Jo Walton takes all of her childhood settings, along with those of her family, and blends them into a dark and magical world of almost reality. This i...moreJo Walton takes all of her childhood settings, along with those of her family, and blends them into a dark and magical world of almost reality. This is a believable story, layered with so many brill themes: Teen angst, angels and fairies, broken families, grief, twin psychology, sci-fi fanaticism, English and Welsh cultures, British boarding school life and the horrors of English food. And with all of these themes, she blends them so well. IMO, the final scene, the most magical scene, does not jump off the page into unreality, as some have suggested. Walton leads into it so gradually that one is almost lead to believe that it is just an extension of everything else that has already happened. And, instead of focusing in a tight shot on her mother there in the every-gorging forest, she leaves her to fend for herself. Fitting.
I adored the part where the three most important new men in her life appear together to welcome her back into the real world. In some ways, they are like the heroes of the force that appear to Luke Skywalker at the end of Star Wars or the throngs that welcome back Frodo and Sam to Gondor.
I also love her love of Tolkien and Zelazny. I read LOTR ten times before high school was done and I have the same pang of regret that the heroine has every time I finished it. (less)
I have liked Scalzi's writing for several years. But I might have enjoyed this book the best. The world-building is not as good as Old Man's War and t...moreI have liked Scalzi's writing for several years. But I might have enjoyed this book the best. The world-building is not as good as Old Man's War and the plot not as enticing as Ghost Brigades or Human Division. This just happens to be the most fun of all his books. His experience as a screenwriter comes through on every page. Brilliant dialogue and surprise endings even in the middle.(less)
Atwood has three things that many sci-fi writers wish they had: She is a writer of almost unparalleled ability. She can write a sentence with great sk...moreAtwood has three things that many sci-fi writers wish they had: She is a writer of almost unparalleled ability. She can write a sentence with great skill, she crafts a plot that is consistent and full of suspense and she has characters that are fleshed-out as believable as any other writer. When she writes general fiction, her books are nominated for awards consistently. When she writes dystopic sci-fi she isn't read as much but she truly heads the class in this genre as well.
The story is a continuation of the MaddAddam story begun in Oryx and Crake. Perhaps the only criticism is that some of the characters from the first book do not act in concert with their motivations in the last book. But she fills in some of their background really well.
I highly recommend this to anyone who can handle dystopic fiction and for those who want well-written sci-fi.(less)
Rothfuss is another young Fantasy writer who, like Paolini, may go on to create an incredible writing career.
The plot sparkles as do the main characte...moreRothfuss is another young Fantasy writer who, like Paolini, may go on to create an incredible writing career.
The plot sparkles as do the main characters. There is no way to describe the book without completely ruining the plot, since it is intricate and woven carefuly. Supposedly, Rothfuss wrote all three books in this series before publishing the first, so he knows exactly where it is going and has left all sorts of clues to be sorted out in the third book (a la Rowling).
I read this book in four days (750 pages) and the second book in six (1100 pages). Then, I found out the third book won't be published for over a year. I am going to go bonkers.
You will love this book if you even half-heartedly like the genre. I guarantee it. Just don't blame me when you get withdrawal symptoms waiting for the last book in the trilogy.(less)
"Mockingjay" is a good, satisfying read. True or not True?
This book proved what I suspected in Book 1. Suzanne Collins is pretending to creat...more"Mockingjay" is a good, satisfying read. True or not True?
This book proved what I suspected in Book 1. Suzanne Collins is pretending to create a sci-fi dystopic book; in actuality, this is a thinly veiled YA relationships book. By attempting this, Collins fails at both. Let's allow Margaret Atwood the title of the Queen of Relationships/Dystopia writing.
The first volume, "The Hunger Games" actually disguises this ultimate sub-text very well. Even though we are introduced to the possible match between Katniss and Peeta in the book, we really don't think she cares that much about him. She is impressed by him (to be sure), but she really doesn't have romantic aspirations as far as he is concerned. She just wants to survive to return home to her family.
But I am aware of how most good authors work - especially with Young Adult fiction. They map out the plot with the final goal in mind. In this third book, I was surprised to find out how sloppy the writing had become (too many similes and misplaced metapors), how chaotic the plot appeared (is there any plot purpose in killing everyone off other than to eliminate distractions and create more madness for Katniss) and how much Deus ex Machina the author employs.
