Monday, April 30, 2012

2012 April Reading List

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick – I officially gave up on reading it. I couldn’t find the patience to watch the movie either. Stories about drug use for the heck of it just don’t interest me.

The New Space Opera by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan – This is actually weird, because up until reading this book I was convinced I liked space opera. Out of 17 stories, I can only say I really liked 2: Mary Rosenblum’s “Splinters of Glass” and Robert Silverberg’s “The Emperor and the Maula” (even if the last one was a retelling of Scheherazade’s story). 4/5 stars

Among Others by Jo Walton – So a damaged teenage girl who only talks about books and not just any kind of book but sci fi books! What more could you want? Well, while it is a great read and I’m glad I started the book during the weekend so I wouldn’t have to put it down, the story does has some flaws. At times, it feels like a reading list or a sci fi encyclopedia prior the 80’s and the girl being a big fan or Lord of the Rings and Zelazny surely doesn’t help. There are also moments when due to her insecurities it makes you wonder if the whole fairy business isn’t only in her head, but this is mainly because the fairy realm isn’t strongly enough represented. She talks a lot about the fairies, but we don’t see enough of them or if we do we don’t get a certain feeling of what they are and how their world is supposed to work. Another part of the story that could have used more focus is the twin sister, the accident and the mother, because we only get hints about their relationship and in the end the big bad villain turns out to be a pathetic evil witch wannabe. And one more thing, we have this girl who eats and breathe sci fi, but she sucks at math, loves Latin and is great at writing poetry. Not even once she doesn’t try to write prose other than retelling her boring days in her journal. How does that work? This being said, I don’t know if it deserves the Hugo as I haven’t read the other books, but it definitely deserves the nomination. 4/5 stars

Fingers and Other Fantastic Stories by Marian Coman – I was already familiar with two out of the four stories, but I was curious to see how they read in English. In Romanian, Coman’s voice has something special, or at least it does for me. Unfortunately, this doesn’t translates well in English. Even to me, who I am not a native English speaker, the language sounded odd in places and that’s a shame because his prose really is better than that. 4/5 stars

Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine – It’s certainly compelling, both the premises and the story telling. My only complaint is that, while we get deep inside the characters’ heads, I still couldn’t feel connected to any of them. I understood them, but I didn’t really cared what happened to them. Also, from a stylistic point of view, the short chapters combined with the many changes of POV and jumps in time back and forward were close to becoming annoying at some point. 4/5 stars

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – I don’t care for World War and Nazi stories, but everyone made such a big fuss about this book that I thought I’d give it a try. Well, it’s not a gripping story, it was harder to return to it than to put it down and while there are some good parts, I found that the writer plays too much with the reader’s emotions just for the heck of it. Also, the book’s voice didn’t sit well with me, it drew me out of the story instead of pulling me in. 3/5 stars

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – This was my first encounter with Zafon’s work and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. The story starts well and the premise is an interesting one, but then creepiness and melodrama start to creep in (yes, I know it’s a bad choice of words, but this is how it feels) to the point of becoming something close to difficult to stomach or even believe. The characters are great, the setting even better, only the plot is too contrived for words. 3/5 stars

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey – I wasn’t amazed by the style, but the plot was great and it turned it into one of the most enjoyable reads in a long time. I strongly recommend it to all sci fi fans and I hope it wins all the awards available. 4/5 stars

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