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  • fairrosa 2:02 pm on January 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adult, , ,   

    Saga Volume 2 

    saga2

    by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples

    Every bit as entertaining and thrilling as the first volume.  This one contains chapter 7 to chapter 12 — with beautifully rendered bloody and sexually explicit scenes.  What I reacted most strongly and favorably to are the cast of characters.  I hesitate to call them endearing (except for perhaps Marko and the Lying Cat) since many of them are so severely flawed and I probably will not want to deal with them in real life, but they definitely have sharply defined forms and the plot moves plausibly in accordance with their individual personalities.

     
  • fairrosa 10:21 am on January 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adult, , , ,   

    The Great Gatsby 

    greatgatsbyby F. Scott Fitzgerald
    Read by Anthony Heald
    Finally read (listened) to this classic and totally understood why its fame and popularity have held up for almost a century. The tragic love story is laid out so well, subtly at first, then with more and more clarity and force until the readers cannot but detest almost all of the players between the covers, and couldn’t help but pitying Gatsby. It is interesting to me how the “glamor” part of the book is so short and so hollow and yet that’s the imagery most associated with the title. And Nick Carraway definitely is not the naive youngster but an observant, empathetic, and gentle soul whose involvement in all the affairs is not due to his infatuation with wealth and power but due to his willingness to treat others with decency. Perhaps that IS a form of naiveté — but there is a nobility to it and you don’t want him to lose it.

    I find it slightly unsettling how Fitzgerald strays from the confine of a first person view point many times to describe in details both factual and emotional events that Carraway (the first person narrator) could have never directly observed. I imagine this shifting of limited first person POV and an omniscient narrative passages is greatly discussed in classrooms around the country. I wonder if anyone writing novels today can get away with this inconsistency?

     
  • fairrosa 3:16 pm on January 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adult, , , ,   

    Saga, Vol. 1 

    saga by Brian K. Vaughan; artwork by Fiona Staples

    The first six installments (chapters) of a supposed Space Opera definitely grabbed my attention and my heart. The world is ingeniously built, with interesting and outlandish “races” — I adore the reddish ghost girl who has only top half her body…. not quite sure how I feel about the computer monitor headed royalties… I hope the story unfolds with a lot of creativity and depth. My strong and enamored reaction to this book came largely from Fiona Staples’ lush artwork. I don’t feel like calling her just “the illustrator” because I feel that she did more than mere illustrating what’s given to her — but expanded and enhanced this fictional world and its inhabitants with grace. I look forward to the next volume!

    Ah.. this is really not meant for children — even though I know quite a few of my younger teens have read this (on their own, not by my recommendation.)

     
  • fairrosa 12:21 am on January 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adult, crime,   

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 

    dragontattooby by Stieg Larsson, Reg Keeland (Translator)
    Audiobook narrated by Simon Vance

    I have SO many issues with this book.  The top three:

    It has the longest, most boring exposition section of pretty much ALL the books I’ve ever read.  The tedious laundry lists of the company and personal histories that do not propel the story and also do not really illuminate the personalities that much more made me want to just KILL the audio!

    I find neither of the protagonists portrayed convincingly to fit the author’s high esteem of both: Mikael does not quite “show” how he is the most moral person as proclaimed by other characters and the narrator; and Salander seems to me more broken and angry than badass and vulnerable.  I really don’t find her appealing.  But, hey, I’m not a fanboy/fanman of this character.

    I am not particularly squeamish or prim when it comes to book/story contents — as long as I feel that whatever details or events included in the book serve some literary, storytelling, or creative purposes.  But for some reason, the portrayal of Salander (the female protagonist) really bothers me — her “toughness” and lethal personalities, mixed with her supreme helplessness and brokenness are all probably very realistic (I’m no psychoanalyst) and yet this mixture does not appeal to my sensibilities at all.  The fact that so many young and middle-aged men highly recommended this book to me, and especially expressed their appreciation of Salander as a cool character made me actually uncomfortable and worried.

