Revenger Series: Book 3 – Bone Silence (Book Review)

Bone Silence is the third of the 3 Revenger series books by Alastair Reynolds, and continues the story of Arafura and Adrana Ness, and their rag-tag crew aboard the Revenger.

…potential spoiler warning for those who haven’t read the preceding novels…

You can check out my reviews of book 1, Revenger here via this link, or book 2, Shadow Captain here.

Continue reading “Revenger Series: Book 3 – Bone Silence (Book Review)”

Revenger Series: Book 2 – Shadow Captain by Alastair Reynolds (Book Review)

Shadow Captain is the second of the 3 Revenger series books by Alastair Reynolds, and its story begins precisely where Revenger left off.

…potential spoiler warning for those who haven’t read Revenger

You can check out my review of book 1, Revenger here via this link.

Continue reading “Revenger Series: Book 2 – Shadow Captain by Alastair Reynolds (Book Review)”

Revenger Series: Book 1 – Revenger by Alastair Reynolds (Book Review)

Having read a few Alastair Reynolds books before, I decided to pick up his three Revenger novels: Revenger, Shadow Captain and Bone Silence, hoping for more of his gripping hard sci-fi adventures. However, I later discovered that these are actually young adult books and so are not quite up to the same standards as earlier reads.

…potential spoiler warning…

Continue reading “Revenger Series: Book 1 – Revenger by Alastair Reynolds (Book Review)”

Divergent Trilogy: Reviews of Books 2 & 3

Divergent Trilogy: Book 2 – Insurgent

After all of the fast-paced action and excitement of Divergent, the follow-up seemed very lethargic and slow. Insurgent began exactly where Divergent left off with Tris, Caleb and Four on the run from the Erudite and Dauntless forces. In the early parts of the book the characters travelled around between different factions, without much of real importance or consequence happening.

I really struggled to read Insurgent as the story dragged without much real purpose. There was far, far too much focus on the relationship issues between Tris and Four, as they constantly bickered, kept secrets and repeatedly antagonised each other.

Having suffered my way to the end of this book, I discovered that the story didn’t really conclude in any meaningful way, but continues on into the next, and final, book of the series. If the dialogue in Insurgent had been trimmed down and there had been better focus, instead of all the confusion of running around between factions, this might have been interesting. However, I’m really disappointed in the direction of this novel and it makes me somewhat reluctant to continue reading.

At 1 out of 5 stars, I wouldn’t recommend Insurgent. Divergent was a fantastic book, but this one was just boring, stretched out with tedious, irritating and pointless dialogue to flesh it out. No real story progression or character development, with Tris constantly complaining and feeling sorry for herself.

 

Divergent Trilogy: Book 3 – Allegiant

Simply to round-out this series and complete my reviews, I pressed forward and read the final book in the trilogy. However, I found it difficult to focus with the story’s perspectives constantly switching between Tris and Four, as it was hard to keep track and distinguish between them. It seemed to be a persistent battle to remember which perspective I was following, as there was no difference between them and the chapters were so short that they switched viewpoints regularly.

However, one consolation was that this novel provided the answers to questions I had after reading the first book. But since this is revealed fairly early on in the story, it just makes it doubly difficult to finish reading. At 0.5 out of 5 stars I really can’t recommend Allegiant to anyone, as its only redeeming feature is the origin story. This book is extremely monotonous, and so long that I honestly thought it was never going to end.

If you really want to check out the Divergent series, then I suggest that you watch the movies. The films are a lot more entertaining and the story moves at a much faster pace. However all that cool sci-fi tech you see in the movies, they don’t exist in the books. Just be aware that, as with most adaptations, somewhere along the line the books and films become very, very different.

 

See also:

Divergent Trilogy: Book 1

The Hunger Games Trilogy: Book 1

The Race Through Space: Event Horizon – Book 2 by David Hawk (Book Review)

This second instalment in the Race Through Space, Event Horizon series continues the story of Neil Webb and Marie Arroway from where its predecessor Event Horizon book 1 left off.

 

If you haven’t already, you can check out my review of Event Horizon book 1 here, or begin with the review of books 1-3 of the original The Race Through Space Trilogy via this link.

 

…warning: series spoilers ahead…

Continue reading “The Race Through Space: Event Horizon – Book 2 by David Hawk (Book Review)”

Cell by Stephen King (Book Review)

October 1st begins like any other ordinary day in Boston. Clayton Riddell has turned a corner in his graphic art career, but his good mood is soon to be cut short. While waiting in line for the ice-cream truck at around 3pm, the people ahead of him suddenly go berserk, violently attacking each other.

All across Boston everyone with a cell phone turns violent and aggressive, harming both themselves and everyone else around them. At first Clay can only watch in horror as the spectacle unfolds before his eyes, however once he realises that the problem is due to some sort of subliminal message being carried by cell phone signals, his thoughts soon turn to his young son, Johnny.

Although Clay and his recently estranged wife Sharon don’t own a cell phone, their son Johnny however, does. When Clay is unable to contact his family via a landline telephone connection, he vows to brave the chaos and find a way home to Maine, before his son decides to use the little red cell phone in his possession.

