Aardy R. DeVarque (aardy) wrote,
Aardy R. DeVarque

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Books that I read in December

Books that I read in December:

71. Shelley, Rick. Until Relieved (236 p.)

72. Gownley, Jimmy. The Tweenage Guide to NOT being UNpopular (Amelia Rules, v. 5) (187 p.)

73. Gownley, Jimmy. True Things (Adults Don't Want Kids to Know) (Amelia Rules, v. 6) (163 p.)

74. Heinlein, Robert A. Off the Main Sequence (738 p.)
(Contents: Successful Operation; "Let There Be Light"; --And He Built a Crooked House; Beyond Doubt; They; Solution Unsatisfactory; Universe; Elsewhen; Common Sense; By His Bootstraps; Lost Legacy; "My Object All Sublime"; Golfdish Bowl; Pied Piper; Free Men; On the Slopes of Vesuvius; Columbus was a Dope; Jerry was a Man; Water is for Washing; Nothing Ever Happens on the Moon; Gulf; Destination Moon; The Year of the Jackpot; Project Nightmare; Sky Lift; A Tenderfoot in Space; --All You Zombies--)

75. Collins, Suzanne. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, bk. 2) (391 p.)

76. Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, bk. 3) (390 p.)

77. Slavicsek, Bill. The Mark of Nerath (311 p.)

78. Hilton, James. Lost Horizon (191 p.)

December total: 2,607 pages
2010 total: 21,670 pages

I blew past my usual annual goals of 50 books and/or 15,000 pages back around September, so I set, and have now met, new goals of 75 books and 20,000 pages. That's a bit closer to how much I used to read back in the day. A few comments:

Amelia Rules are must-read graphic novels--the stories in the last few have been absolutely outstanding, and these two (particularly Tweenage Guide) continue the trend. However the art in these two felt off to me in spots, particularly the faces of the adults, which either look like they were beaten with an ugly stick, or that a too-small face was cut & pasted from some other panel, leaving a disturbing amount of white space between the face and the rest of the head.

• Heinlein's non-"Future History" stories are good reads overall, though technology has rendered a few of the earlier ones somewhat dated, a few of these seem to rely a bit too heavily on a bit of newly discovered real-world science and not enough on the characters & plot, and a few may have explored new territory when they were written but cover what's now overly well-trod areas.

• When I finished the first book of Hunger Games, I couldn't figure how there could possibly be a sequel (let alone two) without it being predictable, pointless retread. As with parts 2 & 3 of many trilogies, these two form two parts of a single story (so book 2 suffers the common "part 2 of 3" problem of lacking any meaningful resolution), and they attempt to get around the problems with repetition by jumping from the micro-story of the life of Katniss and her district to the macro-story of what's going on in her entire country (as viewed through her eyes). The jump to big-picture is mostly successful, but the overall feel is subtly different, and the theme changes to "war is hell". The ending of bk. 3 has gotten some complaints, but I suspect they largely come from people who are primarily used to reading YA novels, where bad situations most often come up roses for the protagonists--I think this ending has much more in common with fiction for somewhat older readers (Heinlein being a classic example--see "Gulf" in Off the Main Sequence for but one instance) where Pyrrhic victories, (knife-)twists towards the end of the story, and climaxes that punch you in the gut are significantly more common. That said, I had problems trying to match up the characterization of one character in the epilogue of bk. 3 with the way that character had been portrayed up until that point in the book. (It fit well with the characterization in books 1 & 2, just not with that of 3.)

• In case you can't place the name, James Hilton also wrote the novel Goodbye, Mr. Chips and the screenplay for the Academy Award-winning movie Mrs. Miniver. The novel Lost Horizon, on the other hand, is best known for being the origin of "Shangri-La". The pace is about as slow as life in a hidden valley and there's a lot of telling instead of showing when it comes to plot movement and certain characters' characterization. But other than that, it's a good book that inspired a LOT of later stories.

Feudalism: Serf & Turf
Tags: books, reviews

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