Tue, 22 Oct 2013
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
As most people are by now aware, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a modern adaptation of Jane Austen's classic that adds a plague of zombies to the book's setting and plot.
I have to say that while I was looking forward to the book, its execution left me wanting. The zombie storyline feels like a veneer laid over the original storyline in a way that doesn't really add much to that original story. I feel like the zombies are just a gimmick that don't hold up for an entire book. Pretty much the only thing that kept me reading was my love for the original story, which remains mostly unchanged beneath the zombie veneer.
Seth Grahame-Smith has recharacterized several of the people, mostly making them more violent and bloodthirsty--Elizabeth is a Chinese-trained "master of the deadly arts", and Lady Catherine is a noted zombie slayer with an entourage of ninjas--but everyone takes pretty much the same actions and ends up in the same places. At least one character becomes a zombie and is killed, but not until after her presence in the original plot is finished. I think this sameness is what led me not to really engage with Grahame-Smith's additions: the original was a deliciously sarcastic commentary on 19th century people of wealth layered in with a genuinely compelling story of the development of characters' personal relationships1. The zombie additions don't change the story enough to make a statement of their own, but they do serve to obscure some of the themes and characterizations of the original, so their presence is a net negative.
All in all, I probably would have been better off just reading Pride and Prejudice again.
1 One of the great things about Pride and Prejudice is that it's pretty feminist-friendly. Sure, it's a tale of two people who take a long time and a lot of minsunderstandings to finally come together and realize their True Love(tm), but two of the things I've always appreciated about it are: 1) Elizabeth is given agency to choose her own path in life and 2) the reason it's okay that they end up together is that when she tells Darcy what her issues are with him, he listens. How often does that happen in popular love stories?
Mon, 12 Feb 2007
E Pluribus Unicorn
E Pluribus Unicorn is a collection of short stories by Theodore Sturgeon. All of the stories were written between 1947 and 1953, though they don't seem very dated, aside from occasional archaic-sounding language usage.
The stories are mostly fantasy, though some could be considered almost horror; many are certainly unsettling, most notably The Professor's Teddy-Bear, with Bianca's Hands (and perhaps A Way of Thinking) a close second. Die, Maestro, Die! reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe, in structure, if not in style. There's an element of melancholy in several of the stories, including The SIlken-Swift, Scars (which has no elements on fantasy, but is simply a good story), and especially A Saucer of Loneliness.
Overall, I enjoyed the collection; I hadn't read much by Sturgeon before, and I quite like his writing.
Thu, 22 Jun 2006
War of Honor
It's past five in the morning. I've been up reading for almost the last four hours because I wanted to finish the book. It's good. The pace is much slower than I remember previous Honor Harrington books being, but things do move along.
Reading all of the Honor anthologies before this book is highly recommended.
Mon, 07 Mar 2005
Not surprisingly, Banks plays a bit with the form of the storytelling in Inversions. He tells the stories of two people in different kingdoms, alternating between them for each chapter. Not unique, to be sure, but not a simple, straightforward tale, either.
Honestly, I wasn't terribly impressed with this one. The story was average; not one I found immensely gripping. I did enjoy piecing together the surrounding world from things mentioned in passing by the characters, and figuring out things about Vosill and DeWar via the same methods, but there wasn't a whole lot of depth the the information derived thereby. Nor did I really feel the characters were all that interesting.
Banks has certainly written books I liked more. This was a decent read; not bad, certainly, but nothing special either.
Just a brief note or two below the spoiler barrier.
The Wolves in the Walls
Very short read, but quite worth it. The artwork is astounding and the story, while simple, is very fun. The language is certainly on an order for children. I've read recommendations that say the content might be a bit scary for kids, but it doesn't seem so to me (though I'm not really a kid nor do I have any). Regardless, it should be a welcome addition to any adult library, if only for the artwork.
Bookstores I've been to can't seem to decide whether to put it in the childrens' section or with graphic novels.
A completely run-of-the-mill fantasy story, Heroing probably isn't worth your time. I found it annoying to read and only finished it because I forgot to put anything better in my bag. Be warned that I'm not bothering to put a spoiler barrier in, simply because I don't care enough. You're not going to read this book, right?
Actually, some of the story is interesting in concept, like the Jiana/Jianabel split personality, but the execution is horrid. The characterization is particularly bad; I had a difficult time believing in any of the major characters, especially in the professed love between Jiana and Dida.
And the afterward reveals that the author had a pro-feminist goal for the book (which was published in 1987). Good books with political or social subtexts are fine--such things can enhance a well-written volume. Bad fiction written to advance a particular viewpoint is often among the worst writing around.
There are so many different Discworld novels that it becomes difficult to write separately about each one, due to the similarities among them. I don't mean that in a bad way; the books are certainly distinct from each other, too. It's just that the things that keep me coming back to the series--the characters, the storytelling, the humor--are present in all of the books.
Nevertheless, Jingo tells its own story. In this book, Pratchett has set his satirical sights on war, with the assistance of Ankh-Morpork's City Watch. As usual with a City Watch book, there's a crime to be dealt with (two crimes, if you count the war itself), specifically an assassination attempt. Chasing these crimes leads Vimes and his men out of Ankh-Morpork, past the newly-risen island of Leshp (gotta have something to fight over, after all), and into the wilds of Klatch, which is certainly not based on the Middle East. :)