Review of The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin (1969)

Bottom line: Meh.

Rating: Recommended if: you’re doing a tour of classic sci fi authors.

Blurb:

When the human ambassador Genly Ai is sent to Gethen, the planet known as Winter by those outsiders who have experienced its arctic climate, he thinks that his mission will be a standard one of making peace between warring factions. Instead the ambassador finds himself wildly unprepared. For Gethen is inhabited by a society with a rich, ancient culture full of strange beauty and deadly intrigue—a society of people who are both male and female in one, and neither. This lack of fixed gender, and the resulting lack of gender-based discrimination, is the very cornerstone of Gethen life. But Genly is all too human. Unless he can overcome his ingrained prejudices about the significance of “male” and “female,” he may destroy both his mission and himself.

Review:

I was really excited to read this book, as I’ve heard really great things of Le Guin, the book is generally really highly reviewed, and it won a Hugo AND a Nebula award. I ended up being really disappointed. I think overall, if I hadn’t had such high expectations, I might have enjoyed it more than I did, but not by much.

Basically, the entire book was a heav-handed exploration of the question “what would society be like if there were no gender?” The world she created was quite interesting, and the basic conflict set up was how cultural differences impact communication, which is something I’ve always found fascinating. Even the action/survival part of the story – once we finally got there – was enjoyable. However, everything came back to how sex works in this society, and its impact on the culture.

It’s a book that’s supposed to make you stop and think about gender and sexuality in our own society, but being a naturally stubborn person, the more you hit me over the head with something, the less likely I am to want to acquiesce. I think this book would have been much more impactful, to me at least, if the themes were more subtly woven through the story. I wanted the world and the two different cultures we met with to be more fleshed out. I wanted to get a better view of the relationships between the main characters. I wanted the action to be better paced (instead of people sitting around talking or walking through the snow for half of the book, then suddenly a bomb goes off and Stuff Starts To Happen).

There was so much going for this book that I wanted to like, but for me it just never managed to come together. I felt like it was trying too hard to be Intellectual. Obviously, millions of people (including the voters of the Hugo and Nebula panels) disagree with me. It was a book I felt to be worth the read, especially if you’re interested in exploring some of the early-contemporary sci fi authors, but it wasn’t a book that I could ever get totally immersed in, or couldn’t wait to pick up again when I put it down.

Have you read it? What did you think?

Get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

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Review of The Martian by Andy Weir (2012)

Bottom line: Highly recommended for sci-fi fans and/or survivalists.

Rating: Strongly Recommended

Blurb:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Review:

Wow, that’s a long blurb. I won’t say much about the story, since it’s all pretty much covered. I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s sci-fi meets the good old-fashioned survival story. The character of Mark is completely realistic and charming, and I like that in this survival story, it’s actually believable how the main character has the knowledge and skills needed to survive.

There are a lot of f-bombs in here, but frankly, it fits his character and the man has been stranded on Mars. Some interesting stylistic choices are that it’s mostly told through Mark’s official NASA log/journal, which works much better than I would have thought, and Weir gives a LOT of detail and numbers on how exactly Mark is going about survival, including oxygen input, water consumption, etc. I kind of loved those things since it gave a realistic feel to the proceedings, and I’m a numbers nerd anyways. I asked my husband (NOT a numbers nerd) who’d liked and recommended the book to me and he said he just kind of ignored them.

There are a lot of secondary characters, and at first I had a hard time keeping track of who was who. However, as the story progressed, I became impressed at how he was able to fill out the characters in just the few quick strokes we get from Mark’s journal, or the glimpses we get as we watch them try to bring Mark home.

This is a really fun book, and the best contemporary sci-fi I’ve read recently.

Get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

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Review of C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy

Review:

C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strengthh) is the most disjointed trilogy I have ever read. That’s not to say it isn’t worth reading, or even good, but it feels more like a very loosely related collection of books than a trilogy. What makes it feel so disjointed is the tone, rather than any major plot or character devices. To me, Out of the Silent Planet feels like Lewis is exploring the idea of what life on another planet might look like. Perelandra takes that concept and builds upon a Christianity-compatible philosophic framework introduced at the end of Out of the Silent Planet. That Hideous Strength is, quite frankly, very weird. It seems to be the next step in Lewis’s thinking about philosophy, and planets, and angels and demons, but with more science AND more fantasy thrown in.

I’m still recommending these books, as they are such classic science fiction reads, and I found the first two enjoyable. I didn’t necessarily “enjoy” the last book, but I’m still glad I finished the trilogy. Lewis is, as always, a very skilled writer, and it’s incredibly interesting to get a glimpse into the way his mind worked as his characters interact with each other and explore other planets and our own.

