Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A+ for Ship Breaker

A+ for Ship Breaker
Great worldbuilding that makes you think about current affairs? Check. A setting that postulates a possible (bleak) future of mankind? Check. A great main character who is easy to root for? Check. Expressive writing with a complex, fast-paced plot? Check. Honestly, this book has it all. I might even have liked it more than I liked his adult novel 'The Windup Girl.' This is everything that a good SF YA novel should be.

Better than: The Hunger Games, Graceling, Incarceron.
Please read the first chapter and know that it only gets better from there. Highly recommended.

A for Among Thieves

A for Among Thieves
I'll keep this one brief. In between reading various novels by Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie, George RR Martin, Jim Butcher, and Patrick Rothfuss, I needed to find something to read. This one came highly recommended and man am I happy that it was recommended to me. Hulick has created a fantastic main character with difficult decisions to make, an interesting world with some good worldbuilding (especially loved the Thieves' cant), and a fast-paced plot just dripping with tension all the way through. Highly recommended if you like any of the authors mentioned at the start of this review.

C- for Incarceron

C- for Incarceron
The characters in the novel are basically fine. Sure, they are both living with very real problems and they are easy to relate to. But are they especially interesting? Do they feel especially well fleshed out? Not really. They fulfill the demands of the plot, and that's about it. I often didn't understand why a particular character would be thinking something or saying something (issues with character motivations) so that was a problem. Is the plot exciting and interesting and new? No. I figured out the gist of the plot after the first 50 pages. Not really any big surprises. Is the idea for the setting cool? Sure. Absolutely. Is the writing good? Sure, it's fine for YA. Is this the best YA novel on the market today? Absolutely not. Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigaulpi is much MUCH better. Heck, even the Hunger Games is better. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and House of the Scorpion are also better choices.

The pacing is good, the characters do their job adequately, the setting is interesting, and the writing is fine, but there are many other better books to read first. If you absolutely are in love with the premise, sure, go for it, but definitely read a few sample chapters and see if it hooks. Just thought it needed to be said based on what reviews are currently found on here (not many).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

C+ for Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon started off well: an interesting, if semi-sociopathic, main character, an intriguing mystery, and rapid pacing. The pacing continues until about halfway through the novel where the twists and turns and added characters began to muddle things a bit for me. Perhaps it is because I tend not to read as much mystery as other genres, but I didn't have these kinds of feelings of confusion reading any of the Dresden Files novels or "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." There is a formidable use of language modification in giving the futuristic society its own edge and feel, but I still can't help but feel this novel is flawed in the ways previously mentioned. Many others seem to like it, so you might want to give it a try anyways, but it wouldn't be a recommendation from me.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Town- Movie Review

The Town- Movie Review
Anyone who has done any research online or watched the trailers knows what they are getting into when they go see this film. And it delivered. Flawed characters are always interesting as long as they have some kind of redeeming feature, and those with hints of wasted potential are doubly so. This was a great ride while it lasted and I definitely recommend seeing it if you get the chance.

I appreciate the way this story was woven with clever foreshadowing and links between seemingly innocuous conversations and later events. A bit too clever, at times, but still nice regardless. The message at the end of this movie was that crime doesn't pay. Or, not really. The character who lived a life of violence died as he lived, and the character with lost potential redeemed himself in the end (although he has to sacrifice an important relationship and contact with the rest of the world to do so). You can't help but feel sorry for the guy as events conspired to keep him involved in crime. One simply has to recall the quote, as cliché as it is, by Corleone: "Every time I think I'm out...they keep pulling me back in!" He is as determined as the FBI officer after him, but is confined by his upbringing and his circumstances. In any case, the point was that I enjoyed this movie. The action was great and it actually had a decent emotional range (unlike most movies that are made nowadays). Check it out.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

B+ for "Best Served Cold" by Joe Abercrombie

This is typical fare for Joe Abercrombie fans. You can pretty much guess the end result of the novel (people will be brutally killed, people will be betrayed, etc.) but it was a fun ride while it lasted. For some reason, this novel seemed even more cold and depressing than the first law series. Perhaps it was the unerring cynicism of some of the characters, but I was left with a hollow, empty feeling after reading this novel. That is not to day that I didn't enjoy it, but you may well finish this book feeling more depressed than usual. The combat is, as always, fantastic and the characters are as interesting as ever. I enjoyed the use of secondary characters from his First Law series being reused here, and am looking forward to his upcoming novel, "The Heroes."

B+ for "Summer Knight" by Jim Butcher

Another highly entertaining read from Jim Butcher in his Dresden Files series. This book, while good, was less entertaining for me because more time was spent on unraveling the mystery and escaping baddies than on interacting with other characters. Murphy isn't in this book as much as some previous books, Michael is totally absent, and Susan is gone to South American (for spoilerish reasons). He brought a character from a previous novel into things a bit more, but I found that there wasn't enough character interaction between Dresden and friends. I'd still recommend this book as I've heard from other sources that the books really start to get good around book four. This is still a quick and entertaining read for fans of the series with a few surprises that I didn't expect (and a couple that I could see coming). Check it out, if only to see Dresden come through again after being hit with another impossibly dangerous mission.