Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April DNF

Let's be honest- there is no way that any of us love every book we read, and sometimes we're not going to finish them. I give a lot of books a go, and sometimes I find ones that i can't even power through, which leads to a meter-high did not finish pile every month (it also means I flagrantly overuse the library because I'm afraid of buying a book that I won't finish). I tend to only comment on books that I have finished, for obvious reasons, but I figured I would give a sample of the (aforementioned meter-high) did not finish pile. These are the books that I honestly couldn't finish for more reason that "I didn't have time":

The Vindico (The Vindico, #1)

The Vindico: I typically love books about juvenile and teenage criminal masterminds. I loved H.I.V.E., which has a very similar premise, but I just couldn't get into this one. I got about halfway though before calling it quits. I didn't much care for the characters, and it lacked something that I require in young criminal masterminds: a sense of humour. It didn't have that element of dark humour that I love in young criminal mastermind genera. Like in H.I.V.E., teens were snatched by a criminal organisation to train the next generation of law breakers. However, I saw nothing interesting or brilliant about these characters, and I gave up pretty quickly.

The Suburban StrangeThe Suburban Strange: I didn't get anywhere close to finishing this one- I didn't even get to the main plot points. From the beginning, the character of Celia annoyed me a lot. I found her very difficult to connect to at all and it didn't matter to me in the slightest what happened to her. I gave up about 60 pages in after she thought that two injuries in four days happening to two different girls was strange, while the fact that she was joining some strange group of people who seemed to be trying to be edgy and mysterious, but failed completely  wasn't at all odd. She didn't ask questions. She wasn't curious. All in all, she wasn't my type of character, and I actively disliked most of the others.

Pulse (Pulse, #1)

Pulse: Again, I did't care for the characters, and I didn't feel for the world. I found the premise promising, but it didn't really pan out for me. I promptly forgot the names of a lot of characters while reading, and they seemed shallow to me- not what I go for in a sci-fi/ fantasy (is there a word for the combo thereof? sci-fantasy?- I'm going to use sci-fantasy from now on). If you're going to give me a computer dependent world, give me a computer dependent world, make the hacking a big deal, make it seem spectacular, like hacking is actually something interesting that takes talent, otherwise I won't root for anyone to take down your totalitarian regime- it will seem as though anyone could do it. If you're going to give me a people willing giving up their freedom for convenience  give me someone with a strong opinion otherwise, give me someone to root for, or give me the sense that they will develop an opinion that I can care about. I didn't get to the whole "Pulse" thing, I was done by the time the "mysterious new guy" entered the scene. The whole world felt sort of tedious.

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)Etiquette and Espionage: (note: I have not read the Parasol Protectorate books) This was too many things for me- steampunk and magic and assassins. I sort of went into it hoping that the steampunk aspect would be subtle, and it would have a focus on Victorian girls being trained as assassins. I wasn't expecting the magic bit at all, and that really put me off- along with the fact the steampunk was brutally in my face. I would have liked to see the Victorian assassin training- the Victorian view of women was little better than the Victorian view of furniture  so women would make ideal assassins, spies and detectives (if you like the sound of the last ones, try The Agency by Y.S. Lee), because they could fade into the background. I also wasn't all that fond of the characters- Sophronia was a little bit too much the cliched female lead. I got about 70 pages in before I gave this one up as not for me.

Now. I know people who read this are probably going to have some strong words for me. I would like to hear (well, read them) them, provided you attack the idea, not the person, and are respectful. Thanks.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Review: Scarlet

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)Title: Scarlet
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: Lunar Chronicles
Volume: 1
Genre: Science Fiction, Cyberpunk, Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy

Why I Read It: It is the sequel to Cinder.

A Quick Intro (beware, spoilers for Cinder follow this point): Cinder has made her escape from prison, but, instead of going to Africa, upon deciding she has bigger problems, and does not trust the Lunar doctor who freed her at all. Meanwhile, Scarlet is looking for her Grandmother, who has gone missing, at which point the authorities are of no use, and she decides to search herself. Finding an ally in street-fighter Wolf, she starts off on a fast-paced quest to save her Grandmother from captors she knows very little about, and her companion seems to know a little too much. Meanwhile, Cinder (and a couple of allies of her own) is looking for Scarlet and her grandmother too, in hopes that she may know something of Cinder's past and be able to help.

What I Thought: I wasn't as fond of Scarlet as a character as I was of Cinder, and found Cinder's parts really fun to read, especially after she escaped with Thorne and the ship (wherein Iko's personality chip finds a new home).Cinder, Iko and Thorne were incredibly humorous. Scarlet and Wolf weren't really my favourite characters- I just wasn't as attached to them as I am to Cinder, though I'm really looking forward to (spoiler alert) the team dynamics in the future. In spite of my less-than-favourite new characters, I found this to be a strong second book, and I'm really looking forward to Cress, and it was interesting the turn which the Lunar queen's attacks have taken- the battle has already started, which adds a lot of pressure to our heroes. Earth is already suffering, not just under threat. I really like how each of our stories is set where the story originated (Cinder in China and Scarlet in France- if we keep with that theme, Cress should take place in Germany, since Rapunzel is a German fable).

Fun Fact: The original story of Little Red Riding Hood was quite gruesome- the Brothers Grimm actually made it less morbid. Some versions originally involved cannibalism (our heroine eats her grandmother, though unintentionally).

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review: An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of KatherinesTitle: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Genre: Realistic Fiction

Why I Read It: I kept saying that I would read a John Green book, so I figured I would give this one a go.

A Quick Summary: Colin Singleton is always being dumped by Katherines. Nineteen in total. Following the 19th Katherine dumping, he and his friend Hassan take off on a road trip on a mission to develop and prove the Theory of Underlying Katherine Predictability.

What I Thought: I don't usually read realistic fiction... because I get bored. I tend to not enjoy stories based on real life in the real world (one of my friend constantly mocks my preference for "magical dinosaur" books). This one was still a fun read, and you can really hear John Green when he writes. The characters were quirky, and they went on an interesting journey. I haven't really got any strong opinions one way or another on this one. One of the main focuses of the book is what it means to be important or to mean something- Colin's quest for success comes from the fact that, while he is was child prodigy, all that promise really hasn't come to fruition. He's trying to find a way to define himself, and, as humans we tend to define ourselves by other impressions and by comparison, so he feels that meaning something to other people is very important. This is, I think, interesting to be reminded of. That, as people, we are often driven by a need to be somehow relevant in order to define ourselves. So overall I didn't love this book, probably due to the genre, but it definitely had some thought provoking elements.

Fun Fact: I had to scrape rock bottom for this one. There are a great deal of graphed parabolas and curves in this book (in Colin's Theorem). The entire branch of calculus focuses on analyzing the slope of a curve. It's development was contributed to by Sir Issac Newton as he developed his world changing theories. (So, now you know who to blame.)