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What Are You Readin? Last Book / Novel You've Read
#41
Well, Insurgent came next, and it was a step up from Divergent.  I still predicted the entire plot in advance (The entire plot. It's very similar to an oft-mocked movie), but it was executed much better this time.  Just about the only part which really fell flat was the romance, because ugh was that frustrating and such false drama, pretty much everything else was competent or even exceptional.  I was surprised by several character deaths and betrayals/revelations, and I am very rarely surprised by stuff like that; it kept me on my toes, never sure who might die or who will make it out, which really ratchets up the tension of any particularly scene.  The relationships between characters also flowed much more naturally this time, the friendships between Tris and the other Dauntless made sense.

Where it really knocked it out of the park, though, is where it built on the first book and really plunged into the depression/PTSD/self-loathing that came from all that had happened.  Tris is....she's in a bad place, and I believe she's in a bad place.  She's suicidal for a huge portion of the novel, and doesn't even realize it until long after it's become clear to the me, and haunted by all that she's done.  Everything she thinks is dragged through this horrible mire and I feel dirty going through it.  Everybody else's pain (Christina and Cara and Lynn and Uriah) is just as deep and black, although we don't experience it in such first person intensity, and it's like "Oh, right, these are kids who are dying and killing and they are fucked up because of it."  I don't know what it is about YA fiction now-a-days that wants to tackle this head on, but the 'adult' fiction I read never tries to face these issues with this much depth and feeling and insight.  The 'mature' stories gloss over killing with a quip and a lark, the 'kid' books pull you into it.

I do wish I hadn't predicted the story so completely, but hey, that just means it's a book where the feelings matter more than the plot.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
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#42
I've completed the trilogy with Allegiant, which I think was the least of the three books for numerous reasons.  One problem is that it came in with a major disadvantage: This book switches back and forth between Tris and Tobias providing the first-person perspective, and I don't like Tobias.  I really don't.  He might be my least favorite character in the series (Yes, even less than the villains) and suddenly being forced to experience his perspective was not a welcome change.  He is self-righteous, condescending, hypocritical, and most damaging for my enjoyment of the story, stupid.  He is an idiot.  Just absolutely moronic.  I want him to lose because he is so incompetent that he doesn't deserve to win, and this means that at points that are supposed to be dramatic or heart wrenching I am saying "yes, you did screw up, this is your fault, you should feel ashamed."

The other problem is that this might have the weakest plot of the books because it's the same plot as Insurgent, just more poorly executed.  I threw my hands up in frustration as they walked into a brand new world and into the same @#$%ing rebellion of the underclass that they just left.

The book isn't a complete loss, don't get me wrong.  As I said for Insurgent they managed to get most of the relationships to work here, and I loved the friendships between most of the group (Christina and Cara and Uriah and Tris, and then with Caleb as well).  Their bondings seemed natural and connective and made sense for their disparate personalities.  The story also kept me on my toes with who died; throughout his whole series they've never played it safe, you never knew who was going to catch it next, which gave it good tension and helped exemplify the horrors of war and the unfeeling nature of the universe and random chance.

So, all in all, it's an okay book that's a weak part of a generally good series, but really hampered by the problems of one of its main viewpoint characters and the repetitiveness of its plot.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
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#43
Pebble In The Sky
by Isaac Asimov


[Image: Pebble_sky_cover.jpg]


Considered part of the Galactic Empire series which I have not read more of. Literally between footsteps Joseph Schwartz, a retired suburban tailor from Chicago finds himself thrown tens of thousands of years into the future. Asimov very effectively uses the fish-out-of-water trope to introduce the reader to a future where Earth is mostly radioactive, the galaxy is ruled by an Empire and Earthmen are looked down upon by the rest of the galaxy. He also introduces us to a rich cast of characters makes some interesting comments on xenophobia. This also marks one of the occasions where he references Trantor outside of the the Foundation series.
"It is wrong to assume that art needs the spectator in order to be. The film runs on without any eyes. The spectator cannot exist without it. It ensures his existence." -- James Douglas Morrison
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#44
Asimov is hands-down one of my favorite authors, and I always thought Pebble in the Sky was one of Asimov's best works. Definitely the best of the Galactic Empire series.