    This, along with some other children’s and Young Adult books I read in 2013 featuring “tough girls” made me start pondering about the current trend of readers’ readiness and urge to applaud tough female characters in books.  Because, it seems to me, that instead of patience, resilience, open-mindedness, what I consider true strengths in human spirit, many authors have been creating vengeful or single-minded “tough” female characters whose most prominent and “appealing” personality is rooted mostly in aggression: a traditionally (and physiologically?) masculine trait. What are we applauding then? Are we praising a female character because she is free to be “whomever” she wants to be, liberated from the traditional and “weak” traits associated with femininity – or are we just saying that she is to be lauded because she behaves more like a male specimen since masculinity is clearly superior?

    I will be reading many many 2014 Young Adult books this coming year and how young women are portrayed in these books will be something I pay special attention to and report here.

    By the way, here’s a funny re-title from the site: betterbooktitles –

    BetterBookTitle for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

     
    • DaNae 11:27 am on January 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I very much appreciated and enjoyed your insight. I’m reading THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN right now. I don’t think the protagonist is vengeful or particularly tough but the boys who are drawn to her do think that of her. I’m wondering if Holly Black put her finger on the same phenomenon you did.

  • fairrosa 10:19 pm on October 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adult, , ,   

    Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk 

    squirrelby David Sedaris, read by the author

    Finished listening to Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk… here are my thoughts: I was really smitten with this audio production and the stories at the beginning — Sedaris is definitely hugely talented and oh so so very clever. And the excellent reader/actors (David Sedaris, Dylan Baker, Elaine Stritch and Sian Phillips!) definitely enhance the listening experience. However, half way through, I realized that Sedaris’ life view is just too bleak and his humor too mean-spirited for me at this time of my life. I almost cringed at the thought of listening to the next grotesque and undoubtedly bleak tale… … but I went on and finished the book — and enjoyed The Grieving Owl (toward the very end of the book). Looking back, that might have been the only story that I could say that I truly enjoyed (about 95% of the tale… the ending wasn’t pretty and I didn’t much love it). I almost wish that I had not encountered some of the denizens in this story collection or witnessed that much ignorance, vanity, pride, and all kinds of unattractive human traits, even when the author’s intention is to belittle and make fun of these traits. Now, I cannot unread or un-know these stories. Shucks!

     
  • fairrosa 5:17 pm on October 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , adult, , , ,   

    The Kingkiller Chronicle, vol. 1 and vol. 2 

    nameofthewind
    wisemansfearVol. 1 (Day1) : The Name of the Wind and

    Vol. 2 (Day 2): The Wise Man’s Fear

    by Patrick Rothfuss

    Altogether, these two volumes are more than 1,500 pages long and the audio book versions took about 61 hours to finish.  I mostly enjoyed the listening experience: the first volume is definitely tighter and since everything is new and the world is un-encountered before, I had a little more patience in all the details that Rothfuss put into the tale: colors of people’s clothing, the types of foods, some basic societal rules, etc.  And there are definitely a lot of thrilling moments and some good passages.

    The Wise Man’s Fear, though, suffered from being too detailed at moments, too many similes thrown into the passages (that really could and should have been edited OUT of the tale,) and just too long.  I am really annoyed by authors who decided to use a particular narrative “device” and could not keep to the simplest or fundamental rules of that device.  Here, each volume is supposed to be tales told to the scribe within the duration of ONE SINGLE DAY (where people do go to sleep, where the current day contains events such as robbery, lunch, fighting, etc.)  So, almost 1000 pages of words (no matter how FAST one might be able to speak or write down the words) simply don’t compute.

    One learns in writing classes that in order to create convincing and lifelike characters, one must know all the background stories (what colors they like, who was their first crush, when was their first experiences of fear and when and why and how, etc.) of the major characters.  But so much of these details should remain in the mind of the author.  Once in a while, perhaps, something can be drawn out and fill in a missing piece of a character’s traits.  But, the Wise Man’s Fear is full of such details breaking through the backstage door and cavorting on the main stage.  It just didn’t work for me.

