The Crystal City is probably my least favorite of the Alvin Maker series. It got to the point where any obstacle was overcome by Alvin's, or somebody else's knack. It eliminates any tension or sense of danger to the characters when one knows that all they have to do is run real fast, make a fog, or miraculously heal someone. Even though he was very infuriating, and mostly downright stupid, Calvin became more interesting than his brother Al. Toward the end of the book, I really didn't care if they made the Crystal City or not.
I got this title due to an interview with Peter Heller that I heard on the radio. I've always had a soft spot for "End of the World as We know it" stories. I read "Earth Abides many years ago and many times since and love it. "Dahlgren" by Delaney, while freaky as all get out, kept me riveted even though I didn't understand half of it. And of course, there's "The Change" series by S.M. Stirling. If you're looking for something along any of these stories lines, forget it. The plot is pretty basic but it's the presentation of the characters and setting the I found remarkable. Heller's love for poetry saturates his writing. It's like he can't help it. The book reads like one big poem with lots of stream of consciousness thrown in. Don't let that turn you off though. Mark Deakins, the reader, goes through this book so smoothly that it took me a while to realize exactly what Heller was trying, and succeeding, to do. The book is entirely written in the first person from the viewpoint of the main character named Higg. Heller conveys Higg's thoughts, feelings, emotions and motivations beautifully without being overly verbose. Like poetry, it is language stripped down to it's barest essentials but with full meaning. No small feat.
It may be that this could be a difficult book to read. I'm glad that I listened to it on an audio book.
I recently rented the movie October Sky from Netflix. I had seen it years ago, but thought my daughter might like it. I became curious about Homer Hickam Jr. and decided to give Rocket Boys a listen. I found Homer's description of his hometown and the people in it during the late 1950's facinating. It's good story with good Characters. A peek through a slightly sooty window into a now quickly vanishing past.
I've loved this book for over 30 years. But to tell the truth, for a while, I had almost convinced myself that the "reader" was artificial. The HAL9000 conveys more warmth and expression than the reader of this book. I've found it very distracting and I'm not sure I can finish.
The Mercy Thompson series is just plain fun. Not deep, doesn't moralize, but here and there you might find bits of common sense that are useful. Guilty pleasure at its best.
Like a few others, I'm trying to like this book. All the glowing reviews caught my attention. But, I have to say after six hours of listening, it ain't happening. I will finish this book and I hope something changes. I will then post another review. Right now, I just feel frustrated.
I like the character Mercy. She's interesting and self reliant, but not a super hero.
I think she adds a dimension of reality to the characters that one might not find for themselves.
Possible Spoiler Alert:
One only needs the attention span greater than that of a mayfly to enjoy this book. It does not have a Hollywood ending or a romantic resolution. Nor should it. The characters of Katniss and Peeta each go through their own forms of hell over and over. To expect that all will be cheery and bright at the end is naive. After the first Hunger Game, Katniss has begun her journey through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Subsequent experiences and losses only make things worse and culminate in a final act of violence. To expect a miraculous recovery and a happily ever after right after the war's end would be fantasy indeed. Even though the setting of these books is set in a alternate future, the entire series is a comment on our society's embrace of the shallow and morally corrupt where right and wrong can be rationalized by a change of perspective. If you're looking for the drivel to be found in the Twilight series, this ain't it. This is the whole steak: Meat, fat, bone and gristle.
Vampires, soft porn, characters who are wealthy beyond all reason, and a damsel in distress. Good formula to make some bucks given today's fad in the above. Unfortunately, not anywhere near S.M. Stirling's best so it just lies there in the crud with the Twilight books and others like them. Ann Rice did it better 20 years ago. It could be an explanation of the Nantucket occurrence in the change series, but there are some contradictions to be overcome. If you get it, don't go in with your expectations very high.
I've heard about this book for years but I found listening to it very difficult. It just didn't keep my interest. The characters never emerge from their two dimensions and for many, one is like another. Several reviews have sited the reader as the problem. To be fair, this would be a difficult book to read aloud. For the first and second parts of the book, Gasner, sounds as though he's reading the news. However he does improve by the third download somewhat. That, or I just got used to him.
Admittedly, Niven and Pournelle are no slouches in the SciFi world. I've read other works by them and enjoyed them. I may try this book again by picking up a hard copy and reading it myself.
For a novel about first contact, I suggest Arthur C Clark's "Rendezvous with Rama". The hard science is there as well as interesting characters and personalities.
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