I thoroughly enjoyed the story, although I found some of it a bit uncomfortable (the relationships between everyone - although, maybe if you go with the theory that the Gales aren't human, it works a bit better.) Nothing really complicated or twisty about the plot, but enjoyable nonetheless.
While the narrator gave it her best go, you can't turn a pig's ear into a silk purse. While this might be a cliche to use, the kind of writing contained within only deserves a cliche. In a word: Yawn. Next?
Rating: 4 paws
One quote from the book that I particularly cared for: "More like 'involuntary assisted suicide.'"
Summary of the book in one sentence: What happens when aliens decide humanity has the best possible music and bankrupts the universe because of copywrite laws.
First paw consists of the writing style - basically, this is the technical aspect of the book. This book is going for two genres: sci-fi and humor. The humor is coming off every page, but even then, he doesn't get slapstick or gimmicky, which I very much approve of. He also doesn't have puerile fart jokes or other gross "humor." He does have some very topical and date specific jokes in it, so the humor might not be as relevant in ten years, but that isn't the majority of the humor, so I won't hold that against him. As for the sci-fi, it's about *aliens* and has alien technology in it. You don't get much more sci-fi. But wait! Where some sci-fi humorists overlook trying to do what more serious sci-fi writers do and explain their technology, HE ACTUALLY DOES explain some. I was actually really impressed with that. He very much met this category.
The second paw is "emotional connection" - basically, was I *interested* in what I was reading? I don't think there was one instant of reading this that I *wasn't* interested in what he was writing. I loved the characters, I was engaged in the plot, I enjoyed his word choices. The connection was strong for this one.
Third paw is plot - akin to writing style, but purely about The Story. In a lot of sci-fi stories, you get deus ex machina solutions, which can get quite irritating after reading the umpteenth novel with such. Reid apparently shares my frustration with that cliche of writing, as every possible DEM solution the characters try, it either fizzles before working or actually makes the situation worse. While it could be argued that the ending was a big DEM solution, *I* was entertained enough by it that I found it satisfying even knowing that it was one. While I can't say that I found the plot to be at all twisty, and the characters didn't really have much development, it was still a satisfying story. This isn't a strong paw, but he does have it.
The last paw is "Other Stuff," which is pretty much anything that doesn't go into another category but is still note-worthy. I have a confession to make: when I read Douglas Adams, I don't end up laughing out loud very often. I find his books delightfully funny, but not bursting-a-gut laughing funny. It's the same with Monty Python. Or with Ernst Cline's Ready Player One. All of these are great fun, but none really get me rolling over laughing. It's the same with this book. Reid is funny and often witty (which are vastly different things, in case you didn't know,) but he didn't inspire any great guffaws of laughter from me. And, you know what? That's okay. He was going for humor, and he achieved it. So, for those critics wondering how this book could possibly be compared to Douglas Adams? Have you READ The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul? This is very much in that vein of humor. Having said that, I give this paw to the book, purely for reminding me of one of my favorite authors, while still being completely unique and having it's own voice.
Rating: 3 paws
One quote from the book that I particularly cared for, so, here's the quote: "My whole life is a wrong decision. One more one way or the other there is a statistical rounding error."
Summary of the book in one sentence: "What a sex therapist discusses with professional assassins/spies in a therapy session."
So, I honestly had no idea what this book was to be about, and I really only got it because Audible was offering it for cheap and I enjoy the novels the different spy-characters are in. I had no previous experience with M.J. Rose's works, and I had no idea what I was getting in to. It was an interesting experience.
First paw consists of the writing style - basically, this is the technical aspect of the book. A short story anthology is a bit difficult to judge on technical merit, at least, it is for me. The writing is just too short for a real sample. But, Rose does well in this area, even in the brief moments that we're with her in the stories, and, while it's not stunning writing, there aren't any glaring, irritating mishaps that she takes, either. She earns this paw on the pure basis that I can't *not* give it to her.
The second paw is "emotional connection" - basically, was I *interested* in what I was reading? Even in these brief forays into the different scenes, Rose *did* make me interested. I Wanted More. I think that that's probably one of the signs of a GOOD short story - I'm left wishing these were actual novels, so I can revel in the emotional connection with the story. Rose more than earns this paw.
Third paw is plot - akin to writing style, but purely about The Story. I think my biggest complaint about this book comes with this topic. In any short story, suspension of disbelief is probably more important than ever, to Make Things Make Sense. Even so, the first story has be really questioning the ethics of this doctor and makes me highly uncomfortable. The other stories don't have this problem *quite* as badly, but then, the other stories don't really have much *plot.* They're far more akin to vignettes than anything else. They also didn't contain much *suspense,* which is what I thought they would, considering the characters involved. It was pretty much just dialogue. So, while I enjoyed the various stories and the writing, and so on, I really can't give this paw.
