A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

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3/5 stars.
Paperback, 1123 pages.
Read from February 17 to May 05, 2015.

George, listen, you have phenomenal ideas, stories and characters but for the love of God, please allow your editor to do his/her job. Your books are now just unnecessarily long. I’m all for big books when they’re warranted but I felt like this book was allowed to be long for the same reason the Harry Potter books got bigger and bigger, they’re immensely popular and can get a way with it. I mean, these books practically sell themselves now.  Bigger does not mean better. I know that die-hard fans will disagree with me and probably loved that they were able to read a few hundred pages more in their favourite realms with their favourite characters, likely because they knew that the next book wouldn’t be out for a while, but it’s unfortunate as I feel that the quality of the book suffers. I didn’t feel the the intensity of the plot in this one as I did with the first or the third book in the series because the scenes were so drawn out and the book ended becoming such a large commitment. I think that’s why we’re seeing the TV series starting to divert away from the plot of the books so drastically now as George’s writing has become less concise and cohesive as the series progresses.

The Seven Kingdoms is still in unrest and its fate and who will rule it is still being fought over. Tyrion finds himself across the sea in an effort to see Daenerys and to stay away from Ceresi’s wrath. Daenerys’ enemies begin to grow as she realizes that she will have to make a decision that she personally does not want but will be good for her people. On the wall, Jon Snow is living with the stress of being the Lord Commander and is making historically remarkable decisions, choices that are necessary for their survival and preparation against the white walkers, however,  it’s causing tension with other members of the Watch. Arya is unraveling the mysteries of the Seven-Faced God, while Sansa is learning to be strong alongside Littlefinger, however, his personal motivates are still unknown.

There are a few scary scenes in this book where you believe 3 of the main characters to be dead. One of them may be for sure, but I really hope not.  While I’ve already voiced my frustrations with the book, the plot twists in this book are still really good and the book is still pretty darn awesome, I just couldn’t get through it all that quickly as my interest wavered between the interesting plot points. The ending, well, the ending of this book rivaled the ending of the very first book and was absolutely fantastic. Thank God for the sneak preview into the next book or I might have been losing my shit over the ending. I’ll just say that involves Daenerys again, whom is my all time favourite character. The ending almost made up for the areas of the book I lost interest over. The last 300 pages were worth pushing through for.

I’m really enjoying the direction that the TV show is taking. I feel that the show is more of the concise and intense story I was hoping to read from George. For once, I actually enjoy reading the books alongside with the TV shows as usually my favor is towards the book but I think that the TV show does the series justice and provide insight into the story where the books were lacking.

Ultimately, this book is still remarkably better than the last book and I will still pursue the series, provided that Martin does decide to end it at some point. George is getting older and is notorious for taking ages to write his books. I hope that he can end the series how he sees fit and that it doesn’t have to be taken over by anyone else. Onwards to the next book (which will hopefully have a release date soon)!

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Filed under 3 Star, Fantasy, Read 2015

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

 

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4/5 stars.
Read from February 25 to March 05, 2013.
Paperback, 239 pages.

Throwback review to when I read Warm Bodies. Yes, the book is exceptional and better than the movie.


Confession: This is my first zombie related novel and if the rest of the zombie plotted books are like this one, then I need to read more.

I feared for the worst with that novel; that it would be cliché and that the plot would come off as ridiculous. I mean, really? A zombie romance? I thought to myself that there was no way that this could go well but Marion, happily, proved me wrong. The plot is gruesome, elegant and highly entertaining.

R is just zombie who is tired of his zombie life. He seems to process and think a bit more than his fellow zombie comrades. After saving a young woman named Julie, things begin to drastically change for R. His dead heart seems to start to feel again. Terrified Julie doesn’t know what to make of this strange zombie that is protecting her instead of eating her but the situation makes her reevaluate the outbreak and how the small groups of remaining humans are currently dealing with the zombie situation. Both Julie and R have no idea just how much their interactions will change things forever.

Marion has given a whole new definition to the idea of zombies and I like that. Zombies are always portrayed in movies and TV as lifeless beings that have lost all touch with anything that ever made them human. The idea that there is still something worth saving is inspirational and adds a whole different dynamic to how zombies could be written and described. I think that Marion took a lot of risks writing on a genre that is so insanely popular right now. He gave it his own innovative spin and I would say that the risk has definitely paid off. I hope to see the movie now that I have finished the book.

