Completed 9/3/2016 Reviewed 9/13/2016
This is one strange book.
It’s about Wendell Apogee who is trying to find his lover who has
suddenly disappeared. His search takes
him through the underbelly of New York, where he encounters parties,
cockfights, aliens (illegal and extraterrestrial), and a city below the
city. It’s fantastically imagined and
quite well developed for such a short book.
And it has a wild ending you don’t see coming.
Wendell is a pretty good character. He starts off rather blandly, but then
happens to become a sort of superhero.
It’s rather strange and quirky, but the development is satisfying. There are also several Latino characters,
which is quite rare for a science fiction book.
The one thing I didn’t care for in this book was the
prose. I found it at times to be too
much, to over-descriptive, sometimes causing me to lose my focus on the
story. It’s like losing the forest for
the trees. But if you can push past the
prosy parts, the book is quite readable.
I don’t have a whole lot else to say about the book. If I go into much more detail describing it,
it gives away too much for this short book.
And my creative juices just are not flowing enough yet. Suffice it to say, I really enjoyed it,
despite the prose. The quirkiness of the
plot and the little universe Slattery creates really kept me going. Four out of five stars.
Completed 8/25/2016 Reviewed 8/25/2016
Mistborn is another book club selection. I didn’t vote for it, but I didn’t mind it
winning. It has always been one of those
books I should get around to reading. I
knew it had a lot of praise, so I guess my expectations were a little
high. When I actually opened the books,
I found it difficult to get into, to the tune of about a quarter of the
book. Finally, I started to like it, adventure
revved up and most importantly, I felt like I was getting into the head of Vin,
the main character.
Vin is an orphan, half noble, half skaa (lower class). She survives as a thief, running around with
gangs. She has a gift for luck, making
things go her way. Then she stumbles
upon a gang that shows her that her gift is much larger than she thought. And this gang has a much larger mission than
just stealing. They want to overthrow
the tyrannical government that keeps the skaa as slaves to the nobility. She joins the group, growing in her powers
and trying to help with the coup.
The book is clearly a statement on the evils of slavery and
classism. But it also touches on the
seduction of money and power. The best
parts of the book for me were the scenes where Vin is disguised as a noble
woman, attending balls, and trying to spread and gather rumors as to the state
of the nobility. She often reflects on
the comforts of having money to dress and eat well versus where she was before
this mission, sleeping in alleys and eating what she could find.
The book is also quite a complex universe. Sanderson imbues this world with magic, but
it’s a very specific kind. It uses
metals to produce a desired effect, including having sway over people, seeing
into the future, and travelling at the speed of racing horses. Called Allomancy, it is the gift that Vin
has. One problem I had with the book is
that there’s a lot of description of the different aspects of Allomancy. I found this to be fairly boring. However, when Vin is using it, the action
soars, reminiscent of the film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. There are times when she’s following Kelsier,
her mentor, and times when she’s actually doing battle. Both types of scenes are riveting, as is
being inside Vin’s head during these scenes.
As I mentioned, the book goes through a lot of exposition
with the Allomancy. It also goes into
great details in the plot to overthrow the government. I found the details to be rather dry and my
mind wandered a lot here. Unfortunately
I think the dryness is necessary because it all does make sense when the status
quo does begin to unravel and when the magic is in use. But at 650 pages, I thought some judicious
editing could have disposed of some of the extraneous exposition.
There are a lot of characters in the book as well. I felt that I couldn’t get into the heads of
the other characters as much as was available to me. Particularly, Kelsier, Vin’s mentor and the
leader of this group of revolutionary thieves, is basically a second main
character. There are a fair number of
scenes where he is the point of view.
But I never felt him the way I felt Vin.
Kelsier was more like a major secondary character, and the scenes with
his POV were somehow out of place when we should be focusing on Vin.
Even with the complex magical system, I was only going to
give this book three stars. Fortunately,
the ending is quite a page turner. It
makes up for the unnecessary length of the book and the lack of empathy I felt
for Kelsier. I also appreciated the fact
that the book wraps up nicely considering there’s five more books in the
series. So I settled on four stars out
Completed 8/7/2016 Reviewed 8/22/2016
It took me a long time to get around to writing this
review. Not because the book wasn’t any
good. I just didn’t have anything really
original to say about it. The book is
yet another play on the Cinderella theme, this one is science fiction rather
than fantasy. Cinder is a cyborg, and
because of that, she is lower class. She
has a stepmother and stepsisters, there’s a handsome prince, and she even has a
pumpkin colored car. A lot of these
parts are fun. But there is a whole
second plotline that could almost have been told without having to rely on the
Cinderella tropes. They felt good enough
that I think they could have been expanded without the fairy tale parts and
been a successful standalone story.
I have to say that I really enjoyed the first half of the
book. It was an easy read, having just
finished a much more difficult book. But
once I figured out the big plot reveal, I got bored with it and simply wanted
it to end. There’s a plague decimating
the population. The Queen of the Moon
promises to give the prince the cure if he marries her. The problem is that the Queen of the Moon is
evil and can exert her will over people to keep them in line. Marrying the prince would bring a huge
segment of Earth’s population under her control.
Okay, so now that I write it out, the book sounds pretty
juvenile. And it is. The book was recommended for grades six
through eight. I often like juvenile
fiction. But I felt that the plot reveal
is too easy. I also wondered if we
needed another fairy tale retold with a twist.
In fact, this book is one of a series of fairy tale retellings. And in this book, when you get to the end, it
leaves you just hanging. Even if it is a
series, I’d much rather have a book be more self-contained, unless we know it’s
simply a large book cut into parts by the publisher, like LOTR.
I give the book three stars out of five. It’s light fluff and fun if you let it be
fun, not expecting too much out of it.