Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Brief Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wikipedia tells me that the male version of a Mary Sue is a Gary Stu. The main character of this book, Kvothe, is a massive one of those. There is nothing this guy can't do, except, according to him, talk to women, even though the fairest maiden in all the land who every dude within a thousand miles is trying to bed, is in story-book-doe-eyed-true-love with him. Additionally, he is unapologetically a bragging douche about it.

He is utterly convinced of his own importance. He threatens to burn people's houses down a lot, which was a bit offputting for someone who seems to think himself so virtuous. In fact, the heroes in this book threaten people who aren't giving them their way pretty much any chance they get. Kvothe is kind of a bully, and I did not end up pitying him his many many injuries throughout the book.

Also, I'm fairly certain he is in a gay relationship without knowing it. For all his talk of maidens, Kvothe saves the tenderest words for his companion, Bast. My first instinct is to commend such a bold move by the author, but since it seems entirely unintentional, I don't know how to feel about it. Or maybe he knew the whole time.

Despite all this, the book is incredibly hard to put down and I read the 600+ page tome in about a week. There is something endearing about the way Kvothe views himself and the world. Something that seems incredibly innocent for such a man of deep studying and knowledge. It's worth a read if you're in between books and looking for a page turner. If you want something that will challenge you as a reader, this probably won't be your jam.

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Amazon Link: The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Brief Review: Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Blackbirds (Miriam Black, #1)Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was my first foray into a Chuck Wendig book after a year or two reading his blog (which I am a big fan of). I really wanted to like this book, but it left me a bit cold. The protagonist, Miriam is way too fond of awkward similes, she is overly crass (to the point where she's trying to find a new way to say fuck rather than concern herself with the very real danger she is in), and she seems either brilliant or moronic depending on what the plot requires. Oh yeah, and she can see when you're going to die by touching your skin, which is a fine plot device, I suppose...

That said, the villains were actually a breath of fresh air, I felt they were more multi-faceted than Miriam herself, and to be honest, I would have preferred to read a book about them. If you're going to read Blackbirds, really dig into those three characters.

All in all, a mediocre first outing for the pen-monkey, but because I love Wendig and his can-do attitude, I'll probably read the rest of this series at some point.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Brief Reviews: The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis

The Man Who Fell to Earth The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Despite his grand plans of saving his species from a dying planet (and possibly the human race from themselves). Our protagonist, the alien named T.J. Newton, slowly discovers that human beings are themselves a corrupting influence. It seems like Tevis was treading new sci-fi ground when he wrote this (especially by making the alien mundane and the humans the real aliens) and I enjoyed his grasp of descriptive language. I truly saw 1980s Earth as a strange land, as Newton would have.

It is a book that makes you ponder the universe a bit, but in the end, I think it gives humanity and booze a little too much credit. Though, to be fair, who knows how Anthean physiology works? Certainly not me.

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Amazon Link: The Man Who Fell to Earth

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Brief Reviews: Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress

Beggars in Spain: The Original Hugo & Nebula Winning NovellaBeggars in Spain: The Original Hugo & Nebula Winning Novella by Nancy Kress
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Set in the near future where biological engineering has created a small section of society who does not need to sleep, Beggars in Spain is a great study in the hierarchy of knowledge. While the people of the story themselves sometimes feel a bit stilted, this novella asks important questions about how we view ourselves, especially in light of our own (self-induced) evolution.

Edited to Add: I hate this cover, the woman with crazy green eye shadow conjures a 1970s pastiche of 1950s sci-fi.

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Amazon Link: Beggars in Spain: The Original Hugo & Nebula Winning Novella