For me, the defining points in this novel are ***SPOILER***how the zombies not only eat brains to feed themselves but to relive the memories of the person that they’re eating because it makes them feel, well, alive. The integration of Perry’s thoughts and memories with R’s and how deeply he was affected by them (and ultimately how it changed him) ***END SPOILER*** were really well done and were some of my favourite chapters in this novel. Also, Marion answered some of the questions that other zombie works skim over: he went into detail about how the zombies collaborated, how their bodies and brains worked and that they were capable of thought.

The scene that shook me the most in this novel has to be ***SPOILER*** near the end when Julie and R are trying to revolutionize change; the last encounter that they have with Juile’s dad… when he just gave up after seeing Julie side with R and then just let that lead Boney devour him without fighting back. The emotional states of all the characters were so well described and detailed that I believed this is how a zombie invasion would actually feel like. It was heart wrenching to envision this scene. Juile, losing both of her parents because they inevitably gave up and could not go on after fighting for this long against all odds. Julie’s resilience and push to strive for more and keep hope was impressive all considering what humanity and herself had faced. Her hope outlasted in the end to bring around a cure with the help of R ***END SPOILER***. ***ADDITION*** Having now seen the movie, I was both relieved and disappointed that they changed this ending with film.***

Marion does have a prequel to this novel which focuses on Julie, Perry and Nora’s story and I’m currently trying to get my hands on a copy. It’s called The New Hunger.

I would highly recommend this novel for anyone looking for something different.

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Filed under 4 Star, Science-Fiction, Throwback Review

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

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3/5 stars.
ebook, 426 pages.
Read from March 30 to April 24, 2013.

Throwback review!


I would like to start off by saying that I came to this novel fully expecting it to be nothing like Harry Potter and was prepared for what I was going to be reading. Having said that I didn’t really enjoy it but I did change my rating to slightly more positive. This book follows the very personal lives of the people who live in the town of Pagford. It reflects how all of their lives interconnect through scandal and personal mishaps. Right after after I finished reading it I was just so appalled with how tragic and awful the characters and story line were! However after giving it some time I can somewhat understand Rowling’s approach. I believe she wanted to depict the masks that we all wear as individuals, the personal struggles that everyone has but hides and what sort of freedom we can have by shedding these facades. I also think that the story is also a statement about selflessness and authentically connecting with others, which can’t be accomplished if you are not honest with yourself. I feel that Fats summarized the novel perfectly:

“The mistake ninety-nine percent of humanity made, as far as Fats could see, was being ashamed of what they were, lying about it, trying to be somebody else. Honesty was Fats’ currency, his weapon and defense. It frightened people when you were honest; it shocked them. Other people, Fats had discovered, were mired in embarrassment and pretense, terrified that their truths might leak out, but Fats was attracted by rawness, by everything that was ugly but honest, by the dirty things about which the likes of his father felt humiliated and disgusted. Fats thought a lot about messiahs and pariahs; about men labeled mad or criminal; noble misfits shunned by the sleepy masses.”

Having said that I don’t know if Fats fulfilled his philosophy as he suffered the most near the books end. The teenagers in the book were truly the largest victims as they had their parent’s baggage, politics and facades thrown upon them making it impossible for them to be authentic to themselves. Krystal being the largest victim.

What drove me mad about this novel was how much I disliked most of the characters. Their actions and thoughts were just so despicable and negative making it hard to want to pursue the story because ultimately I didn’t care about these shallow individuals whose lives were solely based on small town politics. There were very few characters with redeeming qualities that I cared about, exceptions being Krystal and Barry. Obviously what I know about Barry is all third-party but I believe that these two characters were the only ones that were able to step outside of their own ego and care about someone else. For Barry, he saw something in Krystal and wanted to do what he could to bring her out of the awful slum she was living in. For Krystal, she would do anything for her brother Robbie. However, they still both had their faults. ***SPOILER*** Barry neglected his family and his stressful lifestyle lead to his death. Krystal believed, after Barry’s death, that by having a baby she could escape the life she was living with her drug addict mother and by pursuing this sort of selfishness with Fats she lost the one thing she fought so hard to protect, her brother and in the end her life ***END SPOILER***.

What I did appreciate about the end is that everyone was shown for what and who they were. ***SPOILER*** I think I gained the most satisfaction when Kay finally ditched Gavin. I think I despised him the most out of all of the characters. He was down right selfish and cruel to Kay by staying with her. In the end I suppose he showed his humanity like the other characters but I felt little sympathy for him when both Mary and Kay rejected him ***END SPOILER***.

Overall, I wouldn’t deter people from reading the book by any means but I wouldn’t read it if you’re feeling down in the dumps or have a hate on against the world as it won’t do much to restore your mood or faith in humanity

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Filed under 3 Star, Throwback Review, TNBBC