Books I read last month…
A former rebel leader, now working for the World Council, is tasked with traveling to a distant world and offering his former cohorts clemency and, hopefully, an end to their protracted rebellion. To get there, however, he must ride the mysterious Star Road.
I was really looking forward to checking this one out, especially after reading this in the synopsis: “His fellow passengers on Star Road Vehicle-66 are a suspicious group, all with their own hidden reasons for traversing the star road.” I was expecting an intriguing cast of colorful characters, each with a hidden agenda that would keep me guessing. Instead, I got some fairly straightforward personalities and not much in the way of engaging secrets. Some promising ideas here and a great extended action sequence involving alien reptilian predators, but ultimately undermined by stock characters and an oddly clipped narrative style.
Shadow, our protagonist, is released from prison early so that he can attend his wife’s funeral. On his way back home, he is approached by the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday who offers him a job working for him. And so begins Neil Gaiman’s head-spinning masterpiece about life, death, faith, and deific survival. An epic narrative that twists and turns, confounds and surprises. To quote my second grade teacher Mrs. Vowels: “It’s time to put your thinking caps on!”
I’ve read Joe Hill’s work in the past and enjoyed it, but have never really LOVED any of his books- until this one. With N0S4A2, Hill finally comes into his own with an unsettling story about missing kids, a dark fantasy land, and a creepy yet surprisingly nuanced villain. A standout read.
Heralded for being incredibly inventive, this book opens with a scene as hoary as time travel fiction itself (the old “If I could go back in time and kill Hitler” chestnut) and ends with a scene that, quite frankly, doesn’t make a lick of sense. But, in between, you have a very well-written and engaging book that isn’t quite as clever or original as many critics would have us believe – unless, of course, you never saw Run, Lola, Run which uses the exact same convention.
An ordinary schlub is enlisted by an alien parasite in a civil war against a merciless enemy.
A fun read and one I would have enjoyed a lot more had I not got stuck on one egregious logic lapse early on. The bad guys are incredibly powerful, yet can’t be bothered to fork over twenty bucks and do a license plate check on our hero’s abandoned car and thereby learn his identity. Of course, their doing so would have meant their discovering his whereabouts early in the narrative, which would have deep-sixed the majority of the story involving Tao’s secret agent training, his roommate, his job, and love life. Amusing if you’re not too analytical a reader.
A history of scientology and its frighteningly far reach. Terrifying.
Our sleepwalking protagonist’s somnambulist sorties appear to coincide with a rash of recent murders. Is Ted Hall responsible? Or does the serial killer’s true identity lie within the ranks of the circus rolling through town? The answer may not surprise you, but it confused and frustrated me. Very weird – and not necessarily in a good way. Though fast paced, at times it reads as if it the entire novel was written in one furiously inspired sitting.
The Echo – Jame Smythe
A sequel to The Explorer, a novel that started strong before devolving into silliness, The Echo offers an equally promising start before essentially covering familiar territory. It feels more like a re-do than an actual sequel – but, having said that, it IS superior to the original.
Interesting discussions of time, life, and death in this novel about a woman in Canada who finds the diary of a young Japanese girl when it washes ashore one day. My biggest issue with this book is that the writings of the young Nao don’t read like the voice of a 16 year old Japanese girl. They read more like what a 50-something year old North American writer would think a 16 year old Japanese girl would sound like. Young Nao is impossibly erudite and profound throughout but then, at one point, expresses a desire to visit Tokyo Disneyland so that she can shake hands with Mickey-chan because they are kindred spirits. Also, the late foray into meta-supernatural territory feels like a misstep.
Adam Warlock’s swan song is one of my favorite single issue comic books, so when I came across this at my local shop, I had to pick it up. Jim Starlin’s complete run on the celestial hero has a definite 70’s vibe, at times trippingly delightful, and at times cringingly silly (I’ve got two words for you: Space Shark!). Recommended if you’re a fan.
After running down and killing a jogger, the guilt-ridden driver takes to visiting his “deceased” victim at a cryogenic dating facility where dead women are kept in stasis for future resurrection, provided a prospective suitor is willing to foot the bill for the pricey process.
Provocative and smart, it’s a novel chalk full of moral and ethical complexity. Eventually, however, the fascinating premise is stretched a little too long and thin.