Read for May 2015 book group. I really wanted to rate this 2.5 between "it was okay" and "I liked it".
I read an excerpt of this in Azimov's (or was iRead for May 2015 book group. I really wanted to rate this 2.5 between "it was okay" and "I liked it".
I read an excerpt of this in Azimov's (or was it Analog?) years and years ago, and was annoyed with the book at the time. I kept this in mind as I was looking for ideas for book group - sometimes a questionable book becomes a very interesting discussion.
While I didn't have the same "this book pisses me off" reaction, I wasn't exactly thrilled with it either. The book is broken up into three parts: escape from Earth, establish colony, the "next generations" personal thoughts as they reminisce being teens on a colony. Taken as a whole, I had more issues with the plot than not.
Part one: Earth's democracy is gone. It's some kind of Republic lead by predominantly southern states. Scientists have been dubbed "dissident intellectuals" if they disagree with the new Republic and they and their families are sent to concentration camps to be reformed. A group of these scientists and families are secretly gathered up and manage a 45 person swap on the colony ship Alabama. While the ship is being hijacked, four armed soldiers are in essence, kidnapped. Right. 45 people are smuggled in under intense security and media, and only four individuals are sent up to stop a ship of 100+ from being hijacked.
Part two: Purpose was to get people down to the planet and start killing them off. This read a bit like an episode of Star Trek, except everyone but the Captain is a Red Shirt. Our small group of armed soldiers still have delusions of something rather than sucking it up and helping colony with survival.
Part three: Teenage angst and romance. Coming of age story. I had the most problems with part three. You bring a bunch of teenagers (and adults) to a colony planet, you put a moratorium on new births, but you don't give anyone birth control. WTF?
And this is where I will leave off, because anything more becomes plot spoiler.
So I found this to be a fairly quick read, it has some issues with plot and character execution, and a few points that could have been smoothed out. If you like exploring new frontiers, man against planet, colonization, this would be the book for you. ...more
I love the Matthew Swift books. I find them consistently solid, peppered with fascinating insights into the human psyche, and interwoven with that BriI love the Matthew Swift books. I find them consistently solid, peppered with fascinating insights into the human psyche, and interwoven with that British sense of humor I've always enjoyed.
Our hero, Matthew, is flawed and reluctant to assume the mantle of his job responsibilities. His apprentice, Penny, is one kick ass sorceress with a heart of tarnished gold who is the perfect counter to Matthews often dark outlook. The supporting cast of characters are varied and multifaceted, the monsters we meet are fascinating, an the setting of a city rife with modern magic of electricity/garbage/graffiti is a nice change from the usual pointy eared elves and woodland magic. I love the urban grittiness.
I also appreciated how Matthew's character develops in this book. He has to begin to take ownership of his responsibilities. He is forced to step up to the plate and BE the Midnight Mayor. He has to accept a little help from his friends. He steps up his mentoring Penny. And, along the way, he makes new friends. Can I just add here that Kelly was wonderful? I love Kelly as much as I love Penny.
And through everything that is thrown, hurled, sicc'd , injected, or fired at Matthew, he still remains true to himself despite what the Electric Blue Angels want.
A new to me author and series. I've been seeing good reviews about this book/author and decided to make it a book group selection. This is being promoA new to me author and series. I've been seeing good reviews about this book/author and decided to make it a book group selection. This is being promoted as YA. On one hand, it didn't feel like YA. On the other hand, when compared to something like the Hunger Games, it was definitely young adult.
So much to enjoy in this book!
It had an almost comic book feel to it (which I liked) with the description of the Epics, their various powers, and the setting of Newcago. I appreciated that the "coming of age" aspect which is so heavily predominant in YA (and other fantasy) happened in the defining moments in the prologue. When we next meet up with our protagonist, 10 years have passed and we have a street hardened young man; there is really nothing special about him (no secret powers, not a "chosen one", not a long-lost heir to a kingdom that we are aware of). He's just a smart guy. I liked the humor - David is constantly trying to work on his metaphors, sometimes with disastrous results. The "technology" was unique and at the right level for the world building. A well rounded cast of characters where there was a small love interest appropriate for the setting.
My criticism's with the book are actually few: I thought it was a bit too action packed (purely personal preference here), the Reckoner's leap from one crisis to the next and planning all happens off-page. I would have liked to have seen a bit more "behind the scene's" character and plot building. I thought the ending was rushed. Three days to set up and operation the size and complexity of which was executed? I found that unlikely. And I would have liked to have seen David interacting with the other team members on a one on one basis outside of the action scenes - again, a bit more character building.
