Fatma, Siti and Hamed are back. Promising start with likable characters, but a very slow plot. It took me two weeks to make it a third into the story, with several days of not wanting to pick it up. I thought it was me and was disappointed that this wasn‘t a fun rollercoaster ride, sweeping me along. I almost abandoned it, but instead skimmed through the denser passages in the middle to make some progress. Less filler would have been good.
For example the convention in the middle with all those dignitaries served no real purpose. It added to the complexity of the world, but it did not really bring the plot forward or could have happened as a shorter scene. Maybe Clark had another short story/novelette in his hand and blew it up to novel length by expanding the word count, without actually adding significantly to the story?
I did like the development of Siti a lot. Fatma felt a little more one-dimensional than previously and Hamed and Onsi sadly where only small side characters. Nonetheless it was fun to encounter them again.
I liked the last part of the book, so if I disregard the middle, this was a good book. The Djinn are complex, multi-faceted and definitely not one-dimensional. It‘s nice that even the bad guys have personalities and are not just victims of circumstance. Still, this book was nowhere nearly as good and entertaining as the prequel stories.
You can definitely read this as a stand-alone novel, but for more enjoyment I recommend to first read the two novelettes and the short story that came before this:
Thisweek‘s topic: Books I‘d gladly throw into the ocean. You can want to throw a book into the ocean for a number of different reasons, both good and bad…
I used to never DNF a book and would force myself to read through those books that I truly did not enjoy. Not a great experience and it would keep me from reading more enjoyable books. So, eventually, I started to DNF those books, although it always felt tremendously unsatisfying. These days I have changed tactics again, I just skim like a fiend. That way I at least get some closure and find out how it all ends…
I was excited at first at the prospect of characters with Vulcan traits meeting shapeshifters., I was skimming by chapter two and felt no compulsion to pick this up again. Made myself read another two chapter of nothing much. Boring. I don’t care about the MCs or their inner monologue. Bla. She’s constantly worrying about her own inadequacies, he’s disrespectful of her boundaries and personal space. If I was her, I would have punched him by the second time he touched me without invitation, especially after I had told him not to. Pulling her plait? Is he twelve?
I skimmed and picked at some bits of this novel and it all reads and feels like the first few chapters. Read a few pages in the last chapter and the epilogue. Really don’t care. Perhaps this is too much PNR for me. Add to that antiquated gender models and I am done.
DNF at 56 pages and some nilly-willy skimming through later bits of the book. It’s probably me. I think I have UF/PNR-burn-out. I am really not interested anymore in the same old tropes, clichées and tired, old plot devices.
World building: Imperial airships. Some gods appeared briefly every now and then, but other than that this was conflicts between houses, conspiracies and war.
At times this felt like a historical novel set in another version of China. Reading other reviews, I realized that this is exactly what it was. Ken Liu took real events of China’s history and transplanted them into a fictional setting, tinted with light fantasy elements.
All not bad things, but the narrative felt very dry to me. More an account of things that a captivating narrative.
Characters: I found it difficult to relate to the characters. They felt very one-dimensional and simplistic, almost like paper cut-outs from children’s books. This is the hero, this is the bad guy, this is the supportive wife… There was not a lot of life or development to these characters.
Plus there was a huge cast with unusual names. Added on top were the many place names and I really struggled to keep everything straight.
The lack of strong female characters has been commented on quite a bit in other reviews. It’s not a topic I tend to get militant about, but I did take note of the lack of interesting females. There was one with a bit more time on the page early on, but she was barely more than a side character. Towards the middle another one popped up, but she was as flat as the other characters.
Plot: Slow. Changing points of view and settings in every chapter made the plot progression even slower. They did not help with my struggle to remember names and who-was-who either.
There was a lot of talking and very little doing. I wish there would have been more “Show, don’t tell!” As mentioned above, this read like an account of events, as if the various plot points were simply ticked off. There was no suspense or meaningful build-up.
I found this book a curious mix of boredom and glimpses into a great storyline. Those were the rare moments, when the plot did take a step forward. The flowery and stilted prose added to my difficulties with relating to the characters or the story.
DNF at 46%. Too many books, too little time.
I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you! Sorry that my review has not been more favourable!
PS from present-day-me: I have read some short stories by Ken Liu that I liked and I plan to try one of his other books eventually…
The beginning of the book is a little confusing, as it isn’t very clear that the character is having flashbacks. The ebook formatting of my advanced reading copy is also pretty wonky, which made reading this not any easier.
Initially some nice world building, some interesting characters. But the book never gets off the ground. There is a lot of talking, the characters have the maturity of really shallow teenagers and the plot never develops at all.
The main character is an ex-marine and has been on two tours to Afghanistan. She sounds like she’s still in high school. Her male counterpart starts off with a lot of potential, but also goes nowhere fast.
There are various clans, fighting each others in the name of some Norse gods. A quarter into the book I still hadn’t figured out why and it all felt pretty pointless.
One bonus point for a Tolkien reference, but other than that I was bored and did not care what happens next. I kept pushing myself from one chapter to the next, in the hopes of something interesting happening, but finally gave up at 35%. Even the main character finding her wings couldn’t convince me to try for a few more chapters. If there is a good story somewhere, it took too long to raise its head.
