December 14, 2015

Recent Reads

146. Speak
Book blurb: In a narrative that spans geography and time, from the Atlantic Ocean in the seventeenth century, to a correctional institute in Texas in the near future, and told from the perspectives of five very different characters, Speak considers what it means to be human, and what it means to be less than fully alive. 

This book gets pitched to David Mitchell fans, and I think if you go in with that expectation you are going to be disappointed. It's good, but not great. There are five interconnected stories, some told in the form of journal entries, some as letters, some as court transcripts, and as the story unfolds in five parts, we learn more about the characters and how they are connected. 

There are interesting themes explored in this book: what does it mean to be human? Can an AI be considered alive? Classic Turing Test stuff. However, while the writing is really good in parts, the story as a whole did not really work for me. There were characters I found more interesting than others, and I liked that the author seemed to have distinct voices for each character, but I found myself not particularly caring about where the story was headed. 

This is a great idea that falls short on delivery. Still, it's an interesting read, but get the Mitchell comparisons out of your head before you start this one. Rating: 3 stars.

147. Sweet Tooth, Vol. 3: Animal Armies

Book blurb: In this third volume, Jeppard begins to form an army to topple the militia camp so he can rescue Gus and the other hybrid kids. But will he arrive too late to save anyone? This volumes collects issues #12-17.

This is the third installment in a six part graphic novel series. We seem to have reached the middle of the story, when things pivot in a different direction, so there is more setup to be found here. I really loved the art at the start of this one - there are wordless pages telling us one story line, and then panels on the bottom of each page recounting Singh's journal. Very cool technique.

I continue to really enjoy this story, and have the rest of the series in hand, so I predict binge reading on my horizon. Rating: 4 stars.

148. The God of Carnage

I really liked the movie Carnage, which was an adaptation of this play, so decided to go to the source material. This short play is a wonderful read, and works best if read on one or two sittings. 

I'd suggest not reading the blurbs on this one before picking it up. All you really need to know is that the play is about two sets of parents who meet to deal with the behavior of their children. The entire play unfolds during this one meeting. To 
say more would spoil it for you, so I'll stop there. Rating: 4 stars.

149. Sweet Tooth, Vol. 4: Endangered Species

The fourth installment of this graphic novel series collects issues # 18 - 25, and this story just gets better with each installment. How often can one say that? 

I'm not a huge fan of character back stories, as they are often not well done. In this case however, we get glimpses into the previous lives of the women members of our merry band, and the flashbacks are wonderfully illustrated by three guest artists - an inspired idea by the author.

Our travelers are headed North to Alaska, and as you all know, no road trip ever goes as planned. Strangers are met, and deciding whether they are friend or foe will have huge implications going forward. 

I continue to love this series, and cannot wait to see what happens next. Rating: 4 stars.

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