2 July 2016

Review: God's War

God's War God's War by Kameron Hurley
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well. I've finally managed to read the whole thing, and I still don't know where exactly I stand with it.

Part of me found the story interesting enough to want to know how it all would end, and the characters and world-building were for the most part interesting enough as well. The other part of me was completely turned off by the prose. Or the pacing. I don't know which exactly it was, perhaps a mix of both, but it made reading the book a slow, agonizing chore no matter how much I actually wanted to do it.

Basically, the story is about a fucked-up bounty hunter in an even more fucked-up world who goes over with the rag-tag bunch of misfits that is her team in order to accomplish their most dangerous mission to date. But for a war-torn world, it felt like there really was not much actual action at all. Mind you, I don't want the equivalent of a shonen anime in novel form, but it felt like most of the book consisted of people moving from one poorly described place to the next, where barely anything happened no matter how much they had been bracing and waiting for it before they had to move again.

Still, it did something well, because it made me want to continue reading despite that. I just don't know whether I'd honestly recommend it to anyone else.

(view spoiler)

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4 June 2016

Review: Ancillary Mercy

Ancillary Mercy Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am both incredibly happy and incredibly unsatisfied with the ending of this book, which is as I understand it, also the ending of the trilogy.

Incredibly happy because the book had no boring sections for the most part. From very early on the stakes were high. Things happened an kept happening and there hardly any navel-gazing. To me, at least, it felt like it gathered the very best from the first and the second instalments and condensed it into a third book, all the while doing away with the few parts that felt plodding in Ancillary Sword. It also had me laughing a surprising lot, more than either of the previous books, really, all the while without devolving into a funny or comical story or ruining the more serious aspects of it, which to me is quite a feat in itself.

Incredibly unsatisfied because I disliked the manner in which the book ended. I mean, Breq herself acknowledges that there are no real endings, and in some ways it suits the story just fine. Or at least, it fits a few themes in the story (It never was a grand, world-ending cataclysmic epic, after all, no matter how much material it seemed to have for that.) (view spoiler)

I wonder if I am alone in feeling like this. In any case, the immediately above is not enough to deter me from giving the book a well-deserved four stars, that could have easily been five, but alas.

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24 February 2016

Review: Paladin of Souls

Paladin of Souls Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to admit, first time I tried reading this book I did not get past the first dozen or so pages. The beginning of the story has a certain tediousness to it, and the author's prose, while good, doesn't have that quality that can make a pleasure of otherwise drab passages.

But this time around I resolved to push past that, and I was glad to do so. Mostly because Ista was a pleasure to read. The other characters were mostly entertaining, mind you, but it was Ista, her personality, her inner voice, her struggles and her history that captivated me.

If you read the first book you know more or less who she is, you know of her madness, etcetera.
What this book explores can best be surmised the following words:
“Once, she had been her parents' daughter. Then great, unlucky Ias's wife. Her children's mother. At the last, her mother's keeper. Well, I am none of these things now. Who am I, when I am not surrounded by the walls of my life?

And so Ista goes on a pilgrimage meant to escape this void that is her life, with no more plan than to stray as far as possible from those walls that had held her for so long and would still do so, even as they hold no meaning any more. And then, of course, things happen.

I usually enjoy stories with multiple points of view, but fortunately, we are never left to wander in the bland waters of less interesting characters' murky viewpoints here, though I admit I would have liked to learn more about Jojen, be it by visiting her viewpoint or somehow else. I really did not fancy her resolution at all.

But that is a safely minor point in the grand scheme of things.

Carrying on, one thing I would advice people is to not worry about where everything is going. This is, more than anything else, a character-driven story and the travel is in a way the destination. (not that there isn't a very real and satisfying destination at the end, but you get the point. Hopefully) I say this because things can feel a little bumbling and a little random at times, but I think it is safe to say that by the end everything will be accounted for, and there's really nothing that happens without a particular reason or to set up something for later on. So read on, and enjoy!

Prose: 3/5
Not the best fantasy writer in terms of prose, but not the worst either. People who shy away from the more elaborate and wordy fantasy authors are probably going to like her style much more, though.

Pacing: 3/5
It was decent enough, specially after things were established.

Plot: 4/5
The plot by itself is not the greatest thing ever, but in execution it is made very enjoyable by the vividness of its main character.

World-building: 3/5
I've honestly never become too invested in the world in which the stories take place. We never really get to know it too terribly well, and are only ever afforded a few scant details about it. Half-tempted to give it two stars instead of three, really.

Characterisation: 5/5
If you've read this far, then this should not come as a surprise. The definite jewel of this books is Ista's characterisation thorough. And she in turns make the whole of the book interesting. So of course she gets a five out of five.

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15 February 2016

Review: The Silence of Medair

The Silence of Medair The Silence of Medair by Andrea K. Höst
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I cannot truly overstate how much I enjoyed this story(and by this book, I mean both The Silence of Medair and Voice of the Lost)

It is not often when I find a book that neatly reunites so many things I enjoy in such a spectacularly well-done whole. Beautiful prose? Check. Attractive characters? Check. Interesting world-building? Check!

Captivating story? Oh boy!

Its a very interesting premise, really. Our heroine, seeing her homeland about to be overrun by invaders, undertakes a mystical quest, and actually succeeds against all odds in finding the mystical muffin. Except, sure of her victory, instead of hurrying back home with her prize, she makes the most fatal, and yet the most innocuous-seeming mistake of overstaying her welcome in the muffin factory, with the end result of emerging 500 years too late to actually fulfil her mission.