Here is what I mean. No matter what Katniss does wrong or how much she tries to fail and be killed, the author creates some mechanism for keeping her alive. This society that cannot find a way to feed itself has a medical cure for literally everything that ails Katniss (with the possible exception of her rapidly deteriorating brain).
Collins succeeds in turning Katniss from a heroic character to a whining brat. In addition, other than Katniss' sister, all the truly likeable characters are men. Quite a switch for a female author. Perhaps she is trying to be the counterpart to George Martin's "Game of Thrones" series where the only likeable characters are women.
Collins wanted a certain young man and Katniss together from the beginning. But she had to make the path they would take to that end as long and convoluted as possible. What started out with so much promise in Book one definitely devolves in each of the following books.
King has become fascinated with time travel in recent books. But in this one, he answers two questions which have nagged me personally.
First, if we ca...moreKing has become fascinated with time travel in recent books. But in this one, he answers two questions which have nagged me personally.
First, if we can change the past, should we? We think that one change would be good and another bad, but perhaps it would be drastically the other way around. Connie Willis in "Blackout" and "All Clear" addresses this subject more thoroughly than King does in this book, but his book is more fun.
The second question I have often asked of time travel is how that affects the Space-time continuum. According to Quantum Mechanics and other elements of theoretical Physics, all matter is also a function of time (in simple terms, what we call time is simply a measurement of change or of a chemical process). Therefore, if time is "played with" will it not cause matter to change in some way? King not only addresses this, but he takes a love story and eviscerates it with this concept.
Eminently readable by America's most skilled story-teller.(less)
If you see my reviews on the other books in the series, this one follows pretty much the same pattern, with these exceptions.
1. The writing is finally...moreIf you see my reviews on the other books in the series, this one follows pretty much the same pattern, with these exceptions.
1. The writing is finally more concise 2. He does not give in to the trap of becoming sentimental and maudlin with his main characters. All do not live happily ever after. All questions are not answered. 3. Paolini finally is learning how to craft female characters that don't look like weak male characters or two-dimensional. 4. The descriptions and settings have matured. 5. This is by far the best written book in the series. It is also the most expertly edited of the four.(less)
This is the first of her two-part series called "All-Clear". It is the story of time travelers who are historians, people whose vested interest in tim...moreThis is the first of her two-part series called "All-Clear". It is the story of time travelers who are historians, people whose vested interest in time travel is to clarify the past. The two books were originally written as one, but we can assume that Willis' publisher thought no one would attempt to read a 1400 page novel. There are a few of us (note the popularity of Stephenson) but they appear to be correct on this one. I had to take a breather between volumes. Therefore, I will treat the two volumes in one review.
These two books both won Hugo awards for Science Fiction. In reality, all of her books on time travel (save one) have won at least a Nebula award if not the Hugo. They definitely deserve the accolades. Her characters are well-drawn, thoughtful and concise in their efforts. The settings are well-drawn (perhaps too-well drawn. There are moments I got lost in the minutia of WW2 bombings and people movements). This is Sci-fi/fantasy near its highest level.
The story focuses on people traveling from the year 2060 back to the time in London's history when the Nazis were blitzing the island with bombing run after bombing run. There is no question this is meticulously researched. Some of the curious incidents mentioned in this story (such as the rules for boarding houses, laying claim to a piece of carpet in the Underground rail stations and plays performed for evacuees) all have the taste of accuracy that can only come from a writer who has done their homework.
Specifically, the story follows three historians who travel back to the Blitz and then cannot find their way back to the present time. They explore every detail of life in the war, traveling to and fro looking for their way of escape. The real beauty of these books is the two-fold combination of building suspense and quaint mundane living in an extraordinary situation. As the travelers make their way through the events of each day, they take on the personna of the brave Londoners who conquered the Nazis through their grit, determination, blood, sweat and tears.
The book does get tedious at times, but this is the chance one takes when trying to capture the lives of common people thoroughly enough to grip and envelope the reader. The story moves along enough to capture the imagination of most readers, although some who are used to shorter stories and more action might fall to the wayside. Endure my friends. The end is a victory of sorts for the reader. (less)
People who like this series have an "over-the-top" love affair with it. Those like me who have read many, many sci-fi/fantasy series probably shrug th...morePeople who like this series have an "over-the-top" love affair with it. Those like me who have read many, many sci-fi/fantasy series probably shrug their shoulders and say "it's nothing I haven't heard before in the writings of 100 other authors." I don't play role-playing games (takes too much time, not grounded in any reality, borderline too intense), but this book series has the feel of that sort of game. I can even see George Martin taking some of the scenarios played out in a Medeival RPG and adding them to his books.