It's actually one of the most straightforward of his novels; no big twist or subtle revolution, just a direct progression, but that makes it very effective. It can serve as a stand-in for almost every other racial/religious/nationalist schism; long since past the point where it makes sense (If it ever did), just continuously fed by the rage and hate spawned from before.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
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#45
I've been meaning to do a complete series re-read of Asimov's magnum opus, from "I Robot" to "Foundation and Earth," in proper chronological order.
"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." --Thomas Jefferson

“Fascism should rightly be called corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.” --Benito Mussolini
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#46
I never really enjoyed the connecting works, I always thought the separate series worked better as separate series. Connecting them into a single continuous whole....the styles and focuses always clashed.

My head canon places each one in a parallel universe with commonalities but not directly connected to the others.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote
#47
I've been meaning to go and read Asimov's I, Robot. I knew about the film adaptation with Will Smith first, and while I wasn't particularly blown away by it, I was really interested in the the Three Laws of Robotics and how these concepts helped shape the perception of robots in fiction.

Speaking of, I've also been meaning to re-read George Orwell's Animal Farm, a.k.a. one of my favorite books ever. I've been long due for one. Smile
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#48
I heavily recommend I, Robot, but wipe the film from your memory. Completely. It's not based on any of the stories or characters from the book and even has the direct opposite moral of the book (And most of Asimov's other work. He really hated Frankenstein-complex stories about robots turning against humanity).
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote
#49
The Naked Sun
by Isaac Asimov

[Image: thnkdsnrns0000.jpeg]

I think this is the only novel from Asimov's Robot series that I've actually read. The story mostly takes place on the planet Solaria where human beings are outnumber 10,000 robots for every human and one human per estate. Their heavy dependence on robots lead to a closed nature culture where people rarely ever see each other in person. Instead they "view" each other via hologram. The story revolves around homicide detective Elijah Baley who travels from Earth and has to deal with the culture shock while he tries to solve a murder involving a robot killing a human. It's been awhile since I first read it but I remember this being a really enjoyable 'whodunit'. I'd also like to read the other books in the series when I get the chance.
"It is wrong to assume that art needs the spectator in order to be. The film runs on without any eyes. The spectator cannot exist without it. It ensures his existence." -- James Douglas Morrison
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#50
"I Robot" is a collection of originally unrelated short stories that were later pasted together with a connecting story (involving robot psychologist Susan Calvin) to make a continuous story... much like what Ray Bradbury did with The Martian Chronicles.

The Will Smith movie has no connection to the book, other than the concept of positronic robots and a couple of proper names.
"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." --Thomas Jefferson

“Fascism should rightly be called corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.” --Benito Mussolini
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#51
At the Earth's Core

by Edgar Rice Burroughs

[Image: edgar-rice-burroughs-at-the-earths-core-2.jpg]

Probably my favorite Edgar Rice Burroughs story. This book features some of Burroughs' finest world building and wastes no time getting right into the action. After a brief prologue where the narrator reveals that this story was told to him by a man he encountered while on safari in Africa, we are drilling into the Earth's crust with the main character David Innes and Perry the scientist responsible for inventing the spectacular machine. Thinking themselves about to die when the steering wheel becomes locked in place they instead emerge in a new world. One inside the Earth where a bright ball of gas in the sky creates a perpetual noon and prehistoric humans are enslaved by a race of evolved pterodactyl like reptiles. Their adventure is genuinely fun and exciting and the vivid world and creatures that Burroughs' creates are both a wondrous and terrifying. There's even an epic battle after David and Perry manage to unite the kingdoms of Pellucidar against the Mahars. The ending will likely have you wanting to read the other six novels in the Pellucidar saga. I would love to see this book adapted into another film.
"It is wrong to assume that art needs the spectator in order to be. The film runs on without any eyes. The spectator cannot exist without it. It ensures his existence." -- James Douglas Morrison
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#52
I finished reading the Robert K. Lewis mystery novel Innocent Damage.
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#53
Finally sat down and started reading Star Wars: A New Dawn, the first book of the new Disney continuity. It's pretty nice, so far.
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#54
I finished the Ace Atkins mystery thriller The Ranger tonight. I've been reading the Spenser novels Atkins has written as continuations after the death of Robert B. Parker and they've been pretty good. So I decided to give his own original work a shot and really enjoyed the first book in this Quinn Colson series.
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#55
The War Against the Rull
by A. E. van Vogt

