Author Topic: Rate the last book you read.  (Read 95864 times)

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1880 on: May 16, 2019, 04:05:55 PM »
Finally, words about The Expanse books by James S. A. Corey


Leviathan Wakes

The human race expands out into the stars and splits into three major factions: Earth, Mars, and the Outer Planets. With different politics, societies and worldviews, the various factions donít always get along. When the freighter The Canterbury is shot by a stealth ship of mysterious origins, the Outer Planets see it as an attack by Earth/Mars, and the beginnings of war commence.

The four survivors of The Canterbury are lead by Jim Holden on a fact-finding mission about the nature of the mysterious ship. Meanwhile, Detective Miller on the asteroid base Ceres Station begins investigating the disappearance of rich socialite turned freedom fighter Julie Mao whose father is one of the most powerful men in the galaxy.

Structured as a detective story, Leviathan Wakes keeps the intrigue and clues popping along at a steady pace. Following the perspective of two vastly different characters who essentially want the same thing is the strength of this book. Holden is an idealist who believes that full disclosure is always the best policy while Miller believes in a far more cruel and cynical world. The book stands strongly on the foundation of their point of views and the well-established world that feels fully-realized at every level even down to random scientific minutia. Itís a promising start to the series.



Calibanís War

One of the great strengths of the first book is how the scope of the story evolved over time. This book takes that scale and runs with it, doubling the point of views with four perspectives. Youíve got James Holden returning as the captain of the freelance ship Rocinante, plant biologist Prax who works on Ganymede station, Bobbie Draper, a Martian marine stationed on Ganymede and Chrisjen Avasarala, one of the most powerful UN officials living on Earth all playing a part in the events of the story.

The Expanse continues to impress with the distinctive sound of each voice. Inhabiting the lives and minds of each character across lines and allegiances give this holistic perspective on events where itís hard to pick sides and allegiances. Each character is flawed and weak in their own way and yet somehow compliments others in other ways. Bobbie and Chrisjen and probably the best contrast as Bobbie is used to solving things through military power while Chrisjen is the master of political games. Both want the same thing, but use much different methods to get to it.
While it might not be fair to declare this two books in, this feels like the high mark for the series that the rest of the books will try to live up to. The balance of the character perspectives, the growing political intrigue and that commitment to world-building makes for a fantastic followup to the original book and a fine work of science fiction.


Abaddonís Gate

After the sprawling adventure of the last book, it would probably be tempting to try to go even bigger and broader. Instead, the story is scaled back and slowed down...literally. An alien gateway (yea, thereís ancient technology left over from aliens in this series) to an odd pocket realm opens and Earth, Mars and the Outer Planets scramble to control it. Of course, itís Holden and the crew of the Rocinante who are the first to broadcast images from inside the weird pocket dimension. But when violence begins inside this weird bit of space, the rules of physics seem to be taken over by some alien technology that slows down the speed limit of everything inside to a crawl.

Part of what makes this books work so well is it takes all the political intrigue of the series and then places it under the stress of having all the factions stuck in a situation where simply surviving becomes top priority. Will people be able to put aside differences and get along or will humanity continue to hold knives at each otherís throats? Itís two of the characters, Bull and Anna, who help explore this idea.

Anna is compelling as a Methodist pastor who is sent on the mission as a civilian observer in order to examine the spiritual implications of signs of alien life in the universe. She tries to minister to people in crisis in the face of slow death in space. Meanwhile, Bull tries to keep order on the Outer Planet ship Behemoth as security officer, but quickly has his job undermined for being from Earth.

Rounding out the four perspectives are Holden once again and Clarissa, who I wonít say much about as who she is and why sheís in the series will spoil the first two books. She has her moments as a character, but in the grand scope of things feels like one of the weaker characters in the series. Her stakes in the world are much more personal and petty and donít fall in line with the broader contexts of the world that make each character feel like a compelling outlook on the universe. She does come across as more interesting than Bull who lacks any impact as a character with personality.

The book does end by pulling out the rug from the reader with an ending that honestly could have capped off these three books as a trilogy, but, like the name of the series suggests, The Expanse is always interested in expanding.


Cibola Burn

Itís going to get hard from here on out to write about these books without flat out spoiling the previous titles, so Iím probably going to have much shorter thoughts going forward. This title once again plays out in rather small scale compared to the first two books, the entire events taking place on one planet. Itís essentially a space Western that looks at what happens when humanity tries to expand.

There are lots of direct references to the American West, which makes sense with Holden being born in Montana. The book tackles issues of governance, colonialism, scientific integrity, and more as it looks at what it means for humans to explore the final frontier. But where the ideas shine here, it feels like the character take a step back. Holden is interesting enough as a lead for the series, but the rest of the characters here just arenít as memorable or distinct as in previous books. Theyíre not bad, but it feels like a volume where we follow what would be the supporting characters in another book only to realize why such characters are generally kept as supporting characters.


