I just finished Orson Scott Card's Wyrms and I don't know what to say. This book pulled my mind apart. I liked and hated it the same time.
It was full of awesome ideas. I loved that. The heads in the jars preserved by alien lifeforms... awesome. The genetic basis of the story and the interaction of different species are compelling. Here is a book which is not about aliens attacking humans or humans attacking aliens. The alien life-form chose to mix with the human genes in order to survive, moreover, to produce a much more dominant new race. The memory-storing crystals in people's mind was also an excellent idea, especially because it could be passed to the next generation.
This being said, I almost fell asleep when the characters gave philosophical speeches to each other. Maybe I'm a shallow guy who easily get bored over deep philosophical thoughts, but my finger was itching to push the fast forward button. At some points I even considered giving up.
There are some very, I mean very disturbing events in the story. I already found odd how Patience dealt with his father's head. However the most awful thing was the mating between the heroine and the worm-like UnWyrm. Not only the act itself, but what happened right after that. I would have thrown the book on the ground if it wasn't on my smartphone.
Some of the characters simply irritated me. If I were the author I would have killed the fat woman character early in the book.
I still cannot decide if it was a brilliant or a very bad book.
When I purchased this title I made a mistake: I didn't check the date of the first publication. The audio book was published in 2012. Into one third of the story I started to suspect that the original book is older than my daughter, and later my suspicion was confirmed by mention of microfilms used in 2034. I should have known better to check the reviews more thoroughly before buying it. In the Ocean of Night was born in 1972. Almost as old as me. It's not that I'm against old books, but I pick them only if I want to be nostalgic. Otherwise I prefer books of this century.
The story, however, started well, right into hard science fiction, astronauts discovering an alien artificial asteroid. Just what I wanted. But then the author made me jump fifteen years, to arrive into the daily life of the astronaut who made the first contact. The family setup was interesting, I must say, a blossoming triangle of a man and two woman, enjoying the threesome love-life. Besides that, a family drama unfolded in front of me, with the sadness of one of the partners having cancer. Oh, as a subplot, some slow development happened concerning an alien automated spaceship called Snark passing by. But not much.
The story seemed to speed up when the Snark started to communicate through a medical implant, and resurrected the said partner. I thought "yes, real science-fiction, finally". It didn't last long, though. The alien spaceship left the Solar system running from a missile. Why, of course the US government had to shoot at it, it's standard Hollywood procedure.
Then there was the wreck of another alien spaceship on the moon, which almost caused the death of the character who stumbled in its shield by chance. Space accident. Fight for life. Good stuff. But then jump again, and now I was discovering the alien ship's computer. Oh, the ship lowered its shield sometime in between, but I never learned how and why. Anyway, there was the promise of hard sci-fi again. But what I really got was description of dull images downloaded from the alien computer. Boring. I wondered why the scientists didn't go exploring the ship. Yes, they told me that it was dangerous, and they had plenty of time, it wasn't going anywhere. Serious? It was an alien ship, for god's sake!
And then came Mr Itchino (I hope I spell it right after hearing), who went to play being a hermit in the woods on the hillside. But only after that I had to listen to all the wonders of singing birds and landscapes he was amazed of. Did I mention boring? After an agonizingly long time he finally learned about the secret of the mountain: Bigfoot existed. No kidding. Mr Grave saw them, they shot at him with their laser gun.
By this time I listened to the audiobook at x1.25 speed to get over it quicker. I still had my hope that there will be an amazing ending. False hopes.
Mr Walmsley suddenly was sucked into the alien computer, and the aliens told him everything he wanted to know, and he told me some of it. While chopping wood on the hill. For Mr Itchino. In an elevated mental state. All of these spiced with a high literature writing style, which was odd, because it didn't match the previous part of the book.
I almost forgot to mention the religious sect of the New Sons. I'm still wondering what was the author's purpose with them.
I found the cover copy misleading. In the Ocean of Night promised me so much, but definitely failed to deliver. John Scalzi would be able to write this story in thirty pages, and still find the room for a little sarcastic humour of his.
