happens in between. We learn about Roland's past. That's really all there is to the plot.
However, I never got a really good sense about the why of it all. There are vague mentions of a plot against Roland's father and Roland's home being destroyed -- but none of that is shown in the story itself, despite several (actually very interesting) flashbacks. So, I'm assuming vengeance is the main motivation but, in the final confrontation with the man in black, it doesn't come down to revenge.
There are hints of some really cool things happening beneath the surface. When Roland meets Jake -- the most interesting character by far, in my opinion -- the question of time and space is introduced. I already knew the time element was there (after years of working in a bookstore, you can't help but pick up on some things) but it was still fascinating. And I know that will continue to play a part as the series continues. That's what's gonna keep me going in the series...that, and knowing King has wildly matured as a writer since creating this first book. Oh, and knowing that others who have read the series declare it AWESOME.
So, I've pushed through this one to get to the AWESOME....more
I'm probably forgiving of this novel because I've loved everything I've read of Sophie Kinsella. In general, I've found her heroines spunky, somewhatI'm probably forgiving of this novel because I've loved everything I've read of Sophie Kinsella. In general, I've found her heroines spunky, somewhat flighty, but really lovable.
And Rebecca Bloomwood, the heroine of the Shopaholic series, reads like the prototype of Kinsella's later characters. She's spunky but that comes out a little late in the story. She's flighty - waaaay more flighty than what I'm used to with Kinsella's gals. And she's lovable, but only because she's kind of pitiable as well. So, in this book, it seems like the balance of spunky/flighty/lovable hasn't quite been developed.
While I found the amount of shopping exhausting (really, I was sympathetically physically tired), I appreciated the energy that Rebecca had. I also liked that she had friends who were tolerant - and shared - her love of things...it actually made her less superficial (to me) that she had loving friends who were also a little crazed about labels.
Probably what saved this book for me was the fact that it's the beginning of a series and I've read Kinsella's other work. This is a great start-of-series because the character has so much room to grow. She started a *tiny* bit in this story and you can just bet that her charm will grow throughout the series. Rather than putting the book down and being satisfied with the ending presented, I was hopeful and wanted to read the rest of the series just to see what happened to Rebecca.
"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
French's talent, I'm coming to think, is telling stories that feel as if they could not only happen - but be happening right now to a real person someFrench's talent, I'm coming to think, is telling stories that feel as if they could not only happen - but be happening right now to a real person somewhere in the world.
Years ago, Adam Ryan went missing for a day with his two best friends. The authorities found him, only him, covered in blood with no memory of what had happened. Flash forward a couple decades and Ryan is a cop with the Dublin Murder Squad who lands a child-murder in his old neighborhood.
Let the inner turmoil begin.
Ryan doesn't confess his past experience with the place to his superiors, he relies on his partner to keep his secret, and he tries to regain the memories that have been lost for so many years.
While all that is fascinating for its own sake, what's even better is how French delivers this mystery. I can't even begin to express how wonderfully written I felt this was. I could totally live in French's language - she manages to convey beauty and tragedy and heebie-jeebies all in one fell swoop.
When I put this book down, I was fully convinced not only that there were bad people in the world, but that there was something Dark living in the woods:
"These three children own the summer. They know the wood as surely as they know the microlandscapes of their own grazed knees; put them down blindfolded in any dell or clearing and they could find their way out without putting a foot wrong. This is their territory, and they rule it wild and lordly as young animals; they scramble through its trees and hide-and-seek in its hollows all the endless day long, and all night in their dreams...These children will not be coming of age, this or any other summer. This August will not ask them to find hidden reserves of strength and courage as they confront the complexity of the adult world and come away sadder and wiser and bonded for life. This summer has other requirements for them."
I can't even tell you how many goosebumps I got when I read that passage - and that's only on the second page. Seriously, I could pick up the book right now, flip open to any page, and find a passage or line that would be just as descriptive and creepy.
And if you love mysteries in general, I really think - just like in Broken Harbor - that you'll appreciate the procedural aspects of this mystery. It's the clues that get us from point A to point B, so there's a nice puzzle placed into the mix.
Perhaps that's what I'm enjoying most as I read through Tana French's work. She places broken characters in a personal situation - so you get to invest in the characters - but there's still all the gravity and fun of a regular mystery story - so you, as a reader, get to participate. Add to the formula that it's in Ireland and I'm over the moon. ...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
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 tSo 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. ...more
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 findWhat 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. ...more
"I gripped my right ear and twisted, which is how I tune out idiots."
