Archive for June, 2014

I’ve been meaning to read these books for a while. I mean, a wizard detective? What’s not to like? Started the series just over a week ago, and I’m already on book three. So yeah, I found a winner and will probably guzzle up the whole series and then be disappointed because it’s all gone.

Book one I thought did a good job introducing us to Harry Dresden without too much telling. He’s got a mysterious mystery to solve for a woman whose husband has gone missing, and no sooner is he off the phone with her than he gets another phone call about a couple murders. Busy life for a wizard, but he can use the money.

The book drew me in from the first paragraph and I was entertained all throughout. There’s a couple of big mysteries in here to solve and a lot of interesting characters to meet along the way. Vampires, faeries, lots of dark magic, a nasty gangster dude, and a surprising amount of people who hate Dresden’s guts. Seriously, this guy doesn’t make friends well. He should think about enrolling in a class or something.

I really enjoyed the humor in Dresden’s voice. He’s got this dry wit that helps in all the dire situations he finds himself in. Some reviews didn’t like the book because sometimes Dresden is old fashioned to the point of sexism, but I didn’t find the book too sexist. Sure Dresden seems sexist at times, but he respects women, he just thinks they need saving and it’s his job to do it.  It’s a character flaw, and there’s even this fiercely independent detective woman who repeatedly challenges him on it. He questions his overly protective instincts at times and does acknowledge that some of the women he comes across are strong and admirable.

The plot worked well, building to a huge climax with a whole lot of action and creepy creatures you do not want to come across in real life. The story is very self contained and wraps up nicely, so you don’t have to worry about cliff hangers. All in all I can’t think of anything to say that’s bad about it. Maybe a couple scenes felt a bit flimsy, but that’s a maybe. Definitely five stars.

In case you want to read more reviews on this book, go to the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47212.Storm_Front

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Finished this review on wednesday and clicked publish, but it’s only showing as a draft. Weird. Anyways, here’s last wednesdays review in case you haven’t read it.

A more unknown book this time. Only 206 reviews on goodreads. I hate risking reading a bad book because I have a disturbing compulsion to finish the book, and if I don’t like it, that’s a really sucky process. Anyways, the ratings were decent, and its a dystopia (my ultimate love), AND it stars an autistic main character!

Since I happen to be autistic, I love coming across a good book with a well written autistic character. This was one of them. Here’s the blurb:

After a virus claimed nearly the entire global population, the world changed. The United States splintered into fifty walled cities where the surviving citizens clustered to start over. The Company, which ended the plague by bringing a life-saving vaccine back from the future, controls everything. They ration the scant food and supplies through a lottery system, mandate daily doses of virus suppressant, and even monitor future timelines to stop crimes before they can be committed.

Brilliant but autistic, sixteen-year-old Clover Donovan has always dreamed of studying at the Waverly-Stead Academy. Her brother and caretaker, West, has done everything in his power to make her dream a reality. But Clover’s refusal to part with her beloved service dog denies her entry into the school. Instead, she is drafted into the Time Mariners, a team of Company operatives who travel through time to gather news about the future.

When one of Clover’s missions reveals that West’s life is in danger, the Donovans are shattered. To change West’s fate, they’ll have to take on the mysterious Company. But as its secrets are revealed, they realize that the Company’s rule may not be as benevolent as it seems. In saving her brother, Clover will face a more powerful force than she ever imagined… and will team up with a band of fellow misfits and outsiders to incite a revolution that will change their destinies forever.

Things I liked about it:

The idea. Basically it revolves around a time portal that stays exactly two years ahead of present time. People go there, bring back information and try not to mess things up too much and change the future. Not totally original, but interesting anyway.

Clover. The author seems to get that people with autism are varied, and capable of all kinds of things neurotypical people do, including relationships, but sometimes in a different way. I liked that most if not all of Clover’s big issues with her autism weren’t from her autism, but from how others treat her because of it. Clover can function pretty much ‘normally’ with a few minor changes to her environment such as having her service dog around. But do people want to allow these changes that barely even affect them? No way! It has some good parallels with discrimination issues in our world.

West. You really feel for the guy. He just wants to do what’s best for his sister, and ends up sacrificing his own future to do so. No one understands Clover the way he does, not even their father, so he’s basically the only one really there for her. I really liked Clover and his relationship.

Secondary characters: Most of the secondary characters are well fleshed out. The only niggle I had with this was Jude. He’s a more prominent character with an interesting back-story, but there were times when I felt I should know him a bit better. It’s a small thing that I was mostly able to push to the back of my mind while reading.

Timey whimy wibbly wobbly: The two year loop is complex. You know something from the future you can change the present, and it doesn’t always go the way you expect. It’s hard to tell sometimes if you’re changing something for the better or not. This book gets into some of those ideas that make your head spin. This can be good or bad. Personally I love that kind of mind bending stuff and wanted more of it, but some may not like being led to ideas that make their brains do gymnastics.