But overall, my complaints are minor. I enjoyed the book enough that I would consider reading the next in the series. ...more
The follow-up to Ancillary Justice (Hugo Award winner 2014). Read for bookgroup.
A space opera that really doesn't take place m2015 Hugo Award Nominee.
The follow-up to Ancillary Justice (Hugo Award winner 2014). Read for bookgroup.
A space opera that really doesn't take place much in space, so much as it does around specific stations or planets. Captain Breq, former ancillary and now the sole remnant of a ship destroyed, is a weapon for the Imperial Radch - though which fraction of the Imperial Radch is not entirely certain. Breq is sent to Athoek Station, where she finds more than the sister of her former lieutenant and love. There is intrigue, hidden agendas (whose exactly? is the question), a murder, and revenge.
Where Ancillary Justice built the world, Ancillary sword builds the characters. The characters are given more personality in the next installment - we see anger, motivation, regrets. This is all nicely built around the culture of the Radch, where everyone is called "she" or "sister", where to go barehanded is an insult and gloves are a must, and we are given a glimpse at the what it is to be "civilized" (gender-neutral in the feminine; yes, a contradiction) and drink tea.
While I enjoyed the emphasis on the characters and the solidification of the world building, the plot left me disappointed. Breq came, she saw, she meddled, and...book ended. I kept poking at my e-reader wondering if I was missing chapters. Nope. That was it. Fini. No more.
Overall, a good continuation of the series, with the hope the next one will pick up where #2 left off. ...more
January's book group selection. Book one in the Polity series.
I've already read Gridlinked, Line of the Polity, Brass Man, and Polity Agent, which arJanuary's book group selection. Book one in the Polity series.
I've already read Gridlinked, Line of the Polity, Brass Man, and Polity Agent, which are in the Agent Cormac series. Polity comes before those in a loose timeline.
This book starts off gripping, becomes thoroughly engaging, and is a lot like a twisty windy covered water slide: you know you're going somewhere fast, it's intense, and will end with a big Splash!
For starters, the Prador were some of the creepiest, nastiest aliens I have read about in a long time. I loved that they were crabby-things with a completely different social structure, drives and desires than your basic "humanoid" alien.
The plot was layered: the main plot - the Prador want to take over the Polity Universe and the humans and human worlds (for food for themselves and possible slaves if they can get the biology figured out). The anti-AI movement feels anything would be better than being subservient or ruled by the AI and are helping the Prador. We have two characters who were giving non-Polity approved augmentations with incredible computing power: a protagonist and an antagonist. Our hero, Jebel, having lost his love in the first attack, has become a Prador killing machine, and when everything comes down to the runcible gate at Trajeen, it becomes very interesting indeed.
I really don't have much in the way for criticism, actually. This is the kind of book I really like to read: good aliens, no love story, good pacing, interesting future technology that wasn't explained in excruciating detail, and can be read as a stand alone book. This is the kind of book that would be great for traveling because it will keep you engaged during your two hour wait at the airport. Or, keep up well past your bedtime.
I'm not entirely sure what I want to say about this book. I found it engaging. It incorporated some interestingNovember's scifi book group selection.
I'm not entirely sure what I want to say about this book. I found it engaging. It incorporated some interesting social commentary. The empathy and telepathy of different humans was interesting. The time travel was a nice touch. But at the end of the day, this was first and foremost, a romance, set in a science fiction world.
I feel a bit betrayed. I should know better than to trust jacket blurbs.
But! It was a very well written romance, incorporating societal differences, galactic upheaval, dogged determination, and two people who were equals even though they came from different places. This was not a case of damsel in distress. Our heroine had to navigate her job responsibilities and the ramifications of her decisions, her duties as a liaison and linguistics officer for the government, and what her growing feelings were toward her employer and friend.
The above was deftly written by the author, the world building and plot gently tugged the reader along - I wanted to find out what happened next, what settlement the team was going to visit, the group dynamics of the team itself.
But at the end of the day, it was a romance. Set in a scifi world.
Overall, recommended. Because it is well written. ...more
I thought this was a interesting blend of 1950's genre - with the scientific observation, the breakdown on how things work and what it would take to sI thought this was a interesting blend of 1950's genre - with the scientific observation, the breakdown on how things work and what it would take to survive - and 2010's optimism of manned flights to Mars. The classic book that came to mind while reading The Martian was Heinlein's Have Space Suit Will Travel.
The premise of the book is, Mark Whatley is stranded on Mars due to a freak accident during an emergency evacuation. It will take every bit of cunning and ingenuity he has to survive long enough for the next Mission to rescue him - which is about four years. His main concern is food and water, and if he can grow potatoes, he can improve his odds of survival. Next is water, how to make water on a waterless planet. Then he need to reestablish communication with Earth. Don't forget keeping all the equipment running well after it's estimated allotted time-span - there are no spares on Mars!
