I’m new to Alastair Reynolds and only a passing fan of sci fi literature but this is a great book that stands alone even though it is part of a larger series. One of the best aspects of the book is that the technology presented within the story is understandable and has a very familiar feel to it. In other words, most of the technical innovation is linear from our own time and place. Also, the hero is a classic tuff guy who doesn’t annoy by coming off as an all knowing, all power individual (a type that I can’t stand). He does come across as the right man at the right time for a world that is grown complacent and ceased any kind of introspection or self-improvement. Sound familiar? There are other contemporary issues addressed as well such as governmental role in private life, gun control, artificial intelligence, and the impact of supermen (people) on society.
It’s a shame this book wasn’t better than it was because the author has obviously put some time into creating a new and interesting world. There are plenty of new words, lands and concept as well as a fully worked out society with all of its professional and social classes. However, I miss having a nice visceral response to the world and the characters and this is ironic considering the amount of detail that is included. We are constantly being informed as to what clothing is being worn and what characters are eating (to the nth detail I mean). In fact, many times I found myself wanting more action and suspense and much less mundane and what really are trivial details. Also, with a much detail that was included, there was very little said about the causes and inner workings of the “imagining” phenomena. This comes after having finished the Harry Dresden series where magic is very well explained.
One point is for certain. The narrator/performer was very poor in my opinion. He is very limited in the number of voices he has available and those he does have become nearly unbearable with time. Whether it is his drunken John Wayne voice, his drunken Elvis voice or, worse of all, his Napoleon Dynamite voice I found myself very close to turning the book off despite the credit I spent on it. Maybe if the dialogue was more organic and real sounding (not one swear work, not even in the story’s lexicon) and maybe if there was a different narrator I would have enjoyed this one much more. I do not plan on continuing the series.
There were a lot of good things going on in this book, such as the references to history and alchemy but, the central love story is really imposable. In fact, the hero is one of those characters that embodies too many great qualities to be believable. For a male reader he’s little hard to take. I also found the female hero hard to take at times. She is an expert in history but has a surprising lack of knowledge in certain instances. These situations are resolved by the hero suddenly unveiling the new knowledge in a dramatic and contrived fashion. It is a concession to affect that undermines the character. She is also a powerful witch who can’t master the casting of spells due to their tedious nature, but CAN spend days at a time in a library studying books, taking notes and writing papers. Sounds tedious to me.
This book is the purist of cheese. Please tell me it’s meant for children and not discerning adult readers. The plot is predictable and unimaginative. It feels like a cross between Escape to Witch Mountain and the X-Men. I couldn’t finish it and I paid for the thing. Unfortunately.
"What ?" I don't know how many times the characters say that but it becomes very annoying. In fact, all of the dialogue is strangely jerky and drown out and so is the delivery. If the reader had performed it organically I think it would have worked out better. Just didn't sound like any conversations I've ever had.
I seldom read a book that was so improved by the movie. In the movie the struggle between the two generations is more apparent and of vital importance within the context of the Baby-boomer generation. I also found myself really disliking the Benjamin in the book. He carries on like a little b**** the whole time. He has few redeeming qualities. And I could never understand why Elian would be in love with him. For the book I'm left with a very strong feeling that the relationship is going to crash and burn. Within a few months one could readily imagine Elian married to Carl after all and Benjamin in boot camp.
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