Hard-core Tolkien fans will enjoy glimpses of his influence in this work, both in the languages and some of the names, and the character of Ransom, who was modeled after Tolkien. There are also a couple of references to Numenor.

Get it: Amazon (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength), Barnes & Noble (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength),

Blurbs:

Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet is the first novel in C. S. Lewis’s classic science fiction trilogy. It tells the adventure of Dr. Ransom, a Cambridge academic, who is abducted and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, which he knows as Mars. His captors are plotting to plunder the planet’s treasures and plan to offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there. Ransom discovers he has come from the “silent planet”—Earth—whose tragic story is known throughout the universe!

Perelandra

Perelandra, the second novel in Lewis’s science fiction trilogy, tells of Dr. Ransom’s voyage to the paradise planet of Perelandra, or Venus, which turns out to be a beautiful Eden-like world. He is horrified to find that his old enemy, Dr. Weston, has also arrived and is putting him in grave peril once more. As the mad Weston’s body is taken over by the forces of evil, Ransom engages in a desperate struggle to save the innocence of Perelandra!

That Hideous Strength

That Hideous Strength is the third novel in Lewis’s science fiction trilogy. Set on Earth, it tells of a terrifying conspiracy against humanity. The story surrounds Mark and Jane Studdock, a newly married couple. Mark is a sociologist who is enticed to join an organization called N.I.C.E., which aims to control all human life. Jane, meanwhile, has bizarre prophetic dreams about a decapitated scientist, Alcasan. As Mark is drawn inextricably into the sinister organization, he discovers the truth of his wife’s dreams when he meets the literal head of Alcasan, which is being kept alive by infusions of blood. Jane seeks help concerning her dreams at a community called St. Anne’s, where she meets their leader—Dr. Ransom. The story ends in a final spectacular scene at the N.I.C.E. headquarters where Merlin appears to confront the powers of Hell.

What did you think?

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Close Encounters of the Fourteenth Century Kind

Howdy! I’m on vacation in Brazil for most of September, so I turned the tables on my readers and opened up the blog for guests posts while I’m gone. Today’s post comes from John, a.k.a. Mr. Lector’s Books.

I have a confession: I listen to a lot of audiobooks.  Where most people listen to music, I would much rather hear a story.  This is why (other than my utter lack of mathematical ability) I majored in history.  History courses and books are most engaging to me when I get to know the people involved and understand how situations and perceptions affect decisions and events.  One of my favorite books, and one assigned in my American History 101 class, is Killer Angles by Michael Shaara.  Killer Angles is a novelization of the Battle of Gettysburg and tells the story of the battle from the perspective of soldiers from both the Union and Confederate armies.  To study a battle is one thing, but to read/hear it coming from the voices and conflicted inner monologues of real people brings depth to a war that divided our nation and shaped its future.

I enjoy historical non-fiction and books on current events, but, if I’m completely honest, most of the books I listen to are pure sci-fi escapism.  I love the world building of authors like Robert Heinlein, C.S. Lewis, Susan Collins, and John Scalzi.  When I need something outside of my trusted authors, I will randomly pick a sci-fi book from an author I haven’t read or heard of before.  Sometimes I end up with a dud, but other times I find gems like Eifelhiem by Michael F. Flynn.  This wonderfully strange book combines elements of actual history and sci-fi to produce a work of fiction that is truly unique and speaks to my historical and alien-loving geekiness.

Eifelhiem is about humans making contact with alien race that comes to Earth.  What is fascinating about the book is that the author sets this close encounter in fourteenth century Germany and the protagonist is the village of Eifelhiem’s priest.  As the author tells the story of the humans interacting with a “demonic” looking race of beings, there is a secondary plot set in the present.  In the present, a cliometric history professor (a field that uses economics to study the course of history) is trying to piece together why the village of Eifelhiem was abandoned in the fourteenth century and never inhabited again, while his wife, also a professor, ponders the mysteries of theoretical physics.

Like the history professor in the book, I came to admire the village’s priest, Father Dietrich.  Dietrich is a man whose fervor for his faith once led him down a darker path, but he now channels his passion into serving and taking care of the people of the village, his adopted home.  He is a man trained in religion, philosophy, history, logic, and science.  His learning and religious views are tempered by his age and wide array of experiences, making him a gentle and wise man and pastor.  His congregants love and respect him, and feel comfortable enough to make fun of his often technically brilliant yet dry sermons.