And that's all for now. I started the fifth book yesterday. And for those keeping track at home, I started the first book on April 4th and finished the fourth book on May 13th, averaging a book every 10 days. Not bad given they average about 570 pages each.

smirnoff

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1881 on: May 26, 2019, 12:20:43 AM »
I did enjoy that the writing often succeeded at getting chuckle out of me. Mostly in the form of some sarcastic one-liner, but still, how many books even manage that much? Did you find something similar?

It's a neat concept and pretty rich world isn't it. You're beyond me now. I got interrupted after book two and need to restart book three at some point. I enjoyed the recap.

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1882 on: May 26, 2019, 11:54:59 AM »
Yes, it has its moments of humor but more in that it got some chuckles out of me.

I fished book five yesterday but probably won't get to a review until next week.

philip918

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1883 on: May 28, 2019, 11:59:24 AM »
I've actually been reading this year.

One Hundred Years of Solitude (Marquez)

Hadn't read this since the summer before college and my memories of it were foggy and often of scenes from other Marquez stories. This is one of the greatest books ever written. The way he unspools generations of stories and spirals back in ways that feel not just logical, but absolutely necessary, is really astounding.

Crooked Kingdom (Bardugo)

The sequel to Six of Crows continues the breakneck plotting, twists, turns, and double-crosses, but it lacks the urgency of the previous novel. Still, the characters are great and the world is tremendously enjoyable. Hoping the Netflix series does it justice.

A Darker Shade of Magic (Schwab)

An imaginative tale of three Londons and the man who can travel between all of them. I could have used a little more plotting, but the simple nature of the story keeps things moving at a brisk pace. Will eventually check out the follow up books.

The Expert System's Brother (Tchaikovsky)

An engaging sci-fi novella about human nature and the environment.

The Road (McCarthy)

The first Cormac McCarthy I've read more than a few pages of, and it's beautiful stuff. His prose manages to be poetic and straightforward in ways that create powerful images and room for the imagination to fill in even more of the story. A haunting journey. Not sure if I'll see the movie or not.


pixote

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1884 on: May 28, 2019, 02:02:47 PM »
Six of Crows

A tremendously entertaining read filled with great characters, big twists, and incredibly cool moments that resonate because of the backstories and relationships Bardugo has meticulously setup. Couldn't ask for more in a fantasy adventure. Can't wait to read the follow-up.

Let me know how the follow-up is. I liked Six of Crows well enough but I didn't feel like the second book would have all that much new to offer, so I skipped it. But this weekend I found myself in the bookstore anxious to find a book of similar style and quality and was at a loss as to what to read.

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philip918

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1885 on: May 28, 2019, 08:02:59 PM »
See above ;)

pixote

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1886 on: May 28, 2019, 09:06:03 PM »
See above ;)

Apparently my time away from books has deteriorated my reading comprehension skills. Thanks!

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oldkid

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1887 on: May 29, 2019, 04:59:22 PM »
The Patternist Series by Octavia Butler
Octavia Butler is one of my favorite authors of all.  Her books seems straightforward, but when I read another in comparison, I realize how lyrical her writing is, how glorious her prose.  Her plots are easy to understand, but hard to accept.  They are full of people strategizing against each other, forcing themselves upon the world and society, often at the cost of other's freedom.  But it is all worth it, and she wraps things up brilliantly.  Below are the four volumes of the Patternist Series, in which she takes two stories and blends them into the same world by the end.

Wild Seed
This is the secret history of the world in which the next Adam, brutal and destructive, quietly battles the new Eve, learning the ways of Adam, battle through mind-powers and their children.

Mind of My Mind
The new Adam and Eve create the next rulers of the world at the end of humanity.  And these children become greater than they could ever understand.

Clay's Ark
The corruption of humanity from a space-borne disease causes the animal mind to control, but a new breeding stock is born.

Patternmaster
The two new forms of humanity, one borne from power, one born from disease live together in violence and one is destined to control the pattern of society.

I almost think that she could have finalized the society with one more book, but we'll never know now.

4.5/5, perhaps Clay's Ark is a step behind the others.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1888 on: May 29, 2019, 08:18:45 PM »
This series sounds fascinating. I've heard the author's name before but now she's on my radar.

FLYmeatwad

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Re: Rate the last book you read.
« Reply #1889 on: June 08, 2019, 08:07:37 PM »
Just finished Wolf In White Van, officially getting me through my backlog of books and plays. It was fantastic, perhaps the best of the recent things I've read aside from possibly The Wolves.

Now I don't know what to read next. Feel like I should seek out more plays, then do another novel, but I'm not sure which of either I want to tackle  :-\

 

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