Category Archives: Words

Unwritten: On to Genesis

81p2Syxd-YLRight after being concerned that I had no clear idea about what anything actually means in the Unwritten series, I accidentally forgot to read the next book for more than a year, due primarily to a shelving logic failure. This is unfortunate in part because, man, I’m just bad at keeping up with most of these series, but especially because as of the current book, I feel like I have a handle on things. Which says something good about Carey’s ability to know when to stop spinning the plates, at least long enough to explain himself. (Also, he’s better at metaphors than I am.)

On to Genesis, in addition to being a clever play on words, lays bare all the questions you may have had about Tommy Taylor and the mysterious organization with which he has been vying for lo these many years. And it leaves plenty of room for whatever will be happening next, proving that you don’t have to be mysterious all the time to avoid running out of story. I guess most authors already knows this, and I’m looking at television show runners here. Either way, it’s a good lesson!

I won’t be saying anything about the actual answers he’s discovered, because they’re cool enough to deserve not being spoiled. I’m just pleased to be able to report that the series isn’t wandering aimlessly after all. Next time: less than a year away, I reckon!

Finders Keepers

81EJz58T3CLStephen King books seem to be coming out faster than ever these days! It’s been two a year for… well, a while anyway. But the thing is, mysteries are shorter, so maybe that’s why? Like, these are his “chill out and procrastinate” novels. Of course, now I’m making Finders Keepers sound lazy, which it wasn’t.

I think I remember reading that Mr. Mercedes was the first book of a trilogy. I could be wrong, but if so, it’s because it’s the first book of a series instead. Honestly, if Finders Keepers has a failing, it’s that it can’t make up its mind whether it’s a sequel or not. Two-thirds of the story is a game of cat and mouse between a murderer and a high school kid, but what it’s really about is literature and obsession and maybe a Salinger/Updike hybrid? And it’s pretty good! The other third is a sequel to Mr. Mercedes, and except for where the two stories mash up against each other, that third is a “Where are they now?” slice of life, which was fine but ultimately unnecessary.

Except for the part where there’s a guaranteed additional sequel that is the actual sequel to the first book, and which I very much want to read. But this book was good too. I just kind of wish it had gotten the chance to be completely its own thing.

Jack of Fables: The New Adventures of Jack and Jack

71DrhQKXp1LSo, the last thing that happened in Fables was all of reality was saved from uncreation. Which, y’know, cool. Now that that‘s dealt with, time to see what’s going on with Jack Horner and Jack Frost (who were fairly major characters in that particular endeavor, you see).

The New Adventures of Jack and Jack are… well, they are new adventures which star Jack and Jack, that much is true. If you are sensing some kind of overlap between the two eponymous characters, well, that is what we in the industry refer to as a mislead. Jack Frost has wandered off into the storybook worlds to be a real hero, while his father has wandered off by himself (well, not by himself, his sidekick is always there, but you know, still away from everyone else) to revel in the fact that he finally has a big treasure all his own. And that’s pretty much all that happens! Admittedly, it’s a five issue trade, but after all that has gone down in the past of this series, you kind of expect more than a single heroic quest and a single… well, while admittedly Jack Horner does almost nothing, there is a major plot progression that occurs, so I shouldn’t complain too much.

I do wish to complain that they’re both named Jack, though. The whole point of a dude having a name is you can refer to him by name, and the people listening know who you’re referring to! ….not anymore, I guess.

Z 2134

z-2134-coverIn the afterword to the book, the two authors discuss how, in the wake of a few successful turns as serial authors (a la Dickens, Doyle, or once, briefly, King), they decided that a good idea for their next plot would be, “What if The Hunger Games had zombies in it?” And, you know what? Yep, that is exactly the book they wrote.

Okay, that’s unfair in at least two ways. 1) The teenage female character is nowhere near as unlikeable as the book version of Katniss Everdeen. 2) The authors developed a world that is… okay, look, neither this world nor the Hunger Games one hangs together very plausibly if you actually start staring at the underpinnings. But this world makes at least as much sense after correcting for the zombies, and honestly maybe a little bit more, even.

Still, though. You cannot really define derivative more precisely than a book whose authors gleefully admit they combined a different successful book with a pop-culture staple. And as much as I’m a sucker for Rube Goldbergian arena combat to the death, that wasn’t even more than a third of the focus of the book. I guess I actually liked the characters and the premise enough to want to know how things turn out? Huh. Okay.

Warning: Z 2134[1] has two sequels and ends on several cliffhangers. Anti-warning: I think maybe there are only two sequels? And they’re all published, so. I know it sounds like my standards have plummeted here, but a) let’s be honest, they were never really so high as that, and b) it’s always nice to have a mindless book to read at a burn.

[1] Oh, also, the title is super-imaginative, right?