Dietrich is the first of the humans to recognize that the aliens, the Krank, are not demons.  He sees them as mortal men, simply different from himself.  However, he is not the first of the humans to offer hospitality.  The story explores themes of racism, charity, and grace.   It also delves into questions regarding the soul and who our “neighbor” is in the New Testament sense.

I would not call this a religious or Christian book.  The intent is to tell a story in the world of medieval Europe.  To tell a story in that place and time, just like when you study Western history, you have to consider the beliefs and motivations of that era’s people.  For Europeans at that time, their views of the world were shaped by the Catholic Church.  The author is not making a statement, just using the resources available to him during the time period of when he is writing.

I would recommend this book if you have any interest in history, economics, sci-fi, physics and/or if you have ever wondered how Christianity would reconcile the existence of sentient extraterrestrials.  I would also warn that the time period lacked our current medical understanding.  There are several scenes of detailed medical procedures that would seem counterintuitive to anyone who has even watched a modern medical drama.  There is serious foreshadowing throughout the book about the eventualities of the humans and the aliens. Even though the fates of the villagers and the visitors can be surmised through information in the book, I found that I still wanted to know how everything played out.  This is yet another unique quality of book I greatly enjoyed.

Thanks for reading,

John

Available (Audiobook): Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Available (e-book): Amazon, Barnes & Noble

What are your favorite audiobooks?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Review of Illusion by Frank Peretti (2012)

Bottom line: A fascinating and intriguing story about love, time-travel, and magic.

Rating: Strongly Recommended

Blurb:

In a world where nothing is as it seems, anything is possible.

DANE AND MANDY, a popular magic act for forty years, are tragically separated by a car wreck that claims Mandy’s life—or so everyone thinks. Even as Dane mourns, Mandy awakes in the present as the nineteen-year-old she was in 1970. Distraught and disoriented in what to her is the future, she is confined to a mental ward until she discovers a magical ability to pass invisibly through time and space to escape. Alone in a strange world, she uses her mysterious powers to eke out a living, performing magic on the streets and in a quaint coffee shop.

Hoping to discover a new talent, Dane ventures into the shop and is transfixed by the illusions that even he, a seasoned professional, cannot explain. But more than anything, he is devastated by this teenager who doesn’t know him, is certainly not in love with him, but is in every respect identical to the young beauty he first met and married some forty years earlier.

They begin a furtive relationship as mentor and protégée, but even as Dane tries to sort out who she really is and she tries to understand why she is drawn to him, they are watched by secretive interests who not only possess the answers to Mandy’s powers and misplacement in time but also the roguish ability to decide what will become of her.

Review:

A friend lent me this book, and I’m so glad she did. It’s not the type of thing that I would have sought out on my own. I’ve never been all that fascinated by magic, and the innate frustration of the storyline – I know you, why don’t you know me? Or am I just crazy? – is the kind of thing that could easily drive ME crazy. And yes, there was definitely some frustration in all of that, but was a remarkably well told story. I found myself racing through the pages, frantically trying to figure out a solution that would let Dane and Mandy be happy and together.

I guess the only issue I really had with the book was that there were a lot of characters, and I had a hard time remembering who was who. Genre-wise, I’d say it was kind of sci-fi light – there aren’t an excruciating amount of details given about the mechanics of the time/space travel, in fact, I could have used a little more explanation myself, but it wasn’t all that important. This is a story about love.

The writing and storytelling were excellent. I seem to vaguely remember reading some of Peretti’s other works as a child, but I can’t remember what. I’ll have to do some research. I’m not very good at names: real people, characters, or titles, so I’ll have to dig into some of his storylines and see if they ring any bells. I’m very interested in trying some of his other works (or retrying as the case may be). This was a book that captivated me from page one.

Side note: The pain and loss felt by Dane at the opening of the book when Mandy dies is vivid and real. I teared up several times during the story – something that is rare for me. Because of that, I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone who has recently lost a loved one. There are also strong Christian elements in this book, again, this was something that was handled remarkably well. It felt very natural to the story and the characters, which is not always the case.

Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Have any of you read the book? Read any of Peretti’s other works?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Review of The Host (2008) by Stephenie Meyer

Bottom line: A fun science fiction story with great characters, action, and romance.

Rating: Recommended

Blurb:

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, didn’t expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she’s never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST
is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human.

Review:

Ok, I have to get this off my chest. Stephenie Meyer is not a terrible author. Please don’t flame me. I know it’s cool to hate on her, and a lot of very smart people have put a lot of creative energy and time into mocking her and her works. Much of which I have enjoyed. (I wanted to link to some, but I couldn’t find any that were solidly within this blog’s…ah…high ideals).