It sounds deceptively simple, but the author makes an excellent work of exploring every last one of the intricate nuances of this mishap, and in a supremely engaging way too. How do you live with yourself knowing that you had the keys to save your world and way of life from the invaders warring unexpected war with your nation, and that you botched it in the most unbearably stupid of ways? This and over equally interesting issues are constantly explored in the story as Medair struggles again and again to come to terms with the catastrophic proportions of her failure.

She is caught, understandably, in a present that abruptly becomes a 500-year old past. But what really quicks the history on is that she is not the only one unable to let the past, or her, be.

Medair is, for many reasons, the most developed character in the story, but the author does a very good job of fleshing and texturing the whole cast, and you never really feel you are wasting your time when any one character is in the lime-light. You might, however, regret every minute you are not reading or learning more about a particular few, but that just goes to prove you can be damned for being too good.

The above being said, I do have some grievances. The story never quite satisfyingly concludes a few scattered and relatively minor threads that I would have liked elaboration. Most of those pertain to the pseudo second book, (view spoiler) But such things are not enough to mar just how much I enjoyed every last page of this and how much I hung on every letter as the story neared its end

Really, just stop reading reviews and go get it. Just remember, its two books, but it is definitely and most assuredly a single story.

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7 February 2016

Review: The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I do not know how to rate this book. In some ways, it feels not so much as a novel but as fan-fiction. What I mean is that it leans very much on the Iliad to be enjoyable. In a way, I suppose thats part and parcel of wanting to explore an already established setting with a novel like this, with wanting to fill the blanks and the like, but I can't help but feel that a tighter plot would have made this go from entertaining to excellent.

Also, Patroclus' constant fawning over Achilles, while fitting, also felt very tiring at times. The whole book, really, felt somewhat too ti ring at times, sometimes going very slowly in scenes that would have been best skipped over, while other times being very sparse on scenes that I think would have been best explored in detail.

One such scene, or number of scenes, really, that I think we could have done without were the ones concerning Patroclus before he met Achilles. While they do serve to establish his character in an useful way for the rest of the book, they were also supremely uninteresting to read. I think, in general, that the tale could have started later, and used other plot points, or even recollections for that particular purpose.

Conversely, there were a number of scenes that could have been longer. Those coming after (view spoiler), specially. The book falls into a sort of awkward fast-forwarding summary-style narration (still in the voice of Patroclus) that I really dislike.

Its like some authors think that after the climaxing point of the story people are just itching to discard the book. While in a way that might be true, tying things up properly is as important as everything else, and that includes making the reading of it interesting as well.

The above being said, I did enjoy the book. I rather liked Patroclus' intimate way of narration, and the style of prose employed in general was very fitting for the book. My favorite parts, however, were probably the sad ironies and the little bits and pieces that I suppose could be called foreshadowing, except I can't imagine anyone reading this who has not read the Iliad first.

Would I recommend the book? Perhaps. To someone who enjoyed the Iliad and enjoyed reading fan-fics and who considered himself or herself a romantic at heart.

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1 February 2016

Review: La clave está en Rebeca

La clave está en Rebeca La clave está en Rebeca by Ken Follett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Muy pocas veces se encuentra uno con libros cuyos personajes, aun estado en bandos enteramente opuestos, resultan ser igual de atractivos e interesantes de una forma tal que el lector termina deseando un desenlace al menos feliz para ambos, en lugar de decidirse enteramente por uno u otro lado.

En este caso, me pase la mayor parte del libro deseando tanto la victoria de Vandam y la de Alex. En realidad, el personaje de Alex fue para mi mucho mas atractivo y complejo que el de Vandam, y me decepciono bastante que ya cerca del final del libro el autor pareciera repentinamente decidido a destruirlo (o tratar de pintarlo bajo una luz enteramente negativa sin los matices grises que había usado al principio). Creo que esto fue una jugada baja que le resto mucho impacto el libro. (view spoiler)

Otra cosa que me incomodo bastante fue el repentino uso del 'monologo interior' por parte de Wolf, Billy, y Elene. Sin duda ese par de paginas fueron las mas difíciles de leer de toda la novela por ser tan completamente diferente del resto.

Argumento: 3/5
Prosa: 3/5
Ritmo: 4/5
Caracterización: 4/5
Marco: 4/5

Total: 3.6/5

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26 January 2016

Review: La reina estrangulada

La reina estrangulada La reina estrangulada by Maurice Druon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

En verdad me es un poco difícil darle una puntuación justa a este libro. Por una parte es definitivamente entretenido, con una prosa que da gusto leerla. Por otro lado, ningún personaje realmente llega a ser interesante, ninguna parte de la trama particularmente memorable. El libro termina, en cierta forma, tal y como empieza, empujando tu atención y nada mas. Al final no termina siendo muy diferente a una muy particular clase de historia.

Es tal vez, por esto, que no encuentro nada en particular que decir en los apartados de argumento, ritmo, y marco (world-building).

Argumento: 3/5

Prosa: 4/5
Si la caracterización (O falta de) es donde mayor cae la novela, la prosa es sin duda la parte que mas la levanta. El autor realmente poseía una gran facilidad para atrapar con su prosa, para hacer reir, para disminuir a un mínimo los momentos tediosos. Por esto, mas que por nada mas, la recomendaría a cualquiera que tuviera intereses en el periodo que abarca o en la ficción histórica en general. Es entretenida. Lastimosamente, no llega a mucho mas.

Ritmo: 3/5

Caracterización: 2/5
El fallo mas grande del libro, creo, es en cuanto a la caracterización. Todos los personajes se sienten mas como si fueran distintas mascaras de una misma persona. A excepción, tal vez, del Artois, ninguno es memorable, ninguno, en realidad, se siente como si fuera un personaje de verdad. Mas que muchas otras novelas, esta me hizo sentir que los personajes no eran mas que algunas palabras que se repetían cada cierto tiempo en el texto.

Marco: 3/5

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