Will Clay find his family before they transform?

 

Favourite Quote:

“It’s like the fucking Night of the Living Dead.” – Officer Ulrich Ashland. (p31)

 

Cell is a bizarre story from master of horror Stephen King, in which an electronic pulse is sent out via the cellular telephone network in America to all cell phone users turning them violently insane.

As if that basic concept wasn’t already creepy enough to have you destroying your phone, vowing never to touch the abhorrent device again, the story gets even spookier when those individuals that are unaffected all have the exact same nightmare. The crazy people seem to be able to communicate telepathically, both with each other and also with those still sane, influencing people while they sleep.

The crazies don’t remain dumb, blank-faced idjits but gradually develop psychic powers as they flock together, thinking as one mind.

Let’s not forget that King’s novel was released back in 2006 before the rise of the smartphone, so let’s just take a short moment to consider the myriad ways that phones can now be manipulated, and the ramifications of a real-life hacking event if anyone were to obtain control of smartphones worldwide. Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

At 4 out of 5 stars, Cell is an enjoyable, thought-provoking novel, although rather disturbing at the same time. The only fault is that it ends a little abruptly.

 

2016 sees the movie release starring John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson and Isabelle Fuhrman.

 

I was extremely excited to finally watch the story come to life however Cell is an absolutely atrocious film.

The director has taken a number of liberties when it comes to the details of the adaptation which distorts the story. It becomes a jumbled mess which doesn’t flow very well resulting in a movie that is difficult to understand.

With bad acting, poor dialogue and very short, clipped explanations Cell is a film that no-one can relate to and which doesn’t make much sense. With so many details from the book being changed and warped it almost comes across as an entirely different story altogether.

Cell is up there on the list of terrible Stephen King adaptations, but while the film is a waste of time, the original novel is a recommended read.

 

See also:

The Shining

The Shining: Book 2 – Doctor Sleep

Four Past Midnight Collection

Ringworld Series: Book 2 – The Ringworld Engineers (Book Review)

Ringworld Engineers, the sequel to Larry Niven’s classic science fiction novel, Ringworld continues the tale of Louis Wu, and the alien explorers. Twenty-three years after leaving the Ringworld behind them, Louis, Nessus’s ex-lover, Hindmost to the Pierson’s Puppeteer race and the catlike kzinti, travel back to the massive alien construction.

 

…beware of possible spoilers for those not familiar with book 1, Ringworld…

You can read my review of book one, Ringworld here via this link.

Continue reading “Ringworld Series: Book 2 – The Ringworld Engineers (Book Review)”

Ringworld Series: Book 1 – Ringworld by Larry Niven (Book Review)

On his 200th birthday Louis Wu meets a Pierson’s Puppeteer, a strange sentient species of alien being thought to have vanished from known space. The Puppeteer, Nessus wishes to recruit him for an exploration into the far reaches of space. These unlikely allies are joined by two others to form an unusual group of four, and together they travel to what is known as Ringworld; a star orbited by a massive ring. These four intrepid explorers must now visit the Ringworld, tasked by those who lead the Pierson’s Puppeteer race, with learning more about the unusual world and its occupants.

 

Told from Louis’s Wu’s human perspective, we explore the Ringworld along with these characters, learning more about it as they do. The book is classic science fiction full of adventure and hard science. I love these types of stories, with their detailed descriptions of spaceships, planets, alien beings and the physical science which allows it all to co-exist. Trepidation and excitement at new discoveries keep the reader immersed in this fascinating world.

I found the book to be well-written and engaging, with a good balance of science and story. Though it begins to drag a little in the middle, with the seemingly endless and repetitive motion of the characters as they fly over desolate landscapes, rarely landing or interacting with the Ringworld natives. The ridiculous quarrels between the explorers also annoyed me slightly, dragging the story out. Towards the end I noticed a few errors cropping up, which is unusual in professionally published paperbacks such as this, but since I’ve read plenty of books with a lot more issues, it didn’t put me off reading.

As is usually predictable with science fiction books, there are numerous alien beings and strange species with difficult to pronounce names, such as Halrloprillalar Hotrufan and Zignamuclickclick. However, at 4 out of 5 stars Ringworld is an enjoyable classic for those who love their sci-fi filled with hard science and adventure.

I now look forward to checking out book two, The Ringworld Engineers.

 

See also:

Book 2: The Ringworld Engineers

Book 3: The Ringworld Throne

Book 4: Ringworld’s Children

The Branches of Time by Luca Rossi (Book Review)

Having fled the Northern Lands, the inhabitants of the remote island of Turios, protect themselves with ancient magic.

This very same magic prevents King Beanor, ruler of Isk in the Northern Lands from leaving his kingdom and trading upon the southern seas. For 2,000 years the people of Isk have been forced to live in isolation, prevented from trading with foreign shores.

Keen to remove this barrier Beanor enlists the help of the wizard Aldin to remove the residents of Turios, so that he can succeed where all of his ancestors have failed, break down this magical force field and re-open the trade routes of the sea.

