Archive for June, 2014

DIVERGENT

Posted: June 20, 2014 in Book Reviews

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Divergent by Veronica Roth

487 pages

Divergent. A world of segregation by faction. There are 5 main factions in this world that could easily be the world we live in today.

The Dauntless home of the brave. Where you face your fears head on. Their motto might as well be YOLO. They live a life of stunts and dare-devil reality facing their fears day in and day out.

Candor the faction devoted to truth. They speak their minds without thought for who it will offend or hurt. The only thing that matters is the truth as they see it. They believe the world would be better if everyone just told the truth all the time and kept no secrets.

Abnegation the faction of selflessness. They spend their lives only thinking of others. They are the leaders of this society as they are believed to be incapable of corruption. This is the faction our main character Beatrice or Tris comes from.

Erudite lives for the pursuit of knowledge above all else. It is thought through the pursuit of knowledge that the world can advance and knowledge is what gives us limitless possibilities.

Amity the faction of peace. They believe that peace must be obtained at all costs. There is no higher ideal that peace and only through peace can the world survive.

Beatrice has come of age along with her brother and the day of the testing comes. Through this test they learn which faction they belong in before the day of choosing. Beatrice test however do not come back with any conclusive results. She is Divergent. She does not understand what this means and how it will affect her but she is warned not to reveal this to anyone under any circumstances.

On the day of choosing she chooses to join the dauntless faction and undergoes rigorous testing through the dauntless initiation process. This process involved self-defense and fighting skills, test of bravery and facing you fears. Through this testing her trainer, known as Four, soon figures out she is divergent as she has the ability to manipulate the tests from within.

A plot is soon uncovered and she discovers why it is so dangerous to be Dauntless.

This book like a lot of other young adult novels is set in a dystopian world with teens as the main characters in the story. The idea of segregation in our societies are not new. Divergent however brings a unique perspective and setting to this type of story.

I love how this story used drug injections to stimulate psychotropic hallucinations in the minds of the ones being tested. The very idea in itself is a scary and daunting thought. Perhaps because I have had first hand experience with psychotropic drugs myself that I have such a strong connection with this idea in this book. I can see how this can happen and may be to some extent already happening, using mind altering drugs to control the behavior and thought processes of those involved.

The story itself however Is not wholly orignal in its making. That by itself however does not detract from the story in any way. The writing style is simple and effective and keeps the reader interested in the story. Because it was an easy read I found myself reading upwards of 100 pages a day.

As for criticism I really can’t find much about this book to criticize. It really was overall a great book and an awesome story, while the idea of a dystopian world is not new as many other books such as the hunger games are set in such a world it still makes for a really good story. I look forward to reading the next 2 volumes whenever I get around to it.

I give his book 6/10 book worms

 

 

Hellhole

Posted: June 14, 2014 in Book Reviews

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Hellhole by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson

643 pages

This is the first book of the hellhole series. It has what I think is an awesome premise for a story. Exiled military leader makes a discovery that will change human civilization forever. Great premise for any story line. Though not completely original always a good story if told right.

First a brief explanation of the world this book takes place in. The known galaxy is a group of 74 human worlds known as the constellation. This constellation is divided into 2 classifications. The first being the crown jewel worlds. Those closes to the government of the constellation. The others are referred to as the DZ or the deep zone.

The government of the constellation is made up of 184 noble families. At the head of this government is Diadem Michella Duchanet who sits on the Star Throne.

The diadem is a tyrannical leader of the constellation and will stop at nothing to hold onto her power.

Transportation through the galaxy is made possible by a substance called imperion, which creates deep space highways by marking paths through space called stringlines. The Diadem maintains her power by controlling all stringline traffic and routing all commerce through Sonjeera, the capitol world of the known human worlds.

A brief synopsis of the story line. The story starts with the final engagement of a war between General Adolphus and his group of rebels against the constellation. He loses the final battle and finds himself exiled to the world hallholme. A world that has been destroyed by an astroid impact and eliminated all life on the world as we know it.

Hallholme also known as hellhole is a harsh world with few resources where survival is all but impossible. He has somehow managed to survive on this hellish world despite the diadems attempt to exile him, which essentially meant a death sentence. Hallholme has become a dumping ground for the constellations unwanted riff raff and criminals but despite that they have made a home for themselves in this harsh world.