[Image: war_ace_1972_johnschoenherr_large.jpg]

This was a pretty fun read nothing groundbreaking but a solid sci-fi adventure. I thought the alien on the cover looked interesting. I also liked the idea of the human protagonist Jamieson having to begrudgingly team up with the fuzzy blue six-legged aliens (called Ezwal) against the insectoid shape-shifting alien villains (The Rull). The Ezwals have to overcome their distrust of the humans who are unaware that Ezwals are not only intelligent but also telepaths.
"It is wrong to assume that art needs the spectator in order to be. The film runs on without any eyes. The spectator cannot exist without it. It ensures his existence." -- James Douglas Morrison
Quote
#56
I thought I should leave this link here.

Books and Nachos, a site that does podcast reviewing novels and a little bits of comics too. They will do a lot of reviewing of novels that are related to a popular movie that comes out to theater. It's a podcast that I enjoy quite a bit.

http://www.booksandnachos.com/
Always be true to yourself.

Being transgender is beautiful.
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#57
[Image: t3309.jpg]

One of my favorite short story collections is They Came From Outer Space: 12 Classic Science Fiction Tales That Became Major Motion Pictures which has an introduction by Ray Bradbury. I highly recommend this if you're a science fiction fan. Bradbury's intro titled "The Turkey That Attacked New York" describes how his short "The Fog Horn" was turned into the movie The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), a film which he personally was not too happy with.

A few other short stories included are "Who Goes There" by John W. Campbell, Jr. which was turned into The Thing from Another World (1951), remade into John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) and more recently The Thing (2011). Harry Bates' "Farewell to the Master" which was adapted into The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), I actually prefer this short story to either film versions. "The Alien Machine" by Raymond F. Jones filmed as This Island Earth (1955) and "A Boy And His Dog" by Harlan Ellison are also featured.

A cool feature to this book is that is shows behind the scenes pictures from movie sets like The Fly (1958) with Vincent Price and Death Race 2000 (1975) with Sylvester Stallone. My favorite picture features a candid moment between one of my favorite science fiction authors and one of my favorite directors. Arthur C. Clarke's "The Sentinel" was eventually developed into 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

[Image: XTt0eK5.jpg]
"It is wrong to assume that art needs the spectator in order to be. The film runs on without any eyes. The spectator cannot exist without it. It ensures his existence." -- James Douglas Morrison
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#58
Earlier today I finished The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and this has to have been one of the most thoroughly unpleasant books I've ever read.  It's just....I feel worse for having read it, like I've been tainted or somehow sullied.  Not that it's poorly done mind you (They don't give out Pulitzer's for amateur work), just that everybody and everything that happens in this book is so thoroughly disgusting and depressing that The Hunger Games is a more optimistic series (Yes, the series that ends with a completely dissociative protagonist in a post-apocalyptic world on the verge of complete human extinction).

