Books - April 2018

3 minute read

As mentioned in my earlier post about starting to blog book reviews… here are some book reviews! See all the notes in that previous post about how I’m doing these.

  • The Paper Magician Trilogy by Charle N. Holmberg (2014) - 7/10 - I’ve read the first two of the books in this trilogy, the setting is an alternate 19th century world where anything man-made can be affected by magic. I’m possibly not exactly the target market, seems more aimed at romantic young adult femme, but I quite enjoy the world that’s been built. Plots are a bit formulaic and similar, but still enjoyable. The characters are pretty solid, though as with most YA-ish stories I wonder how a protagonist can be portrayed as brilliant and also make such near-terminally stupid choices (“Yes, I understand from my own experience that this is the most dangerous thing in the world – so I will ignore all advice and my experience and run off under-prepared to face it without assistance from the many other capable people around, including those who have explicitly offered to help” - wut). I will be reading the final book, but taking a break for a bit since listening to the first two back-to-back.
  • Machine Man by Max Barry (2011) - 7/10 - I’d characterize this as wacky science fiction, with the wackiness starting out minimal and escalating as the story proceeds. The basic premise is a scientist/engineer loses his leg in an industrial accident, comes to see it as an opportunity to improve his body, and he takes it a bit too far. The protagonist’s perspective is focused, logical, and non-empathetic, and I think he’s supposed to be on the Autism spectrum though I don’t remember that being explicitly stated. I’m pretty sure I’m somewhere on that spectrum as well, though I’ve never been diagnosed, but either way the character resonated with me while at the same time feeling very wrong in a “watching a car crash” type of way. I wish the story hadn’t gone quite so far off the rails in the last act, but all in all it was pretty good.
  • The Darwin Elevator by Jason Hough (2013) - 8/10 - Hard science fiction, future post-apocalyptic setting where aliens have given the Earth a space elevator (monofilament cable attached to the ground and an orbiting mass), but have also infected almost the entire population with a disease that causes them to mentally degenerate unless they stay in close proximity to the elevator. Interesting world, characters are pretty well developed, plot is fairly strong – though ending a bit abruptly, it’s obviously the first book in a series. I’ll likely read the sequels.
  • From Hell (Demon Squad Novella) by Tim Marquitz - 1/10 - I couldn’t get past the continual ogling of women in this story. Sure, it’s supposed to be from the point of view of a male demon, but good grief how many times does he really need to talk about breasts every time a female character is included in description. Breasts are not a key plot point, if you feel it necessary to include them as part of the initial description of a character then whatever, but every time women return to the forefront in this story we hear about their breasts again. The same characters multiple times! Admittedly it really wouldn’t have saved the experience if that was avoided – the plot wasn’t great and I figured out the “twist” about halfway through, the characters were all pretty one dimensional without much understandable motivation, and even just basic continuity was iffy. I guess the only small mercy was I decided to start with the novella and so was saved spending time on any of the other 10 full-length novels in this series.

That’s all so far!