369 pages of incredible. Really, I can't say enough good things about this book. It's a book that's very easy to sum up: on the third mission to Mars,369 pages of incredible. Really, I can't say enough good things about this book. It's a book that's very easy to sum up: on the third mission to Mars, an astronaut gets left behind. His crew assumes he's died, and they have to leave in a crisis. But he didn't die.
And now he's alone on the planet, with almost no chance of ever getting back to Earth.
Think of it as Apollo 13 on Mars.
I'd heard a lot of good things about the book, but I really wasn't prepared for just how engrossing a read it would be. It's been a long time since I've been so wrapped up in a plot--so into it that I was actually feeling nervous for the character. That's hard to pull off at the speed of reading, and Weir did it wonderfully.
I do have to throw in a disclaimer for some readers--there's R-rated language in the book. Let's face it: if most people were left for dead on a barren planet, they probably wouldn't say "Golly gee willickers." The main character doesn't, either. But if that's not a deal breaker for you, then I strongly encourage you to give this book a shot.
Honestly, I'd give it 6 stars if I could. It's that good. Realistic science fiction that's approachable and understandable. The conflicts are believable (to this non-scientist reader, at least), as are the ways they are resolved.
Can you tell I liked this book?
Even more impressive to me is the fact that it was self-published. I'll be honest: I rarely meet a self-published book worth going further than 5 chapters in. Weir put it up on his website in serialized form, then sold the ebook on Amazon for $1, until he'd sold 35,000 copies, at which point print publishing perked up. Nice to see a success story once in a while.
Any which way you slice it, the book's very well done. Any of you already read it? I'd love to hear what you had to say....more
At this point, sometimes I wonder why I write reviews of Brandon Sanderson's books. I've loved them all, and so it seems at times like I'm just continAt this point, sometimes I wonder why I write reviews of Brandon Sanderson's books. I've loved them all, and so it seems at times like I'm just continually beating that "this was awesome" drum. But you know what? I like drums, and when you find an awesome one, why *wouldn't* you want to keep beating it?
This is Brandon's version of a school book, sort of on the vein of Harry Potter, but with the typical Sanderson flair for magic systems. The Rithmatist takes place in a world where certain people can cause chalk drawings to come to life. Oh yeah--and some of those drawings can eat people. There's an elaborate system of magic built around the concept, with summoning circles and geometry playing big roles. It's all a bit bewildering at first, but you soon get the hang of it, and there are plenty of illustrations to help you along the way.
So that's the setting. The main character is a boy who wishes he could be one of the people who has this magic ability--but he isn't. He studies everything he can about it, but no amount of wishing gets him closer to his dream.
And then people start dying at his school, and he's one of the people tasked to help the main investigator. I think that's enough to give you a taste of what to expect from the book. I loved the fact that it worked well as a standalone book. Yes, there's certainly lots of room for sequels, but it's fairly well self-contained. The magic system was also very clever--it reminded me of Flatland in many ways, and that's a good thing in my book. It was also interesting and refreshing to have the main character unable to do any magic. That definitely goes against the grain of the normal in YA fantasies--or any fantasies for that matter. But it worked well in this novel. It's a fast read, and one I can wholeheartedly recommend without any need to give disclaimers about content. Yay for that.
So if you haven't already checked it out, might I point you in this book's direction? Have you already read it? I'd love to hear what you thought....more
I don't read as many books at the moment as I'd like to. It's more than I used to before I got my Kindle PaperWhite, but it's still not as many as I'dI don't read as many books at the moment as I'd like to. It's more than I used to before I got my Kindle PaperWhite, but it's still not as many as I'd prefer. (How many books? I'm right around 2-3 a month at the moment. I'd like to be at 1 a week or so.) In any case, I try to make the books I *do* read "count." I don't want to blow my reading time on something I won't enjoy. Thus, I will often put a book down if I'm not loving it, and I rarely get the second book of a series. I'm always on the hunt for something that will wow me. Something I'll want to lose sleep over. And the sad truth is that more often than not, I'm disappointed. It's one of the reasons I don't write many book reviews--I try to only review the ones I really love. (Movies are more disposable for me. A 2 hour time commitment is so much less than 20 hours or however long it takes me to read a book. I can watch 20+ movies a month easily. Since I'm not a filmmaker, I don't really feel any need to pull punches when I'm reviewing movies. But as an author, I'm never sure when the person who I'm asking for help (or a cover blurb) will turn out to be someone who I trashed in a review a year or two ago. Better to bite my tongue, methinks.) This is just a long way of leading up to one fact: as soon as I finished The Black Prism, I bought the sequel and kept reading. It was that good of a book. Huzzah! What makes it shine? First and foremost for me was the magic system. The book is epic fantasy, and the magic is color-based. Basically, magic users can tap into colors to do different things. Create objects. Change their bodies. Do cool things. It was such a nice shift from the typical magic you might encounter--fire or ice pellets. Wizards with pointy hats. It reminded me very much of Brandon Sanderson's magic systems, and that's a big plus in my book. But it's not all just about the magic. The book follows several viewpoint characters throughout the course of the novel. The characters are distinct and engaging, and the plot moves quickly and in unexpected directions. Weeks (the author) isn't afraid to break away from the mold and do things that haven't been done before. What's the plot? The book jacket does a fine job encapsulating it: "Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live: Five years to achieve five impossible goals. "But when Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he's willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart." That's enough to give you a taste, but the plot itself involves so much more than that. Now, there were some fairly violent scenes in the book, and a few steamy situations (nothing graphic, though), so it's not a book for the younger crowd--but it's also not a book full of George R.R. Martin shenanigans. There's a learning curve involved in the book--expect to be confused for the first while as you're reading. It's okay. It will all become clear by about a third of the way through, and then it's off to the races. If you're looking for an engaging read that'll keep you turning the pages and you're in the market for epic fantasy, look no further. Anyone else out there already read it? Let me know what you thought....more