The odds are stacked against him - and in fact, if it can go wrong, it will go wrong. Mark just can't get a break. What I loved was his optimism, his sense of humor, and his "this isn't going to happen unless I make it so!" attitude. He was a character that I cared about, and I found myself rooting along with the rest of "Earth" for his survival.
Meanwhile, we also get Earth's point of view from Mars Mission Control. Some good insight into "behind the scenes" action and what Earth thinks of all this. I appreciated the author keeping these glimpses some what short and focused. I do believe anything longer or more indepth would have detracted from the story - and Whatley.
It's by no means a 'perfect' book. There are some questionable scenario's. My one big question would be, would Earth really rally like it did in the book?
Ultimately, this was a book that pulled me along. I don't claim to understand all the science, I admit to glossing over some of the scientific breakdown, but I still really enjoyed this.
Second book in the Vatta series. First book was Trading in Danger.
I found the second book to be as engaging as the first, if not a little slow to staSecond book in the Vatta series. First book was Trading in Danger.
I found the second book to be as engaging as the first, if not a little slow to start as we watch the crisis unfold and Kylara stocking up with weapons and supplies. I did notice a trend that anyone in an authority position automatically assume the worst and try to add to Kylara's problems. Once or twice, I could see, but every time?
There is something about Moon's dialog that still seems "off" to me. Again the impression of an almost formal give and take between characters, not the easy flow of two people or a group of people talking.
My main complaint with this book came toward the end (without revealing anything plot-wise) with the whole Sexual Attraction Discussion between her, the Mercenaries, and the ISC man. I think it was meant to be humorous, but it came across as patronizing and out of place. It was awkward, didn't fit with the rest of the book and, dare I say it...downright stupid?
Mercenary Man: "You're a young female Captain. You must be attracted to this handsome older man."
Kaylara, "No, I'm not. He's much too old for me and not my type."
ISC Man, "I don't find her attractive either."
Mercenary Man, "I don't believe you Captain. He's a rougish man, you are a nubile female, you have to be attracted to him and it's impaired your judgement."
Kaylara, "No. My judgement is just fine. I don't like his good looks and have no urge to bed him or any other male on my crew."
And so it went for several pages, several pages too many.
Overall, a worthwhile read, a bit predictable, but good for vacation or light reading. Recommended. ...more
A bit of a slow start for me, which I think was because I was distracted with other things and couldn't settle into the sThis was for July bookgroup.
A bit of a slow start for me, which I think was because I was distracted with other things and couldn't settle into the story. When I finally did start reading in earnest, I found it mentally engaging and entertaining. Just enough to cogitate on with a bit of action thrown in.
Ramez explores an interesting concept - if you had something that could benefit everyone, but could ultimately be used for "bad" or "evil" if in the hands of an elite few, would you keep it, sell it, or distribute it? That is ultimately, the question posed to our antagonist, Kade. He has something two select groups of people want, but for their own purposes. Kade feels this should belong to all, that the good people will do will outweigh the bad.
Further, I think the Thailand/Buddhist setting was very apropos for this question - a balancing of action, of karma. An individual morality question being asked in a country where what you do as an individual determines your path.
My one complaint with the book was the action scenes - they came across as overkill. One combat modified woman repeatedly standing between Kade and his potential kidnappers. One woman fighting a half-dozen combat modified soldiers and somehow winning against all odds. Now, not, my complaint is not that she was a woman, it was the overly excessive use of force and odds in both instances.
Overall, recommended. I'm looking forward to the authors next book. ...more
June 2014 book group selection. Not well received - nobody finished. One member quit after 34 pages, one member made it about halfway and set it asideJune 2014 book group selection. Not well received - nobody finished. One member quit after 34 pages, one member made it about halfway and set it aside, I gamely plugged away, skipping bits...and with about 75 pages to go...I don't know that I'll finish. Two members didn't even make it to the meeting. The common theme from folks was: boring.
This particular book was slow to develop, with characters that weren't all that engaging, and a semi-interesting topic that got lost in a plethora of "stuff". And, from my point of view, not very interesting stuff - it was small paragraphs of exposition that I thought intruded on the story and made everything more fragmented than it needed to be. Though, one book group member liked the "stuff" and not the rest of the story.
I've read many books by Brin in the past, I've listened to him on panels at scifi conventions (he's a fascinating and well articulated speaker), and I've watched the PBS series (?) he narrated on what would happen if humans disappeared from the earth. His extensive knowledge comes through in this book, I could hear his "voice", but this book somehow fell short of his usual engaging characters and topics.