Highland Park, IL, United States | Member Since 2007
I very much enjoy the Old Man's War series. It's a gleeful stomping of any trace of political correctness in regard to violence. Not really gratuitous, but unrepentantly raw and continuous. And yet somehow, Scalzi manages to insert a solid morale tale into the bloodbath.
I will say though, that some of the emotional connection development between characters can feel like being spoon fed straight saccharin. I'd rather be left to build some of my own inferences without several Nelsonian last words proclamations of love.
The first chapters make boss seem like a real tough chick. Cool! This is going to be be fun.
Then it crumbles. She's over-cautious, over-sensitive, and over-conservative.
Whatever. Look, either let her be a spit blood pirate chick, or an housewife with a spaceship. But PLEASE don't try to mix the two.
I actually really like the stories, but the narrator reminds me of a fat, tired, late-thirties, self-loathing, dungeon master fanboy from back in the DAY.
I get it. Dresden comes from that ilk... kinda. But he's also a freekin bad ass, and this guy just can't pull it off for me. It just seems so forced.
I'm bummed to see the whole friggin series is narrated by him.
Full and fair disclosure... I HATE captive hero novels, big brother overlord novels, and prison stories. So the real question is, why in the hell did I buy this book? I don't have a good answer other than to say that, YUP! Still hate 'em.
That said, I will offer my critique.
The novel is very well visualized. F'ing painful, but it's very clear what the author wants you to see. But part of this is the exhaustive detail that Howey puts into every moment he chooses to write about. There's no skipping, by god. He writes every detail.
It's nice that the main character isn't whipped up from the New York Times Best Seller recipe. He's very unique. But god, what a whuss. If he 'cried' and 'the tears streamed down his cheek' one more time, I was going to reach in through my iPhone and slap him. There's got to be an app for that. He's also completely blind to every, single one of the patently obvious ominous warnings of impending doom.
I just can't get into bottling humanity in a thermos and seeing what happens, so you can tell the threadbare parable of 'free will: good / big brother: bad.' Well, no sh_t. Pretty sure we all know that. Ayn Rand put the cherry on that pie, then shoved every last gooey morsel down our throats, so unless you have something SERIOUSLY compelling to add to that message, please move on.
I just couldn't do it. I gave it two chances. It finally wore me down when a second, upcoming hero in the book got buried under another mountainous overburden of suspicion that absolutely no human being could ever escape.
When your heroes are all teenagers, it's pretty hard to tell a grown up story. Honestly, I'm seeing a blatant example of publishers reaching for increased revenue on a Young Adult novel by not marketing it as a Young Adult novel.
Fun(ish), but not much in the way of new ideas or story devices, and character development of such solid oaken construction, it would be right at home on an Amish-built show floor.
• Kids smarter than their folks? CHECK.
• Parents in perfect Mayberry marriages? CHECK.
• Bosses all A Holes? CHECK.
• Teachers all bigger A Holes? CHECK.
• School bullies get meaner and meaner till shown what 'fer by the hero? CHECK.
• Government officials all idiots not to be trusted? CHECK.
• Bad guys all self-healing alien zombies who look just like the rest of us? CHECK.
C'mon guys. Really? I'm sure teens can dig it, but the storyline is so clearly marked, all you have to do in the event of reduced visibility is follow white lights which lead to red lights which lead to the exits.
I quit at 5 hours in.
My god, really? This is the author everyone fawns over.
It was my first OSC card book, and likely my last.
It's like listening to a chess match. UGHGHhhhh. The characters about as real life as Greek theater.
Honestly thought I was listening to a young adult book. Was I, and just missed it?
I tried. Really I did. I muscled through 3/4 of this thing, but it finally just wore me down.
And STUPID character names. LOAF? UMBO? Really? gahhhhh.
Good story. Alastair Reynolds can tell a good yarn, and in this one, he does really well.
John Lee as narrator, though, just drives me up the wall. He's fantastic for fantasy - I LOVED him for Perdido Street Station, but I just can't get my head around him for sci-fi. Too proper, too tweed, too academic. Not enough Asimov, not enough tech, not enough laser.
But then, I'm probably too American.
Battlestar Galactica without the passion.
Basically wrote a story about a US Navy aircraft carrier, and put it in space.
Actually read Zoe's Tale first by accident. LOVED it. So much more emotive and quirky.
Last Colony just fell flat for me.
LOVE Neil Gaiman.
Terry Pratchet?... Not s'much. I think he really de-sublimes Gaiman.
And the narration just put it over the edge. Martin Jarvis really pushed it to a place of Victorian pretense, and just couldn't capture the protagonist's child voice to save his life.
I really would have loved to see this one written solely by Gaiman. I think it would have had the power of The Graveyard Book, or American Gods.
I did enjoy One Second After, but more like I would a campy 1950s horror movie rather than the hard fiction apocalyptic tale he endeavors to weave.
I get it. We've all pretty much heard of the attack he describes. And yup, It's scary. But honestly, I think he assumes WAAAAY too much potency for the attack - basically 100% effective. No weapon in history has ever boasted that kind of efficacy. If there is a range of how bad an EMP attack would be, Fortschen has definitely turned the dial to 11.
Character behavior and their relationships appeal for emotive connection through the melancholy stoicism of the Confederacy. I actually enjoy this style, though, which is why I rated it as highly as I did. But I don't think it's anything like how people would behave today.
I also think his characters waste a ton of time and energy trying to establish an isolated 19th century society and culture through resurrection of obsolete technology, when they would probably get much further by simply trying to fix the current infrastructure lying repairable all around them.
For emotive story telling, though, I give Fortschen a 4. For realistic treatment of a real potential risk... a 2.
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