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Archive for April, 2014|Monthly archive page

The Clone Republic

In Book Reviews on April 27, 2014 at 6:00 am
Titan Books 2013

Titan Books 2013

Nutshell blurb: The story takes place in 2508 when humans have colonised the six arms of the Milky Way. Humans have begun creating clones and raising them in ‘orphanages’ to be ultimate soldiers. Our hero is raised amongst them and this is the story of his military career.

This book is pretty fun and I enjoyed it. For the most part. Last week, I mentioned that I’m having an issue with books that begin a series and the slowness of their take off. The same goes for this book. A lot happened. There were a lot of missions and a lot of introspection about why the world is the way it is but I found that the story lacked focus. I couldn’t quite work out what it was leading up to and then it ended very abruptly. It was quite obvious that it was setting the scene for the next book.

Another thing that this book lacked was the inclusion of any interesting females. It’s entirely possible for me to read and enjoy books that don’t feature women in them, but I felt the exclusion very keenly. Apparently, women have no place in the future as far as this story is concerned. I don’t mean for that to sound like a harsh criticism of the story, but I feel that it would have been more interesting to see females portrayed as more than just a bit of fun for marines who are off-duty and vacationing in Hawaii.

One of the things that I really liked about it were the clones. They were bred to not know that they’re clones. They all look the same, but the way their brains are engineered makes them see each other differently. They even see themselves differently when they look in the mirror. This was done on purpose in order to keep the clones from one day rebelling against humans. They are also programmed to go into cardiac arrest if they ever realise that they are clones. Again to prevent an uprising.

Overall, I found the story to be pretty fast-paced (even if it was a bit unfocused) and the main character was interesting. I definitely want to read the second book to see if I’m correct in my assumption that this book was setting the scene for subsequent books.

The Fall

In Book Reviews on April 20, 2014 at 6:00 am
The Fall

Harper 2011

This is the second book in this series. Here are my thoughts on the first book, Strain. I’ll try to give you my opinion of this book without spoilers.

Nutshell blurb: A deadly virus was let loose in NYC and has spread throughout the world. The characters from the last book are now trying to stop it in this book.

Most of the books I’ve been reading lately are part of series. It’s strange how that happens sometimes. It isn’t intentional. What I’m finding is this strange thing where the first book is good, but barely. Then the second one comes along and it is sooooo much better. Such is the case with this book. As well as the book I’ll be talking about next week and the one the week after. You might start seeing a bit of a trend in these next few posts.

I would like to take a moment to let you know how much it annoys me. I’m very unforgiving when it comes to books. There are so many books out there and I’ll never get to all of the ones I want to read in my lifetime. So if something doesn’t grab my attention, I let it go and move on to the next one. I don’t feel the need to invest my time in something that doesn’t hold my interest just because I started it. Strain kind of held my attention. I was able to finish it but it didn’t inspire me and it took me quite a bit longer to read than it should have. I felt that the pacing was painfully slow and there seemed to be a constant build-up that resulted in not much happening. In fact, I wasn’t going to pick up the second book but ended up doing so since I saw it in the library.

As it turns out, the second book is where all of the action is and I really enjoyed this one.

It made me think, though, because I’m reading these other books that are part of series and the first books are a bit slow. Why does it have to be that way??? If I pick up a book about vampires or military clones (next week) or zombies (the week after next) I want it to be full of peril and to be fast paced. In places these first books seem to drag. I understand the need to set the scene and to make us understand the world that we’re visiting and how things work in it, but surely there is a way to do that while stuff is blowing up/being eaten or exsanguinated. It’s not that I have a short attention span but I’ve found in these books that the character development is pretty slow as well. We don’t get to know the people very well in the first one and I found that I cared very little about them to begin with. I need something to latch on to and to care about!

Cut to the second book. This is where it’s all at. The characters are much more developed and now I’m starting to care about them. There’s a really cool character that I like in The Fall called Vasiliy Fet who’s an exterminator. He really comes into his own now that he has to fight vampires. I also feel more sympathetic towards the main character. I’ll definitely pick up the next one.

It’s also making me think twice about my policy of not picking up the second book in a series if I find that the first one is a bit lacklustre. Perhaps I need to try to be a bit more forgiving.

 

 

William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back

In Book Reviews on April 13, 2014 at 6:00 am
Lucasfilm Ltd 2014

Lucasfilm Ltd 2014

I know not whence thy great delusions come,

Thou laser brain.