And no, I don’t think she is one of our age’s great literary talents. However, she is a great storyteller. She is actually pretty good at world-building, and her dialogue can be funny and clever. I don’t want to do an in-depth analysis of the Twilight series, but I will say that I’ve read the books, more than once, and I enjoyed them. It started with my sister-in-law, who is several years younger than me and in high school at the time. She had rented the movie, so I, my husband, his brother and his wife all watched it, basically so we could tear it apart. It was horrifically bad. The acting was atrocious, the dialogue was terrible, and I couldn’t think of any reason why ANYONE could possibly have enjoyed that experience. So after that, I had to read the books to see why so many people were passionately devoted to it. As a side note, I think the movies failed (I only saw the first two, then lost interest) because they took out much of the dialogue, which was one of the better features of the books, and the humor. And I will address one of the main points critics bring up: that these books don’t portray a healthy teenage relationship between Edward and Bella. Well, no. But it’s not like Meyer is the first person who has done that. Can you say “Romeo and Juliet”?

Anyways, like I said, I didn’t want to do a full in-depth analysis of the Twilight series here, but I did want to give some background as to how I got into the Host, and you can’t talk about Stephenie Meyer without mentioning Twilight. So, on to the main attraction:

The Host is a sci-fi romance. It’s a very clean romance, and the love story parts of it were handled well. But the world-building in The Host is VERY good. Meyer created interesting and believable species of aliens, and you get some very great details and stories of life on other planets without it feeling like she’s showing off this universe she’s made up (which I occasionally feel with some sci-fi or fantasy authors). There’s action and suspense and tension, and I think her skill as a storyteller really shines through with The Host. I even have, and this is my coup d’état here, a real life MAN who enjoyed it. My husband listened to it on audiobook and thought it was, and I’m quoting verbatim here, “pretty good.” High praise from an actual male.

Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

Side note: We just watched the movie a few nights ago (it’s now available to rent), and I thought it was a fairly good adaptation. They changed quite a few things, as they do, but they captured the main essence. They did leave out quite a bit of the world building that I had enjoyed so much in the book, but I can see why they did. The casting was pretty good, and I liked how they changed the opening. The last couple of scenes were handled much better in the book, but that’s life. It was a fun way to pass an evening. The only thing that annoyed me was that there was a LOT of kissing. If you took out all the kissing scenes, it would have been like a 45 minute movie. I felt like that kid from the Princess Bride movie, and wished we could just skip over most of them.

Movie available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

Ok, confess. Any Meyer fans out there?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Review of Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall (2010)

Bottom line: A fun read for Star Trek fans who don’t mind a little spattering of bodily fluids and high body count. Ok, there was a lot of spattering.

Rating: Recommended if: you are a zombie fan and/or Trekkie

Blurb:

Journey to the final frontier of sci-fi zombie horror!

Jim Pike was the world’s biggest Star Trek fan—until two tours of duty in Afghanistan destroyed his faith in the human race. Now he sleepwalks through life as the assistant manager of a small hotel in downtown Houston.

But when hundreds of Trekkies arrive in his lobby for a science-fiction convention, Jim finds himself surrounded by costumed Klingons, Vulcans, and Ferengi—plus a strange virus that transforms its carriers into savage, flesh-eating zombies!

As bloody corpses stumble to life and the planet teeters on the brink of total apocalypse, Jim must deliver a ragtag crew of fanboys and fangirls to safety. Dressed in homemade uniforms and armed with prop phasers, their prime directive is to survive. But how long can they last in the ultimate no-win scenario?

Review:

This was my first honest-to-goodness zombie book. I generally stay away from that genre since I don’t handle gore and character deaths well, but when one of my cousins posted on Facebook about this book (zombies! Trekkies! Houston!), I just had to try it. The only other zombie books I’ve read are Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and The Zombie Survival Guide (see my reviews here). This was far more violent and graphic, it was just inside my comfort zone. What helped was that I went into it with the same attitude as watching an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie – this is just going to be ridiculous in terms of body count and method of dispatch, and also don’t get too attached to any of the characters.

All that being said, it was a really fun read. It did a good job of walking the line between homage to and mockery of Trekkies, the action was well paced, the plot was believable (well, you know, believable within the context of being a zombie book) and there was even character development! A true Trekkie would probably enjoy this even more than I did – get more of the jokes and so on. I’m not a Trekkie myself, but I married into a family of them. So I know a little bit about the shows and fan culture, but not a lot. That didn’t hinder my enjoyment at all, though. If you don’t mind the gore, this was a pretty lighthearted book overall, and a good way for me to dip my toe in the zombie water.