    I also got quite bothered by Rothfuss’ insistence of describing every single emotion or experience with a comparison to something else.  It is OK, Patrick R, to sometimes just say that you feel soothed by someone’s voice without having to compare the soothing feeling to a mother’s gentle touch to a child’s cheeks and the voice is just like a lover’s breathy whisper by your ears.  Some figure of speech enhances a narrative, but overindulgence in such narrative tool becomes tedious eventually.

    All that said, did I love a LOT of what went into the books?  Absolutely.  I loved the world building, the mystery, the tentative romantic relationships, the exploration of language, means of communication, and how world history can be shaped and reshaped.  And I will definitely read (or listen to) the final installment when it is published next year.  Still a series worth recommending.

     
  • fairrosa 10:56 am on July 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adult, , , ,   

    The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume One 

    leagueofextraordinarygentlemenby Allen Moore, Kevin O’Neill, Ben Dimagmaliw and Bill Oakley

    The concept of bringing a lot of 19th century literary characters together to solve a mystery is definitely a fun one — although not unique, at least, not any more in an age of mash-up stories. I enjoyed spotting literary allusions and also learning more about characters or original stories that I was not familiar with. The art is superb. The section with all the Chinese dialog is actually fairly accurate. Kudos! I think I’ll go over all the panels more than once just to enjoy the artists’ talents. Another aspect that’s extraordinarily fun is how the whole thing is done in an 1898 serial publication style. All in all, worth my time!

     
  • fairrosa 4:39 pm on July 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adult, , , information, word count,   

    The Ocean at the End of the Lane (and Word Count) 

    theoceanattheendofthelaneby Neil Gaiman

    This is typical Gaiman: the nightmarish landscapes and events are always presented with a reassuring glow of beauty that makes the scene and the story much less horrifying. Rather, it becomes purely entertaining. A bit of chill here and there and things mostly work out — except that there is always that trademark tinge of melancholy – like a lonely tinkling of a music box that plays a haunting and unfamiliar tune, slowly coming to a pause. The book reads like an expanded short story and I think it probably would have benefited from being a short story, rather than a novel (which even though meets the “novel” length requirement, reads more or less like a novella, with such a local setting and a tight plot time frame.)

    Did I enjoy it? Definitely. Did it sweep me off of my feet? Not like some of his other work did in the past. However, since Gaiman proclaimed that this is as close to an “actual account” of his childhood as he could manage, the readers do get a glimpse of this creative writer’s mental landscape and the psyches that bring us illuminating stories.

    I got a bit curious about the definition of novels, novella, etc. by length, and found this list on the Nebula award:

    • Short Story: less than 7,500 words;
    • Novelette: at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words;
    • Novella: at least 17,500 words but less than 40,000 words
    • Novel: 40,000 words or more.
    • At the author’s request, a novella-length work published individually, rather than as a part of a collection, anthology, or other collective work, shall appear in the novel category.

    Source: http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards/nebula-weekend/faq/

    On the same site, I also found an article about the definition of “a word”:

    “So, years ago, publishers set up a standard definition: a word is six characters (including spaces).” — more detailed explanation and rationale for this can be found here:

    http://www.sfwa.org/2005/01/what-is-a-word/

     
  • fairrosa 2:02 pm on July 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , adult, , , ,   

    Dune 

    duneby Frank Herbert

    I was much more impressed with the book during the reading of the book than after having finished it — largely due to my expectations of having something transcendent, something heart-felt, something truly world shattering that the journey might have led to than what actually transpires at the end.  I definitely liked the world building, the presentation of technology and training of various warrior/assassin types, and the drawing upon non-Euro-centric traditions in constructing the beliefs and social structures within the world of Dune.  (And the Sand Worms… are such cool Desert Dragons!)

