A meandering look at my wanderlust through the written word.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I read this book a few months ago when the movie was still only recently in the theater, so its is safe to say that I have had some time to ruminate on this book. I didn't put this off because I didn't like it or because I forgot (not completely anyway); I really just didn't have a interest to write the review, and now I want to get it done.

This is a book that was on my radar for a year or so before the movie, and really with the subject matter it should be right in my wheel house. Its a false utopian/ dystopian future where the bourgeoisie force the proletariat to fight it out for their amusement. Of course this time something different happens. I don't dislike the book, it was alright, but I have no desire to read the other two, instead it made me want to read some of the other books I have had on the list that focus on the same subject matter, but more about them later.

While reading the book, it felt a little tedious to me. I realize that it was written for young adults, but the conversations in this were killing me; the way that each line had to be followed by "..."said *character*. I am used to the author trusting the reader to keep the conversation in line in their mind with an occasional "she said" to give a hint. The story itself is good, the characters have dimension and some definition by their background; they are not just avatars for the reader ( Im looking at you Stephanie Meyer, show don't tell.) The main character has enough dimension that at some points I am not on her side, I can see her ulterior motives and I don't agree with them; that's rare in most novels I have read let alone young adult fiction. All said I don't regret the book, and the story was good for what it was; however I have read better novels with subject matter that is close enough for comparison. I will be reviewing some of those soon so keep an eye out. I It is worlds better than 99.9% of the young adult fiction tripe out there, so actually for a young reader I would highly recommend this, I can easily see this getting them into reading, for the more seasoned reader however it may be a bit underwhelming. would recommend this as a read, but it didn't personally excite me as much as it has some.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Postmortal by Drew Magary

Do you want to live forever?

  This is a book that lives and dies by a simple idea, what if you could stop aging? You could liver forever at the age that you currently are, you are not however invulnerable, you just stop moving to your natural expected departure from this mortal coil. This novel explores issues and raises questions radiating out from that singular premise, there is a cure that stops aging and effectively prevents death from natural causes. The novel is sent in the first person and follows one man, it is actually to be his blog so the story is written as a journal with some news stories of his time thrown in. When done correctly I like books written in this style, especially if they are less about the main character and more about the ideas and events around him or her.

 I liked this book, honestly who hasn't thought about being immortal? This explores one possibility of that happening, and not one set in the far future but less than a decade from now. This helps as the world of the novel is easily relate-able to what we have now, they just have better phones. I found the "news" articles that the character posts as part of his blog to be especially interesting and they seem to serve to explore all the facets of this new world with no set life span. I recommend it, it is a quick read and very intriguing. I for one can see what happens in the book occurring very easily in our society, however you ay have a different outlook on the world of this novel. The novel itself places several scenarios to the reader, some I admit I had not thought of, however I will leave all of them to your discovery. However, I will ask one question that the novel places before you, are we really able to live forever?

The Postmortal by Drew Magary

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

I would like to think that I read this book to gain an insight into the horrors of war, and walked away with a understanding that changed my outlook on violence and how senseless it can be. Unfortunately I am far to jaded for that so at most this satisfied my schadenfreude and left me with a slight impression of "That was a fucked up story." It feels wrong to say that I enjoyed the book, however I can't think of a appropriate synonym.......maybe appreciated......oh well.

For the uninitiated this is a book about one soldier that is injured in World War I, however in the light of his injuries, the word seems to pall in comparison to the reality of what happened to the protagonist. The extent of his injuries I will let the reader explore, however it is suffice to say that it has left him cut off from the world he knew, and he now has much time and more for his thoughts. This for me was not a book about war, it was as much a book about a castaway (honestly as the story plays out castaway is a very good word for what happens to the main character.) This is a story of slow madness, and horrific realizations. If you were to go looking for this book you will find what happened right out in the description, however I believe that took some of the impact away from the realization. This is first person story so I was numbed somewhat to elements of the story as I had already known of them. If possible read this book with no prior knowledge other than the time frame, I believe it will make a better experience for you.I highly recommend it, however it may not be for the faint of heart, the concept of what happens is a shock and it is hard not to imagine what you would do in the same situation.Now that I think back on reading this book, it encouraged me to read more; in case this ever occurred to me I want a library that I can access any time.

I would recommend this for reading when the sun is out and on a beautiful day, anywhere or anytime else will just leave you in a bleak state of mind. Go get your gun, just be prepared for the bang.

Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

First let me start with a warning, this review will most likely contain spoilers, if I get into a groove about part of the story I may let something slip. So if you have not read all five books thus far of the series, continue at your own risk..... And now for the review, books 2-5 of A Song of Ice and Fire George R. R. Martin.

I am doing this review as one because at this time its a little hard to separate the novels plots in my mind completely. Part of this is because like many I have come to the party a bit late, motivated by the HBO series Game of Thrones, I set out to read these books. You may have noticed that I am only reviewing books 2-5, this is because after seeing the first season I could read the first book, all the suspense and build up was ruined. So I carried on and went to the second book, and thus I plowed through the entire series and a couple of months and since there was no space of years between the books its all one unending story to me. To give you an idea of what my opinion is of this series let me first state, Read this series! Just coming out and saying it, this series is fantastic! Really it has something for every reader, fantasy, political intrigue, action, mystery, all is in this series. It contains some of the most complex characters that I have ever read. Usually first impressions of characters tend to stick with me to become my opinion of them. However most of the characters in this save a stubborn few have revealed different aspects of themselves that have reshaped mt opinions of them. From the beginning to the end this series is not one to miss.

The first piece of advice that I would give is to not become attached to any characters, Martin tends to yank the rug out from under you in this respect as soon as you become attached to a character, the body count of characters with extensive back-stories is staggering. Take the pater familias that is Eddard Stark, he was a favorite of mine in the series and how shocked was I that he was then executed. Thus began the series of deaths that made me cringe with the erasure of these characters future hopes, especally for the Stark family. This does lend to the feeling of being a witness to events of the series however, so that you can not form a likely narrative in your own mind on how or where the story will progress, I personally like feeling this off balance, to not know in fiction is a novelty that I rarely come upon these days. The books are filled with events that carry you off balance and keep you wanting more, and I suppose that it would be best to speak on them all individually.

A Clash of Kings  : This is a great follow up to A Game of Thrones. Picking up immediately, it follows the war that the realm has brought upon itself. I love the increased role that Tyrion Lannister has in this novel, he has become my favorite character. This book introduces some new characters of course such as Davos Seaworth, the Onion Knight. The events in this book are amazing and the jockeying for position that happened in and around Kings Landing are enough to make you forget who is the enemy to those involved and who is a friend. Ending on a great battle that leaves you wanting more. As a note to those that have only seen the HBO series, I give my strong recommendation, nay, plea to read this book. It goes into so much more detail key events that have either been glossed over or rewritten entirely. I am not happy with the second season of Game of Thrones, they took liberties with the source material that made no logical sense to me. I can understand if it was time, or impossible due to show vs describe, but they made changes that could and should have been shown , talked about , or described in the series. Please read this book if you like the series, the motivations of the characters becomes so much more clear.

A Storm of Swords : This is my favorite book of the series. So much happens in it to allow one to become completely hooked with where the story is going to go. Much of this unbalance is to do with the final realization that no one in this series is safe from the Reaper. We finally get to see some more of characters that become larger portions of the story, and the narrative is so much better for it. This is also the novel whee my opinions about some characters I thought were utter bastards are reshaped. I began to really understand the motivations and empathize with their place in this world and their lives. I was made both very happy and very sad by the events of this book, and few stories can cause such emotional dissonance, thus as I said this my favorite book of the series thus far. This is not to say however that it is all down hill, the other books are great, just this is my favorite.

A Feast for Crows : If the last book was my personal high for the series, then this is my low. The series has so many virtues that the complaints I have seem more whining than anything else, however they nag me a bit and I cant recommend something with out full disclosure of my experience. The books are long, and that enables the development of complex characters and plots that I mentioned earlier, and allows for a living breathing world to be described. However some characters are less essential and this book is full of them. For the most part this book is centered around a squabble on Pyke, it really doesn't hold my interest, it sets up some new characters that then only a fraction of which do anything of import. Martin stated that this is a story that is to be read as if it is the first part of a novel, with A Dance with Dragons fleshing out the other half. I can not get invested in most of this book. There are opinions that this can be skipped as a book, I say that it still needs to be read but upon repeated readings it can be skipped, or at least skimmed. So I would say read it and get onto the next installment.

