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Darth Paradox

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Books #24-33 [Jun. 6th, 2010|11:48 am]
Darth Paradox
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Abbreviating and occasionally omitting reviews this time. I've got a long list here.

#24: Monster vol. 4 by Naoki Urasawa

Another volume of the manga, and the story has reached a sort of status quo that I imagine will carry through a good chunk of the series - Tenma on Johan's trail, going from town to town and helping people. Of course, Johan's not the only force of evil in the story either.

#25: Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba

#26: Spider's Thrash (Transmetropolitan, vol. 7) by Warren Ellis

#27: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Another one from the 1001 list. I'm pretty impressed with this one, of course. Nabokov easily builds sympathy for the narrator, in spite of how broken he is - and often because of it, as he occasionally has lucid moments of self-awareness. The plot is characterized by a sense of tension that increases and tightens over the entire book; the narrator's declaration in the first paragraph that he is a murderer always stays in the back of the reader's mind, and so it's apparent from page one that things are going to end horribly - it's just a question of how. Dramatic tension builds, tension between the narrator and his lover builds, and his life can't contain it - one by one things start to snap.

If I ever get back to writing, there are a few tricks I've observed here that I'd like to try sometime...

#28: The Hidden Family (Merchant Princes, vol. 2) by Charles Stross

#29: Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson

A slightly fictionalized biography of Galileo, except that he occasionally gets yanked forward a millennium and a half to mediate some problems on the Galilean moons of Jupiter. As a biography it was fascinating and extremely well-written, but I had some trouble following the storyline around Jupiter, and I'm not entirely sure what the point of it was. Still worth the read, though.

#30: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Also from the 1001 list. As the prototype of noir, I'm actually a little surprised by how non-cliched it felt. The tropes are there in full force, of course, but the story avoided the sort of predictability that tends to come with heavy use of cliches.

I've been on a mystery kick lately, and while this doesn't quite play by that formula, it still fit what I was looking for quite well.

#31: The Catiline Conspiracy (SPQR II) by John Maddox Roberts

While the last SPQR book was more or less a straight-up murder mystery, this one wasn't really anything of the sort, despite the plot starting off with a string of murders. Rather, it moved a little more into the "political intrigue" area that the last book touched upon. I don't mind that; what I did mind was the way the plot just sort of trailed off into a quiet conclusion. I was expecting some twists and turns in the climax of the book, but there weren't really any - things just fell out in the way they had been set up already. So that was mildly disappointing. Hopefully the third one (which I already have) will be better.

#32: The Last Theorem by Arthur C. Clarke and Frederick Pohl

I'm not really sure how to describe the plot here, other than that it involves an obsession with Fermat's Last Theorem (and the idea that Fermat must have had a proof that was much simpler than Wiles' proof by elliptical curves), humans going into space, an attempt at enforcing world peace, and aliens. Conventional ideas of plot pacing have been pretty much discarded here; the protagonist bounces around from event to event in his life, with thematic threads connecting them but very little in the way of a dramatic arc. But life does work that way, and it was certainly an interesting read.

#33: The Age of Zeus by James Lovegrove

About a decade ago, the Greek gods returned, and started directly enforcing their will on humanity in a divine-wrath version of "peace through superior firepower". A lot of people aren't happy about how this all went down, and a billionaire with an axe to grind assembles a team of people with both the desire to take down the Olympians and the military/police experience necessary to make a good strike force, and outfits them with a vast amount of combat technology.

It's mythology-flavored military-SF candy, but that's fine by me. At the very least, it's well-written and only gets handwavy in a couple places (i.e. anything having to do with how the Olympians' powers actually work). Apparently it's actually the second book in a loosely-connected series, following The Age of Ra, so I may have to check that one out.

[User Picture]From: miang.dreamwidth.org
2010-06-07 03:12 am (UTC)
Oooh, so agreed on Lolita. I read it in college (Nabokov taught at Wellesley, and there are aspects of the college and the area in that book; seemed like the right time) and it's stayed with me since. It was a lot less prurient than I'd expected given its place in popular culture, and there's something phenomenal about maintaining the kind of tension and suspense you describe in a book where you know the most shocking plot point going in.

With that said, I'm somewhat ashamed to admit I haven't read any other Nabokov. *_*; Took a whole course on Dostoevsky, though; highly recommend his work if you're looking for even-more-books to add to your list. :D
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2010-06-07 03:38 am (UTC)
I read The Brothers Karamazov and enjoyed the hell out of it, and I've had The Idiot specifically recommended to me, so I do intend to pick up some more Dostoevsky at some point.
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[User Picture]From: firebluespinel
2010-06-07 03:05 pm (UTC)
Yes, The Age of Ra is worth checking out. I actually read it last year and now have The Age of Zeus on my list for this summer.

Hope all is well with you, sir! We should chat again sometime.
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