Unfortunately, it's apparent thatAh...sarcastic narrators. This book's got one.
"I gripped my right ear and twisted, which is how I tune out idiots."
Unfortunately, it's apparent that everyone except John Corey (our fearless, convalescing-from-getting-shot-on-the-job narrator/hero) is an idiot. I sorta wish that his ear had been turned off for some larger chunks of the book -- because the reader has to wade through a lot of red herrings and schtuff to get to the meat of the book.
For example, getting a tour of Plum Island, the spot where world-threatening viruses are studied and possibly stolen, shouldn't be so long and tedious. For an example of that: there are numerous mentions of the ospreys -- but don't get all excited. It's not a clue. Apparently the bird has nothing more to do with the story than a narrative motif, which doesn't quite come off for me. The tour of Plum Island takes 100 pages and by the time you reach the end, witty repartee like
"I had to ask, 'But is the female screwworm fulfilled?' 'She must be,' Zollner replied. 'She never mates again.' Beth offered, 'There's another way to look at that.'"
is just a little frustrating. You want INFORMATION, not wit, by that point.
That being said, the characters are certainly likeable (you know, except for the ones you're not supposed to like)
And even the false leads are intriguing. Pirate treasure, virus hunting, international intrigue, historical implications, etc. You just can't get much better than that. The whole thing is an adventurer's wet dream. It's fun to go and figure stuff out along with Corey -- though the turn might be a little to easy to catch. I mean, I got the gist before they left Plum Island...which might explain why a lot of the copious detail felt, well, copious.
3.5 stars...it's a first of series and, while beautifully written (because Atwood just does that) I found that I could put the book down a little too3.5 stars...it's a first of series and, while beautifully written (because Atwood just does that) I found that I could put the book down a little too easily. So I started it a couple months ago and just now finished.
The Main Idea Snowman (known in the life-before-the-plague-hit as Jimmy) is trying to survive in a post-human world with a bunch of genetically mutated 'humans' known as the Children of Crake. Food is short, Snowman's resources even shorter, and he is carrying the burden of guilt for his part/non-part in the plague that damned the human race.
The bulk of the novel is dedicated to Snowman's background and how the world has become the shithole that it is: genetically spliced "pigoons" and "rakunks" trying to eat him, threats of infection from bug bites or cuts are very, very real, there's a distinct shortage of alcohol, and for all intents and purposes, he's alone.
The Neat-o Stuff Atwood has a superb gift for creating a futuristic world that sounds witty and real and disturbing. I didn't think twice about a website called Hottots - a site dedicated to child pornography. Or a cosmetic/self-help corporation compound called RejoovenEsense. Or a coffee company called Happicuppa. These things felt silly enough to be exactly what a marketer would come up with to sell an idea to the public.
Then there are the animals that get spliced together. Rakunks are racoons spliced with skunks and apparently they make interesting pets....
Her ultimate creations, of course, are the Children of Crake. I'm very curious to see how these guys evolve...because they have been designed by Crake: a genius who tried to eliminate certain things like emotion, and disease, and hierarchies in the Children's genetic code. His experiments seem to have worked so far. But now this group is out in this post-plague world with only Snowman to guide them (assuming they need guiding). This is only the first book in the series, but I'm betting they have more human flaws than Crake would've wanted...after all, they were created by a flawed human being.
The Less Neat-o Stuff Why I give this book only 3.5 stars in real life:
It was a little too easy to put down.
Snowman is interesting and flawed. He's a shitty situation. I definitely had sympathy for him. However, the background information that builds the world is done in flashbacks that stretch on for quite a while. There's a situation with his mother, he's got a couple daddy issues, his best friend (Crake) is a budding science whiz who will eventually destroy the world, and his the love-of-his-life, Oryx, is a former child porn victim. Yes, this information is important - but the parent sections felt more navel-gazing because Snowman wasn't really in control at that point.
The story gets waaaay more interesting later (and definitely less put-down-able) in the last third, where Snowman/Jimmy is all grown up, participating in the marketing scheme that'll destroy the world. Plus, the flashbacks coincide with his present life - and he has to escape some devious pigoons, figure out how to fix his damaged foot, and sort out what the hell he's gonna do for the rest of his life (however long or short that may be).