A Dance with Dragons : This is a definite improvement over the last book. We finally get to reconnect with those characters that we have been worried about all this time. The events in this are fantastic, however for myself I was enthralled by everything that happened at or north of the wall. The story that is outlined here brings many conclusions from earlier into question. Also the ending is a cliffhanger that makes me sympathize with those that have been waiting for books for all these years. I am now one of the legion of fans that are early awaiting the next installment.

As I have stated this is a great series! Read it at once if you are able and find out why the rest of us have gone crazy for it. Another word on the series, please read these books before viewing the show. The direction the show is going it will be a seperate story soon, the people in charge seem to be making changes for no particular reason that I can decern and show no sign of stopping. I wish you luck in reading all these, hopefully before the next season. I would read them quick Winter is Coming...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

After the cheery book like The Hogfather of course I would want some lite reading appropriate to the season. None of which has any bearing on why I read Never Let Me Go. This is not a book that deals with pleasant subject matter, it raises uncomfortable questions and details uncomfortable outcomes for the characters. So why not read and finish it in the middle of January?

This book is a strange animal, its had to define as a genre. A drama? Definitely. Sci Fi? Some but not as a main point. Dystopian? Depends on your world view. If anything I would call it alternate history ( however closer to alternate reality as the time period is within 20 years or less.) Needless to say I liked the book. As a broad stroke it is a story about growing up, and what happens to your close friends as you mature. I do not want to ruin the twist, as it is surprising; in both what it is and how the characters react to it. The book is really a study of how people change and how people react to your own change. It seems like a pretty quick read to me. Although the subject matter sounds boring, reading about the minutia of a life from adolescence to adulthood, I found myself at times reading voraciously to reach the next part.

This book was made into a film a few years ago, and I found it to be a good adaptation save for some minor changes to setting. I would recommend to read the book first then see the film. The movie is great, and is faithful to the book. I unfortunately did the reverse so I was denied a reveal of the twist at the pacing that the book tells it. They each compliment the other quite well however.

In the end I would highly recommend this book, however it is not a uplifting tale; it is very much a tale of life, which is sometimes unfair. I would say to read it slowly if possible to let it simmer, and then see the film to finish the portrait in your mind of this world.

Never Let Me Go

Sunday, May 13, 2012

First Review : The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

To start a confession, I started reading this book in mid December, and due to a frustrating work schedule finished it in January. So technically this is a book I finished this year, but not one that was started. That little aside out of the way on with the review.

 The Hogfather for those that are unaware is part of a fantasy series called Discworld created by Terry Pratchett. It is a comical take on the fantasy genre and I recommended it to anyone that enjoys comedy or fantasy. The Hogfather is not this first in the series and you may get more enjoyment if you familiarize yourself with the other books. Do not let that dissuade you from reading this however, the book is thoroughly enjoyable to the lay man and the Discworld fan alike. The Hogfather is the Discworld holiday novel, it takes place during winter, and centers around a holiday called Hogswatch. Within a few pages it becomes apparent that Hogswatch is Christmas for all intents and purposes. The traditions are all well represented; gifts, stockings, a large man in a red suit with a sleigh pulled by wild boars.....wait what? Yes there are some twists involved and they are all amazing, especially when the jolly man losses a bit of weight. The story takes a journey from the current iteration of Hogswatch to the very beginnings and it will be hard to not draw conclusions about our own celebrations by the time you reach the end of the book. The book is frankly fantastic. I plan to reread it around the holiday time next year, its not too terribly long, it tells a great tale about traditions and asks why we celebrate them. The book , like all Discworld novels it presents everything with a comedic element, it has some serious and philosophic moments throughout that keep it from being a complete comedy. It is like what separates Jingle All The Way from A Muppet Christmas Carol, both are largely comedic but one at least engages emotions other than humor.

 All and all the book is great for all ages and I encourage it to be read around the holiday season. It hits all the points, the holiday shopping rush, gifts, childhood beliefs, the whole season from the end of November to January is represented with a nod to the comedy of it all and throwing in some fantasy and magic. As I said I plan on reading it once a year, and while I don't make that demand of you the reader, I recommend at least one reading if you like the season, fantasy, or comedy. The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett is as much a Christmas classic as A Christmas Story or A Christmas Carol and should be read by all ages.

The Hogfather on Amazon

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I am starting this blog to post some of my views on books I have read thus far this year. At current count I am at fourteen since January first so I should be stocked with reviews for some time. My interests range from historical non fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, and a personal favorite post apocalyptic. So I will be working through the list starting soon!