Bayonne, NJ, United States | Member Since 2011
This isn't one of Bryson's best, but even when he's not on his A-game he's still entertaining.
I learned a lot from this book, and was drawn in by Bryson's masterful storytelling. He got me to care about all sorts of things that I really wouldn't have ever given a thought to. That is his gift.
if you're a Bryson fan, go for it. This book is fun.
If you've never given Bryson a try, don't start here... try Lost Continent, A Brief History of Nearly Everything or A Walk in the Woods.
Post-apocalyptic sci-fi is my favorite genre, so I was excite to venture into Atwood's grim vision of the future.
...but I quickly found myself frustrated and bored. The narration jumps back and forth from present day to pre-collapse, which kills any dramatic build up inherent to the story. Take this tale and tell it linearly, chronologically, and you've got a much more engaging read.
This tale is particularly bleak, even within the context of the already depressing genre. Of all the apocalypse scenarios, the most frustrating are the ones where humanity destroys itself through incompetence and malice. In Atwood's future, there isn't a single likable, relatable human to be found, and I'm glad they all died.
The book ends on a note of perfect ambiguity, which is an annoying and cowardly technique that should have been retired forever after "The Lady Or the Tiger?", Frank Stockton's short story, which has been annoying readers for over a hundred years.
If I enjoyed ambiguous endings, I could take any book in the world and stop reading just shy of the last chapter. But that's not why I read books. I read books because I want to explore a story: Beginning, middle, AND end.
This one left me high and dry.
Worse than leaving us with an ambiguous scene, the novel actually leaves off right where the entire story might have gotten interesting. Atwood spent hours of our time painfully dragging us through the backstory just to find out where we were at the start of the novel. Now, at last we know what's going on, leaving us to wonder: "how will our characters deal with this world?"
I guess I'll have to buy the sequel to find out. Except I won't. I don't reward authors who waste my time.
I've been working my way through the classics here on audible. After tackling Moby-Dick, I felt confident that I could take on an even denser novel. Ulysses had an intimidating reputation, and I was ready for a challenge... but I was not ready for this festering pile of nonsense.
This is not so much a novel, as it is a literary puzzle. This isn't a book to be read, it's a series of sentences that need to be decoded. I hated it instantly. And I'm literally angry at the conga-line of academics that conspired to have this thing labeled as one of The Greats. It isn't. It's a masterbatory exercise by James Joyce, which was lauded as genius by those elite few who were so entrenched in the bubble of high-literature scholarship that they could actually understand pieces of it.
I listened to the first few chapters, and had the cliff-notes open so that I could understand what was going on. After a little while I decided that it just wasn't worth it. There was no pleasure to be derived from this tale beyond the pleasure of decrypting it. When it comes to that, I'd rather do a crossword puzzle.
Life is too short to waste time reading (or listening to) Ulysses.
A brief shout out to the narrator, whose inflections (and singing) were the only things that gave me any hint of what was going on.
Brave New World is often help up as being the partner of 1984. Both have different versions of dystopian futures where humanity loses its individuality to a faceless system that destroys independent thought.
1984 stuck with me long after I read it, but Brave New World never touched me on an emotional level. I found it redundant, slow and boring. I also think that the book failed to make it's point.
Huxley examines the world government that is based on control through pleasure-induced apathy, without ever providing evidence as to why it was a bad system. We're just supposed to take it on faith that it is. Art is gone, and passion is gone, even love is gone... which is appalling on its face. But that's a subjective reaction on the part of the reader. I love my family and I can't imagine being happy in world without families... but objectively, and undeniably these people ARE happy.
What we don't hear about is the progress of the sciences outside of the sciences which support the system of control. Is humanity still exploring the universe? Are we learning and progressing as a species? In 1984, the answer to these questions was an obvious "no". Humans and humanity as a whole were getting stupider. In Brave New World we know they're being systematically cut off from literature and art... basically all the "humanities" subjects. But what about everything else?