Things I didn’t like:

Some parts of the plot: Overall I liked the plot, but there were some areas when I thought the author could’ve made more excitement out of the situation. More risk, more close calls, more action. Most of the time the characters were running and hiding, which was OK, but I wish they’d been forced into the offensive more.

Overly convenient: Some plot points seem to make things too easy for the characters. I wanted more struggle, more pain. Yes, this may make me a bad person. Loose threads: This may be addressed in later books, but there were a few of these. The ending: It kind of didn’t. I was expecting some big finale, but it just trailed off. That said, I found the book interesting enough for a read, but the ending did disappoint me.

Four out of five stars. I’d call this book flawed, but worth a read, particularly if you like reading about autistic characters. And in case you want to read more reviews about this book, here’s the link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15985355-viral-nation

 

Another Stephen King. I’m slowly making my way through them.

Aliens, but not as we think of them. No wise green aliens asking to be taken to our leader. These guys are creepy and chaotic, and did I mention creepy? Best of all they’re kind of stupid. It’s nice to see something different from the wise alien race that attacks or greets our planet and somehow have our kind of intelligence, only on a bigger scale and with morality optional.

These guys are really intelligent, and also really stupid. It’s just a different kind of intelligence that doesn’t quite mesh with our own. It’s not vastly different enough to be really novel, but it does make it interesting. Off the top of my head, I’d recommend ‘Ender’s Game,’ for an alien species with a different enough mentality to be really thought provoking. Kristine Rusch also has some very interesting species in some of her short stories. Tommyknockers doesn’t reach that level of intrigue, but the species is interesting enough to read about.

The start’s a bit slow, but if you read a lot of Stephen King then you’re used to that. It has a faster pace than some of his other books like IT. Good book, but didn’t get going for me until about half way through. For me the last half was worth it though.

Characters are interesting. I liked Bobby, she’s a nice character so you feel the pain of slowly losing her to the alien influence. Yet there’s just enough of her, right to the end that you understand why Gard is finding it so difficult to give up on her. Gard was another interesting character, flawed, but good. You do feel Gard’s dilemma. He wants to help Bobby, but doesn’t know how to go about it without risking her or his own life. Plus he just wants to believe she’s still there.

The plot was decent. Not my favorite Stephen King, but good enough to keep my interest. I’d say if you like Stephen King give it a go. The ending was my favorite part. I won’t give it away, but it wrapped things up nicely and felt like a satisfying conclusion.

Here’s the link to more reviews on this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17660.The_Tommyknockers

 

This one’s very popular right now. Over 50k ratings on goodreads with an average rating of over four stars. Plus it’s a dystopia. I dabble in other genres, but I think dystopia is my favorite. And look at the blurb:

WORLDS KEPT THEM APART.

DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER.

Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she’s never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim. Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He’s searching for someone too. He’s also wild – a savage – but might be her best hope at staying alive. If they can survive, they are each other’s best hope for finding answers.

My favorite thing about this book is the world the author built. You’ve got the folks in the Reverie who are scared of all things outside and nature. They plug themselves into virtual worlds and basically just play all day, flitting from whatever they want to do next. Reality seems kind of boring when you can experience anything you like without leaving your room.

Then you’ve got the outsiders, who live in tribes, hunt and kill. Plus some of them have these neat powers. Yes, a dystopian world with superpowers. Love those. So two of these people clash, and they hate each other. It’s awesome. Definitely no love at first sight here. Don’t know what you’re mileage is, but I prefer the added conflict as long as they don’t get all whiny about it. And while Aria’s character is a bit whiny at first, the conflict between them is good and realistic. It’s not just ‘I hate this guy because I’m brought up to hate him, but secretly find him attractive.’ They hate each other’s guts, and hate that they need each other even more.

So that’s the good. And it is good. Great world building, interesting characters (even the minor ones), cool conflict. Plus, did you catch the questions raised about today’s society? There are some interesting ideas raised about the world of today where everyone is plugged into technology, and the world before that (in this book portrayed to the extremes of hunter gatherer / early agriculture times). It gives some interesting ideas about how our brains might be affected (which don’t seem to be completely scientifically accurate, but are definitely interesting).

Now for the bad. The relationship between the two characters started well (as in hating each others guts), and ended well. They actually had a friendship instead of just sexual attraction like some other books. But the bit between ‘I hate you,’ and ‘I’d die for you,’ came on too fast. There was some development, but not enough in my opinion, so it felt a bit weird. Still, it was pretty awesome when they became an epic fighting team.

Character development was great. Aria’s development was great to watch as she went from scared little girl to kickass warrior. There were some moments that felt ooc near the end. A couple moments felt like the author needed them to do something, but the characters didn’t want to. I found myself raising my eyebrow at the details of what the technology had done to their brains. It felt quite forced and overly convenient. If you know anything about brain structure, there’s some suspension of belief needed, but the general idea of technology changing brains was interesting.

Overall I’d give this four stars. Very nice idea, excellent world building, many interesting characters, great character development. If you like dystopians I’d say give it a go. For more reviews on this book follow the link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11594257-under-the-never-sky