Hard Rain is the second novel in the John Rain series about a half-american, half-japanese assassin.
* Rain is still an anti-hero and that makes him an interesting protagonist. He has rules about the jobs he takes but he is willing to kill anyone that upsets him or that he perceives as a threat. This can make him unpredictable, which can be a good trait for an assassin to have.
* The book is well researched and the action scenes and internal dialogue are interesting.
* The pacing of the story is good. I understood who the antagonist was and what the larger picture was. I understood the overarching drama playing out in which Rain is more or less a willing pawn.
* This book is essentially the first book retooled. Characters from Rain Fall appear and provide (mostly) unsatisfying closure to the relationships formed in that book. But John Rain struggles with the same internal conflict from book one that I thought had been resolved at the end of book one.
* The 'romances' in these books are terrible. They feel rushed and obligatory and don't add anything to the story except dime-store titillation.
The intrepid teen heroes are on the run in this book. They spend the majority of this book trying to escape from South America while rescuing their friends. A cliched moment in the book broadcasts the twist the at the end.
Dr Hatch is again the ultimate evil of the book.
This is an escape book, so the story lines from the previous books are largely ignored or left for the next book. The characters motivations and actions are being stretched a bit thin at this point. Michael isn't reunited with his mother and she presumably is okay with her 15 year old son going to war with evil corporation turned evil regime without guidance or support.
If you found yourself liking the settings and characters from the first two books, then you will probably enjoy their continued journey. Older listeners may find this book a harder listen than the previous installments.
Most of the events of this book take place in South America. It seems largely accurate in it's descriptions of places, but the setting change is so jarring from the first book. Michael Vey doesn't stay in Idaho, or even in America, but takes the fight to the evil ElGen corporation.
Again, Michael's condition is largely ignored throughout the book. Which may be the point. Dr Hatch is again back as the main villian and the ElGen have developed new weapons and tactics in the 13 hours since we left our heroes at the end of the first book.
The setting change, while jarring, does move the book away from the cliches of the first book. The heroes are virtuous to a fault and the bad guys are evil to the hilt.
All in all it remains a typical teen hero fantasy in an unusual setting.
I enjoyed this book. It is well written with a good pace. However it does use the standard cliches. The beautiful cheerleader who falls for the outcast loner. The smart, but fat and socially awkward best friend. The bully who turns out to be not so bad...You get the idea.
There are a few moments that feel forced, one in particular near the end of the book, but those are few. The plot makes sense, and the characters have decent motivation for their decisions.
I was disappointed by the protagonist. Michael Vey has Tourette's syndrome. This has no impact on the plot, the characters, or even their plans. And there are moments when a 15 year old with Tourette's should have to work harder or smarter to achieve what his goals.
But this may be a fantasy book for teens who struggle with various ailments and just want to be accepted as normal.
I am torn by this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed it and thought it was fantastic. It is a fully satisfying and enjoyable story. On the other hand this book felt like an introduction to a series is that I want more of. And after checking the author's website, I couldn't figure out if there is a future installment planned.
The story felt very similar to the Warbreaker novel by the same author. If you enjoyed Warbreaker, you will probably enjoy this as well. But if you enjoyed Steelheart, this may be a tougher sell. Steelheart is a comic book novel, this is a Sword and Sorcery novel.
I also thought that the story was slow in places, but the ending was so good and tied together the slow parts that I easily forgave it.
If you're looking for an epic fantasy story filled with intrigue and mystery, this book won't disappoint.
This book hit all the right notes for me.
1. The world has rules that are internally consistent, easy to understand, and has a level of depth that makes surprises possible.
2. The tone of the book is wonderful. It has the right amount of humor and drama mixed in at the right times. There are dark moments and light moments but these moments are intermixed and are not exclusive. There is a cynical humor or sober hope that spoke to directly to my particular tastes as a reader/listener.
3. The pacing is on the money. It is not a constant thrill ride of excitement that never gives you time to breath and enjoy the characters, setting, and tone. But it is also not a plodding mystery with miserly reveals. It struck just the right balance for me. That's a largely subjective metric, but it worked for me.
4. The highest praise I think you can give a series is continued patronage. And I will make sure to pre-order or purchase on opening day the next in this series.
