Friday
Aug182017

The Last Hero

Yay! Another Discworld novel. I liked it just fine, but really, it's pretty standard fair for Discworld at this point. Solid story structure, hilarity ensues, excellent characters all around.

So this time, Cohen the Barbarian is going to *return* stolen fire to the gods. With a bang! Unfortunately, it's a bang that will destroy the world. So three hapless adventurers (Carrot, Leonard of Quirm, and Rincewind, with a stowaway Librarian) are off to stop Cohen from blowing up the gods.

There's a fun homage to early spaceflight in here, and Leonard pulls some marvels out of his... hat.

This story is pretty fluffy, as the Rincewind novels tend to be. Some good philosophy about bravery and common sense to be had but this story doesn't have the same sort of emotional resonance that the witches or city watch books have. Which is fine, when you're looking for a book that's just a straight up good time.

But if you haven't read any Discworld books before, this is definitely not the place to start. It will make enough sense, sure, but there are rich connections to be found if you start nearer the beginning. And for this book in particular, it probably doesn't hurt to go all the way back to The Colour of Magic, since that's where the link between Rincewind and Cohen begins.

Tuesday
Aug152017

The Stone Sky

One of the perks to being a Time Lord is occasionally getting to read excellent books before they're out. So on Sunday I finished reading this one, but now everyone can go forth and enjoy its magnificence. It's in bookstores everywhere as of today!

If you've not read The Fifth Season, you really should. I know I say a lot of not very nice things about the 2nd person POV, but it all comes together in The Obelisk Gate. Both of those books, btw, are Hugo-winners. I'm betting on Jemisin for a Hugo trifecta next year. Because both of those books deserved their Hugos, and The Stone Sky blows them away.

I'm still really processing this book. And it's really hard to talk about without spoilers for any of the books in the series. But it's good. It's so good I can't even articulate how good it is. You might not love the characters, but they'll get inside your head all the same. The world is stunning and horrifying. The writing is superb. It answers the questions that need answering from books 1 and 2.

Okay, I'm going to get spoilery now so I can gush about how much I loved these books and why. I didn't really like any of the characters until late in book 2 when Hoa really started to grow on me. But liking the characters doesn't matter. I admire them. Or Essun, at least, and she's the MC. I do like Tonkee with her childish enthusiasm.

So many things about this book and the whole series are heartbreaking. Like Nassun doing "the butt dance" for her soon-to-be-murdered little brother. Just a little thing, but it's a gut-punch. So many ways that Jemisin makes this book real. Makes you feel it.

The confrontation between Essun and Nassun at the end was so hard to see. Nassun's indifference, Essun's impotence despite all her magnificent power. It's one of my worst fears to have my relationship with my daughter go sour like Essun's has with Nassun.

But there are so many undercurrents in this book, beyond the high fantasy journey. The issues of racism are prominent right from the get-go. But environmentalism comes up in this one and Jemisin holds no punches.

I will read this trilogy again. High praise from someone who reads too slowly to often have the luxury of re-reads.

Even if you don't normally read SFF, you should give the Broken Earth trilogy a try.

Tuesday
Aug082017

The House of Binding Thorns

Okay, this is the follow up to The House of Shattered Wings and if you haven't read it you should. If you've already read that one and aren't sure about this one? Yes, read it.

Now I'm just going to talk about the book and there are going to be spoilers because I'm tired and we might all die in a nuclear holocaust tomorrow so whatever.

I really loved this book, and the ending surprised me in a good way. It was the ending I was hoping for, not the one I expected, especially after how dark and terrible things were at the end of the last book. I don't know if there's going to be a third book in this series, but Philippe still hasn't really gotten his shit together, but at this point I find that hilarious. And I'm curious about how someone over 1000 years old can be such a magnificent coward.

Speaking of magnificent cowards, it was nice to see Madeleine get her shit together. That was definitely not something I expected. I really liked her sentiment at the end about the idea of a future being addicting. That part resonated with me. It's the same mindset that gets me through rough bouts of depression.

I couldn't stand Asmodeus in the last book, but was actually cheering for him in this one. I like what Thuan did to him, curious to see how that will play out. (I really hope there's a third book!) There's also the dynamic between Philippe and Isabelle that will be interesting to watch develop.

Okay, now for a definite spoiler. Look away! I was really shocked that none of the main characters died! Not even Berith! I thought for sure she'd be toast. It was such a nice, warm fuzzy ending! Which is odd considering how cold and prickly the rest of the book is. And yet the ending fit in well with the rest. But in the event of a third book, I expect all the warm fuzzies to go to shit pretty quickly.

Okay, that's it. Go read this series.

Monday
Jul242017

Binti: Home

It's hard for me to properly talk about this book without spoilers. It's hard to talk about when it's not really a complete, stand-alone entity the way the first book was. The first book felt like it needed more, but it was also self-contained. This one's got a cliffhanger ending that's got me really looking forward to the release of Night Masquerade.

So this book is excellent and you should read it (but only after you read Binti first). And now I'm just going to talk about lots of spoilers. 

In this one, Binti goes home (as the title indicates) and brings her Meduse friend Okwu with her. Things don't go nearly as smoothly as she anticipates (because it wouldn't be a story if nothing went wrong). Okwu nearly starts a war moments after they arrive on Earth. Binti argues frequently with her family until the Desert People come to take her away for a few days.

This journey is about self-discovery and identity, as Binti learns more about her heritage and about the effect having Meduse DNA is having on her. It's really cool to see Binti go through the process, and I'm curious to see the effect it has on her in the next book. But I want to know more about Okwu and hope its fate isn't as her father says.

We don't know nearly as much about Okwu as we do about Binti. Okwu is seen only in its connection to Binti, but it's still really cool. I want to see more. I love their interaction. So I really hope this isn't it for Okwu! I'll have to wait until January to find out. *sobs*

Tuesday
Jul182017

Monoceros

I wanted to like this book. Because unicorns. It was recommended to me in the same breath as The Last Unicorn (but as a stark contrast, which is accurate). I knew about the weird ending going into the book, and still found the ending out of left field and, frankly, stupid.

This was very close to being a good book. It almost stuck the landing. But then got trampled by unicorns. (I wish that was a metaphor.)

If I had read everything but the final chapter, I'm pretty sure I'd have liked this a lot more. But endings are everything.

Still, it's a pretty good read examining some hot-button issues: teen suicide, teen sexuality, the queer community in a conservative town. There are some really powerful moments in how the different characters react to Patrick's death. There are a lot of unlikeable characters, but I thought they were still handled in a compelling way.

And despite being told how this book ends, I was certain that "monoceros" and the unicorn theme running throughout was a metaphor. That Suzette, the drag queen, was the real (metaphorical) unicorn in this book. If it had ended with the penultimate chapter where Faraday makes peace with Patrick's death and embraces her weirdness, this could have been pure magic.

But. And here's the ending spoiler (look away!)... The unicorn thing is not a metaphor. And not only is it not a metaphor, but it's stupid and nonsensical. And while some would argue that the set up was there, I say it wasn't. Not really. The set up for that last piece of garbage chapter was constantly negated in a reasonable, plausible way.

So even knowing that the unicorns really were coming for Faraday, when I got to that last chapter at the end, my reaction was still "What the fuck is this hot trash?"

I can only recommend reading this book if you skip the final chapter. CanLit is so fucking stupid and this is why I never read it.