Unfortunately, the wizard fails in his task, leaving three survivors: the Priestess, Miril, a woman, Lil and her injured husband Bashinoir. Can Ilis, the young apprentice wizard, succeed where his predecessors could not, and appease his king?

Meanwhile, the three residents of the Temple on Turios have an added problem, besides the failing barrier, someone has travelled to the past and messed with the branches of time to try and remove them from existence. Will this person succeed? Or can the Priestess find a way to protect them from their fate?

 

Favourite Quotes:

“The life of all of the inhabitants of this island depends on the protection provided by magic. If the priests fail, if they don’t fulfil their duties, the consequences may be very harsh indeed.” – Priestess Miril. (p37)

 

“Get to the point before I cut off your head and throw the rest of your body down the toilet.” – King Beanor. (p54)

 

“Just be a shadow and a voice in his mind: that’s all you need to drive a man mad, anyway.” – Obolil. (p99)

 

“Life gives us gifts and brings us pain when we least expect it.” (p102)

 

The Branches of Time is a very well-written science fiction fantasy novel in which time travel is used to wipe out a colony of islanders and end magical spells that have been in place for 2,000 years. There is also a little mystery to the narrative that both keeps you guessing and whets your appetite for more.

Luca Rossi writes in a simple, easy to read prose that flows nicely as the characters develop and the story gradually unfolds.

The inclusion of an insatiable sex crazed bigamist king however, in the form of Beanor, makes The Branches of Time a rather adult novel with some explicit details, and therefore unfit for any younger readers.

A short book at only 159 pages, it is a quick read and the story ends rather abruptly and with no conclusion, leaving me frustrated and yearning for more. It may have been better had the author waited and completed this story as one novel, rather than splitting the narrative into smaller bite-sized novellas, but I will refrain from being too judgemental in this matter however, until I have read the follow-up novel, Volume II.

Luca Rossi offered me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My summary: At 4 out of 5 stars this is a great concept that is very well executed, but obviously incomplete.

The Man in the Rubber Mask by Robert Llewellyn (Book Review)

The Man in the Rubber Mask: The Inside Smegging Story of Red Dwarf

Now with 43.17% more smeg!

 

As the title suggests The Man in the Rubber Mask documents Robert Llewellyn’s time portraying the character of Kryten in the phenomenally successful BBC sitcom Red Dwarf. The book was originally published in 1994 but has since been updated to include 43.17% more smeg and republished by Unbound in 2014.

The story begins in 1988 when Robert is approached by Paul Jackson, the executive producer on Red Dwarf about the possibility of “some sort of part in some sort of sitcom”, and after meeting with the production crew he had no idea what he was letting himself in for.

Robert recalls the long arduous hours spent in makeup before filming could even begin and the various trials and tribulations of wearing a latex foam face mask and all over bodysuit, especially on things like his inability to eat lunch while on set.

It was Series 3 of Red Dwarf before Kryten’s character fully entered the show as a regular member of the cast, and Robert’s book provides details and anecdotes of life backstage in the company of Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules and Hattie Hayridge, the newly recast Holly.

The Man in the Rubber Mask is inherently an autobiography which depicts Robert Llewellyn’s life throughout his Red Dwarf years, all the way from series 3 through to series 10.

Check out this Kryten clip from the season 4 episode Camille:

 

Favourite Quotes:

“Half a pint of watered-down lager and I’m performing a sad, comedy stripagram on a bar-room table before you can say ‘keep your dignity’.” – Robert Llewellyn on why he doesn’t drink much. (p4)

 

“It helped me if I went slightly mad.” – Robert Llewellyn on adjusting to wearing the rubber mask. (p86)

 

The Man In The Rubber Mask provides an Interesting insight into the life of actor and writer Robert Llewellyn, as well as some insider details on the production and filming of all [at that current moment in time] ten series of popular British sitcom Red Dwarf.

Personally, having picked up this book as a huge Red Dwarf fan, hoping for a goosey into the interior of all things Dwarf, I was somewhat disappointed. Robert does of course go into painstaking details of his time ‘under the mask’ as it were, and while all this is indeed interesting I would have expected there to be more humorous anecdotes, stories and backstage banter between the actors. But then maybe my personal expectations were just a little too high.

Although I mostly enjoyed this biography of Robert’s portrayal as Sanitation Droid Kryten, it tended to veer off at times into some uncharted and slightly boring territory that didn’t seem all that necessary.

My biggest peeve however, comes towards the end of the chapter concerning the filming of series 8, when Robert veers off course and begins a tale concerning ‘Black Thursday’ which apparently takes place during the filming of The Rimmer Song (Chapter 10, p260). The Rimmer song actually appeared in series 7 of Red Dwarf, during the episode Blue, which would presumably have been filmed a couple of years previously. Call me tetchy but I’m a stickler for details and this particular continuity error grates on my nerves like nails down a blackboard.

At 4 out of 5 stars I would still recommend The Man in the Rubber Mask for any diehard Dwarfer keen to further develop their knowledge of the show.

 

See also:

Red Dwarf: Omnibus

Red Dwarf: Backwards

Red Dwarf: Last Human