The Walking Dead: Whispers into Screams

81+TMcOUkvLBravo, Kirkman. You’ve done it again.

That is to say, he has lived up to and/or refused to live up to (depending on your perspective) the immortal words, Set me free, why don’t you babe? Get out my life, why don’t you babe? Woo-oo-oo-ooo. ‘Cause you don’t really love me, you just keep me hanging on. 

So, it’s like this. I still believe that he has reached the natural end of his story possibilities like two books ago, and that all of this is superfluous at best, wasted opportunities at worst. That said, I will continue reading the Adventures of  Carl Grimes and His Incredible Hat until the cows come home, and that was about 75% of the focus of Whispers into Screams. So, y’know, that’s cool I guess? Or incredibly diabolical, again depending on your perspective.

Powers: Secret Identity

71c4PfYYnGLA thing you may or may not know is that there is a TV show based on the Powers series of comics. It is available to Playstation Network users, which gives you an idea of just how variegated (or perhaps I should say splintered) the streaming landscape looks these days. But hey, people are making enough money to get more and more niche-interest programming created, and that’s fine by me. I’ve only watched one episode so far? But that’s what summer is for.

Anyway, that has almost nothing whatever to do with Secret Identity, which is so far ahead of where they could have gotten in one season that I may as well assume it will never actually be filmed. (Also unlikely to ever be filmed: the literal monkey vagina from a few books ago.) This? This is the book where things get weird. And I say that in full knowledge of my parenthetical above. It starts with yet another superhero team imploding, and ends with Christian Walker’s and Deena Pilgrim’s deep dark secrets all but exposed, just in time for a cliffhanger about how they will deal with the fallout.

That’s not the weird part. Here‘s the weird part.

Along the way, Walker maybe learns something important about his shadow-shrouded past and confronts[1] the multi-pronged cock of Satan. You know, like you do sometimes.

[1] I swear I am not making it up, and I think it’s possible nobody has ever said this phrase on the internet before.

Reaper Man

51qK2OscKWLThe odds that you are a) reading this and b) do not know that Sir Terry Pratchett died last month or b’) why that is tragic and relevant are astronomically low. I’d have read the next Discworld book soon regardless, but I read it sooner still because of the tribute factor that seemed necessary. And then I’ve sat on it for a week or more, because… well, this is not a because that can be finished in the back half of a sentence.

I guess the first thing to be aware of is that Reaper Man is about Death. “I know, I know,” the hypothetical you who is reading this review without being aware of the intersection of facts above is thinking, “of course it is, it says so right there in the name that it’s about death.” Well, by coincidence you’re right, and that’s relevant too, but I mean to say that it’s about the personification of the force of death in the universe, who is about to be forcibly retired by whatever it is that audits the universe, for the crime of being a personification instead of an impersonal force as would be good and proper. So, he decides to take a vacation while he still has the accumulated time off to do that, and then everything stops dying, with probably less predictable results than you’d think.

It’s possible that you’ve already spotted what happened to me over this book, but us nodding knowingly at each other across the miles of fibers and routers is not really the stuff of which a good review is made, so I’ll pretend you have not and continue. You see, I’m reading this book, by an author I like and I know many of my friends love, who has recently died, and the book is about death. About not wanting to die, or about living beyond your term and trying to decide how good or bad that news is, about the impact of death on the world, about the impact of no death on the world.

So, you know what happened, right? I was disappointingly, but also inevitably, underwhelmed. How could I not have been?! Perfect storm, right? But it wasn’t just that. See, the book has three completely unrelated stories in it. There’s the Death on holiday thing I already mentioned, and a wizard who has lived on past his appointed time, and a threat to Ankh Morpork (the biggest city on Discworld) that the other wizards must band together to fight. And okay, I technically lied. All of these events are caused and/or affected by each other. But from a story viewpoint, no. They are not intertwined, they barely come together, and the city threat / wizard fight story that does the most to bring them together at all is by far the worst.

Basically, what I figure is, he had two really good story ideas (and they are, both of them, quite good!) that he figured were each too short to hold a book, but since they were related they could be tied together… and then he came up with nothing much of a much at all for how to accomplish that. But some editor incorrectly thought the joining story was funny and/or relevant, and here we are, with the worst tribute review in history.

Sigh.

Hack/Slash: Marry, F*ck, Kill

51Pv51LcgJLAs usual with an 11th volume of a series, it’s hard to not end up deep in spoiler territory. So, instead, a series of mostly unconnected thoughts.

1) It has been a long time since I’ve read one of these, so I guess I’m not surprised I couldn’t remember exactly where things had left off. What I guess is important to “know” is that the long-running arc with the (let’s say) Black Lamp Society had finally been wrapped up. Taking it a step further than that: by the end of this book, all but one dangling plot thread had been wrapped up, and only one new dangling thread had been created. It’s almost like the series is angling toward an ending of some kind?

