Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book 65 and 66: Shipbreaker and Drowned Cities

In the Shipbreaker world, Paulo Bacigalupi has created one of more interesting dystopian societies I've encountered.  The broken US serves as his backdrop and the warring remaining factions as his driver.  Like The Windup Girl, PB uses environmental disaster to great effect.  But his biggest contribution is the incredible character of Tool, a part dog, part panther, part hyena human hybrid.  While Tool is the greatest warrior of the dystopian world, he is also it's greatest philosopher, even if its by accident.  His almost Jedi like pragmatism in a world gone to hell creates even greater awareness of the horrible mess.  I am hugely fond of both novels and look forward to more set in this world.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Book 64: Summer Knight

The fourth Dresden book is probably my least favorite so far.  The urban fantasy formula, which seems to have been invented Jim Butcher through his Dresden books, is basically just a mystery/noir dressed in wizardy clothing.  The first three were pretty much mind candy.  Nothing great, but some interesting characters and good pacing.  This one gets off the rails a bit for me.  I'm one of those who like the magic worlds to be mysterious and opened slowly.  I don't like elaborate magic systems and alternate realities need a lot of oomph to get it right (think CS Lewis or the wonderul Lev Grossman books).  Butcher's attempts to create the Fairie kingdoms (or whatever they were called) fell really flat for me.  The characters were almost entirely interchangeable and it felt rushed more than well paced.  Still, I'm a fan, so I liked it, but just thought it strayed too far from what I enjoyed in the first three.

Book 63: Krondor's Sons

I knocked out Feists Magician trilogy (or quadrology depending on your viewpoint) earlier this year.  I enjoyed it, even if it was a bit dopey thematically.  After immersing myself in so much dark fantasy, returning to more epic and moral fantasy felt like watching the Disney version of Game of Thrones.  There was just very little to keep the book at anything more than a surface level, plot driven, vaguely intersting story.  I guess it's just a bit sappy.  The only part that worked was the culture clash, but even that was overdone.  Still, Feist is a fast paced writer so it didn't feel like a waste.  I just wish the people were more interesting.

Book 62: Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu

Sounds awful, but I thought it might provide some good campy fun on my favorite underexplored character from the Star Wars universe.  Unfortunately, it was awful.  Really, really awful.  Finished it though and I have two more books in the trifecta that I bought, but I may never read those ones.  Really, truly dreck. 

Book 61: Coraline

I like Neil Gaiman quite a bit, though I found American Gods, which is very well received critically, to be vastly overrated.  As a story, it was fine, but just not top 10 of any lists that I would create.  For some reason, Gaiman feels a bit derivative of classic Clive Barker.  I don't have any real comparisons leaping to mind, but what I've read of Gaiman feels a bit like it's been done before.  Don't get me wrong.  I loved Neverwhere in many ways.  I didn't particulary care for American Gods though everyone else loved it.  So, I picked up Coraline. 

Alright.  This is cool.  I loved Coraline.  It's not one of the first books a lot of people associate to Gaiman, but even though this still felt a bit of a take on themes I've seen before, I really enjoyed it.  Good nasties, intrepid girly hero, and a cool as a cucumber cat.