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Four Books - Qualified Perceptions
firstfrost
firstfrost
Four Books
Time for another set of book reviews. One was even worth ranting about.

Lucky You (by Carl Hiaasen)
I bought two books by Carl Hiaasen on a recommendation from a comic strip (Frazz). I wonder if he got a sales spike. :) Based on this one, I'm willing to believe Frazz about future authors as well, if only in paperback investment. Hiaasen (whose name I cannot spell correctly on the first pass) fits into my Donald Westlake niche - comedy about dysfunctional people on the wrong side of the law. I haven't read the second Hiaasen book, so I'm overgeneralizing wildly, but I find Westlake funnier and Hiaasen darker. I've said nothing about the plot of the book, but it has lottery tickets, inept white supremacists, and a whole pile of turtles. Four stars, and we'll see how Stormy Weather goes.

Manta's Gift (by Timothy Zahn)
You don't read Timothy Zahn for great literature, you read him for fun. And there's definitely fun in here, as long as you don't expect more. The aliens (though not psychologically alien at all) are entertaining to watch romp around. The human politics is way overblown, but also campy fun. The science - well, suffice it to say that there's a plot point that reminded me of nothing so much as "He died of a midichlorian overdose" and I wanted to cover my eyes. And then to solve that plot point - which also seems to involve forgetting that Jupiter is larger than, say, Connecticut - resorts to forgetting that Jupiter is also three dimensional. No, that's not right. Forgetting that the surface of Jupiter is two-dimensional? No, it's not even that. The plot conveniently forgets that the equator of Jupiter, which has only one dimension to its name, has length! It seems to be treated as a point! Or maybe I missed something, I was covering my eyes. And then, there's feats of writing like "Faraday stared at her, feeling like he'd been slapped across the mouth with a live electrical wire." I had to stop and think about that. What exactly does that mean he feels like? His lips hurt? Maybe Zahn means "feeling shocked", but I don't understand why his mouth in particular is shocked. It's not like he's shocked from kissing her, he's shocked from what she said. Why not slapped across the ears with an electrical wire? Okay, it's true. I have more fun writing these things about bad books than about good books. Two and a half stars - I didn't expect much better, but better would have been nice.

Tooth and Claw (by Jo Walton)
It's a Jane Austen novel, played by dragons, whose biology dictates their manners. Really, that's all there is to it. If that sounds like it appeals to you at all (and it did to me), then go read it. Five stars if this is your niche.


The War of the Flowers (by Tad Williams)
This book could have been improved immensely by the removal of the main character. He flees from monsters and whines incessantly about how his life sucks. When he's not onstage, the Faerie politics is nicely detailed and somewhat mysterious - when the main character is there, then he serves as an exposition magnet, and the fascinating nebulous mysteries get explained in ponderous detail. There are some other interesting tidbits, like "goblin stories always have a hole in them" which would have been perfect had the trope been explained once and used multiple times - but no, every story was basically "As you know, goblin stories all have a hole in them. Story story story [missing bit] ending of story. As you will see, it had a hole in it, because [dramatic pause] all goblin stories have holes." Even if the author assumes that I can't remember about goblin stories from one to the next, I think he should assume that I can remember from the beginning of the (by no means long) story to the end. Four stars for all the bits without the main character, two stars for the bits that have him.


(Book 1 is borrowable. 2 and 4 were from the MITSFS, 3 went to mijven)

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Comments
greenlily From: greenlily Date: March 17th, 2005 07:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm with you about War Of The Flowers. I liked almost all of it, but yeah he really whines a lot, doesn't he.
twe From: twe Date: March 17th, 2005 08:35 am (UTC) (Link)
it has lottery tickets, inept white supremacists, and a whole pile of turtles

Turtles are good!
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