Saturday, December 28, 2013

read: NOS4A2 (4 stars)

NOS4A2NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very well-told tale. It's definitely horrific, and not just because of the supernatural elements. There are horrifying people and situations throughout. But that doesn't detract from the quality of the writing, which draws the reader in and holds onto them until the climax.

Holding the reader's attention for all that time is a neat trick. This is a long book. It covers many years. The protagonist is not all that likable. There are two antagonists and they are both despicable. Even the supporting characters are more than flawed. So it seems it all comes down to story, and storytelling. The author keeps things interesting and dynamic so that the reader is compelled to find out what happens next (and next, and next).

I don't usually go in for books that fall into the horror genre. But I like this writing enough that I will probably try another Joe Hill book.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

read: Cain's Blood (3 stars)

Cain's BloodCain's Blood by Geoffrey Girard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Anyone not expecting a book about serial killers, or in this case, clones of those serial killers, to not be sick and twisted is fooling themselves. What we have here is a solid first novel that is genuinely creepy and not for the squeamish.

What's also a little creepy is the encyclopedic knowledge about serial killers, their lives and their 'careers' demonstrated by (and freely acknowledged by) the author. He uses this knowledge to build a world where he can freely explore the issues of nurture vs. nature and the consequences of unfettered scientific inquiry and military avarice along the lines of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The characters and settings here are well-drawn. The prose is strong and the plot well-developed.

What knocked me out of the story from time to time were the glaring inconsistencies and implausibilities in the science. Is this about cloning and genetics and free will? Or is it about a nerve gas that overrides all three? It tried to be about both, using the latter to provide a (superfluous) ticking clock to add urgency to the story about the former.

It will be interesting to see what this author does in the future. He's already published a young adult novel that is a companion to this book.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

read: Steelheart (4 stars)

Steelheart (Reckoners, #1)Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fast-moving super hero story where the supers are not heroes. The physics in this story are beyond ridiculous, basically comic book science, but the story and characters are well told and well drawn.

The story is told in first person by a young man out to get revenge against the Epic (that's what the super baddies are called) that killed his father. He insinuates himself into a revolutionary cell that he thinks will help him achieve his goal. Along the way to a satisfying conclusion that sets up a sequel, there are complications and angst about the morality of their actions.

Bring a heaping helping of suspension of disbelief and hang on for a wild ride.

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