As long as anyone can remember, society has been ruled by a Colortocracy. From the underground feedpipes that keep the municipal park green to the healing hues viewed to cure illness to a social hierarchy based upon one's limited color perception, society is dominated by color. In this world, you are what you can see.
Fforde changes it up a bit with Shades of Grey. It’s not at all like the Nextian and Nursery Crimes series’s. But once you settle in for the ride it’s really good. He spends a long time explaining this new world to the reader before it really gets going. I had a hard time really locking in until halfway through but it was width it.
Eddie Russet lives in a world divided by colors called Chromatacia. No one can see more than one natural color, and even then the strength of their color vision varies. The government fills in the color of much of the inhabited parts of the world by pumping in universally visible artificial color. Denizens of Chromatacia are also unable to see in the dark. If caught outside after dark they can end up with “night blindness.” No one knows why.
Each person wears a spot on his or her lapel to indicate which color they see, and their color indicates their place in the hierarchy. Eddie is a red, a station just above the society’s under caste—the greys, who perform menial tasks and hard labor and are treated as second-class citizens. Above reds are yellows, blues, and at the top—purples.
At the age of 20 all citizens undergo testing called the Ishihara which determines the strength of their color vision. This measurement decides everything from marriage, one’s to standing in the community (e.g. one cannot marry a complementary color, and a higher strength vision can lift someone to prefect and earn them a spot representing their color on the city council). Most people are perpetually seeking to climb the color ladder through marriage and often try to match with someone whose color combination will either maintain or improve the family’s prestige particularly when it comes to passing on color to offspring. For example, a purple with vision tailing toward the blue end of the purple spectrum might seek out a strong red to partner with to ensure their offspring is firmly purple.
This world is full of rules and taboos that most people just accept without question. People earn and lose “merits,” a form of currency, based on good or bad behavior according to the rules and the whims of prefects. If one loses enough merits they can be kicked out of the community and sent away for what’s called “re-boot,” which is supposed to be exactly what it sounds like. Re-training to better conform.
Ever since what is referred to as “The Something That Happened” society has been systematically divesting itself of technology. No one questions this much, though. Or at least , no one who does question lasts very long without being de-merited all the way to re-boot. The home office sets down the laws and people follow mindlessly.
Eddie has a tendency to ask more questions than most but he goes along to get along and buys into the orderly society overall. He seeks a marriage with a member of a wealthy red family, the Oxbloods, and he hopes to one day work in color for the government. After a prank though, the powers-that-be force him to wear a badge next to his red spot saying he needs humility, and they send him to a town called Carmine out in the boonies for a “chair census” as punishment. His father is a healer, a task achieved by showing the sick the appropriate hues of color swatches depending on the malady, goes with him to fill a vacant spot in the same town. There, Eddie falls in love with a grey named Jane who has no time for oppressive, arbitrary rules and social norms and she has no problem openly showing disdain for those of the upper classes, including Eddie. In settling into Carmine he begins to pick up on many of the inconsistencies of the rules and laws and he begins to see what Jane sees. He starts asking more questions and soon finds some disturbing answers.
It sounds very dystopian but it’s equal parts funny, too. I’m a big fan of Thursday Next and it was very cool to see Jasper Fforde try something new. I hope he does a sequel.
Discover the classic behind-the-scenes chronicle of John E. Douglas’ 25-year career in the FBI Investigative Support Unit, where he used psychological profiling to delve into the minds of the country’s most notorious serial killers and criminals - the basis for the upcoming Netflix original series.
