This book is long, very very long. I picked it up because I had heard a lot of buzz about it, mostly from people who were reading it but not from anyone who had finished it yet because it is so very very long. It is so long that one translator translated the first two parts of the book and another translated the last part of the book. In Japan it was actually published as three different books. Funny side note the author of this book is also known in Japan for translating english language novels into Japanese, yet he didn’t translate his own novel from Japanese to English.

1Q84 is about two people who leave the real world, the world we know in the year 1984 and end up in an alternative world. A world that one of the two calls 1Q84, the other calls it the city of cats. In this world there are little people and two moons and perceivers and receivers.

This book is very long. and there are really three stories in it. The two main characters and a character who becomes important in the last part of the book.

One character is want to be writer and a cram school math teacher. Quick aside in Japan cram schools are designed to get students up to speed for testing so that they can get into good colleges. In Japan the absolutely best colleges are hard to get into but generally are also very cheap because they get resources from other than tuition. The lower tier schools are more expensive because they do not get the same resources. He gets a gig rewriting a novel for a new writers competition. The novel wins and gets published. The writers life gets complicated as the girl who wrote the original version is the daughter of some cult members.

The second character is fitness club instructor and assassin of men who rape and hurt women. Her life gets complicated when she kills the leader of the above mentioned cult.

The third character is a private detective hired by the cult to find the killer and in his search he interacts with the writer who went to elementary school with the killer.

The writing is amazing and the novel is amazingly long and for me it never really felt like it slowed down, the whole time we were rolling towards finding an answer and an amazing ending. It never came though. We didn’t find the answers we wanted, but it had a happy ending. So do I suggest it? Yes, but be prepared for a long read without a big action ending.

I am writing this review after finishing the follow up book the Fall of Hyperion. The review of the follow up will come soon. I picked this one up because it was a book of the month on the Sword and Laser book club. They have a youtube show that I suggest any fan genre novels watch. So lets get into this book.

The book is mostly a series of short stories being told by travelers on their pilgrimage to something called the time tomes where the Shrike lives. The first story for me was the most moving and also introduced the importance of beliefs in this series. The first story is about a Catholic priest in the far future that travels to the world of Hyperion and interacts with a group of natives that called themselves the Three Score and Ten. Terrible things happen when the Three Score and Ten discover that the Catholic priest is a a follower of the cross but not of the Cruciform as they had thought. The make him of the cruciform and that is when he meets the Shrike for the first time. It doesn’t sound like much but it was wow, mind blowing.

The next most moving story is told by a father whose daughter came home from a investigating the time tomes on Hyperion with a terrible illness. Every morning when his daughter woke up she was one day younger and her memories were erased at the same time. The man and his wife that had raised this little girl were now raising her again in reverse. It is amazing and sad.

There is a story of a poet, he isn’t as likable but the writing is amazing, this story really lets you in on the way the world exists, its technology and politics and culture.

The Soldiers story and the Politician’s story and the Detective story are all very good and worth the read. The the travelers get to where they are going and the book ends. We don’t find out what the Shrike is, where it came from, if they will live or if they will die. This book tells the story of six amazing characters, but it is really part one of the story.

So I didn’t have a choice, I had to read the followup.

A science fiction novel written by a Tech Journalists as part of National Novel Writing Month. You have my attention.

Although Tom Merritt is a Tech guy, and one I respect a lot, this novel is not in the league of Daniel Suarez novels. It is not without its merits though (pun not completely attentional). I enjoyed this novel, I read it between some very big and very heavy books. Do I suggest it? for the price yes (You can find it for free either on Merritt’s blog or download him narrating it himself).

The idea is that the Moon was colonized, then politically broke away from Earth. Action/thriller story involving clones among other things follows when bad things happen on earth.

I should have written this review weeks ago, so I don’t remember anything really standoutish about this book, it was fun, it was good, it isn’t a masterpiece.

Yes I read this book, I try and read a little bit of everything. I read to read, I read to learn and I also sometimes read to have something to talk about and boy do people love talking about this book. I will start with my thoughts on the book as a book then finish up with other things worth saying about this book.

Is it a good book? No, it is not a great story and I didn’t feel the love of writing that my favorite books have.

Was there anything I really took away from this? No, I didn’t learn anything about writing better stories from reading this and I didn’t learn anything about myself or others from reading this.

Am I sorry I read this? No, I don’t think I have ever read anything and thought to myself I wish I hadn’t wasted my time. In the end I have still read another book.

Was there anything I liked. Yes, there was something I liked and that is the reason I don’t think I will read the other two books. I don’t have to tell you that this was supposed to pass as a romantic story, albeit with more adult content than your YA romances even if it did have at best their level of writing. In the end of this book the female character leaves the male character and ends the relationship. Obviously I know in the follow up books that changes, but in my mind thats a happy ending and thats where I will end my journey with this book.