    With such a rich and realized world, in the end, the book is just a fairly standard story of a hero that’s born with amazing abilities who cannot escape the paths set up for him and who walks all the way to the end as destined and even though losing a few precious things along the way, there seems to be little to no effect on his person. Much of the plot is propelled and explained away with mysticism and basic political maneuvering. At a certain point, I muttered, “Paul’s better not succeeded in accomplishing this as he has planned…” — but, as always, he did. He managed to achieve all that he set out to do, from outwitting enemies, to changing the ways of a tradition, to earning back trust easily from his old pals. Yes, he did lose a son in the whole process — but his reaction? They would be able to create more heirs and the heirs will inherit the world.

    The volume ends as the two generations of concubines having a short exchange where Paul’s mother assures Chani (his true love but not the proper empress) that even though they would never have the title during their lifetime, they will be remembered in history as “Wives”!! Woop-dee-doo! What an achievement!

    Granted, it was created in early 1960s and perhaps Herbert was not trying to question science or future worlds as harshly as we might these days — I still couldn’t help but putting a 2013 lens on it.

    I know I will not be reading the sequels any time soon.   I searched and read some book summaries of the two sequels — it seems that the question of lineage and political power play are even more centralized in the next two books. Definitely not too exciting for me!

     
    • kisaacs 7:06 pm on July 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I think it’s hard to imagine how rich this world was in 1965 when nearly every science fiction title I read was also political. (It hurts to look back at Heinlein.) It WAS transcendent, then, but like everyone else, writers stand on the shoulders of giants

      • fairrosa 10:35 pm on July 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        I wish I had read it a lot earlier. I think I would have been less let down. I think the world is RICHLY built and the landscape and the science vivid and sound. I just thought that Herbert would have gone the route of creating different and more enlightened world-order than falling back into the “I’m avenging my father’s death and now I’m taking the throne” by being the Proper Heir of the last Duke. Does that make sense? My expectations?

  • fairrosa 7:28 am on June 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adult, , realistic, ,   

    Room 

    room by Emma Donoghue

    I definitely was expecting a slightly different book after hearing about it from many students who were enthralled by the book, describing it as a “psychological thriller” and very creepy.  It turned out to be more about the process of socialization of a semi-feral child and the power of persisting maternal and familial love.  The strength lies in the author’s deft encapsulation of the inner and exterior voices of a five-year-old (super intelligent) child.  I do question the utter success of the escape and the short time it takes for both the boy and the mother to adjust / readjust to the Outside — with the understanding that this is not a psychology textbook but an author’s imagined world.  I listened to the audio book version and the voice actors are simply superb!  

     
  • fairrosa 10:07 pm on June 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adult, , , , , ,   

    Smoke and Mirror 

    smokeandmirrors
    by Neil Gaiman – read by Neil Gaiman

    This is a short stories collection from 1998.  As I love Fragile Things and especially love how Gaiman reads his own tales — he is quite a voice actor, changing his tones, inflections, accents — all dexterously and effortlessly and all quite fitting the characters, the advantage of having the author (who is a good storyteller) reading the stories.

    I did not love all the tales — not even most of them.  Of the 31 tales and verses, I think I only really enjoyed about a dozen or so.  Something felt lacking — quite a few seem to be character sketches or exercises in painting imageries and building atmosphere, for something bigger and more complete — but not deep or polished themselves.  I often enjoy Gaiman’s somewhat dark or even brutal (and honest, perhaps?) depictions of sexual acts in his writing for adults.  But, I found myself slightly appalled by certain gratuitous passages, shaking my head, gently whispering in my mind, “Neil, you did not have to resort to this — the story itself is strong and intriguing enough…”  — but, of course, many of these stories were meant to be slightly pornographic (light erotica) — I just didn’t quite prepare myself for so many of them being this way.  Now I’ve listened to it once, I’ll be able to go back and pick out the tales that I want to listen to over and over again (like quite a few of those in Fragile Things) and also figure out why some of the stories did not work for me the first time.  (They might grow on me upon repeat listening.)

     

     
  • fairrosa 9:32 am on May 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adult, ,   

    The Magicians 

    magiciansby Lev Grossman

    I have several different layers of reactions to this book.

