Thursday, July 13, 2017

Review: Hold Back The Stars

Hold Back The Stars Hold Back The Stars by Katie Khan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As others have said on this book, it was pure romance, despite the post-apocalytpic, future space setting.

That being said, I wasn't mad about it. Despite its less than complex nature, it was entertaining and left me interested. The dystopian/utopian aspect of the worldbuilding was fascinating, although I wish that Khan had delved more into this piece.

The characters were fine, but I would argue that they were slightly surface level in nature and Khan could have done more to develop them fully. It felt like some of their characterization came from the nature of their relationship and romance, rather than from Carys and Max as separate individuals, which is certainly a big pet peeve.

I think the part that I liked best came toward the end when Khan attempted (view spoiler). I thought that this technique added an extra layer of tension and interest to an otherwise simple novel.

My biggest negative would be a lack of any forward motion in the action in the present moment. Most of the novel was told in flashbacks, which is fine, but the flashforwards to present seemed unnecessary because nothing was happening, and the dialogue seemed overdramatic and circular.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Review: Disappearance at Devil's Rock

Disappearance at Devil's Rock Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Gosh, my luck with books lately has been tough.

I read Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts and fell in love. It was one of the early books that really turned me onto horror, a genre I never thought I could enjoy because I'm such a scaredy-cat. The novel was so well-done, with so many references to other works and layers.

So I excitedly moved onto Disappearance at Devil's Rock, hoping that it would meet my expectations, and it didn't.

To start, the premise was, from the get-go, not as interesting as A Head Full of Ghosts, so there was some ground to make up, but it was possible to salvage a great plot from the child disappearance premise. Grady Hendrix did it in My Best Friend's Exorcism, and created a great and suspenseful story. However, Tremblay failed here to keep my interest because Tommy disappeared and then nothing really happened.

Further, the character development was incredibly weak. I would get Tommy, Luis and Josh mixed up for longer than was acceptable, and I didn't feel that any of the other characters were adequately characterized either.

The plot points that could have been cool: torn diary pages, a mysterious devil-like figure, just fell flat. I was so uninspired by the book that I almost stopped reading, but at that point I was so deep in, that I just kept plodding through.

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Review: American War

American War American War by Omar El Akkad
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. I had to take a bit after I finished American War and just sit there, soaking it all in. What an utterly timely and brutal novel to read.

I am constantly fascinated by post-apocalyptic, dystopian, and futuristic fiction. I love people's conceptualizations of a world in ruin- for whatever that says about me. I wasn't disappointed by El Akkad's ideas. The ravages of climate change on the United States seemed probable and terrifying. There were a couple points where I had to suspend my disbelief- the fact that the North and South split over the ban of oil was debatable, in my opinion, and I find that there are far more believable reasons for the secession to take place (although perhaps the choice was oil was intentional, regardless of believability).

The characters are beautifully depicted and complex, but I didn't feel an emotional attachment to them, which is perhaps my only knock on the novel. Regardless, the deft way in which El Akkad crafts the story left me gasping at the end as we find out more about key characters and decisions they make which change the course of history.

The more I read the reviews of others, the more that I let this novel ruminate with me, the more I come to realize that it has so many layers. The depth of emotion and thought in this novel left me breathless.

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