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Seven Books - Qualified Perceptions
Seven Books
Seeking Whom He May Devour (by Fred Vargas)
This is the second book by this author I've read, and I'm reading them in no particular order. It's translated from a French novel, so everything is just a little bit different - the phrasing seems more formal, there's a different feel to the semi-romance, the question of whether or not there's a supernatural explanation for the people killed by wolves is an interesting mirror of the usual urban fantasy (there are people who don't believe in werewolves, and people who do. There are not really any werewolves, because, of course there aren't werewolves, this is the real world, but the people who believe in them aren't crazy (or preturnaturally well-informed), they just believe in werewolves). Slow-paced, thoughtful, oddly different. Four stars. Also, I don't know what to make of the translation of a running joke in which the dog is named Woof (the namer of the dog opened the dictionary to a random word) after the threads in weaving, and everyone thinks this is an odd name for the dog and keeps calling him something else (Warp, Threads, Woops...). I want to know what the dog was named in French... (Ahah, the name in French is apparently "Interlock" (or, I guess, whatever the French for interlock is), which... I don't know why the translator picked "Woof". Maybe the oddness is more introduced by the translator than in the original...)

The Ruins of Gorlan (by John Flanagan)
First in the Ranger's Apprentice series, somewhere in the age range between children's book and YA book. It kind of reminds me of Prydain; sweet and not that complex, but nice.

The Fencing Master (by Arturo Perez-Reverte)
It claims to be a whodunit, which isn't really true. It's never in doubt who dun the things that got dun, except in one case where it doesn't really matter, it's just a name. But it's a good book, methodically paced and tragic, which has a lot of atmosphere especially focusing on a use of the word "decadent" which suggests faded beauty and time standing still. Like dried roses in an antique vase at sunset. Three and three quarters decadent stars.

The Edge of the World (by Kevin J Anderson)
I gave up on this one after about 250 pages. All the characters I can sympathize with are having their dreams brutally crushed, no matter how much they strive towards peace or knowledge. There have been too many characters to really follow anyone's story closely, so it's been so far a well-executed pastiche of Thing Falling Apart. Presumably things would eventually get better (or maybe in a later book) but I just wasn't really enjoying it.

* Catching Fire and Mockingjay (by Suzanne Collins)
The rest of the Hunger Games trilogy. The second book is a little too much like a reprise of the first, and the third ends being even darker than the first. I think the first really was excellent, and these two were more "and then where does the plot logically go?" which I can't object to too much, but it's more inevitable than surprising. Katniss's character is tricky - she has to be proactive and competent, but much of the themes are about reaction to moral atrocity, and if you can just blithely continue being competent and proactive through that, then that fails to support the "atrocities are really bad" theme. So Katniss falls apart a little more than I'd like, but that serves to humanize rather than desensitize, so maybe it's the right thing. Three starts for Catching Fire, three and a half for Mockingjay. (The world still doesn't quite work. It's nice that in the happy ending, they close the coal mine down so no more miners will die - but where will the power come from?)

The Bookman (by Lavie Tidhar)
I couldn't shake the theory, reading this book, that it was inspired by A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman, the best of the Holmes/Lovecraft mashup stories from Shadows Over Baker Street. There's the same mixing up of the Famously Named Fictional (or real) Characters, and the same "England is ruled by Monsters from Beyond the Stars" going on. I did enjoy the mixing up and name-checking of the fictional characters (Irene Adler is the chief of police and Moriarty the Prime Minister, though not as cool as Shakespeare, the first of the great Poet-Prime Ministers. The main character is part of a group of troublemakers called the Persons from Porlock, who interrupt writers. There's an automaton of Lord Byron built by the Babbage company, and a book by William Ashbless appears. The world is fun to trundle around in (and maybe also a little reminiscent of the Thursday Next world), with cameos coming fast and furious; the story was fine, but not quite as much fun as the world, and there's rather a deus ex machina at the end. Two and a half stars.
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rifmeister From: rifmeister Date: June 18th, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ha ha William Ashbless.
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