    Started reading it when it was first published and didn’t quite manage to get too far.  I was sufficiently intrigued by the premise and the tone (smart and snarky and somehow languish as well — there’s a definite “drawl” in the sentence delivery here) to pick it up again and finish it this time around.  And gosh, how much I HATED parts of the book!!!

    Good things first: Grossman definitely knows his fantasy tropes and knows how to subvert some of the conventions.  Magic isn’t easy.  Magical lands can really hurt/kill you.  Being a magician might not be as glamorous as one think.  And he definitely delivered some cool inventive magic powers in the book.  I love the transformation from human to geese, the various elemental and physical magic spells and powers, and the time/space travel scenarios, among many other minor and interesting magic tricks.

    But.. but… but…. Quentin is SUCH A BORE. Such an angsty whiny little man that I simply couldn’t muster any compassion for him and his predicaments.  The constant search for happiness and the disappointments, the high school and college romantic affairs that turn out to be just petty relationship drivels.  And Alice as a super-magician was just a convenient device so she could save the day and sacrifice herself so that Quentin can somehow have a revelation (a bit too little too late) at the end of the tale.

    Grossman managed to create a really unattractive fantasy book that makes me want to cry… in making sure that the readers realize that magic and the fantasy world is Real and is Hard and is Dangerous, he also made sure that much of the charm of a great fantasy novel is destroyed by his words.

    Upon discussing this book with my teen readers, though, I realized that perhaps it’s just me being a middle aged reader who is tired and sick of anything dealing with relationship conflicts. These high school readers sense and fantasize about all those college romances as  something to ponder and to look forward to and to experience in their near future.  So, those quarrels, sex partnering, betrayals, loyalties, etc. add to the attraction of the book, not diminish it.  I heard that the sequel is better.. should I continue??

     
    • medinger 11:44 am on May 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I agree that Grossman does create an alternative and not-very-pleasant fantasy land in a clear contrast to those of what young people imagine Fithian (that was the world, wasn’t it), but I found that fascinating. Are you bothered because it represents fantasy to none-fantasy readers as terrible? I was absolutely intrigued by how he was subverting and playing with tropes. I was less enthused about the rakish, druggy young adults. So I ended up mixed about the book, but did go on to read and enjoy the sequel — and seem to recall the world comes across more nuanced in it.

    • fairrosa 4:00 pm on May 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I totally agreed with admiring his ability to play with the tropes and I don’t even mind that the fantasy world isn’t charming. (Deep down, I KNOW I wouldn’t survive for 30 seconds if I were ever to enter say, Lyra’s life or Frodo’s.) I just really really find all the excessive drinking, partying, petty relationship whining very tedious. As I said: I have no patience for such stories any more.

  • fairrosa 12:13 pm on April 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adult, , ,   

    Batman: Arkham Asylum (15th Anniversary Edition) 

    batmanaa by Grant Moorison, art by Dave McKean

    To some readers, namely my 12-year-old students, this book is a total disappointment.  It has the brand name Batman on the title.  It IS a sort of origin story — of the Arkham Asylum which houses many infamous villains, including the Joker, of the franchise; and it does have segments with Batman in them.  But, they feel somehow cheated because there is almost no treatment of the fight scenes during the Hide and Seek game on the Asylum Ground.  A couple of pages, with McKean’s signature dream-like artwork hastily showing Batman  dispensing of all the Asylum inmates, are all they got out of these fight scenes.  And as super hero comics readers, they were not satisfied.

    I felt differently.  As a McKean art adorer, I enjoyed all the panels, both the really detailed close-ups and the dream-line distanced treatments.  And I am totally ok with not “watching” longer sequences of the fights.  I enjoyed the psychoanalytically inspired (albeit superficially so) back story of Doctor Arkham more than my students.  However, I won’t say that this is one to highly recommend to either Graphic Novel enthusiasts or novices.

