Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Rise of the Iron Moon


          Okay, so the rundown is as follows. There is a good book in Stephen Hunt's The Rise of the Iron Moon. Somewhere. When he isn't gleefully destroying the beautiful setting he spent two books building up, or borrowing liberally from Jules Verne and HG Wells. Said good book is hiding in a mass of strange narrative choices, long passages of debate and exposition, characters spending their time not fighting a superior force sweeping across the land, and some rather bizarre takes on Arthurian mythology. Also, as this is a concluding volume to the arc started in The Court of the Air, foreknowledge of which is required to read this book. 

                 The good bits are that when the book is going, it really gets going, Stephen Hunt's usual attention to detail and worldbuilding do shine through in places, there is a genuine sense of urgency to some scenes, and I like the way some of the bits do come together. Also, there are some fantastic plot elements. 

                 However, in the end, I cannot recommend this book to all but the most ardent of Hunt's fans, or those wondering about the ultimate fates of the characters from the first two books. Find it in the library, buy it if you find it used and plan on passing it off, but this one's for collectors and die-hard fans, and there are plenty of books that are time better spent.

More, as always, below.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sea Monkeys


               Okay, so-- 


                No, I can't do it. I can't give you "the rundown". Because telling you what I liked and didn't like in such a format would be untrue to the book. It wouldn't do it justice. The only thing I can say in this little cutesy frontmatter part I usually do would be to say this: Sea Monkeys is a book that deserves your attention and your respect. I've underestimated Kris Saknussemm's ability as a writer, and this is coming from someone who absolutely loves his work. This is a book you didn't know you needed to read, or maybe it just hits me on some personal level where I live, and for all of you it'd be for naught. But it deserves a try. 

             But I probably should warn you about some of the dangers of the book. So. There are stories that are disturbing. There are stories that are twisted. There are images you may really not want to see, and there are points that are absolutely wrenching to read. The book is someone's memories on sensory overload, which is very difficult to process and sometimes difficult to hang around. warned, I guess. Not all memoirs are created equal. Some wind up like this.

Full review below. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Procession of the Dead

      Okay, so the rundown is as follows: Procession of the Dead by Darren Shan is a brilliant, brutal, twisted crime story set in a massive nameless city full of green fog, strange characters, and enigmatic plots. The story follows the rise of Capac Raimi, a small-time gangster in The City who is taken under the wing of The Cardinal, an eccentric crime lord with an interest in fate, puppets, progress, and possibly world domination. 

               The book is strongest when talking about the city, with vivid descriptions backing up the insane cast and rapid dialogue. In particular, the characters of Conchita and Paucar Wami are excellently done, though The Cardinal deserves a special place for being convincing even at his most unhinged (and he gets pretty unhinged). 

                 But the book is weakest with a climax that more stops than ends, and ties everything up into a bow that wasn't completely needed. Furthermore, the main character's weird mood and behavioral swings, while they make sense given the trajectory of the book, are just a little distracting. 

                  This does not stop the book from being incredibly high-quality. Anyone who enjoys a good mystery and can get past the violence and general weirdness of the premise is strongly suggested to buy this and start reading immediately. 

More, as always, below. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Winter's Tale


         Okay, so the rundown is as follows: Winter's Tale is a literary fantasy novel about New York and a strange series of harsh winters that alter the landscape and the people in them in a various number of ways. It goes back and forth between the beginning and end of the twentieth century and tells the story of the "Just City" of New York and of the people who will shape and alter it into something glorious and beautiful. 

              The good are a vivid, lyrical plotline; a well-imagined and well-built world, and distinct, relatable characters who populate that well-imagined world.

               The bad are an occasional tendency to get disjointed and unstuck in time, and a slight chance of getting lost in all of that beautiful language (oh what a shame, etc.)

                    You should buy this book and read it. You have another few months to do so where its impact will grip you most. It's well worth any time and effort put into it, and will return that time and effort a thousandfold.

More, as always, below.