Thursday, April 28, 2011

God's War by Kameron Hurley (book review)

An intense fantasy world!

Kameron Hurley has created a brutal and unforgiving location for the setting of this story. The holy war between two nations has raged on for so long few remember what started it, the twin suns of the planets solar system create a dangerous atmosphere that creates cancer quickly to those with too much exposure to it, and the wildlife that roam the outskirts of the cities can be savage to those unprepared to fend against it.

In the opening chapters, all of this information is thrown at the reader so fast that it's hard to grasp at first, but as you dive further in things settle down and you grow more familiar with the world and it's races. The coolest aspect of this fantasy realm is the use of bugs in nearly every aspect of life. From heating stoves to powering the desert vehicles, bugs are everywhere and the people rely on them for a great many things, including healing the wounded. Extra body parts are plentiful and the only way to kill someone seems to be by cutting off their head.

Nyx is a former bell dame (Government sanctioned assassin) that throws together a team of bounty hunters after being stripped of her title. Her magician, Ryse, is a native of the enemy country whose motives for crossing the border are kept under wraps through much of the story.

Nyx very much reminds me of Stephen Kings gunslinger, Roland, from the Dark Tower series, in that her history is full of despicable deeds and though she wants to consider herself a hero, she will stop at nothing to attain her goals, even if it means sacrificing those around her.

Ryse is the exact opposite of Nyx. He's set in his religious ways and always seeks a non-violent answer to the problems that face the team, yet the two of them are still drawn toward each other, pushing away the feelings both are too stubborn to admit they have for one another.

The supporting players were interesting and the enemies were the some of the meanest and most belligerent characters you could hope for. The violence is graphic and brutal.

Though I shouldn't complain too much because this book was a Free Friday selection for the Nook, the formatting on said device is exactly why this book lost a star in my rating. It wasn't a major issue, but occasionally a sentence would run off the screen and I was left wondering if I'd just missed out on a major plot point or an enticing revelation. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable book written by an author that shows great talent in this debut. Can't wait for the second part.

4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Drood by Dan Simmons (book review)

Beyond genius lies insanity. 

What a wonderfully accurate tag line for this book. Told from the point of view of frequent Charles Dickens collaborator and friend William Wilkie Collins, Drood is the story of Dickens' meeting with the creature known only as Drood after a horrendous train accident. After describing the strange being to Collins, the two authors endeavor into the Undertown of the London streets on the hunt for the elusive Drood. What follows is a twisted tale of madness that keeps the reader glued to the text to see what happens next. 

What's most impressive about Drood is Dan Simmons' careful reconstruction of 1860's London. Every detail, from the deteriorating slums to the cobblestone streets, is handled with great care and clearly endless hours of research. The language is so believable in its authenticity I forgot the author is an American. 

Charles Dickens is portrayed as a brilliant, boyish adventurer that had gained the respect of millions with his tales, while Wilkie Collins is so embroiled in his jealousy of his mentor's celebrity that he spends much of his narrative berating The Inimitable's work. The dialog between these men is smart and eloquent, the twist and turns throughout the story are tense and often goose bump educing in their eeriness. 

A smart, imaginative and often educational read. Highly recommended!

5 out of 5 stars