loree: (zombie monkey)
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, 201 pages

(Apologies to those of you who've already heard this rant.)

I hated this book. I hated The Catcher in the Rye, too, but I figured that it was because I read it when I was eighteen and Just Didn't Get It because it was Important Literature and I Simply Didn't Have Enough Life Experience(TM). But now, a dozen years later, I've come to the conclusion that I just hate Salinger. He's a pseudo-intellectual sophist-wanna-be who seems to think that, by using 50-cent words and packing his books with full-page paragraphs, it somehow makes him deep and intellectual.

Wrong. Wrong. WRONG.

This man is lauded as a great writer, a voice of a generation? As the pop-culture cliche goes, Worst. Generation. Ever. His characterization is awful. His characters are despicable, unsympathetic, egocentric, neurotic, narcissistic, and just... blech. If I wanted to experience people who were simultaneously this reprehensible and this boring, I'd watch reality television.

Never again am I going to fight my way through to the end of a novel I'm not enjoying. Screw my compulsive, completist tendencies. I had to read or re-read three other fluff-novels to have enough mental reserves to finish this one. Life is too short to read bad books.

Rating: 2 out of 10 monkeys (and Holden Caulfield can suck my ass, too)
loree: (zombie monkey)
Micah by Laurell K. Hamilton, 288 pages

I adore the Anita Blake series. They're my popcorn books - fluffy, light, and easily consumed. That being said, this offering was even lighter than usual - I finished it in about an hour. For those who read the author's blog, she presents it as a novella, but the publisher obviously had other ideas. They tried every college term paper trick in the book - wide margins, large font, double spacing, dividing chapters mid-scene, blank pages between chapters... I wish they would have saved a few trees and condensed this down to the 100 actual pages of plot.

The story itself wasn't too bad, and it was nice to find out a little more about one of the least-defined characters, but I was left wanting more detail and a WHOLE lot less angst from the main character. The plot resolution leaves a bit to be desired, in that it all happened in exposition. Ms. Hamilton is forgetting the author's rule of show-don't-tell, and it's disappointing.

It wasn't horrible, but for the flaws already mentioned, I count this among my least favorite Anita Blake books. But the teaser for the next one? One of the most engaging opening chapters Hamilton's written in years. If the rest of Danse Macabre lives up to this chapter, hot damn, I can't *wait* until June.

Rating: 6 out of 10 monkeys

Next review: Something non-fantasy, non-scifi, non-fannish, I promise.
loree: (zombie monkey)
Finding Serenity : Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon's Firefly, edited by Jane Espenson, 240 pages

[livejournal.com profile] bientot loaned me this collection of essays about Joss Whedon's Firefly, edited by series writer and long-time Whedon co-conspirator Jane Espenson. The show's cancellation left many questions unanswered, and many theories on character back-story and motivation are expounded upon. The essays were all written in the period of time between the end of the series and the release of Serenity, which gives the book a quaintly episodic feel in an I-know-something-you-don't-know sort of way.

The essays themselves are something of a mixed bag - if you're a fan of the show, at least one of them is pretty much guaranteed to piss you off. But fans will appreciate contributions from other long-time Whedon co-conspirator Marti Noxon, and sweetly nostalgic accounting of favorite moments from actress Jewel Staite.

Rating: 8 out of 10 monkeys
loree: (zombie monkey)
3. Contact by Carl Sagan, 448 pages

Note to self: Do not, do not, read the book after you've seen the movie more than six times. You will invariably be disappointed. I couldn't read this book with an objective eye - too many plot points registered as "Aha! That's setup for movie event X!"

Simply put, I didn't like it as well as the film. There was a lot of juicy hard-science detail and engaging plot line, but the character development was lukewarm at best. I see now the difference a talented screenwriter can make. And the twist at the end seemed gratuitous and unnecessary.

Rating: 7 out of 10 monkeys
loree: (zombie monkey)
Because I'm an enormous dork, I'm going to start rating my media reviews. Welcome to the Monkey Scale. And, without further ado, book two.

2. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, 864 pages

I received this book as a gift some time ago, but hadn't read it until now, being somewhat dubious about it. To be honest, most literature in the Fantasy swords-and-horses genre bores the crap out of me, but the lack of a scantily-clad aesthetically-improbable female on the cover was somewhat reassuring.

Like the subject of my previous review, this was another book densely packed with a cast of thousands, but the author took more time (and had more skill) developing distinguishable characters. In all, an enjoyable read - good subplots with well-balanced subject matter, portrayed in vignettes so no particular plot line became too monotonous. It's almost as though the author had an eye on turning this into a screenplay, as each chapter is very definitely a scene unto itself. (Oh, looky here... Wikipedia, tells me the author is also a screenwriter/producer.) And, shock of shocks, there actually were female characters! Who talk! To each other!

My main criticism is that, by the last 1/4 of the book, it became all too obvious that this was written as part one of a series. I would have liked to have seen a few more subplots resolved before the end. My only other peeves are just nitpicking. One, decide whether your setting is earthlike or non-earthlike - having both cinnamon and wingwangwoodle (or whatever) trees is distracting and anachronistic. And two, as thematically accurate as it may be, having characters with multiple names (or the same name as other characters) is confusing, particularly when keeping track of 20 significant-to-major characters.

Rating: 8 out of 10 monkeys
loree: (Default)
I haven't had a tremendous amount of time for reading lately, but I'm going to try and keep a log of the books I read this year. First up:

1. Dawn Song by Michael Marano, 400 pages
An interesting story, but the author tried to do too much in 400 pages. Too many characters and too many voices resulted in a somewhat awkward tale full of flat, one-note caricatures. At first, I found it somewhat misogynistic, as the first hundred pages lacked a single female character that wasn't a monster, a nutjob, or a complete waste of oxygen; as I read on, I realized that the male characters weren't any better, there were just more of them. Being un-Christian, and especially un-Catholic, I just didn't "get" a lot of the horror aspects of this book, either. Ho-hum, the Succubus is killing someone else now, next? This is the author's first novel, though, so maybe the next attempt will be better. Not a horrible book, but not compelling enough to take with me to finish on the plane.

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