I received this ARC copy of The Unleashing from Kensington Publishing Corp./NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Sorry that it didn’t turn out better than this.
DNF at 63%, 373 of 582 pages. I am fed up with this cluttering up my currently reading shelf. The 15 stories that I did read, average out at three stars. It’s not a bad collection, but it’s not really interesting either. I doubt I will pick it up again, but you never know.
Excellent, can I have that as a novel, please. 5 stars: Harry Harrison & Tom Shippey, A letter from the Pope (vikings invading British isles, Middle Ages)
Entertaining and enjoyable, 4 stars: James Morrow, The raft of the Titanic Eugene Byrne & Kim Newman, The Wandering Christian (time of Christ to Middle Ages) Esther M. Friesner, Such a deal (Christoper Columbus) Kim Stanley Robinson, The Lucky Strike (WWII, war against Japan) – excellent! If I didn’t know first-hand already that Robinson is a great writer, this would have convinced me. Ian R. MacLeod, The English Mutiny (England did not conquer India) – liked it, good idea well excecuted. Can see myself picking up something else by this author.
Interesting idea, but I was not really sold, 3 stars: Ken MacLeod, Sidewinders (SF, dystopian future) Suzette Hayden Elgin, Hush my Mouth (American civil war and onwards) Rudy Rucker, The Imitation Game (Alan Turing) – interesting idea, but I didn’t care much for the characterization of Alan Turing or the actual plot. Keith Roberts, Weihnachtsabend (Nazi Gemany and The British Empire form a pact) – the spelling and grammar mistakes of the German sentences were annyoing. The story was a bit odd.
Not interested, mostly skimmed. 1 or 2 stars: A. A. Attanasio, Ink from the new Moon (discovery of the New World, China rules the world) Pat Cadigan, Dispatches from the Revolution (USA, Vienam war onwards, politics, civil rights) Paul McAuley, A Very British History (history of the space race) – boring, I was skimming almost from the beginning. Marc Laidlaw, His Powder’d Wig, His Crown of Thornes (The colonies did not win during the American revolution…) – the story creeped me out, did not like it, skimmed through half of it. Judith Carr, Roncesvalles (Spain, Middle Ages) – felt old-fashioned, talkative, with an overload of details. Lost interest, before anything of consequence happened. Chris Robertson, O One (China rules the world, computation)
Stopped before reading: Harry Turtledove, Islands in the Sea
DNF at 37%. And I only got this far with some skimming. I think I have to stop reading YA, it mostly does not work for me.
I did not buy the main character. Orphaned at 13, living alone and hiding away in a basement for years. And despite that she has these kick-ass fighting skills, capable of offing grown men that fight for a living. Not working for me.
On top of that she is a mean spirited, unlikeable teenager. She was probably written to be like that on purpose and might go through a change later in the book, to become a more mature person. But meanwhile I disliked her so much that I developed no interest in her.
And who wears a trenchcoat to a robbery? And carries the loot in its pockets?
The main themes of the book rang too many bells. Magical, powerful families, as in the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews. Soul sight, as in the Dresden series by Jim Butcher. Repetitive writing, in teenager lingo, like. Been there, read it, was done much better in those books. Felt worn and did not engage me at all.
And some of the writing was just so silly. Another girl gets injured during a fight and spouts arterial blood. Our heroine finally gets a closer look and is shocked that it is even worse than she thought. The girl was spouting arterial blood. Come on, how much worse can it get?
Bottom line, unlikeable and unrealistic main character. Don’t buy the action scenes. The pacing was just not right. Action scenes should be fast and action-filled, they shouldn’t be full of explanations and thinky thoughts. Sketchy world building, magical families and talents that might not be intentional copies of other books, but felt so done already. At a third into the book still no monster sighting, which could have been the only novel idea of the book thus far.
If you are a fan of Jennifer Estep and of YA, this is probably a great read for you. But for me, every new scene kept rubbing me the wrong way. Not interested enough to keep going.
Free ARC, provided by Netgalley. Sorry that the review wasn’t positive.
Woman finds out that the supernatural exists and that she is an especially strong and gifted demon hunter, when her Harley-driving granny shows up to save her from evil. Demons chase them, they survive and meet tall, dark and handsome. Who is mysterious and a great kisser. And not entirely human. Potential love-interest. There is also a talking Jack Russel terrier, who doesn’t seem to serve any purpose. Maybe comic relief, but not.
They escape to some bar, meet all the other biker witches, drink lots of alcohol, have a magic ceremony, have some not-quite-road-kill food, and 30% of the book are over without much happening, despite all the action.
Characters are supposed to be weird and quirky, I guess. The various witches were confusing, as they all come across alike. Not a lot of world building, no explanations about the main character and her powers. I felt like watching the Halloween episode of Golden Girls.
Bored and glad that I got this for free from Amazon. DNF at 32%
Nice idea. Unfortunately the heroine does not track a thing in the first 20% of the book. She just drives around, visits random people and keeps telling herself, what a kick-ass bitch she is.
