This was a fabulous read, probably the best book I've read this year. It starts in London, and quickly moves into a London of some alternate plane of...moreThis was a fabulous read, probably the best book I've read this year. It starts in London, and quickly moves into a London of some alternate plane of reality, "London Below," where the people who fall through the cracks land.
Gaiman is a very hit and miss novelist for me. I thought Stardust was OK, Coraline was awesome, and Anansi Boys was disappointing. Neverwhere did not disappoint me though. He writes in a very British, slightly understated, voice, that recalls Austin and Dickens slightly (though to nowhere near the extent that Susanna Clarke does) and populates the book with some of the most wonderful characters I've ever had the pleasure of meeting within a book. London Below also harkens back to the Victorian age in it's atmosphere and appearance. It looks like the setting for the scene A Christmas Carol where Scrooge's bed-curtains are sold off by London's low-lifes.
I won't say it's a profound book, but it's a wonderful story.(less)
This is an excellent young adult book about a girl named Tally in a society where, on their 16th birthday, everyone undergoes plastic surgery to becom...moreThis is an excellent young adult book about a girl named Tally in a society where, on their 16th birthday, everyone undergoes plastic surgery to become "pretty." However, when Tally turns 16, the procedure is withheld from her until she joins the government in helping them locate her friend, who decided she didn't want it and ran away.
The book reminds me in a lot of ways of Z for Zachariah, probably my favorite work of YA fiction. There is a major chunk where Tally is out on her own, in the wild, and the way we are given access to her problem-solving processes is really interesting, as is seeing in her the combined yearning for companionship and fear of who might be out there.
Something else I liked is how the society of the "pretties" is painted in a way that doesn't only condemn them. Sure, they have some pretty serious social flaws, but Tally's thoughts also highlight characteristics like their environmental conscientiousness that show it to be, in some ways, an improvement on our own.
All in all, excellent post-apocalyptic lit, told from one of the "pockets of civilization" that seem to appear throughout such books, but which are rarely explored.
Warning: make sure to have book 2 on hand when you finish book 1.(less)
This is a filthy book that is disgusted by itself. It depicts a society that has gone off the rails to an almost comical degree, yet which is disturbi...moreThis is a filthy book that is disgusted by itself. It depicts a society that has gone off the rails to an almost comical degree, yet which is disturbingly familiar in many ways, and the protagonist, Spider Jerusalem, is a journalist who is hellbent on revealing to it's inhabitants just how far gone they are.
I know that Warren Ellis has no time for the Bible or Christianity, but in many ways, Jerusalem's rantings are reminiscent of the Old Testament prophets. His disgust for the lies that the people of his society construct to protect themselves from the truth of who and what they are and his shocking imagery are just as much Ezekiel as they are Hunter S. Thompson. Honestly, if Jeremiah were to show up today, I don't know that he would be much more restrained than Ellis' manic protagonist.(less)
Since I've started reading about the emergent church, I've approached it with a mix of interest and hesitancy. One problem I've always had has been th...moreSince I've started reading about the emergent church, I've approached it with a mix of interest and hesitancy. One problem I've always had has been that I've had a hard time pinning down what exactly emergentness is, as it's such a multifaceted movement with no one willing to speak for anyone else. The amount of reading that I would have to do in order to actually be able to know what emergent leaders (generally) stand for is just too much for me to think about, and perhaps what I appreciated most about this book was that it was able to distill many of the writings of the Bells and Brian McClarens into some fairly solid statements about issues like the roles of scripture and doctrine in Christianity. For this alone it was worth the read. As an added bonus, the authors critique these stances. (less)
I actually bought this book on accident. I ordered a signed copy of Through a Screen Darkly, Jeffrey's reflections on films and movie-going (very high...moreI actually bought this book on accident. I ordered a signed copy of Through a Screen Darkly, Jeffrey's reflections on films and movie-going (very highly recommended!), and he accidentally sent me a signed copy of Auralia's Colors. He graciously allowed me to keep his original shipment, AND sent me my original order. I told him to consider it a review copy.
So here's my review. I really liked it. There's been a lot of comment on the poetry of his language, with some loving it and some finding it somewhat overwritten. Put me in the former category. As I started reading the book I wanted to read it out loud because I enjoyed so much the way the words felt in my mind that I wanted to feel them on my tongue as well. There's a very strong chance that I'll add this book to my repertoire of read-alouds for my 8th grade class. The story itself is, to me, quite poignant. It reminded is somewhat of Guy Gaverial Kay's Tigana in the sense of loss that seems to penetrate the kingdom of Abascar, though to me the characters, especially the title protagonist, were quite a bit less conventional in Auralia's Colors.
Jeff's experience as a film critic has served him well, I think, in writing this book. The story is very VERY preoccupied with ideas and sentiments of art and beauty, fed I think by Jeff's love of movies and the way he's grown to appreciate what they do (again, explored wonderfully in Through a Screen Darkly. He really taps into some wonderful truths of God's gifts of art and creativity and beauty, which I think heightens the loss pervading this realm where beauty is verboten.
The one complaint I would have about the book is one that I often make about books with "intense" action sequences, and that is that I often get caught up in the action and read it too fast and end up missing details of what is going on. I do, however, think that this is more a problem with my reading habits and technique than a problem with the writing, as this is not at all the first time for me to experience this.
As you can see, I recommend this book highly to fantasy fans, but with the caveat that it is not "action packed." The book is quite a bit more contemplative and moves forward at leisure. This might frustrate readers looking for rapid plot advancement, but if you can relax and just enjoy the beauty on display you won't be disappointed. Definitely looking forward to book 2. (less)
Clearly I am not the target market of this book, but I have seen it on a lot of lists of "Books young people are likely to like to read" and I've had...moreClearly I am not the target market of this book, but I have seen it on a lot of lists of "Books young people are likely to like to read" and I've had a few students read it and enjoy it, so I thought I'd give it a shot. And the book really does have plenty to recommend it, especially in the atmosphere DuMaurier creates for the grim cold Cornwall moors and the strong early 19th century voice that she writes in. The heroine is likable enough throughout most of the book: caring, brave, pretty... plucky, I think, is the word critics often use for her type. And you know, if it wasn't for the ending, I might have given this book one more star, but the whole ending was, to me, just a giant cliche.(less)
This book started out amazing, but just seemed to disintegrate as it got further in. Sure, the writing mirror's the narrator's state of mind as he tri...moreThis book started out amazing, but just seemed to disintegrate as it got further in. Sure, the writing mirror's the narrator's state of mind as he tried to resolve his issues with his mother's death, but it makes for really irritating reading. His advice in the "suggestions for reading this book" to just stop about halfway through really is right now.(less)