Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “nick harkaway”

loveallthis’s #cbr4 reviews 18, 19, 20: Insurgent, 2312, Angelmaker

(cross-posted from my blog.)

18 / Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent is the sequel to Divergent, which I reviewed earlier. It is, unfortunately, not quite as good as the first in the series. (The similarities to The Hunger Games continue!)

We learn much more about the other Factions in this installment, as well as unexpected things about our protagonists’ families. Other than that, there’s a lot of somewhat confusing double-crossing, teenaged angst, freedom fighting, and a promise that things will get more exciting in the as-yet-untitled third in the trilogy.

Three stars. Might read the next one.

19 / 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

I got a good hundred pages into 2312 thinking “holy shit, I finally found a ballsy female hard sci-fi author!” before looking up Kim Stanley Robinson and finding out that yeah, he is a dude.

In which case, (and I don’t know why I’d be easier on a woman – there’s probably something wrong with this) this is a pretty forgettable attempt at an Iain M. Banks-like story. Sprawling and with lots of characters (check), super-advanced human/alien diaspora (check), secret evil cabal potentially run by robots trying to control the universe (check), mysterious bombings of technologically advanced cities on far-flung planets (check).

This is a nicely-crafted and intellectually impressive book without a lot of heart. Like this summer’s unfortunate Prometheus, it’s a story about commuting. From Earth to Mercury to Mars to Saturn to Jupiter’s moons, with lots of shuttles and asteroids-turned-spaceliners in between, our characters hop around the solar system incessantly – all the while investigating who or what is behind the attacks.

There are some interesting bits, to do with body modification, art, music, and technology. The book’s 560 pages, though it felt significantly longer.

Three stars. A decent read.

20 / Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

This book, like Nick Harkaway’s first (The Gone-Away World) is nerd heaven.

We’ve got a literally-underground society of thieves in London, a terrorist organization of clockmakers, kickass nuns, and uber-makers who travel in a handcrafted train named after Ada Lovelace.

I’m not going to get into the plot, because it’s mostly an excuse to throw all of these amazing elements into conflict with one another. Plus, come on: if the list in the previous paragraph hasn’t already sent you to your local library’s website to put this thing on hold, there’s not much more I can say to convince you.

Four stars. Totally enjoyable.

loveallthis’s #cbr4 reviews 15, 16, 17: The Instructions, Shadow and Bone, The Gone-Away World

(cross-posted from my blog.)

15 / The Instructions by Adam Levin

Holy… something.

Not quite sure where to start with this one. I loved it. It’s one of the longest books I’ve read (along with Infinite Jest, to which it owes much and with which it shares many themes). The protagonist is a totally amazing, unbelievable, genius, psychopathic messianic ten-year-old (Judah Ben-Gurion Maccabee) – and oh, what he’ll do for the love of a girl named Eliza June Watermark, who may or may not be a Hebrew in the eyes of God.

At over a thousand pages, it’s not a particularly easy read. Pages upon pages examine the interpretation of a piece of Torah scripture as it relates to sitting very close to a girl you like. Other passages detail the uncoordinated coordinated chair-scoot as revolutionary mechanism. The narrative builds to a beautifully-coordinated climax that’s improbably miraculous – and then the story gets even more interesting.

I learned things about Judaism, about behavior disorders, about being a kid, about righteous disobedience. I fist-pumped, cried (quite a bit), marveled at these kids and the writer who conjured them into being, hated that writer for doing such terrible things to the kids he created.

Five stars. Recommended.

16 / Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Dear Leigh Bardugo: your characters are textured and interesting, even if I could see the twist with the secretly evil one happening a hundred pages away! Your weird alternate Tzarist Russian fairytale world is totally cool and compelling. There’s magic, which is always fun, and all those robes with different-colored embroidery would make J.K. Rowling proud.

Just… come on. Enough with the “chosen one” stuff already. Hero girl’s got some inherent mojo that makes her super-powerful, and super-intriguing to the bad guys. Isn’t there something a little more original we could do here? Plus the romantic angle is more than a little Twilight-creepy. Even Harry didn’t fall in love with Voldemort.

Three stars for all the cool stuff I mentioned above. I’ll probably read the sequel.

17 / The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway

Yes. YES. Nick Harkaway, you’re my new favorite.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. I feel like Stefon talking about a hot new club: The Gone-Away World has freelance truck drivers, ninjas, mimes, broken hearts, horrifying monsters, and the Jorgmund Pipe. (“What’s the Jorgmund Pipe?” “It’s when a midget sits in a trash can and…” … my analogy breaks down right about here.)

But seriously: this is a celebration of storytelling, of imagination, of pulp fiction at its finest. It’s twisty and turny, with a huge amount of heart, guts, and balls. I really don’t want to say more – just read it.

Five stars. So good.

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