Some reviewers say that the next books in the series are better. I wouldn't know. I won't buy them. I go to listen to an Alastair Reynolds book instead.
The narrator did an excellent job, certainly I would listen to books he reads.
After finishing the book I asked myself: what was the purpose of this story? What was the point of the quest? Why did they go through those worlds instead of jumping to the final location? For Aenea to develop certain traits and improve her personality? Weak reason. It seemed that it was only for the sake of going on a quest. Come on. They even haven't met the famous architect they were searching for.
This story was so much without a satisfying resolution that I felt cheated at the end. Remember what the Poet, at the beginning of the adventures, asked Endyminon to do? That was a promise from the author. Very few were achieved by the end. Oh, it will be in the next book? Then this one was only a prelude to the real events? I feel more cheated.
I liked the world-building, though. It was interesting to see the different worlds and cultures. Having listened to the Hyperion books it was kind of familiar feeling, as if I visited old places. I also liked the author's voice.
The character of Aenea was weird. She knew so much in one moment, than she was a twelve year old child in the next. At the end of the book I got a hint that she was seeing visions from the future, but her character just didn't came together properly.
Maybe the whole arc of the story will be completed in the next book, but I'm not sure I will buy it.
I would have thrown this book into the corner if I were reading a paper copy. Since I was listening to the audio version, I just stopped it around 3 hours and deleted it from my smartphone. Sure like hell I'm going to return it to Audible.
If you want to read about a hero, who is turned on sexually when seeing a girl raped and tortured the same time, this book is for you. As for me, I'll never read any book from this author.
This book sounded like grandpa telling a fairytale for the kids before bedtime. I mean it really sounded like that. One of the reasons I had this feeling was the choice of words, which I found odd in some places. I don't remember in any other book the phrases "he looked in every which way" or "on this day of all days" or "the king said on his kingly voice". For me these sound archaic. As I said, a fairytale.
The plot was interesting, the story of Thorgin was what kept me listening, because I wanted to know what happened to him. It's a pity that the book ended abruptly, the hero thrown into jail, knocked out. Maybe the author's intention was to place a hook making the reader to go to the next book in the series, but this story lacked the satisfying ending. It was as if The Way of Kings ended when Kaladin was hung out in the storm on the roof of the barrack (if you read Brandon Sanderson).
My other concern was some improbable events. For example when Thor broke into the Legion's training field, by the end of the scene he gained the support of the best Knight in the kingdom, and the son of the king offered his friendship. I just couldn't believe it. But again, if it's a fairytale...
The narration was another weak point. My grandpa may had gotten away with this narration when I was six, but now it got on my nerves. It was as if the narrator was continuously surprised and amazed the same time.
I managed to get at the end of the book, because as I said, I wanted to know what happened to Thor, but I'm not into the rest of the series.
Watching superhero movies I always wondered what was happening to the side characters. What were they doing while the hero kicked the bad guy's ass? I wanted to watch additional scenes featuring the sidekick or the underdog. In Citadel I got exactly that. We have characters like Dana, the engineer who became a pilot in spite of being shot at by aliens (or maybe because she was shot at). There is Butch the welder, who's main activities were cutting up junks that were alien ships before and trying to survive the enemy fire. And there is the female military officer, who prefers to have sex with men only after beating them up to release the stress.
The story started kinda slow, I was bored sometimes in the beginning, but it got better later on.
A while ago I have read on a writer's blog that you shouldn't start scenes with dialogue, because it confuses the reader. I agreed at that time, but now I see differently It can work pretty well. Ringo started almost all scenes with dialogue. It created a micro suspense, because I was guessing who was talking, where were they and what were they doing. And Ringo did the dialogues quite well, every character sounded natural.
The "Americans are awesome" attitude irritated me a little bit, especially the figure of Tyler Vernon (appearing only sparingly), who was all-knowing, perfectly aware of what the humanity needed to beat the enemies. (Can someone who read the first book remind me where did he come from? I think he was having several part-time jobs as wood-cutter and book seller, trying to make a living. How comes he became the smartest man in the solar system?)