Is there anything else worth saying about the story? Yes, and that is that I can’t stand the contrived creation of the characters. Lets start with the female character, our POV character, the one you need to feel some relationship to get into the story. The character that the target audience is supposed to associate with is a twenty two year old virgin, very smart and thinks herself unattractive even though every male character around her is constantly throwing themselves at her. Also she talks about her Inner Goddess which is something that I don’t think people actually do. I might occasionally joke about my own alter ego, or evil twin, or inner demons and angels, but I don’t usually do that to try and explain part of me wanted one thing and part of me wanted another. If I am randy I don’t have to tell you what part of my psychology causes that. The male character is the BSD dom who ultimately gets into this and needs this because he was the son of a drug addict and even though the book never says this outright the information is there to gather that he was often hungry as a young child and most likely had cigarettes put out on him. I imagine that in the later books when that comes out the female character will be shocked and will not have put that together even though the reader should have.

Ok, this review for a not good book has gotten verbose, what was I saying earlier about other things worth saying about the book? Yes, this book is fascinating for a number of reasons, even including how bad it is. It has been successful and people love talking about it. The background history of this book is that it started out as Twilight fan fiction. I will say it kept up the tradition of the bad story telling and ridiculous female lead of its roots. So the book got a bost in sales from this connection to another successful title, which is amazing that fan fiction made that jump. I would like to see this happen in the future of other unknown and perhaps better writers. This book however falls very much into a tradition of female oriented sexual fantasy novels, or as Felicia Day calls them, Vaginal Fantasy, and in the past there was a barrier to most of these novels becoming huge sellers. Sure they have been successful for a long time, but generally most women would not want to be seen reading such a book and no man would be seen reading it. What has changed? E-books in my opinion. If you read this on an e-book reader on the subway, a beach or a plane all most people will tell fromt he back of it is if you are an Apple, Barnes and Nobel or Amazon customer. So technology was also a source of the success of this novel and I hope personally that in the future this trend will continue to other types of books, political books or classics included. Imagine if e-book readers had been around when Nabokov had written Lolita. I think in the long run of the availability of digital media will do away with the silliness of banned books and not just the stigma of trashy romance novels.

 

I love Doctor Who.

I don’t think I need to say much more than that, I love the Doctor.

There are two types of Doctor Who stories, general stories that could be told with any of the Doctors and stories that seem to be written specifically for a certain Doctor and his companion(s). This is a general story, it doesn’t really build on or use the very specific relationship Amy has with the Doctor. Oh, by the way this is an Eleventh Doctor story with Amy Pond and not Rory.

It was good though, the most original thing in it was a planetoid like location in space built from the collection of lots of space junk.

So all in all good, not really something that gives me ideas or teaches me how to write better stories.

I had started this book a year or so a go and got halfway through it before setting it down for other things I picked it up again recently and started at the beginning. I will say this, there wasn’t anything in this story or with the story telling method that spoke to me. I wouldn’t say it was bad, it was entertaining. However it had nothing special for me.

I sometimes finding myself talking back to the book I am reading. Often times I might be yelling at the characters. I think this isn’t a criticism of the books I do this too, but rather speaks to a trueness that comes through in the characters. It is a sign of good writing. I never found myself talking to the characters in this book. I found myself yelling at the author. The most blatant thing I would have yelled at this author if she were actually here would be that a guy threatening a girls life is not romantic. Seriously Meyer seems to only right love interests for her female characters that at least once threaten to kill the character. It happened in the sparkly vampire books and it happened twice in this book. I know I am a guy, but still. I mean strangling someone and trying to kill them isn’t really a pick up line. Even worse is the female characters come to think of these threatening men as being sweet and tender and understanding. I would also suggest she seek therapy for this, it is very disturbing.

There were a couple of chuckles in this book, I think my favorite was near the end when one character said “I don’t want to be a plant.” And if that doesn’t make you giggle a little then you probably wouldn’t find much humor in this book at all.

Back to something else that bothered me was that this book took the viewpoint that many parts of our personality came from our physical bodies and not our minds. I don’t mean the result of having lived our lives in our physical bodies but rather the body itself. Two examples is that character in the story, hey if you didn’t know it already this is basically an invasion of the body snatchers story, gets put into a body that is shy and then that character is shy. More prominently through out the book is that your body has a say in who you love. Not who you find physically attractive but who you love. There are examples of body snatching aliens displacing a married human couple and because they have the bodies, they find themselves in love with each other just because the original body did.

The author once said that this story had a message of positive body image. As far as I can tell this plays out in the book by having the body snatching aliens really love being in human bodies and the humans really not wanting to give up their bodies to aliens. At least it is better than the sparkly vampire books that had a message of traditional gender roles.

So yeah, its work a read but there is so much more worth reading before this book.

There is a story behind me reading this book. I had never heard of it, but then I read an article on some scifi blog or movie site, I don’t remember which one, about the most anticipated scifi movies coming out in the next year. The movie of this book was listed. I had never heard of it and was not in fact excited about it. Then I read who was making the movie. The movie is going to be directed by the team of the Wachowski Siblings and Tom Tykwer (the director of the German movie Run Lola Run). The directors make for an interesting team, but the movie is also going to have some amazing stars. Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant and Keith David. That makes for an amazing team and several of the actors will be playing more than one role, and the reasoning for that will make sense if you know more about the book.