The last paw is "Other Stuff," which is pretty much anything that doesn't go into another category but is still note-worthy. So, let me gush about the narrators. I *adore* Scott Brick's voice and I think he really should read erotica. I'd buy that RIGHT up. And, I enjoy Dick Hill's voice, for a totally different aesthetic value. Hearing their voices in this made it more enjoyable. So, if you're looking for something purely on the audiophile level, I'd say go with this. The performances were great. Obviously, this is a free paw for this book.
As in most, if not all, Scalzi books, I found the plot absolutely spell binding. Which was a really good thing, as the writing was very much not. Seriously, Scalzi is one of those authors who needs to obtain a thesaurus. The repetition of the word "said" almost made me stop reading the book. Which would have been a shame, as, like I said, the plot was fantastic. Writing might have gotten a "C" in any college Creative Writing course, but the plot might have made a professor "grade kindly." There was definite character development, which is almost unheard of, in a Scalzi character. Except, possibly, with the Old Man's War saga.
The only problem I had (aside from the thesaurus issue) with this book was the ending. Or series of endings. The whole code part of the title made sense at the end of the book, but honestly, I almost wish he hadn't put those series of endings in. Yes, it wrapped up story lines that otherwise wouldn't have been wrapped up, but as they were tangential arcs, I'm not entirely convinced they were important for the story. Unless it was a statement that reached back to the existential issues the book was talking about. In which case, thank you Scalzi for not hitting us over the head with the point, but I think a little more clarity that that's what you were doing would have been nice. I rarely do this with books but, I would suggest that, if you were to read this, stop at the end of the first ending. Because, while the rest is not likely to hurt your eyes to read, it's certainly not going to leave you with any Lasting Impressions, if you're anything like me. And, if you're NOT anything like me, then this entire review is sort of meaningless anyway.
I would recommend it to other Scalzi fans, but I certainly wouldn't want this to be anyone's intro to him. Due to the repetition and ending(s,) I would have to say that this is a two out of four paw book.
Just finished Being There by Jerzy Kosinski. It was like looking at modern art, where the artist is clearly trying to Be Artistic instead of, say, painting (or, in this case, telling a story.) About the only thing I really took away from it was 1) "here's another 60s/70s story I don't enjoy due to needless emphasis on sex," and 2) Kosinski obviously feels that people take away whatever they want to from an exchange instead of what's actually there. Which, while I agree with that, I felt that the message was clumsily presented. I don't understand why this is considered such an important work.
So, if possible, this book is actually *worse* than a Christopher Moore novel. Only not as dated (possibly because it was written more recently) but that will change in a few years, so, if dated books turn you off, I would highly suggest *not* reading this. I'm glad I only spent $5 on this. Had I paid anything more, I'd probably want to slam my head against my desk, for wasting my money. Not even worth a star.
I don't think that I've been more disappointed in a Terry Pratchett book than I was with The Long Earth. Seriously? If you were thinking of getting this, don't bother. There's no real plot, the ending was abrupt and without resolution, the characters were flat and one dimensional without any kind of development and the different scenes were without any kind of meaning whatsoever in a cohesive storytelling kind of way. They made sense in and of themselves, but they didn't make up a story or have any real interaction with the other scenes. In short, the book sucked.
So, I've read all of the books in the series, and have been VASTLY impressed and happy and squee about them. Until this one. Kerr just ... wasn't herself (which, I think, was the point) and the book just didn't have the immediacy and awesomeness the others did. I couldn't connect to it - couldn't bring myself to care overly much about what happened. I think, if this is going to be the last book, that I'll just consider the series to have ended with Valor's Trial. Of course, if a new book in the series were to be written, I'd still get it, in hopes that it would be as wonderful as the others were.
It seems like "a strong female lead" is something that most writers are trying to give their audience these days, and yet, so many of them just manage to provide irritating, not-thinking, "even if it makes more sense to have the male lead to do this task, I'm going to do it, because I'm female and RAWR," Marysues. Huff delivers an ACTUAL strong female lead.
Kerr is a Marine. No two ways about it, in this character we enter the mind and spirit of what it means to be a Marine. Maybe my high school experience with Marine JROTC makes me appreciate this series more than I would otherwise, but every time I put down one of these books, I always feel like shouting "Oorah!" If you want to know why it is men and women don the uniform and serve, read this series.
Obviously, I love the main character. But there are other characters in this series who are equally great. If you like character-driven books, read this series.
But what about the plot, you say? It's a fast book, and the action scenes are in-your-face and might jump out at any moment - just like in a real battle. So, saying that, sometimes the transitions are a bit muddled and it's hard to follow when "down time" and "action time" changed. That's about the *only* thing that I can say is wrong with the plot. Otherwise, it's everything one could ask for in a sci-mil story.
My only regret about reading this series? Is that it's coming so close to the end. This is one that's going to be hard to replace.
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