There is plenty to think about here, but while 1984 is a perfect 5-star book in my opinion, Brave New World falls short. Still an important read, and an interesting cautionary tale.
I heard Michelle Alexander speaking about this book, and immediately her premise intrigued me. I'd always known that our criminal justice system was biased, but the scope of it was shocking... and thinking about it as a system as detrimental as Jim Crow had never even occurred to me.
Her exploration of the topic in the book is fascinating. I'm halfway through and I'm already amazed, frustrated and enraged. I've always been concerned about social justice and civil rights. I went to law school because of my passion for these issues. But I didn't realize until this book, just how oppressive and racist our supreme court has been. I'd seen all the cases she wrote about, and had been independently outraged at each of them... but I didn't realize how they all worked in concert to leave no judicial remedy to systematic racism.
As a white man, I find that other white men will occasionally make racist comments or jokes around me. I believe that most of these people feel comfortable doing so only because they believe that real institutional racism is a thing of the past, and so that their own bias is benign. "We have a black president, so racism is over". This book is arming me with a fantastic rebuttal to those people.
This book should be read by every employer, landlord, politician, judge, and prosecutor in the US. Actually it should be read be read by every American, period.
I've often wondered how so many white people could have stayed silent and complacent in the face of Jim Crow. Now I realize that I am guilty of doing the same under a regime that is just as harmful.
This book has changed the way I look at the world. Hopefully it will spark serious reform in this country.
This was an amusing and informative book. I have to say, though, I like Mitnick less now that I've gotten to know him.
I always thought of Mitnick as a brilliant hacker who was persecuted by a government that didn't understand the technology that they were trying to control. This is half true. The government certainly did overstep the bounds of sanity when they went after Mitnick... but Mitnick was not a brilliant hacker.
Mitnick spends the book telling us that all his greatest hacking achievements were about "social engineering", which is the marketing term for "lying". He was certainly an intelligent guy who knew how to do research and learn about systems... but all the brilliant computer hacking was actually just him taking advantage of bugs that he read about or was told about.
What made Mitnick famous wasn't that he was the smartest hacker, it was that he was the dumbest. In spite of constantly being caught in the act, and knowing that he was being watched by the highest echelons of law enforcement, Mitnick kept engaging in very risky hacks. He was the only one stupid enough to apply known bugs to breach security at major institutions, and he told other people about it, and kept hard evidence about it on his person.
I have lost so much respect for Mitnick after reading this. He wasn't a genius that couldn't be contained. He was a fool who couldn't stop getting himself in trouble.
The sad thing is that if Mitnick had actually had some brains and self-control he could have been the mastermind that the world mistook him for. At several points he was monitoring the FBI and police as they were tracking him. A sensible person would have kept this card close to the vest. But Mitnick tipped them off by leaving a box of donuts for raiding FBI agents. When I first heard this anecdote, I thought it was awesome, because he was one step ahead of the FBI. The book flushes this out a bit more, and we see that Mitnick didn't really have a plan at this point. This wasn't measured taunting... this was an impulse control problem.
The list of idiotic things that Mitnick did just goes on and on: he frequently stuck around after he had evidence that his cover was blown; he made no contingency plans; he gave incriminating evidence to people he didn't know, or worse, knew as untrustworthy or suspicious characters; and he always kept damning evidence of his crimes on him... without encrypting it.
I wanted Mitnick to be just like Richard Feynman mixed with Frank Abagnale. Instead I found out he was a damned fool.
I've been working my way through intimidating classics, and Moby-Dick was near the top of the list. I've heard that it was slow and boring. I was prepared for the worst, but I jumped in anyway.
I was immediately blown away by the prose. Wow, Herman Melville sure could put a sentence together. I mean, you instantly see why this is such a respected novel. And behind all the elegant phrasing, there is such wit!