As new comers to hellhole continue to arrive they must work together for survival. One pair of new comers, Vincent and Fernando discover a strange water like substance, however much thicker than water. It has a feel of oil more than water. Fernando finds himself falling into a mysterious lake of this water like substance and becomes a host for an alien presence that soon takes over his mind.

We soon learn from this that in a last-ditch ever to save their species aliens created this “slickwater” as a type of organic storage medium to store all the knowledge, memories and personalities of their species. Fernando has now become Fernando – Zaric and leader of this alien species.

Word of this spread and General Adolphus must take all means necessary to keep the Diadem from discovering the truth as he works to free himself and other deep zone worlds from the constellation and declare independence.

What did I like about this book. I liked the premise of the story over all. It was a quick read and fast paced book with a lot of action in the sense that it left you wanting to know what happened next. However there really is not much more I can say that I liked

Now for the critique.

First off this felt too much like Dune. Many elements with the book seemed to be taken from ideas in the Dune universe. Given that the Brian Herbet and Kevin J Anderson have spent so much time writing dune I guess that is not much of a surprise. The iperion the only substance that will allow you to navigate space in a timely manner and safely, is much like the spice in dune. The galactic government-run my noble families and politics. An outcast that proves to be a threat to the galactic government. The shadow xayans are much like the freemen in Dune and the slickwater like the spice that opens their minds to a world you could never imagine. They have their own settlements and towns as well like the freemen of dune.

Keana the diadems daughter seemed out-of-place and completely unneccessary to the story at all. She comes to dune searching for Cristoph De carre after his family is ruined because of her love affair with his father. She enters the slickwater and becomes a shadow xayan herself. It felt as if she was in the story to give the Diadem a reason to hate and go to war with General Adolphus. However with the set up in the beginning of the book and the stringline network that he set up making him and other deep zone worlds independent from the government of the constellation, she had more than enough reason to go to war with General Adolphus in the first place.

The Aliens in this book served no purpose either. At least that is the way it felt. As I was reading I thought that they were an important part of the story but by the end I was wondering why they were even there. Again the Diadem had plenty of reason to go to war with General Adolphus and they in effect played no role that I can see in this story of any importance.

The general was exiled, worked to establish independence and rid himself and the rest of the deep zone worlds from dependence on the corrupt government of the Constellation. His act of setting up his own independence was more than enough of a threat to the Constellation government that you could take the Diadems daughter and the aliens out of this book all together and It would have actually made it a better story because it would not of had so many unneccessary elements that while interesting and fun to read about, did not seem to me at least to serve any purpose to the overall story.

I am hoping that in later volumes that these critiques are addressed and they somehow become important to the plot of this trilogy which I am planning to read through just because I cannot stand to let a story go unfinished.

Sadly this will not get a good rating. Given these critiques I give his book a 3/10 book worms

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A Dance With Dragons

Posted: June 5, 2014 in Book Reviews

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A Dance with Dragons by George R R Martin, book 5 of A Song of Fire and Ice. 1051 pages

http://www.georgerrmartin.com/

So much to say about This series of books It’s hard to know where to start. So I guess I can start with a Brief synopsis of this volume and then talk about the series as a whole since I was not blogging about books when I started this series. In no particular order this is what is happening in this volume

Tyrion after killing his father has fled across the narrow seas and winds up in Pentos and finds himself being held hostage by one of Varys little birds, Illyrio the cheese merchant. He eventually finds himself  being taken to Volantis after being passed on to a sell sword name Griff. He finds him self meeting Prince Aegon Targaryen another Targaryen prince and heir to the throne and tries to encourage him to sail to Westeros and take advantage of the chaos rather than trying to marry Daenerys. Eventually Sir Mormont takes him prisoner and he thinks he is being taken to back to Westeros only to find out he is in fact being taken to Daenerys.  However all does not go well and while on route Tyrion and company are attacked by slavers and he gets sold into slavery

Daenerys continues to struggle to maintain control of her dragons and the cities she has conquered. She has made her capital in Meereen and finds herself losing control in a growing war between the slaver cities and the free cities. Xar Xhoan Daxos tries to get rid of her by giving her 13 ships and veiled threats if she does not leave and go back to Westeros. Her dragons have grown and she can no longer control them as she once did as they have become wild creatures, feasting on livestock and children and her people alike. She has resorted to keeping them chained up in a pit but the largest of the 3 is roaming free and  uncontrolled. Hizdahr however proposes marriage to Daenerys in exchange for peace. In the mean time Astapor has broken out with a plague and has brought it to Mereen. The sons of the harpy have been killing off her unsullied soldiers and free men.