I am guessing the introduction of a bunch of people with various, amazing skill sets is intended as a set-up for the rest of the series. Those characters are mostly clichees. Enter the young, paranoid hacker, living in a wired dump, sourrounded by CCTV and swilling root beer. Et cetera.
I am sorry, I am not feeling it. I don’t like the main character, I am not connecting with the story at all. I keep finding other, more interesting things to do, just to avoid reading another chapter of this book. I am out. DNF at 21%.
I liked the artwork, the story didn’t do it for me. By issue #3 I was skimming.
Vader is the ultimate bad guy and seeing him not being the top dog was strange. I did like the glimpses into the parallels of the original Star Wars movies, but the storyline as a whole did not interest me.
I read, skimmed to 35% and Had to DNF. I could not continue with this.
The female main character is TSTL in such a monumental fashion that it was painful to read. I don’t care if it is on purpose and if she would have turned into Superwoman in the last three chapters. Nobody can be this ignorant. Squeeze eggs out of a chicken? Give me a break.
And I can’t develop any sympathies for a character that willfully lies and deceives and is stupid enough to think that she will get away with it.
There is no world building to speak of. Few descriptions of people or settings, I did not really get a mental picture of anything. The plot had potential and could have been fun, but lacked… not sure what. There were inconsistencies in the POV and also things that just didn’t make sense. For example, he is a rancher, she walks away from him with jingling spurs and he wonders where that noise is coming from. Is he deaf and directionally challenged? She wears boots that the mysterious person gave her and that she isn’t supposed to know about. He sees her take off those boots and…. nothing? I don’t know, everything just aggravated me about this book, I had to put it down.
In these cases I usually give two it-was-me-not-you stars. But this books annoyed me so much, I had to downgrade it to 1 star.
Thanks to the publisher for this freebie! Sorry, didn’t work for me!
Set in colonial India, during the Bengal famine of 1943. A revenge story with a magical twist. The story is harrowing and shows the brutality of colonial rule. However, the telling of it didn‘t really do much for me.
“An alternate history short story looking at decisions and consequences, and what it takes to pull the trigger.“
I really liked this. What a barbaric idea, although I can see where they are coming from. Not a decision that should be taken lightly and that can be debated hotly.
Knocking off half a star, because I am somewhat unsatisfied with the abrupt and open ending. Still debating with myself, if I consider this special enough for an award? Does it really bring anything new to the table?
A young girl, a slave in the South, is presented with a moment where she can grasp for freedom, for change, for life. She grabs it with both hands, fiercely and intensely, and the spirit world is shaken.
Odd. Very wordy, very bloody, with a faint touch of romance and hope at the end. The tale was unsettling and had no rewarding features for me.
High fantasy, war, genderfluid characters. Death and blood and endless war. Loss, betrayal, hope.
Betrayal is a fearsome armor against love.
The world building was pretty good, but I did not connect with the characters. I liked the ending, although I did not really agree with the choices everyone made. It got me thinking though, so I can see why this is nominated for a Hugo.
Possibly the structurally weirdest thing I’ve ever written; it’s in the form of an MLA bibliography and it’s about colonialism in academia, monstrous appetites, and oh yes, lesbian cannibals.
Another one that went mostly over my head. While the structure of the narrative was clever and somewhat intriguing, it didn‘t really work for me. But that‘s on me.
So, that was all of the short story finalists for this year‘s Hugo Award. Not a great average for me this time around. Leaning strongly towards Fantasy—maybe that is the reason. I am more of SF and UF fan.
„You are a cruel woman, Mrs. Moore,“ he said between sips. Reminiscent of Marvel‘s Agent Carter, Mrs. Moore is a secret agent… but that is just the beginning. Set in 1938, we get espionage and counter espionage, glimpses of the Spanish Civil War, the Old Boy‘s Clubs ruling Great Britain, one disenchanted female agent, communism, an alternate reality or rather, a netherworld of ghosts and mediums. Because in this world you go places, when you die. If you have something important to do and own a Ticket…
A little confusing at first, pretty good world building from the start. I had to refreshen my lacking knowledge of the Spanish Civil War, which was a lot of fun in itself.
Real spies and double-agents added extra interest to the story. And a whole bunch of other characters from real life, fitted into this ingenious world. I had a lot of fun looking up all of them.
Is the Zöllner camera based on Johann Karl Friedrich Zöllner? Herbert Blanco West took me a bit to figure out… Very educating read, besides being entertaining.
Good pacing, suspenseful, not too predictable, well developed characters. I had a hard time picking sides, because I liked pretty much all of them. And in the end you do not (only) get the expected, which makes it fun. I would pick up a sequel, if there will be one. But this is fine as a stand-alone.
I received this free e-copy from Tor/Forge via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!
I like this more than the first book. It is more character driven. The first book was so much set-up, it bugged me. This though gets right into the story. We know the characters and there is more going on with them emotionally.
The plots is pretty simple and the resolution feels a bit rushed. But overall it was a satisfying read. I would pick up another book in this setting.
Apparently Gailey will publish a full length novel with Tor in 2019. So there is that to look forward to.