The book tells six interconnected stories in an interesting way. About half way through each story the story abruptly jumps, sometimes mid-sentence, into the next story. The main character in each story has an unique birthmark and it is hinted that perhaps each main character of each story is a reincarnation of the previous main character. Some of the characters are really good characters and you could say they are heroic, some of the stories are about people who are scoundrels but not outright evil. Another twist to the jumping stories, is that in each story after the first, the main character in someone hears or reads or sees the part of the previous story that just got interrupted. One character watches the first half of a movie about another character, and one reads letters and one reads the journal. Then when the last story finishes, it starts going backwards and tells the second half of the previous story and ends with the end of the first story.

Each story falls into a somewhat different genre, but collectively it is science fiction I would say.  The first story is set in the south pacific. It is about people using other people and dehumanizing them. The second story is about a musician and without honorable intentions, the third story is about a reporter that is trying to uncover a story about a dangerous conspiracy, the next story is a publisher that gets tricked into being admitted to a retirement home. After that is the first really scifi story about a GELF (genetically engineered life form) that becomes a hero to the enslaved GELF race, the last story is a pos apocalyptical survivor story.

Overall there are two obvious themes, the dehumanizing of others and the degradation of language over time. Since each story takes place a little further in the future from the previous, the language gets simplified with each story. By the last story the language is very limited, almost cave man like. Interestingly the story before that about he GELF has simple language because the GELF are not allowed to know many words. I think you could say that the story sadly laments the degradation of language and perhaps connects that change in language to perhaps the end of the world.

The moral of the story for me though is about the dehumanizing of others, from slaves and the south sea islanders to the future possibility of created slave races. I loved this book. I am now looking forward to the movie, and I will strongly suggest it to anyone else.

Finally finished this book the other day. That means I have finished this trilogy I have been reading more or less all year. The sad thing is though at this point, I can’t think of much to say about the third book that wasn’t covered by the first and second books.

It is about the colonization and independence of Mars. There is a lot of science and long passages describing the science of what is going on.

A lot of characters died by the end.

Ummm, well its a good series anyway.

This was an odd choice to read. I think I picked it up because it was on sale and I saw a couple of positive reviews of it. The idea is great. Two people, very smart, hiding in plain sight and pretending that they are not brilliant. At the beginning of the book the concierge hides for fear of her life. She has the idea that the best way to stay alive is to not let anyone know who you are or for them to think you are trying to get above your station. The child hides in plain sight because…. well she wants to. She doesn’t hide to stay alive but is rather planing her own suicide because she is to smart to experience anything new.

The characters talk a lot of philosophy, but only to themselves. Its annoying really to hear someone talk to themselves about philosophy. In my experience philosophy needs interaction and is best in a dialogue, discussion or dispute. Like philosophy, change is not possible without conflict and for that it helps to have someone else. So the two main characters get to know each other through a new resident in the building in which they live.

Here is where the book lost me. These characters are supposed to be clever and brilliant and probably genesis, however the concierge thinks to herself when a Japanese man asks her out that he might not understand social hierarchy. What makes this worse is that she is supposed to be a fan of  Japanese film. It seems to me someone of this intelligence should know that someone from Japan would understand the ideas of social hierarchy more so than a French person. Oh yeah, the main characters are French, but the book is in English. Back to my point. Japanese society still relies heavily on social order. Sure there are those that rebel in that society, but they have a saying in Japan, “the nail that stands out gets hammered down.”

All in all a good read, but not the master piece that some reviews or jacket cover comments would have you believe. And also a spoiler here, when the two characters stop hiding, the one that hid to stay alive dies and the one that hid to not have to live does in fact go in and live.

This book sounded ok from the description so I picked it up. There were a couple of good ideas and a couple of bits that didn’t work for me. Lets start with the basics. The main character is an art student. She has permanently blue hair. She has friends and likes to have fun. She was raised though by demons and the benefit of this is that she gets wishes. Small wishes mostly. Her hair is blue because of a wish and she isn’t above embarrassing an ex with a well placed wish or ten. One day angels basically declare war on the demons and the main character is stuck in the middle.

I liked some of the mythology that was developed. In this story the demons trade wishes for teeth. They have a use for the teeth. Of course the message is that Magic has a price and that price is pain. Everyone who wants the magic of a wish has to trade in pain to get it. The most powerful wishes can only come from your own teeth. I think this idea, the pain not the teeth thing, could make for an interesting story. What if a Harry Potter world where the only people who could use magic were people with a lot of pain. The good guys would use their pain and the bad guys would trade on the pain of others for their power. I might put that into an idea I have been bouncing back and forth.

What I didn’t like was the way the story worked. The story started as a fun adventure story with characters that are well developed and a universe that I would like to spend time in. However about half way through the story stops being an adventure and turns into explaining the back story of the angels and demons and focuses on the main character rediscovering her past. It turns out she is in love, but she is never able to save her demon family from the angels.

Fun read, a little bit above some of the supernatural fluff that is very popular right now but it isn’t something that sticks with you.