Ok. I became a Brent Weeks fan when I picked up the Black Prism during an audible sale. I also credit Weeks for getting me interested in the Sword and Sorcery genre. After listening to the first two books of the Lightbringer series (this is the third book of that series) I also picked up the Night Angel Trilogy from Weeks, which is brilliant.
That is why it is so hard to give this book a 3 star rating for the story. The second book ended on a cliffhanger, and I was very excited to return to this fictional universe as the action was beginning to ramp up. I ended the second book thinking that we would be getting answers to the long running series questions.
Ultimately this book felt like filler to me. The characters more or less take a break from the conflicts that ended the last book and deal with domestic issues. It's a good book, just not a great addition to this series. I just kept feeling like this book was unnecessarily extending the series.
One final note: The conclusion to the Night Angel trilogy was so good and tied together everything from the previous books so well that I have faith in this series. This was a book that included more set up for an epic conclusion, and I am still eagerly anticipating that conclusion.
Like other reviewers I enjoyed the start of this book. But there is a major flaw in the universe that the book is asking us to believe in. All offensive magic, or magic that can cause harm to an individual is black magic. The problem this creates in the story and in the entire series is that the villain usually has to do himself in because the heroes of the story can't match the villain with any force.
The protagonist becomes a powerful wizard who cannot use his magic to fight - only to defend without returning force. This book is an origin story and I continued in the series because the end of this book has so much promise.
Ultimately though this series fell flat for me. I can respect a hero with restraint, but this is a hero who never finds his confidence, is unsure of who or what he fights for, and is ultimately a passive force that the story happens to.
I have read the first two books in the John Cleaver series and plan on getting the third. As a quick warning, I found this book to be much darker than the first book. And that is what makes this book difficult to recommend. I enjoyed it, but parts of it were difficult to get through.
I also wonder who the target audience for this series is. On its surface it appears to be a young adult series. It features a teenage protagonist dealing with the struggles of feeling cut off from his peers in his small town environment.
But the protagonist also deals with some very dark thoughts. He wrestles with his sexuality in the context of sociopathy and pyromania. This book also has extended scenes of torture and abuse that work in the context of the story and walk the line of becoming graphic and over the top.
Overall, this is an interesting series which raises mixed emotions in me.
There are many things about this story that bothered me and made it difficult for me to get into the story that may not bother you. I can be a bit of a nit-picker. If you also nit-pick plot points and book scenes then you might agree with me, but if those things don't bother you then you may find this a very enjoyable book.
First of all, I did not realize that this book was part of a series and that the title character is not the protagonist. The story actually features the Toymaker very sparingly. The protagonist is being introduced to the Toymaker as part of an extended origins story. So if you are looking for a tech-heavy book, this is more like a James Bond movie story. Q shows us the gadgets and then the hero uses some of them.
The action scenes are also written like movie scenes with characters being thrown in feet and yards by explosions, bullets, and shells. This annoys me because it lacks any realism. If movie style physics and ballistics don't bother you in books, then you may enjoy it more.
And finally, the characters in this book who are the best-of-the-best are rather incompetent. In one chapter, the heroes have tracked a bad guy to a boat and are able to take him completely by surprise, except that they screw up capturing the guy in a fairly spectacular manner.
Bottom Line: An interesting book with a Utopian vision of the future brought about by economic and violent revolution that just can't stand up to a basic understanding of economics.
Audiobooks can be tricky to review because sometimes connections aren't clear and it's easier to miss a key plot point. And so with that disclaimer I will admit that this book felt like it had a big chunk of story missing. I feel like I missed the part where the evil corporations made a deal with the evil government to become evil-er. Maybe it's just assumed that the government conspirators were already in cahoots with the corporate guys.
If you know something about economics, then this book will confuse you. It assumes that the market can sustain prices and growth - without demand for goods and services - just because a computer program is manipulating the stock market to make it happen. Since the setting of this book is very near future USA, this idea totally broke my suspension of disbelief and made the work harder to enjoy.
And that's what threw me about this book. What began as a very interesting plot and premise dissolved into technomancy and economic wizardry to make an ideological statement. The book ends by asking whether the ends of the story justify the means. The narrative provides a clear answer, but I just can't bring myself to accept the Utopian vision that the author leaves us with.
This book makes the case that good people can use theft and violence against bad people using theft and violence without being corrupted by the power they accumulate.
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