The story wouldn't be that original, we have read countless space battles and laser guns, but Ringo could put a nice spin in it having Troy as the gigantic battle-station and creating the geez-look-how-man-petawatts lasers.
I don't think I could take Ringo seriously, he had put a load of funny writing in the book, but that's fine, because sometimes I prefer the light reading.
As I write this review, there are a lot of reviews for this book, so I may not add anything new, but I couldn't resist to give my two cents.
Some people complained in the reviews why the book titled Wool. I find it appropriate, it refers to the core principle of cleaning the lenses, keep the Silo going.
The characterisation is good, we get enough details and backstory for the main characters, others are drawn with rough lines, but we don't need to know them deeply.
I enjoyed the writing except that it drags time after time. Some scenes were just too long, I had to resist to skip forward.
I had problem with the basic principle of the Silo. People were separated, so they don't conspire against the ones who rule. The fact that it was hard to climb so many steps and the expensiveness of the electronic communication was supposed to do the job. There is logic in it, I admit, but something is just not quite right. People still communicated, word had gotten to places. There were a few other details that annoyed me, for example the lack of elevators. I get that it could have been because of this idea of separating people, but can you imagine how much stuff the porters had to carry up and down? And what about the big, heavy things? And there was also the cleaning. It was all believable that Holston was tricked to clean, but what about the people who wouldn't clean the lenses because they would be angry being cast out. And what about the total jerks, who would broke the cameras out of mere revenge? Surely there would be one or two in a few hundred years. Why not having a cleaning mechanism and use another way of punishment? These simply doesn't add up for me.
Besides that I found the plot compelling, and I enjoyed the action scenes.
I liked the way technical details were presented. The author didn't want to lecture me in engineering or IT, he gave only those details what I needed, without using jargon.
All in all, I enjoyed the book, and I want to know what happens in Shift and Dust.
It was interesting to see how fifteen different authors worked together to create a novel. In general it went well.
The novel is fast paced, full of actions. Every author did his best to create the right atmosphere and deepen the characterisation.
I enjoyed how authors used clues of others and built on them. Sometimes they had to work hard to fit them in the story but they have managed it. It created many twists and turns.
I had the feeling that some authors overcomplicated the plot. In some cases the events didn't fit into the story. For example I didn't like the twist that Charlie lost her baby, I found it out of plot, so to say. Later another author used it nicely, but still...
In every chapter I could see why it's not by chance that these writers are on the top of the profession. Their style was different, like different voices in the choir, but I enjoyed all of them.
It was scary to listen to this book after the swine flu and the bird flu epidemic. It felt like reading a prophecy. Fortunately these epidemics didn't kill most of the Earth's population as Mount Dragon predicted it could happen.
The story has several layers. One of them is the question: should scientists tinker with the human genome, alter our genes and change the core of our humanity for good. There are arguments pro and con, everyone should answer it for himself/herself. But the question is worth to talk about.
Another layer is the human desire for money and power. I also would add the human desire to do good. It was satisfying to see that the top guy admitted his mistake at the end and went down with dignity.
Another layer is that it's an action book with suspense and chase and fight. I liked that the main character is not an exaggerated super hero but a regular capable guy. OK, not so regular that you can find one at every corner, because he has a PhD and he's smart, but he has the temper and flaws that anyone of us has. By the way, the characterisation is quite good. I liked that the bad guy wasn't ultimate villain, but the authors showed the shades of his personality together with his good intentions.
The book proves that the authors did their housework in research. The places described vividly, the science is awesome and there are so many nice details about smaller things (for example about the banjo, or the horses). However they are not overdone, they fit very well into the story and they make it more believable.
The narration was well done except that doing female voices is not David Colacci's strength.
This my first book from Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, but I will read / listen to more from them for sure.
I liked that Farside was based on real science. There is an amount of suspense, but I missed the "chewing my nails" moments when you can hardly wait what's going to happen next. At certain point the killer was predictable.
I liked the author's voice and the way he wrote the story. However the excerpts from the personal files irritated me. The characters' background should have been incorporated into the story.
Farside is an OK read.
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