Part of it is that I almost feel deceived; the back-cover blurb describes Oscar as "a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd, a New Jersey romantic who dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love."  Now, apart from the 'Dominican' part, that's me.  That could almost be the dustcover biography of my own background, and I went in expecting a coming-of-age story involving a lovable loser whose affinity for genre works helps support him through tough childhood as he grows and matures.  That's a Kevin Smith story transformed into a Pulitzer-prize winning novel.  Maybe with a little bit of Holes thrown in because the back cover also refers to his family dealing with a curse over the generations.  Can you imagine how awesome that story should be? Do you know what we actually got?  "Here's Oscar.  He's a loser, and he's fat, and he's a big fat loser.  He suffers from crushing depression and an undiagnosed but crippling social anxiety disorder in an abusive household.  Everybody he knows is a horrible person.  They all do horrible things.  His life sucks, and you suck, too.  The end."  This story is what Clerks would have been if they had kept the original ending where Dante is murdered at the end of the film, only they also took out the scenes where he had any friends or romance at all and left in just the ones where he stood behind the counter and spoke about how miserable he was.

The only character even close to being likable is Oscar's sister Lola, and that's only because she's normal.  Not a saint, just normal, but in this story that almost makes her a saint.  There isn't a single healthy relationship in the entire book, either familial or social or sexual; Oscar's mother is abusive to his sister and dominating to him and was herself a victim of War Crime tragedy (Literally) in her childhood, Oscar's friends are assholes, the women Oscar likes (And he is on the extreme end of the Friendzone Asshole Spectrum; there isn't a single female friend that he has that doesn't devolve into creepy and obsessive 'love') are all in disturbing and abusive relationships themselves (The teenage girl complains about how her adult coke-addict boyfriend is cheating on her with middle-schoolers, the co-worker talks about how her EMT boyfriend gets turned on by the dead bodies he sees, etc.).  Yunior, who is actually the narrator of the book, is such a frat-boy-douchebag that he makes me want to take a vow of celibacy given how disgusting he makes sex sound ("I did [slang term for sex] with this [demeaning term for woman] I met last night, and then I went and did [other slang term] with this [other demeaning term] who doesn't know about all the other [slang term for female body part that also refers to women in general] I get").  All the nerd references in the book, and there are a lot them (Dude opens the book with a quote from Galactus and ends with Watchmen), don't seem like points of commonality or building a bridge between me and the characters over shared interests, they just remind me of something funner I could read instead.

It's just....this life isn't 'Wondrous'.  Not at all.  If he existed, I would not want to be friends with Oscar because he legitimately sounds like an unpleasant person to be around, and sure, he probably would have been better if he'd gotten the proper counseling and treatment and medication for what are clearly several clinical disorders, but that's not the person we met.



Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
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#59
I read The Martian today after seeing the trailers for what looks to be a fantastic movie and hearing one of my friends rave about it. I got very much a The Mysterious Island vibe from the story, the continuous detail of him building his life was very evocative if Verne's book.

However, I kinda expected a little bit more. It was good, but with the way my friend was raving (and with how good the film looks) I was expecting a masterpiece. I think people have taken its pragmatic detail and thoroughness and extrapolated that to mean as a narrative fiction it's also standout, as opposed to being a relatively standard good-but-not-world-shaking book that excels in the area of detail and realism.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote
#60
(08-29-2015, 12:05 AM)JBK405 Wrote:  I read The Martian today after seeing the trailers for what looks to be a fantastic movie and hearing one of my friends rave about it. I got very much a The Mysterious Island vibe from the story, the continuous detail of him building his life was very evocative if Verne's book.

However, I kinda expected a little bit more. It was good, but with the way my friend was raving (and with how good the film looks) I was expecting a masterpiece. I think people have taken its pragmatic detail and thoroughness and extrapolated that to mean as a narrative fiction it's also standout, as opposed to being a relatively standard good-but-not-world-shaking book that excels in the area of detail and realism.

I never even realized that The Martian was based on a novel until last week. o.o

I'm usually not the type to run out and buy the source material before seeing a movie that interests me. Last time I really did that was with the Hobbit trilogy and me picking up that book and Lord of the Rings on paperback, since I never actually had the whole LOTR series for myself up until then.
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