     
  • fairrosa 6:20 pm on February 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , adult, , , , ,   

    5805V for Vendetta
    by Alan Moore
    art by David Lloyd

    I really appreciated the intricate storytelling and some of the truly dark moments in this complete collection of the V stories. It’s great to finally know what this classic graphic novel is about and to have read something by the famed Alan Moore. At the same time, I’m not sure that I bought all the philosophical and political views underpinning the characters and the plot line: it seems to run too straight and too narrow down one singular line and everything worked out all according to V’s plans. That said, it is a rewarding read that demands quite a bit of focus and now I have to ponder hard about the ending: is it a brilliant treatment or does it too abrupt and unresolved? I’d love to hear others’ opinions on the series’ ending…

     
  • fairrosa 5:16 pm on January 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , adult, , , , Kristin Cashore,   

    Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore 

    Finally finished it… and after 545 pages (in the ARC) I want it to keep going… so the wait begins, again, for the next installment.

    How does an author touch one’s heart so profoundly? What did she do that’s just right? The pacing is perfect – without much battle or fight scenes. I knew the general direction that the story must follow and felt rewarded, rather than bored, when the story arc falls neatly where I anticipated — but, also surprised along the way with many little bits and pieces that Cashore masterfully inserted into the story to make it even more intriguing and the world even more realized.

    The book is, though, filled with so much sorrow that one can almost not bear reading through. I hope young people (14 and up?) will not be as horrified as us older readers by Leck’s astrocity on his victims and his forced accomplices. I am amazed at the sympathy I felt toward him — the pure evil embodiment through the 3 books — and how damaged a mind and what a torture chamber that mind is for himself.

    Glad to see the other beloved characters from Graceling and Fire and can’t wait to see what the next, culminating kind of story Cashore will bring us.

    And — Kristin, please don’t worry about publishing the next book right away. We can wait. And if you are having trouble telling the next story, go do something else. Go write something else. Go present your insights on Fantasy world building, on character development, on capturing emotional truths, etc. to the world. Thank you so much for a most affecting story!

     
  • fairrosa 8:56 pm on January 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , adult, , Robopocalypse, , ,   

    Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson 

    I absolutely enjoyed the many separate pieces in the book — thinking that each chapter can be treated as a short story since there is always a beginning and an end and not too much set up is needed to comprehend most of them. There are some really intensely gory and cringe-inducing scenes and a couple tales border on horror. Some are heart-warming, too.

    One thing that I couldn’t quite get over, though, was the unevenness in keeping to the rules that the author set up for himself: That, supposedly, each piece in the book is a “translation” of something the “narrator” gathered from a massive electronic archive with audio, video, text, etc. — recorded history of various participants in the Robot Uprising and the global warfare afterwards. However, instead of using a 3rd person, observational tone, Wilson chose to tell many of these heroes’ stories from a first person point of view — EVEN if the recordings themselves are from an exterior angle. (And I just noticed that the first few stories are more in keeping with this framework — some stories are from a third person viewpoint while others are supposedly “narrated” by the participants themselves as interviewees or writers, etc. — but that consistency gradually fell apart and at the end there is a lot of “I” and how “I” felt even though the gathered records couldn’t have provided those perspectives.) And some of the voices are not quite in keeping with the characters themselves — or at least, not quite distinctive to be discernibly different from each other, even though some of these characters are drastically different in backgrounds and should probably have different tones. — Although I guess I can accept it because many of them are told from the reporter/archivist’s “voice.” (However, then why are they told from the “I” perspective?)

    Still, I can see many readers enjoying the stories and gobbling up the scenes with relish!  And, I am so enamored with the cover design!

     
  • fairrosa 5:44 pm on July 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adult, ,   

    Daytripper 

    Daytripperby Gabriel Ba & Fabio Moon

    I really enjoyed the lyrical atmosphere and some of the intense scenes in both the text and the art and am glad that the final chapters tie the whole narrative structure together. Of course, because if this tidy conclusion, the narrative ceases entirely to be original or fresh with the previous segments being but the potentials of a person’s life as experienced in the “land of fate and possibilities.” The magical realism quality becomes but possible, but not true, device. That is mere quibble of an otherwise string of very strong and moving narratives. Highly recommended!