2) The book is split into two arcs, of which the second arc is both the better and the more important. The first arc either highlights that the artist only knows how to draw one type of chick, or else it is meant to clumsily indicate that Cassie Hack[1] is lots of different characters in lots of different dimensions, depending on how she was raised, I guess? Including an oversexed lady in even skimpier clothing who likes to take over by blowing things up and the warden of an interdimensional women’s prison, for the incarceration of the kind of oversexed lady in extremely skimpy clothing who would choose to take over by blowing things up.

3) I’m glad the next book promises to be a lot more about Vlad[2], what with almost everything else being wrapped up and all, because I didn’t even remember that there was something wrong with him (spoiler alert: there is), but I was very disappointed that he was sidelined almost the whole book. Though I can definitely see why it was structurally necessary to get to the end point they got to.

4) The title: I cannot find any specific thing that fits Marry, Fuck, Kill, but if I squint sideways at it, I can see where there’s sort of vaguely a game of that going on throughout the book, just barely enough so to justify someone trying to get titles moved via shock value.

[1] She, you’ll no doubt have forgotten by now, is the teenager on the road in fishnets and carrying a nailed-up bat with “Kiss It” burned into the non-naily portions who hunts supernatural slashers to make them be more specifically dead than they previously had been.
[2] Cassie’s green-skinned, monstrous companion who helps her out on the whole destroying mystical psychos task, mainly because she’s nice to him when everyone else thinks he’s one of those same kinds of monsters.

All-New Ultimates: No Gods, No Masters

51MeEMpGe1LBack when I ordered this book, and every time between then and when it arrived and I started reading it earlier this week, I thought the title was a reference to one of the first Ultimates books, Gods and Monsters, from nearly ten years ago now. But as of cracking the cover open, I have realized that the title of the book is actually No Gods, No Masters, which is a completely different title. Apparently it’s a reference to a political book about anarchism? I don’t see a particular parallel here, but maybe I would if I’d read the other book.

So, you know the street level gang war the teenaged Ultimates were fighting / trying to clean up last time? This is the conclusion to that storyline. Which means, yes more irrelevant third-or-lower tier “super” villains, yes more Roxxon intrigue. Also, some of the art was all scribbly and lame, but only some of it. Still, though, the character evolutions among some of our heroes has made the pair of books retroactively worth the price of admission after all.

Well, actually, that may not be true. Spoiler alert based on news reporting of happenings at Marvel. But, the thing is, most of these characters and in fact the Ultimate universe in general may be coming to an end when it collides somehow or other with the regular continuity. Can’t blame the current authors who have been pushing things forward that everything since Galactus has been basically a meaningless placeholder. But it’s damn disappointing nonetheless.

The Alloy of Law

51ewY4KqOmLI should have finished this book weeks ago, right? But at 75% through it (and, as I later discovered, right at the cutoff before the climax started, so at least my timing was good?), I lost my tablet in a tragic accident involving angular momentum and inertia; a few hours later, I learned that the touch screen of my Kindle Touch had ceased working, which made it unusable also even though it powered on nice as you please. Both devices have since been replaced, which is nice, and in the meantime I read a paper book, as you know.

If you wonder why I roll my eyes every time someone disparages my physical collection of dead trees, this is pretty much why right here. You can say I could have read things on my phone in the meantime, but…. nope. Too small, wrong proportions, just, no.

In the meantime, though, I’ll keep buying stupidly cheap daily deal ebooks because I am Amazon’s bitch, which in this case explains why I didn’t have a physical copy of The Alloy of Law in the first place. Obviously I like Sanderson and would have bought a Mistborn sequel, right? Just, the ebook found me first, so.

As far as the book? It was interesting having the same experience as the characters, where history had faded to legend, and most of the details were probably wrong. See, the book is set hundreds of years after the Mistborn trilogy concluded, and while it has not been hundreds of years for me personally, I could hardly remember more than the broadest strokes of what went down, and the characters here thinking over the way the world used to be, it was just wrong enough for me to know they had things wrong without knowing what was right instead. I don’t know how to have that kind of experience except by sheer luck, but it made the book an extra bit cooler, no doubt.

Anyway: it’s a Mistborn book, right? People can use allomancy to take certain metals and give themselves cool powers, same as always. But now there are guns and trains and… it’s not steampunk, right? There’s no steam-based science, mainly. Magic, sure, and a Victorian period setting, but those do not steampunk make. If you’re allergic and that’s what was keeping you away, don’t worry! If you’re allergic to a world evolving over time, that’s silly. If you didn’t like Mistborn the first time around? Well, this is not epic fantasy like that was, and it may help? But it is almost certainly the first book in a trilogy rather than fully standalone. So if you’re allergic to that, I got nothing.

Otherwise, enjoy! I did.