Without giving away any spoilers, let's say that this book has many characters, most of whom we find it hard to feel sympathetic toward. The book really has no focal character. Martin chooses to use the Floating Point of View, otherwise known as the Intermittent Third-person Omniscient. That is, Martin follows the thoughts and actions of a different character with each chapter. He does do a good job at carrying along a complex plot through this POV. But the result is we often wait for a third of the book to pick up again on particular characters.
His female characters are much more likable than their male counterparts. All but a few of the men are misogynists, and not a single male character is monogamous. Two females are the heroic archetypes (Arya and Dany), but neither of them is particularly feminine. This points out an unusual pattern in Martin's writings: The more likable the female, the less feminine and the more feminine the more stupid. This is endemic to all his writings. His men are more complex than that.
The book is plot-driven, violent and devoid of all moral values. Ethical values are much more prominent, but not necessarily consistent, even with the main characters. The dwarf, for instance, values those who tell him the truth. But he sees no reason to return the favor. He respects those who keep their oath, hates those who break them, but is instrumental in breaking a number of oaths himself.
I recommend this book for young men who want to see how a plot can be written. Women will most likely hate this book, unless they hate women. (less)
Later on in his career, Brin will learn how to fashion together a plot, to make characters that have depth and to understand how to blend science in w...moreLater on in his career, Brin will learn how to fashion together a plot, to make characters that have depth and to understand how to blend science in with a believable world. This novel was written in 1984 and does not have any of those elements.
There is one intriguing plot twist and I will reveal it right here: What happens if we reverse the Second Law of Thermodynamics? This book is a lame attempt at trying to explain what would take place if nothing falls apart but actually improves over time (except people).
This is obviously the work of a young David Brin. The dialogue is contrived. No one talks this way. The two primary characters fall in love but there is no explanation of why. The girl is good looking and this is the extent of the attraction between them. Yet, they are willing to be in a relationship with an alien based on a few passing glances and an improbable ride on a glider turned single-engine aircraft. The battles have no drama in them. The main character knows all about all of science and almost never follows a wrong hunch. The primary foil character is almost as likeable as the main guy and the evil villain gets thwarted way too easily. There is no quest, no self-discovery and very little suspense to hold the story together.
To top all of that off, the ending makes no sense at all. Even if it did make sense, it has no point to it. The only point I could conjure was wondering if the hero becomes his own ancestor.
There is so much Deus Ex Machina that I wonder if Brin himself believed his book would improve over time. All this book proves is that the second Law of Thermodynamics applies to this novel. It looks very weak, even after all these years.(less)
Scalzi is quickly rising in the ranks of my favorite sci-fi writers. To wit: he doesn't preach, doesn't over-write and does tell a story that grips yo...moreScalzi is quickly rising in the ranks of my favorite sci-fi writers. To wit: he doesn't preach, doesn't over-write and does tell a story that grips you. His science is subjugated to the story, meaning that he doesn't put any background material in his books. He isn't a science guy, but rather a dreamer and a story-teller. In one sense, these books fit into the grand tradition of Space Operas, resembling Poul Anderson or Gordon Dickson.
The three books in the "Old Man's War" series tells about a time when Earth and humans are not necessarily connected. Retired individuals are recruited to move into space where they receive new bodies as long as they work for the Colonial Union, a space-exploration, profiteering and military junta. Their new bodies are super-human, though based on their own DNA.
The books do not make any of this format to be either horrible or desirable. The reader is left to make their own decisions. The pros and cons of living in space differently than one lived on earth are presented as the story weaves in and out. This third book is the best of the three, having the advantage of not needing to lay the foundation of the new civilization and its technology. Scalzi launches right into the story which carries a fast pace to its conclusion. Even a medium-speed reader will be done this book in a week.
I recommend it for those who want a fast and satisfying read by a good young author.(less)
Too many consider the Oz books to be children's literature, but their message is much more profound. Baum was many things, but he loved to paint caric...moreToo many consider the Oz books to be children's literature, but their message is much more profound. Baum was many things, but he loved to paint caricatures of personality types and idiosyncracies of people. This follows in the great tradition of Lewis Carroll and William Shakespeare who both devoted their lives to using fiction to carry political and philosophical statements.
All of Baum's books are available for free at gutenberg.org.(less)