Yes, yes, yes and a thousand times YES!! This book!

This was part of my birthday loot that I picked up when I went shopping last Friday. I’ve read William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, which was so much fun so I when I saw this on the shelf at Forbidden Planet I just had to get it.

Now, this is the kind of thing that you think might be novel to read at first but then it might grow old or tedious, but I have to say that that’s absolutely not the case with this book. It only took me a day or two to read, but it was so much fun. It kept me giggling the entire time.

Most of you know the story of The Empire Strikes Back. But what you may not know is that some of the monsters in the story not only have feelings, but they have soliloquies as well. The wampa (that furry monster on Hoth at the beginning that swipes Luke off of his Tauntaun) has lines. They go like this:

Alas, how I am by this man abus’d-

Could I, for seeking food, not be excus’d?

It seemeth that this wampa shall have strife.

Thus, gentles all: have pity on my life.

See? He was just hungry.

Also, the exogor (the giant worm inside the asteroid that the Millenium Falcon lands in) has a soliloquy. I won’t give you the whole thing, but he’s both lonely AND hungry.

To be a space slug is a lonely lot,

With no one on this rock to share my life,

No true companion here to mark my days.

and now my meals do from my body fly-

Layers, people. There are so many layers to this story that go beyond the film. Who knew?

Some of my favourite parts were when Leia and Han torture themselves over how they feel about each other.

O, wherefore did I speak so testily?

Why is it that when he is near

My wit is turn’d to unto a laser beam

With Han plac’d firmly in its sights? I tear

His heart in twain with words too cruel and harsh,

Then wonder why he is so full of pride.

I’m totally with Leia on this. I remember being a little girl when the film came out. A little girl with a huge crush on Han Solo. I was so upset at the end when he got frozen in carbonite and they hadn’t made the next film yet. It was very distressing. I felt so much joy when Return of the Jedi came out.

I anticipate that I will be just as happy when I get my grubby hands on a copy of William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return. I’ll let you know.

 

Rot and Ruin

In Book Reviews on April 5, 2014 at 6:00 am
Simon and Schuster UK Ltd 2011

Simon and Schuster UK Ltd 2011

Nutshell blurb: An infection has swept the globe that turns people into zombies when they die. People can also get infected when zombies bite them. Benny Imura was rescued by his older brother, Tom, when he was 18 months old and their parents turned. Now he’s all grown up and must find his place in this world.

I liked this book for the most part. It’s a young adult book so it feels a bit more sanitised than some of the other zombie literature I’ve read, but I enjoyed it.

This book took a somewhat sympathetic look at zombies and emphasised the fact that they were once people. I liked that approach because most of the zombie stories I’ve read portray zombies as monsters who feed on human flesh. They do that in this story too but some of the characters see the zombie apocalypse as a tragedy rather than a cause for panic.

The result of this approach, however, is that at times the story was somewhat sentimental and shmaltzy. There were scenes in the book that were clearly meant to provoke an emotional response from me but which actually left me felling perplexed. I mean, yes, zombies have families too, however they usually want to eat those family members and therefore should be terminated immediately. I would be horrified beyond belief if any of my family or friends became zombified and I would be really sad and mourn for the people they were, however, I would protect myself and any other living person from those former friends or family members.

As a side note, if you are one of my friends or family members and you’re reading this, please don’t be offended. It’s not that I actually want to chop your head off or in any other way destroy what’s left of your zombified brain but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to survive. Let’s not make things awkward by discussing this in too much detail. Be advised, however, that if you die and come back to life…I will mess you up.

Another problem that I had with this book is that the people in it were pretty much good or evil. I have a big problem with that. Is anyone ever completely good or evil? I know that there are plenty of people where one side outweighs the other, but in this the baddies were super evil and the goodies were beyond angelic. I have a difficult time identifying with those types of characters.

The zombies didn’t feel like a constant threat which was another strike against it for me. When I read a book or watch a film about zombies, I want the peril to be palpable. Going outside should feel terrifying. A zombie could shamble out of the shadows at any time! Not so in this book. They just kind of stood around until they saw someone to eat.

Despite these flaws, I still felt that it was a good story. It was fast-paced and had good action scenes (always a plus for me). I think that the YA tag is very appropriate for this and would be more suitable for a younger audience. Readers who have had more exposure to heavier zombie stories might find that it lacks intensity. I’m glad that I read it though.

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