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Books 19-23 - Chronicles of a Hereditary Geek [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Darth Paradox

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Books 19-23 [May. 21st, 2010|05:28 pm]
Darth Paradox
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#19-21: Monster (vol. 1-3) by Naoki Urasawa

The first three volumes of an 18-volume manga series, the first eight of which I borrowed from seorin and iris_of_ether after watching a few episodes of the anime made from the manga. The basic story: A Japanese doctor working in Germany, Tenzo Kenma, saves a young boy's life by choosing to operate on him instead of on a politician that was brought into the ER shortly afterwards, risking his career in the intensely political hospital environment. Eight years later, Dr. Tenma discovers that the boy - now around twenty years old - has been committing a series of gruesome murders. Tenma feels responsible for the life he saved, that turned into the titular "Monster", and sets out to stop him.

The cover proclaims the author as "Japan's Master of Suspense", and suspense is certainly one thing done very well here. There is a sense that anyone could die at any time, other than a couple of people who it seems the killer would never harm. But there are bright points - Tenma has a gift for making random people's lives better, and the feeling that he's given life to a monster just increases the need he feels to help others. So the story ends up being a fascinating mix of horrible evil and shining good, feeding into and wound around each other like a fractal yin-yang.

#22: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Sora basically handed this to me saying "You're going to love the magic system," and oh, hey, I do. I'll let you find out the details for yourself, but it's fun and innovative, and the author does an excellent job of examining some of the consequences of the system he's set up (and answering some of the questions about details and edge cases that I had come up with while reading). Apart from that? It's laid out as a pretty standard "peasant finds out she has amazing powers; uses them to fight the oppressors" plot - but very, very well executed. The main characters are solidly three-dimensional, full of ideals and flaws and motivations that feel natural. The world is vividly described and fleshed out in the right places, but even when there are blocks of exposition it doesn't detract from the flow of the narrative. To sum up - I'm impressed, and I'll be reading more of his work soon.

#23: The King's Gambit (SPQR I) by John Maddox Roberts

A murder mystery with some political intrigue mixed in, set in what I'm pretty sure is the most accurate fictional rendering of the Republic of Rome I've ever read. The consistent usage of Roman terminology is a little jarring at first, but context makes most things reasonably clear, and a student of classical studies should enjoy the extra realism. The mystery itself is fun - the magistrate unraveling the conspiracy has a lively inner dialogue (though he purports to be recording the story as a memoir, many years later, so "inner" might not be the best choice). And the intrigue is masterfully done; Rome is an excellent setting for this sort of story, what with the convoluted system of Senate, Consuls, and a legion of minor public officials.

I've ordered the next couple books in the series (I think there are twelve now?) and we'll see whether I get sick of the style and setting eventually. I could see it happening - but for now, I had fun reading this.

[User Picture]From: iris_of_ether
2010-05-22 12:46 am (UTC)

Pleasantly surprised that you picked it up

I adore Dr. Tenma.

(It's worth noting that the anime is an incredibly faithful translation of the manga, from what I've seen. It basically just has color, voice, & music added in. If you have any particular stories or chapters that you like, we can direct you to them, as they're likely just single episodes.)
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2010-05-22 12:59 am (UTC)

Re: Pleasantly surprised that you picked it up

I think I like the manga treatment better, actually. The anime translation was indeed very good, but a lot of the black-and-white stylistic aspects of the manga suit the story so well.
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[User Picture]From: iris_of_ether
2010-05-25 12:26 am (UTC)

Re: Pleasantly surprised that you picked it up

Yours is the more common viewpoint, I think. As for Nico & I, we both really liked the music & voice acting. He's also not as hot on comics & manga as I am.
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[User Picture]From: iurbina
2010-05-22 02:18 am (UTC)
As far as Urasawa's works go, I liked 20th Century Boys more than Monster, but I suspect that's just down to personal preference. They're both quite good. The former was adapted into a live action movie trilogy that somehow failed to be terrible in spite of everything it had working against it.
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[User Picture]From: thecrazyfinn
2010-05-22 12:41 pm (UTC)
Brandon Sanderson excels at pretty much two things. Devising interesting and original magic systems and writing superb takes on hoary old plots.

I'd recommend reading the rest of the Mistborn trilogy, it very definitely goes in directions you won't expect. Then check out his two stand-alone novels, Elantris and Warbreaker.
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[User Picture]From: firebluespinel
2010-05-22 02:42 pm (UTC)
Mistborn is AWESOME. I just finished the second book in that trilogy, The Well of Ascension, and it is just as good as the first one was. Also the standalone Elantris is really well-put-together. I'm actually excited for Wheel of Time again now that Sanderson is writing it, lol.

The King's Gambit sounds really neat. I want to check it out. :)
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[User Picture]From: kreeblah
2010-05-22 06:19 pm (UTC)
I actually have copies of all of Sanderson's books except for his YA series, so if you want to borrow any others, let me know.
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