Book review: Ice by Anna Kavan

There are a few books that I have read that I just don’t understand.  The first book I tried to read that left me completely bewildered was Ulysses by James Joyce.  Parts of his book made sense and then all of a sudden, I had no clue what was going on.  Ice was similar to my experience reading James Joyce.  The writing itself was beautiful and painted vivid pictures.

The narrator is a man who is in love or infatuated with a young woman with silver hair.  The story takes place in a dark, apocalyptic setting with lots of war and military control.  In the book the man encounters this woman in various scenarios.  It is almost like he jumps between alternate worlds, but there is no way for the reader to tell that he is doing so, except by what is happening in the text … and the text doesn’t always make sense.  He sees this woman in a number of different situations.  In some, he is pursuing her.  In some, she is dead or he witnesses her death.  In all of the scenarios, she is a victim.  She is abused, raped, chased, an object locked away in a room.

Because I didn’t understand this book, I went on-line to look up the author and the book.  The book is considered an important literary work by most people who are much more important than me.  Anna Kavan had a sad life that ended when she overdosed.  Honestly, this explained a lot to me.   One review I read said that the book was an allegory for her own addiction.  I didn’t get this from the book, but the disjointedness in the story could certainly be explained by her doing drugs.

If you like “trippy” books that don’t have to have a meaning, this might be the book for you.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary e-book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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book review: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library is the first in a series about librarians who travel to parallel universes to retrieve books.  The librarians sometimes retrieve books to preserve them or sometimes to strengthen the bond between the the universe and the Library.  The exact purpose is a bit murky and since Irene, the main protagonist, is only a junior librarian, she doesn’t get the whole story.  The reader doesn’t either since the story is told through Irene.  The book blends fantasy and science fiction and reminded me a lot of the movie, The Librarian.

Just like in the movie, Irene travels to the other locations by using doors to the library.  Librarians in the book have tattoos on their backs which allow them to understand a special language, which allows them to use powers.  They have to be precise in how they use the language in order for their powers to be effective.  Irene and Kai, her new apprentice, are sent into a world with chaos, which means that the world doesn’t always behave according worlds that don’t have chaos.  In this world, werewolves, faeries, and vampires thrive … and it turns out, many other weird things such as cyborg alligators.

I was torn about this book.  On one hand, I loved the premise, the characters were creative, and the writing was decent.  However, I felt that the author was trying to put too much into the novel and there were too many things that weren’t explained.  It felt like I was reading a book with ADHD, if that makes sense.  I will be reading at least 1 more book in the series to see if it gets better.  If the second book is overly-full of protagonists/events, I will probably move on to a different book or series.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

 

Book Review: A Case of Conscience by James Blish

A Case of Conscience is a science fiction book about four humans who go to the planet, Lithia, to evaluate it.  The Lithians have a utopian society.  In fact, their society is so great that it leads one of the humans, Father Ruiz-Sanchez, to believe that it was created by “the Adversary” (the Devil).  Upon the humans returning to Earth, one of the Lithians gives them his own child to raise.

Spoilers ahead (because I can’t discuss what I hated about this book without discussing what happened)…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lithian Earthling, Egtverchi, becomes a popular public figure with his own television show.  Unfortunately, he causes a lot of problems by inciting public disobedience and  violence.

I would have liked this book better if it were more science fiction and less religious theology.  Actually, sound religious theology would have been okay.  My biggest problem with this book is that actions of the characters didn’t match their personalities.  One of the characters, Cleaver, is a physicist.  He is smart, very scientific.  However, he thought it would be great to use Lithia as a bomb producing world.  He also goes on to destroy the Lithians main mode of communication upon his return to Lithia.  Father Ruiz-Sanchez is a Jesuit priest and a scientist/man of medicine who believes in creationism.  Ruiz-Sanchez argued that Lithia was too perfect and that Lithians were the evolved ideal form that humans aspired to be and therefore they must be the Devil’s creation seemed ridiculous to me (God=creationism, Devil=evolution).  Again, I have a lot of trouble believing that someone who is a scientist would believe in creationism dogma.

There were other parts of this book that made no sense to me.  For example, there was a description of how Egtverchi attended a party thrown in his honor.  At the party, guests were given train rides, but the descriptions of the train rides were bizarre.  For the most part, guests were extremely disturbed by the train rides … but yeah, let’s have parties where we upset our guests … and partygoers who must have heard about the train rides previously who are still willing to go on them, even though they know that the train rides are going to be awful.

