I read some “grown-up” books for once

And from 3 different genres, no less.  Some brief reviews:

gonegirlGone Girl (Gillian Flynn)

I’d put off reading this one for quite awhile because I was worried that, being a thriller, it would be scary.  It was not.  It was worse: it was depressing.  This book is full of awful people doing awful things to each other.  (It probably didn’t help that I was reading it around Valentine’s Day.)

I don’t mean to trash the book; it has a lot going for it.  Gillian Flynn does some wonderful stuff with unreliable narrators, and her use of Amy’s diary is very clever.  I though ending fit perfectly; in fact, I would have been disappointed if it ended any other way.  But it just wasn’t enjoyable for me to read; pretty much the only character I felt anything for was Amy’s cat.

I still mean to watch the movie; maybe I’ll enjoy it more.

3/5 stars

talionTalion: Revenant (Michael Stackpole)

If there was ever a book that needs a sequel!

I was already a huge fan of Stackpole’s from his Star Wars: X-Wing series, and I enjoyed his other fantasy novel Once a Hero.  But this story actually exceeded my expectations.  You won’t find any deconstruction of fantasy tropes here; this is a story where the heroes are strong and handsome and the princesses are pretty.

It’s the plotting that really sets this book apart.  It starts in medias res, then jumps back and forth between protagonist Nolan’s training days as a teenager and his current missions as a Talion Justice.  The story manages to somehow reveal every piece of information exactly at the proper time.  There are several interesting twists at the end, and I only managed to guess one of them.

You can buy a DRM-free ebook version from the author himself for only $5.  Stackpole has actually talked about writing a sequel called Talion: Nemesis; it seems it’s just a matter of his finding the time (and funding).  I hope it will happen!

5/5 stars

calibanswarCaliban’s War (James S.A. Corey)

The second book in The Expanse series delivers more of the same sci-fi thrills, this time with an extra dose of politics.  We’ve added 3 wonderful new viewpoint characters including a biologist (yay genetics!) and the girl-power team of UN Asst Undersecretary Avasarala and Martian gunny Bobbie Draper.  I didn’t realize how bad I wanted Bobbie on the crew of the Rocinante until Alex obliquely suggests it himself, like “Cap, we’ve got to get ourselves one of those.”

This book is a little darker for Holden, who’s still dealing (not always effectively) with the trauma of the events of the first book.  There are fewer “holy shit” moments here as well…but there’re two big ones at the very end.  Yet I found the ending a bit happier than the first book; it was kind of weird.

As in all good sci-fi, these books look at current-day issues via a fictional futuristic lens, giving them an interesting perspective; my favorite part of this book was the crew’s use of crowdfunding and the issues surrounding it.

4/5 stars

3 thoughts on “I read some “grown-up” books for once

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