I never knew Moby-Dick was supposed to be a funny book, but it is. And I'm just talking about the humor that has stood the test of time. I imagine there were plenty of jokes in here that I totally missed, given how subtle Melville's sense of humor could be.
Now, the key to listening to Moby-Dick is to forget about the plot. That's not what the book is about. The book is a collection of tangents about the sea and whales in general. If you're waiting for Ahab to battle his whale the whole time, you're going to be bored, and you're going to miss the best stuff. This is why I'm giving the story a 3/5 while I'm giving the book a 4/5. The book isn't about the plot. It's about everything else.
I'm not giving the story a full 5/5, because even while recognizing that it is brilliant, I have to say that it was still a lot more work to get through than other classics. I enjoyed the book in spite of its meandering, but I need more than pretty prose and wit to be happy. I do need a driving, progressing plot to keep me happy for 20+ hours.
I don't understand why Gaiman is so beloved. He builds fantasy worlds with no real rules, so basically every plot point is some version of a deus ex machina. The drama is always watered down because the rules of the universe are too amorphous for an peril to feel real.
I found Neverwhere a bit difficult to follow at first. Once I got into the story I found it to be silly and not particularly compelling. I didn't care about the main character because there was no reason to. He seemed like a nice guy, but he wasn't particularly interesting or likable.
Shane is a relic of a simpler time, when men communicated primarily through grunts and head nods.
In my high school, many students had Shane as required reading. I unfortunately missed out on this, and instead was assigned Ethan Frome. I can't help but wonder if my love for literature was delayed because of this unfortunate circumstance.
Shane is a really fun book. Its the first Western I've read, and though I enjoy the Western movie genre (somewhat), I never thought I could get the same experience out of a novel.
Shane gives us heroes and villains, good men and bad men. The world in which Shane exists is not real life. It's the reality of a Western. Shane is not a man, he's a superman. And relationships don't evolve over time. People meet and know exactly how they feel about each other before a word is spoken.
I went into this book knowing nothing about it. I thought it would be a bit heavier, but was pleased to find that it was a fun read, with just enough subtext and to keep it feeling sophisticated.
I'm a reluctant fan of John Scalzi. I think he has some of the greatest plots in the genre. Unfortunately his writing talent falls far behind his imagination. I keep hoping with every book that he will develop his skills a bit more, but in the end, he remains the same old Scalzi:
Every plot point is explained and re-explained. Scalzi doesn't trust his readers to understand subtleties, so there are none. Ever.
Every character speaks with the same voice. Not literally-- the narrator does a fine job of differentiating the characters... I mean, the dialog itself. The speaking style of any Scalzi character from any of his books is completely interchangeable with any other. I used to think that this was partly because Wil Wheaton narrated most of his stuff, and Wil doesn't attempted to do character voices often. But even with Benson as the narrator here, all the character seem like carbon copies of one another.
The plot is okay, and maybe in the absence of movies like Avatar and Surrogates, the story would be more interesting. Unfortunately the novelty of people using puppet bodies has been fairly well explored at this point. Lock In covered little new ground.
I've had my Scalzi fix for the year. I'll probably be back in a year or two to be disappointed in the next one.
I was attracted to this book from the title alone. Everything else about it was a bit of a turn-off, from the location, era and even to the genre itself; I'm not one for mystery serials. This book came up during a sale, and I wanted to try something a bit different than my usual fare.
I was very impressed by the writing and the narration. The prose aren't anything amazing, but the story is nicely paced and the characters are a hoot. I also enjoyed the introduction to the crazy little pocket of humanity on the outer fringe of the royal family. It was educational and amusing.
The mystery at the center of this plot was very interesting, and did keep me guessing for a while. It wasn't the most logical plot in the world, and if I felt like being nit-picky about it, I could probably find several things to be unhappy about.
As it stands, the book was just the right sort of light read for me at the time. I have put the sequel on my wishlist and I'll probably pick up more of the series if it goes on sale. That about says it all, doesn't it?
Report Inappropriate Content