Get it! Amazon, Barnes & Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Review of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Rating: Strongly Recommended

Blurb:

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don’t forget to bring a towel!

Review:

This originally started as a radio drama on BBC Radio, and has been adapted to novels, and a not bad movie. Please, please, PLEASE, do yourself a favor and listen to the radio drama. It is perfect for long road trips. Although comedy is a matter of taste, this is one of the funniest things out there. You need to appreciate science fiction, and dry sense of humor, but it is so funny. I re-listened to it a few weeks ago (I generally don’t review things unless I’ve read/watched/listened to them within the last month or maybe two), trying to find the best lines to quote. I gave up about five minutes in because there are so many good ones. If you are involved in nerd culture at all, this is the source of many of the seemingly random jokes out there: 42 (the answer to the ultimate question of the universe), Don’t Panic (in large, friendly letters), and Don’t Forget Your Towel (or Towel Day, see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Towel_Day).

My favorite part of the loose story arc is the beginning up through their meal at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. The story does occasionally get a bit tedious in places, but the comedy moments are a great pay off for the weaker moments. This is full of incredibly random non sequiturs, strange ideas that seemed to have popped into Adams’ head and lead you on to interesting rabbit tracks around the vast reaches of space. If I haven’t convinced you to try it, I’ll leave you with what, after much internal wrestling, I think might be my favorite part. Or at least one of my favorite parts.

“Come now, or you will be late.”

“Late? What for?”

“What is your name, human?”

“Dent. Arthur Dent.”

“Late, as in the late Dentarthurdent. It’s a sort of threat, you see. I’ve never been very good at them myself but I’m told they can be terribly effective.”

Get the radio drama! Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Get the first book! Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Get the movie! Amazon, Barnes & Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Review of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1985) (The Ender Quintet)

Bottom line: A compelling character and suspenseful story combine to create an engrossing read.

Rating: Recommended

Blurb:

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

Review:

I’ve been wanting to reread this book ever since I saw they were coming out with a movie version, due to be released November 2013. They have some pretty big names in the movie, so I just hope they don’t mess it up too badly (this is my prevailing attitude towards book-to-film adaptations).

This is one of those books that I was able to completely lose myself in. I felt so connected to the main character that as events unfolded, I responded to them from his point of view. After I had finished, I realized that some of these plot points didn’t make much sense, but while in the moment, I hadn’t noticed. This is such a well told story that whether or not it is plausible hardly seems to matter.

Ender’s Game seems to have a polarizing effect on readers. Many people love it, but there is a very strong minority that hate it just as passionately. Arguments against it I saw ranged from the political messages, to the justification of violence, to whether or not child geniuses would really act like that.  As much as I love to analyze things to death (and believe me, I do), this story was, to me, just a story. Maybe it’s that I read it when I was much younger, but I don’t feel the need to delve deeply into themes and messages and plausibility. It’s a story, I enjoyed it, and if you think the blurb looks interesting, you should give it a try, too. Sometimes, that’s all you need to say.

Side Notes: This is the first in the Ender Series, I haven’t read any of the others, though I plan to at some point. I debated making this a Family Fridays post, but it’s not really a “children’s” book. I would guess it’s aimed at preteens on up.

Get it! Amazon, Barnes & Noble

What did you think? Did you like the book? How old were you when you read it?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Review of the Chronological Man Adventure Series by Andrew Mayne

Bottom line: A fun, historical, science-y, steampunk-y, adventure-y series of short stories.

Rating: Strongly Recommended

Review:

I really like this series. It consists (so far) of two short stories, telling the tale of Smith, time traveler extraordinaire, who shows up to save the day whenever he is needed. The books are short enough to be read in one sitting (Ok, so I read most books in one sitting, but I’m a bit obsessive that way. Normal people could read these books in one sitting), but long enough to feel balanced – you get good characters, good settings, AND a good story. I wouldn’t put the premise in the “terribly plausible” category, but the ride is such a good one that it doesn’t matter. My favorite aspect of the series is the characters. The assistant, April, is smart and capable and takes action when it’s called for. She’s no Watson-esque sidekick, perpetually stumbling around in the dark. Teddy Roosevelt, more big stick than speaking softly here, is a hilarious and brilliant addition to the crew in the second story. And of course there’s Smith, a strange genius who suffers from amnesia due to his time travelling.

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