I've been working a lot lately and also trying to squeeze in as much reading as possible, which unfortunately, has not left much time for writing reviews. The only reason I'm even posting today is because it is a stat holiday and I finally have a day off. Truth be told, I've been lacking in the motivational department and can't seem to focus on writing anything at all, endlessly frustrated with my own incompetence. I'm burnt out. I think it might be time to take a vacation, perhaps go someplace warm and try to relax. Better yet, I ought to quit my perfunctory and mind-numbing job which is surely causing my brain cells to deteriorate at a rapid rate. Not to mention the unnecessary stress. I have even detected a few gray hairs! After coming home from a grueling and laborious shift, I tend to be in a foul mood where only alcohol and sleep is at the forefront of my mind. Reading offers a slight reprieve from my woes but I can't even enjoy my favorite past time very long before passing out due to exhaustion.
On those rare occasions when I'm able to muster enough energy to sit down and attempt to hash out a review, my mind goes blank. I really hope this is just a dry-spell and I'll be back to writing more reviews on a regular basis but as my previous track record has shown, I tend to be rather inconsistent in updating this blog with new content. Therefore, I hope to make these "mini reviews" more of a common feature. Besides, my reviews tend to be quite lengthy and not many people read them anyways, so perhaps I will be inspired to write more if I keep my reviews nice and short.
Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding
I can see the similarities to Firefly but Chris Wooding ain't no Joss Whedon. He pays homage to his predecessor, mixes in some steam-punk, a bit of Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, blends all of these elements together and presto! You get Retribution Falls. Except, I think the author forgot to add the necessary ingredient to hold everything together: good writing. The story starts off promisingly enough with a great action sequence but soon loses momentum and becomes silly, contrived, all too predictable--a flimsy rehash of its pop-culture influences. Although the novel doesn't pretend to be anything but entertaining fiction, the story never fully develops into an exciting adventure as I was lead to believe by the synopsis or the high praise bestowed by other readers. The narrative drags along at a sluggish pace and I found myself bored, anxious to be done with it. Often disjointed and clumsily written, the story has so much potential but is poorly executed. The characters are flat and the world-building is underdeveloped. The writing lacks polish and a certain level of finesse where everything comes across as amateurish. Perhaps Chris Wooding intends to expand on these narrative deficiencies with the next books in the series but I'm not in any hurry to find out.
Embassytown by China Mieville
I'm left with mixed feelings on this one. Embassytown marks my first foray into the surreal, nightmarish and bizarro world of China Mieville. Although I enjoyed my stay, it might be a while before I visit again. He's clearly an intelligent fellow, an erudite word-smith (be sure to have a dictionary handy) and a talented writer with a wild imagination. This story is unlike anything I have ever encountered before--seriously, some of the stuff he comes up with is totally insane--floaking, biorigging, bladderwrackish, polyps, aeoli (breaking apparatus), amniotic fluids and pabulum (food sources) just to name a few of the crazy aspects of this world--but I'm not sure this was the best starting place for me to experience his unique brand of weirdness.
My lukewarm impression stems more from my own personal taste rather than faults with the author or the actual novel itself. Stepping back and viewing the novel objectively, Mieville has written an intelligent and absorbing piece of hard science-fiction. Cognitive estrangement is one of the defining characteristics of the genre and Mieville is able to take this concept and put his own unconventional spin on it. However, I tend to enjoy a novel a lot more if I able to connect with the characters or the actual story on some emotional level and found it difficult to do so here. Then again, Mieville deliberately uses narrative distance to emphasize themes of otherness and alienation that connect to the larger ideas of cognitive estrangement.
I adore Science-Fiction and Mieville certainly pushes the limits of the genre in a new direction, subverting many of the familiar tropes that have become all too commonplace in a human/alien contact narrative. By focusing on semantics and the complexities of "Language" in relation to understanding culture and others (humans or otherwise) makes this novel wholly unique.
A long time ago, we used to be friends...
That song still gets me super-excited and brings back so many fond memories. Pure nostalgia. I'm an unabashed Veronica Mars fan, not going to lie. I have a huge crush on Kristen Bell. I've seen the television series many times including the disappointing season 3, even contributed to the kick-starter movie campaign and went to see it on opening night. As a fellow marshmallow (fans of the show will understand the label), I can't get enough of Veronica Mars and when I found out that there was going to be book series that will continue the story of our favorite private detective, I was all over it like white on rice. A quick and entertaining read, I burned through this novel in a few days. This also marks the first time I have read anything by two collaborative authors. I am still unsure if Rob Thomas, the creator of the show, wrote anything that made its way into the novel or just provided the idea and left it up to Jennifer Graham to work her magic. Either way, I am more than satisfied with the end result and so happy to see that the awesomeness of Veronica Mars will live on in book form. Boo-ya.
The Thousand Dollar Tan Line takes place soon after the events of the movie so be sure watch that first before picking up this novel to avoid huge spoilers. In fact, if you haven't seen the show before, do yourself a favor and acquire the first three seasons and then the movie. You can thank me later.
Logan: I thought our story was epic, you know, you and me.
Veronica: Epic how?
Logan: Spanning years and continents. Lives ruined, bloodshed. EPIC. But summer's almost here, and we won't see each other at all. And then you leave town... and then it's over.