John Snow who has since become the commander of the nights watch is now stuck dealing with Stannis Baratheon as he struggles to maintain control of the wall. He has sent off Gilly and baby with Sam to old town to get them away from the wall for what he deems to be their own good. He has brought the wildlings through the wall and has recruited them to help man all the castles along the wall and guard the realms of men from the white walkers. And as always Melisandre is pulling the strings behind Stannis Baratheon.

Bran has continue his journey with Hodor, Mera and Jojen beyond the wall in search of the 3 eyed crow with an undead night watch rangers as their guide.

Lord Ramsay and his toy Theon Greyjoy who is still captive and prisoner has announced his intentions to marry Arya Stark. A girl who is posing as Arya stark shows up and Theon recognizes that she is not Arya however he is to well-trained to reveal the truth and the marriage deception proceeds with Theon vouching that she is in fact Arya Stark.

In the meantime Stannis and his troops are trapped in a winter blizzard at the mercy of the elements and Roose bolton.

Cersei has been held captive on charges of treason and all kinds of other charges relating to her actions as queen regent, she is made to walk the path of shame.

Arya is hiding in the free city of Bravos and has taken on the identity as cat in the canals.

These books are by no means simple in the story. The plot and twist that are happening with nearly every page keeps you reading. I am really enjoying them quite a bit. In this volume,  A dance with Dragons,  the 5th book in the series and with Game of Thrones on HBO it has certainly picked up a rather large following. Set primarily on the continent of westeros made up of 7 kingdoms plus one beyond the wall of ice. On the map below that is the area in white.

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The look of westeros looks a lot like the UK and the rest of Europe and Asia in terms on general geographical appearance to me, at least that is what I thought when I first saw the map.

This is a large world on a grand scale and George R R Martin has created a world I can really get into. I love how this is not your typical fantasy or cliché fantasy series. The story does not rely on magic and wizards and witches and evil sorcerers and sorceresses. While there are certainly those elements of the story they play a small role in the overall story and the story is not dependent on them to meets its objectives. The warring families throughout the series always having a new plot twist to the tale. You just never know what will happen next. Each family is looking out for themselves while others you never quite know where they stand. There is no clear good guy or bad guy, that is what makes this story so interesting and exciting. It really branches off from the norm and cliché fantasy and gets into mid evil politics and war with some fantasy elements mixed in just to make it interesting.

So much of fantasy focuses on the magic and mythical creatures and I have really come to like how this story does not. But there are some things that I am not liking about this series of books as well. Two many people dying to often. At first this made for a nice plot twist. It’s not just that people are dying, you have to expect that in any good sci-fi or fantasy book or series of books. The problem here however is that it is happening so often with key characters that it ceases to be a surprise and becomes an expectation. George R R Martin seems to have focused on killing off one family at a time. Their does not seem to be any randomness or rationale to who dies when and reads through the series as take out one family, now that they are dead move on to the next. It is not hard to figure out what family will be eliminated next just read and watch what family gets the first death after one family is eliminated mostly.

The books are long. Some books are quite good and that is not a problem, however with A song of Fire and ice this has become a problem in that you could probably take out a few hundred pages and it would make no difference on your overall impact of the story. While every part of the story is interesting and keeps you going there is much that seems to have no relation to the story at all and is just their for a break from the main story. What little there was with Cersei, Arya, and Jamie did not seem to have any relevance to the story line in this book. Their stories could have been saved for other volumes with no impact at all to this book or how it played out.

On the positive however I really like how the story of Daenerys and Tyrion have played out. Their was a decent amount of focus on them in this book as well as Jon on the wall with Stannis and Melisande which was the primary focus of this book in the series, though I can’t help but wonder if Daenerys story is being played out just to keep the series going. I just can’t help but say “get to westeros already come geez”

Overall however I would say that this is an excellent series of books and a world that I have come to love reading and Watching play out. I am anxiously awaiting reading the next 2 volumes which I understand will be the final 2. I am still wondering how this story will end and who will eventually sit upon the Iron throne if anyone.

I give this series and this book over all a 6.9/10

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