September 26, 2016

Recent Reads

146. Clive Barker's The Thief of Always
I read an omnibus edition of this graphic novel that contained all three volumes, so I'll review them as a set here.

You know that saying, be careful what you wish for as you just might get it? This graphic novel is adapted from a book of the same name by Clive Barker, and I plan on reading that as well.

Harvey Swick is a bored little boy, and time seems to go by at a glacial pace. He wishes he could run away and have adventures. Then one day he meets someone who promises to take him to a place where all his wishes will come true. What happens when Harvey gets there, and the characters he meets is a fun read. The art is wonderfully evocative, and this would be the perfect story for young readers around Halloween. Spooky without being too scary. Rating: 3 stars.

147. Descender, Vol 1: Tin Stars
I really liked Jeff Lemire's Sweet Tooth and Trillium, and if you have yet to read those graphic novels, stop now and read those first. He knows how to tell a story with an emotional punch, and his art is very evocative of the mood he sets.

Based on his earlier works, I'd been waiting to start this new series until the second volume was issued, but there is something missing. It's a humans versus robots world, but the main thrust of the story is one I simply could care less about. What I love about this one is TIM-21, a young robot boy and his confusion upon waking up after a ten year nap, to find himself in a universe where all androids have been outlawed, bounty hunters lurk on every planet, and most importantly his human family missing.

Lemire does not really explore new territory (pun intended) with this one, and while I like the loose watercolor art, it takes a little getting used to. I like this enough to continue reading the series. Rating: 3 stars.

148. Descender, Vol 2: Machine Moon
This volume collects issues #7-11, and while the action picks up in this installment of the story, the dialog is uninspired and feels like place holder lines until the writer comes in to work. I'm also ambivalent about the watercolor artwork in this series. While it works really well for large scale scenes, it's rather too loose for close ups in my opinion.

I continue to love TIM-21, and the fact that his emotional setting is rather high compared to everyone else just makes me love him more. It's the people around him and their motivations that I could care less about. P.S. Could have told you who the masked dude was after the first two panels. Not sure if I'll continue with this series, though maybe I'll feel differently when the next volume appears. Isn't that the definition of insanity? Rating: 2 stars.

149. The Goblin Emperor
I listened to the audiobook which is wonderfully narrated by Kyle McCarley.

Having read several dark books lately, I was in the mood for some fun and light fantasy, and this book delivered just that. At about a third of the way in, I thought this would be a four star read, but then the plot starts to meander in unnecessary ways, and took too long to close.

This is the story of Maia, the forth half-elf/half-goblin son of the emperor, who has lived in exile his entire life. When there is already a heir and a couple of spares around, one does not expect to suddenly be Emperor, but this exactly what happens to Maia one morning. He has not been educated for this position, so has to be a quick study, and things proceed from there.

There is something about stories that feature abandoned/rejected/abused children who suddenly make good that cheers us immensely. Take a minute and thing about it - bet you can name at least a handful of stories you've loved with a similar premise. Like most of the books in that trope, this one is a feel good story that made me smile and root for our boy Maia. The world building is good, but the names of people, places, and ceremonies were ludicrous. It's as though the author threw darts at an alphabet board whenever she needed a name, and went with what the fates gave her. Thank goodness the narrator figured out how to say all those words. The only problem is that my brain kept thinking I was immersed in a new language, and worked very hard to learn it. {smile}.

As I mentioned earlier, the story does get rather too long winded, but if you are in the mood for a light fantasy tale you might like this one too. Rating: 3 stars.

150. The Girl on the Train
I recently saw the movie preview so decided it was time to read this much hyped book of last summer, and it unfolded as I suspected. I simply don't know why it is that a book loved by so many often does not resonate with me.

I really like the premise. Who has not sat on commuter trains, gone by the same houses, and wondered about the lives of people in those houses? Heck, I do that on late evening walks around my neighborhood. What I don't do is go totally nuts, which is what the main character in this story does. This all starts when she sees something that jolts her out of this fantasy world she created in her head about a particular couple in a particular house. She then proceeds to do things that are simply mind boggling, and what's more, everyone around her must have grown up in incredibly dysfunctional homes because they put up with her crazies. Honestly?

The story has three women narrators, and I usually find it interesting to see events from various points of view, but the writing voice for the three women is identical, so they all blur together. It was fairly obviously what happened early on, so I spent a long time waiting for the nutty one to figure things out in her nutty way. The writing is pedestrian, but the chapters are really short so it does make for a quick read.

There is not a single likable person, of either gender, in this story, but unfortunately none of them were fleshed out enough for me to push back on. A deeper dive into some of the experiences of the women in this story would have made this a much more compelling read. So yeah, not for me. I read this a week or so ago, and barely remember much other being annoyed most of the time. Rating: 2 stars.

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