1. Wells, H.G. The Island of Doctor Moreau (175 p.)
2. Eddings, David & Leigh. Polgara the Sorceress (754 p.)
3. Gownley, Jimmy. The Meaning of Life... And Other Stuff (Amelia Rules!, v. 7) (147 p.)
4. Yaco, Link & Karen Haber. The Science of the X-Men (274 p.)
5. Zelazny, Roger. Blood of Amber (The Chronicles of Amber, the Merlin Cycle, bk. 2) (182 p.)
6. Zambreno, Mary Frances. Journeyman Wizard (263 p.)
January total: 1,795 pages
2012 total: 1,795 pages
Dr. Moreau is a genuinely creepy horror story in its own right, but suffers a bit from having been topped many times over by various body-horror films of the last 30 years, so what used to be squirm-inducing horror is now fairly tame run-of-the-mill horror. But there's a reason this one gets trotted out for a TV or movie adaptation every couple of whiles, and continues to inspire authors to write their own knockoffs; it's still a solid story, and can fairly easily be updated to incorporate advances in medical technology without losing the core beats of the story, too.
Oh, look, Eddings re-wrote his epic story from the viewpoint of a different character. (This one is the third time through the story, I believe.) However, it's my favorite character from the original stories, and there's quite a bit of emphasis on events that she was involved with for which none of the other major characters were around, so it didn't feel like as much of a retread as it could've and was actually pretty good overall-- but it also wouldn't make nearly as much sense if one hadn't already read at least the original 5 book series.
Amelia Rules! consistently has solid writing that periodically makes a sudden left turn that makes you either sob or laugh (or both), and this one is no exception. As with the last couple of collections, my main complaint is that I suspect Gownley has started doing a lot of copy-pasta with his faces and hasn't figured out how to scale the stock face to the size of the head and/or make sure it's positioned exactly right, as many of the pages feature characters with faces that are too small for the head oval and features that look like the character was beaten with the ugly stick (and have stock features & expressions that seem to be used over and over for every character, no matter the age or gender). Amelia grows up some in each volume, and this one drives that point home, as Amelia has an internal coversation with her younger self, so we can see just how much she's grown since the first story. Personally, I prefer the original stories where she's younger over these, but they're all good.
I got Science of the X-Men back when kateshort and I were obsessive X-Men completists, but only just now got around to reading it. It's... okay, I guess. I found the actual science to be interesting, and how it gets applied to the characters sort of works, I guess, though it's a bit repetitive (every mutant power is most likely a result of a having controlled micro black hole inside the mutant's body that sucks energy from or sends energy to another dimension on reflexive command? Really?), but the book is so riddled with typos and grammatical errors that it was painful to read just on the basic experience of reading, not even considering the content.
I read the original Chronicles of Amber several years back and generally liked them, and took a chance recently to pick up this one for free. It starts off with a helpful recap of the first book in the cycle, so I didn't feel too lost, and there was some fun action with the main elements of Amber--the shadow dimensions, the Trumps, the Patterns, etc.--but the book isn't at all even remotely self-contained; it starts resolving plot elements, then picks up a new line of action just in time for the book to end on a cliffhanger. Which I would've found annoying if I'd read this when it was first published, knowing the next book hadn't been written yet, but I still find it annoying now, as I don't have the remaining volumes immediately at hand, and probably won't get around to tracking down copies for a while (if ever).
Journeyman Wizard is basically a fantasy book for early tweens. It's a whodunnit mystery with some elements to the theory of how magic works and is used that I haven't seen put together in quite that way before, and it works. I kept expecting more exploration of the various sub-topics--if this were written by an "adult" fantasy writter like GRRM, it woudl've taken at 800+ pages to tell the exact same story--but this one says what it has to say and gets out while the getting is good, and there's something refreshing about that. Also, the main reason I read this book in the first place is that there's a design on the cover that struck me when I saw the book back when it was first published, so when my library withdrew it and popped it into the book sale a few years ago, I snagged it. Now having read it, I don't regret that, and may have to track down the other book starring this particular character. (Huh-- what do you know? Turns out she's a local author, born in Oak Park and teaching at Elmhurst College.)
Feudalism: Serf & Turf