April 8th, 2013


Books that I read in March

Books that I read in March:

10. Gurney, James. Dinotopia (159 p.)

11. Runton, Andy. Just a Little Blue (Owly) (125 p.)

12. Hancock, Niel. Greyfax Grimwald (Circle of Light; 1) (373 p.)

13. Golden, Christopher, ed. Odd Jobs (Hellboy) (212 p.)

14. Gaiman, Neil. Coraline (162 p.)

15. Kipling, Rudyard. Captains Courageous (202 p.)

16. Larsson, Stieg. The Girl Who Played With Fire (724 p.)

17. Niven, Larry & Jerry Pournelle. The Gripping Hand (413 p.)

18. Cussler, Clive. Black Wind (639 p.)

19. Crichton, Michael. Rising Sun (399 p.)

March total: 3,408 pages
2013 YTD total: 6,966 pages

Oof. Nothing like reading as much in March as January & February combined... And with that many books to talk about (and the days swiftly passing by), I'm going to try to keep this (relatively) brief.

Dinotopia: Good book, and overall a decent pastiche of 19th- & early 20th-century diary-style travelogues. I was a bit annoyed at the open ending, as well as how easily the protagonists integrated into the Dinotopian society.

Just a Little Blue: The near-wordless Owly stories are always poignant and entertaining.

Greyfax Grimwald: The first book in a fantasy series. The setting had the potential to be interesting, but so much was left vague that the action was hard to follow. Even the map in the front of the book had no relevance whatsoever to the story in this volume. I don't plan to track down the other books in the series.

Odd Jobs: Prose short stories starring Mike Mignola's Hellboy. Good paranormal/horror stories, overall, but some of them didn't feel very much like specifically Hellboy stories; they felt like they could have been written for any similar character (say, John Constantine, or perhaps even Harry Dresden) with very little change. Some of them would make fun movies or episodes of a TV show, though.

Coraline: I've previously read the graphic novel adaptation and seen the movie, but I only just now got around to reading the original prose novel. It's good. Very good. I think I liked The Graveyard Book better, but Coraline is still very much worth reading.

Captains Courageous: I had no idea what to expect going into this. It sort of felt more like a Robert Louis Stevenson story than Rudyard Kipling, but that's not a bad thing in this case. It's perhaps more than a bit dated, these days (much like Steinbeck has become), but the moral of what you've personally worked hard for being more precious than what's been handed you on a silver platter, and more likely to lead to one becoming a well-balanced adult rather than a spoiled man-child still applies today. It's also interesting to see a "classic" written by a European, but set in (or rather, near) North America and capturing well the spirit and daily life of New England sailors. Highly recommended.

The Girl Who Played With Fire: About as good as the original, overall, except with even more over-the-top violence, rape, etc. It explains a lot of Salander's background and why she is the way she is, though, and also picks up and runs with some other the loose threads from the original, tying most of them into her backstory. Unfortunately, one of the main villains gets away at the end, and the story then proceeds to basically ends on a cliffhanger, so Book Three is apparently actually Book Two, Part Two: Because 700+ Pages Wasn't Enough. I prefer stories to be mostly self-contained, especially stories of this length.

The Gripping Hand: I read the original The Mote in God's Eye several years ago, and generally enjoyed it. The sequel probably is technically readable on its own, but I definitely recommend reading Mote first. Hand has more of an action/adventure feel as compared to Mote's exploration of the unknown feel, which I think made it a bit easier for me to read. Definitely enjoyed this one. I also had to chuckle, when I started reading this while on a business trip in Salt Lake City, as the first few chapters deal with Space Mormons, in a very Zane-Grey-western fashion, except with a better denoument.

Black Wind: Cussler & Son, writing about Pitt & Son. (And including the obligatory self-insertion as a deus ex machina to help the heroes out of a jam.) Making Dirk Pitt, Jr. the primary protagonist helps to reboot the series somewhat, as it was becoming much less plausible for the aging Dirk Sr. to still be galivanting around and doing the acrobatics he was, but since the main protagonist is still named "Dirk Pitt", this effectively de-ages the main character and makes it plausible to keep writing "Dirk Pitt" stories for a few decades yet. As for the actual story, well, it was better overall than the last couple Cussler stories that I've read (and somewhat timely, what with North Korea's sabre-rattling being all over the news), but not enough to make me want to read any more of the newer ones.

Rising Son: I saw the movie several years ago, and decided to read the original book. Turns out the movie was fairly faithful to the original, and if anything, toned down the anti-Japanese sentiment that fairly drips from the pages in parts. Obviously written before Japan's economic bubble burst, and as a result, it reminds me a lot of the "Nippon Tech" world of Japanese-like mega businesses from the Torg role-playing game--and with blatant stereotypes that are just as dated in many ways. The phobia that Japanese business were going to buy America out from under us reminded me a lot of that of books written just a few years earlier, when many of the exact same things were said about "oil sheiks" coming to the U.S. and buying everything in sight. I found the mystery aspect intriguing; the analysis of 1980's & early 1990's American foreign policy towards Japan less so, but still interesting from a historical & cultural perspective.

Feudalism: Serf & Turf