The character of Egtverchi represented the lost and displaced.  This is evidenced not only in his background (being a Lithian raised on Earth), but also in the people to whom he appealed on his television show.  At first, his character revealed the ugliness in society (he tore through rooms and exposed some of the shadiness of public figures), but then he became the ugliness by telling his viewers to reject being a part of society in a violent manner.  Interestingly, he became ugly after he became accepted (he had a loyal following).

I did not care for the writing style of this book because it read like a religious theology book.  I cannot recommend this book to anyone.

Disclaimer: I received a preview e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  This book was published January 24, 2017.

Book review: Crash and Burn

Crash and Burn by Lisa Gardner is the newest book in her Tessa Leoni series, but D.D. Warren makes a cameo appearance (yay!).

The book starts out with an accident victim waking up, escaping from the car, and frantically looking for her daughter, Vero.  We later learn that the accident victim has had multiple head injuries and has hallucinations.  It’s hard to give a plot summary without giving too much of the story away.  Plus, a straight plot summary of this book sounds fantastic so it might deter a potential reader, but the author did a nice job of leading the reader through the plot so if you read the book, the plot actually seems somewhat plausible.  Something that starts out as an auto accident ends up being a homicide investigation (of course, if it were a simple auto accident, it probably wouldn’t be very interesting).  I liked that the first person narrative wasn’t reliable so the reader had to sift through what was written to try to figure out what was real.

I found the book to be a fun read.  Parts of the book were predictable, but there were many twists and turns in the plot to keep the reader interested.  The characters are in the book interesting and engaging so even if a reader is able to somehow guess ALL of the plots’ twists (and I would be surprised that anyone could guess all of them), the book is still worth reading.

Disclosure: I received a free advanced reader copy of this book, but I don’t think the author even knows that I’m writing this review.  I have given an honest review.

Book review: Ender’s Game

I was waiting for some books that I had ordered to arrive and decided to re-read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.  The last time I read it was when I was in middle school or high school so I only vaguely remembered it when I took The Kid to see the movie recently (the movie was decent – you should see it).

The basic plot of the story is that the world is threatened by aliens called “buggers.”  Little is known about these aliens other than that they greatly outnumber humans so, in desperation, the government is training children to go to war by using games, consisting of both computer simulations and group games.  They monitor the children with devices, picking the most promising children to go through more intensive training to become officers.  In this futuristic world, families only have 1-2 children due to the overpopulation problem and religious belief is seen as backwards thinking.  From the beginning, Ender is an outcast.  Ender’s oldest brother was dismissed from the training because he was too violent.  The second child, his sister, Valentine, was dismissed for being to pacifist.  He is the third child, an embarrassment, even though the government gave his parents permission to have a third child due to how intelligent the other 2 children were.

From the beginning, the reader knows that Ender is being manipulated … and Ender knows that he is being manipulated, but that doesn’t change the outcome of the choices made.  He is taken from his family at 6-years-old and trained to be the one who saves humankind from the aliens.  There is an imminent threat – time is running out – his training is rushed, but he must succeed because if he doesn’t everyone could die, including his family.

You can read this book in several ways:  you could read this book as a distopian warning and it would be a decent read; you could read it simply for the plot and it would be a good read – a nice science fiction adventure story; or you could also read this book as a study of personalities, human nature, and group mentality and it would be a great read.

Book Review: Doctor Who: The Blood Cell

Doctor Who: The Blood Cell was an easy, fast read.  The book started out slowly, but got better towards the end.  Honestly, if I weren’t already a Doctor Who fan, I probably wouldn’t have finished it.  The book is told in first person from the point of view of the governor of a prison on an asteroid/ship.

In this book, Doctor Who was a prisoner, trying to convince the governor that he is trying help.  Something on the ship is killing people and it’s up to the Doctor to, not only convince the Governor that he’s innocent of the crimes, but to also save everyone on the ship.  The biggest problem with this book is that none of the characters are sympathetic.  I found myself not particularly caring about what happened to the characters.  I didn’t like them, but I didn’t dislike them enough to see them fail either.  The story was too plot-centered.  Unfortunately, the plot wasn’t good enough to carry the book.  It was overly convoluted and a bit ridiculous, even for a science fiction book.

The use of deus ex machina in the form of Clara was disappointing.

Despite my criticisms of the book, it wasn’t horrible.  It read like fan fiction.  If you come in to it with that frame of mind, you probably won’t be disappointed.  All in all, though, I’d rather watch an episode of the television show.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review from Blogging for Books.