John Douglas writes of his part in the establishment of the behavioral analysis unit focused on criminal profiling at the FBI, and while much of it is compelling it is at tones obscured by Douglas' ego. It's clear that all but two is the cases presented in this book are depicted as total success stories. His profiles are always perfect, or if not perfect the only details he misses are trivial, and he always rides in on his white horse to save the day. Whether the facts are fudged to depict him in a perfect light or he cherry picked cases, it's hard to know, but my take on this is confirmed by the cases he presents on crimes that were unsolved at the time of his writing. In the case of the Green River Killer, his profile turns out to be mostly accurate but he asserts that he believes the series of murders are probably committed by three different killers. This is most certainly a theory he would've omitted had Gary Ridgeway been caught at the time he wrote the book. I say this because erroneous predictions like this were completely absent in the other cases he presented, and it's pretty obvious that profiling is not an exact science. There are similar features to his presentation of the BTK case, which was also unsolved at the time. All this is to say I think he's an extremely talented guy, but his pretense that he was always perfect takes away from this book in my opinion. Of course he wasn't always right on the money. Of course certain things came to light after the criminal was caught that turned out to be counter to the prediction.
Anyway, the book is fascinating but the presentation of Douglas as a knight in shining armor takes away from the overall quality of it.
31 of 35 people found this review helpful
Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it's a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street. Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets.
I was hooked on this book almost immediately and finished within less than 24 hours.
For as complex as the concept behind this book is, Dennis Taylor manages excellent continuity with a level of attention to detail that is worth marveling at.
Kepler had never meant to die this way--viciously beaten to death by a stinking vagrant in a dark back alley. But when reaching out to the murderer for salvation in those last dying moments, a sudden switch takes place. Now Kepler is looking out through the eyes of the killer himself, staring down at a broken and ruined body lying in the dirt of the alley.
Imagine a being who only exists within the skin of the flesh and blood people around it. With a quick touch of skin it can move between hosts with the previous host only vaguely aware of a loss of time and perhaps a quizzical change in their surroundings depending on how kind the "ghost" who temporarily wore their skin was in making the change and how long their skin was "borrowed." This is the premise of "Touch."
We follow the life of Kepler who has learned to live as a ghost over hundreds of years. When a woman named Josephine, whom Kepler has worn with her permission is murdered and Kepler finds that the assassin was sent to hunt down and murder both her and Josephine, Kepler sets out to find out why.
This book was almost as good as Claire North's other page turner "The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August." They're both really fascinating concepts, but TFFLoHA was definitely done better.
I really like this narrator, he did North's other book, too. I only have one major gripe—his American accent is just atrocious. Thankfully most of this book is set in Europe, so it wasn't nearly as bad as TFFLoha.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful
Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But he can't hide from his past, and it's not long before it comes looking for him. Along with Plum, a brilliant young undergraduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of grey magic and desperate characters.
I'm jonesing for a book four, which basically says all there is to say about this book and this series. C'mon Lev, you're breaking my fucking heart. This story is NOT over. Sigh. If you've made it this far in the series, I think this is all the review you need to spend the credit on this one.
Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he's still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.
I hated this book through much of its middle. It had this interesting premise of essentially Harry Potter for grown-ups with a little more realism tossed in. Although the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe knock-off (aka Fillory) sort of mystified me initially. It makes sense later though.
But for so much of the book it just meandered seemingly aimlessly. I couldn't find a plot to save my fucking life, and for a while it just felt like bad fan-fic. But dear reader—hang in there! He finds a plot eventually, and it's worth it, I swear! By the end I was hooked and counting my lucky stars that this is a series. Just started book 2 and it lacks the lull book 1 suffered from.
I must say that the narrator for this series totally nails it, too.
Anyway, it really is worth trudging through the blah portion of this book. It all makes glorious sense by the end.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Decades after Richard Ramirez left 13 dead and paralyzed the city of Los Angeles, his name is still synonymous with fear, torture, and sadistic murder. Philip Carlo's classic The Night Stalker, based on years of meticulous research and extensive interviews with Ramirez, revealed the killer and his horrifying crimes to be even more chilling than anyone could have imagined. The story of Ramirez is a bizarre and spellbinding descent into the very heart of human evil.
I'm torn about writing this review. On the one hand the Night Stalker is written in this trite cheesy voice that made me want to just stop right away. So many tired over-the-top descriptions and adjectives. I mean how many people can you describe as having heart shaped pouty lips? A lot of it is pulpy true crime at its worst as far as prose goes.