     
  • fairrosa 6:07 pm on July 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , adult,   

    The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2)by Brandon Sanderson

    Feeling quite reluctant to write something about this book because I was annoyed as I read (slowly since it didn’t pull me in as the first volume did.) But, I have to keep a record and now am writing a brief note on it: Sanderson does not seem to trust that the readers would remember details from earlier in the same book so there is an unnecessary amount of recaps that just distracted me from enjoying the plot line. I thought most of the device to hide crucial information from the readers was effective but also quite obvious. Besides, although I understand that Sanderson didn’t want to follow the fantasy hero novel tropes to have a huge and triumphant payoff at the end of the novel, especially since this is the middle volume and, hopefully the victory will eventually come at the end of Book 3, I was quite disgusted by the “trickery” and the demoralizing defeat at the end of this arc. (And this is from someone who usually appreciates an author’s realistic rendering of events, even in a fantasy novel with powerful magical beings.) I have to wait for a while to read the final installment and it had better be worth my time then!

     
  • fairrosa 7:38 am on May 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adult, , , , ,   

    Days Gone By: #1 of The Walking Dead 

    Days Gone Bye (The Walking Dead, #1)by Robert Kirkman

    The first installment in the long series focuses mostly on the relationships of the living with the backdrop of extreme hardship of the zombie plague. I imagine that that will be the flavor for the rest of the series. The author does a great job capturing the characters’ traits and presenting the interplays between characters with conflicting interests. The tension is high, the dialog realistic, and the artwork is well executed. Now I have to read the rest of the series!

     
  • fairrosa 10:52 am on January 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adult,   

    Never Let Me Go 

    Never Let Me Goby Kazuo Ishiguro

    This Science Fiction reads like a lulling memoir, from a young woman’s view point, who had an almost idyllic boarding school / well-run orphanage experience growing up. The book is full of anecdotes about her friendships with two classmates and their somewhat odd and entwined past. Since I knew that the book is SciFi and there are enough hints and clues embedded in the incidents, I was never surprised by the way the story progresses.

    Yes, like many readers, I was questioning “how is this possible?” and “how can they just take it and take it and no one rebels?” For me, that is what differentiates this alternative history/scifi from many other of genre that treats this topic: the young people who are inculcated since birth of their “uses” in the world would not question the system and would not want to organize anything remotely like a movement to gain rights for themselves. They donate, they care, and then they “complete.” For this, I greatly respect and admire the author.

    Did I absolutely love the book? Not exactly, since it is perhaps too quiet and introspective, and the too minute examination of characters and their motivations is too “well done” (and thus dry and tough, not quite juicy and supple) to my taste. I wonder if this is told from Tommy’s point of view and how he might have acted if he had different encounters and friends at the “school.” That said, I believe this is definitely a great conversation starter and a worthwhile read.

     
    • Nikki 5:28 pm on January 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I agree that the story can lose pace at times, ’cause let’s face it, there isn’t a lot happening plot-wise. But I love that Ishiguro brought a different take to clones; maybe they don’t know how to rebel or are just so used to their lives that the idea doesn’t occur to them. In most fictional stories characters are brave and courageous and ready to revolt, but in life humans often don’t rise up against something they think is wrong, or don’t want to take the energy to rebel. The story is a character study of the clones, how they think and feel – or don’t feel. If anything the book poses questions about clones and to what rights they should be entitled. A book from Tommy’s view-point would be fascinating. But the numbness that Kathy feels towards everything – Hailsham, her friends, love – ultimately makes what I think is a fantastic tale.

      • fairrosa 11:42 pm on January 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        I am in agreement with you here, Nikki. The minutiae of the characters’ motivations is the strength of the author but at the same time, Kathy seems too perceptive being able to interpret even the most obscure or covert emotions. Of course, she could have read everyone’s feelings wrong, too! But then, we are left with a very inaccurate “report” of the history and future of these characters.

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