On the other hand the subject matter is compelling and he really did a comprehensive job of recording the whole Richard Ramirez saga. I also feel like the writing got slightly less obnoxious about halfway in, but I may have just gotten used to it.
Anyway, it's sort of worth muscling through the trashy aspect of the writing to get the story out of it. The interview at the end is also pretty fascinating.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Ann Rule was working on the biggest story of her career, tracking the trail of victims left by a brutal serial killer. Little did this future best-selling author know that the savage slayer she was hunting was the young man she counted among her closest friends. Everyone's picture of a natural winner, Ted Bundy was a bright, charming, and handsome man with a promising future as an attorney. But on January 24, 1989 Bundy was executed for the murders of three young women - and had confessed to taking the lives of at least thirty-five more women from coast to coast.
The Stranger Beside Me was good for what it was, but I'm not sure it deserves all the hype it has gotten. The Bundy Murders by Kevin Sullivan was much more comprehensive. It depends what you're looking for, I suppose. The interesting part about TSBM is the exploration of Ann Rule's relationship with Bundy. And that is compelling in its own way, but if you're interested in learning more specific details about Bundy, his crimes, and the police hunt for him, check out Sullivan's book.
This isn't a knock on Ann Rule, I deeply admire her. The Green River Running Red (among others) is excellent, but as crime novels go, TSBM was a better memoir than a true crime novel.
Side note: the narrator for this book was overall really good, but she had some annoying quirks. One that drove me nuts was when she referenced addresses with street names like 47th St NE. She would abbreviate the NE (EN-EE)instead of saying northeast. It was just weird and annoying. I actually lived in the University District of Seattle where the street names with the NE endings referenced in the book are located, so perhaps it stuck out to me more than it would other people. There were a few more understandable things like mispronunciation of Washington state / Pacific Northwest place names such as Willamette and Sammammish. She said Willah-MET, it should be Wil-AM-it. She said Suh-MOM-ish, it's actually Suh-MAH-mish. But Washington place names are hard, and she did well overall with them.
Timid, socially awkward, and plagued by self-esteem issues, Fred has never been the adventurous sort. One fateful night - different from the night he died, which was more inconvenient than fateful - Fred reconnects with an old friend at his high school reunion. This rekindled relationship sets off a chain of events thrusting him right into the chaos of the parahuman world.
I wanted to like this book. It had a decent premise. But ultimately it had the quality of a teen novel despite clearly being written for adults, given its liberal helping of f-bombs and adultish content. It re-hashed the story's previous events multiple times throughout the book as if we'd forgotten them, which was pretty annoying. The story arc was pretty obvious and I feel like he could've done so much better with the basic premise of the story. Overall it was pretty effing cheesy in parts, but I think what bothered me most was how the book treated its reader as if they were stupid with its repetition and by the authors apparent belief that he needed to spell out the obvious at every turn, which ultimately just adds up to a whole lot of superfluous words.
Anyway, in short: this book was really disappointing. Definitely not worth a credit.
8 of 10 people found this review helpful
Imagine for a moment that you are a Dragon. A creature of unimaginable power, unending intelligence and strength, and you've just woken from 10,000 years of slumber. Worse yet, you've awoken underneath a city: Boston, an alien and strange place that defies everything you've ever known. Your last memories are of primordial forests, erupting volcanoes sculpting a developing world, faeries, witches, vampires, krakens, and monsters that feared where you turned your eyes.
Chris Philbrook is no Christopher Moore, but Tesser wasn't bad. It was a little overwrought and cheesy at times, but also funny with a decent storyline. I do think he didn't do the best job of melding fantasy with reality in the smooth way that Moore does (what can I say, I'm a Moore fangirl). I actually really liked his characters, and I feel like he could've done better if he'd continued developing them.
I sound like I didn't like the book—I liked it, it was a good "junk food read." You know, when you get through it in less than 2 days, and you know it's not the best writing, but obviously compelling enough that you can't turn it off? Yeah, that. There are some random/funny Jay and Silent Bob references in there, too. I guess what's most telling is that my interest is piqued enough that I'm curious to check out what else he's written, because I feel like Philbrook has potential.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful