Before I started this cycle, I had read A Game of Thrones four times, and A Clash of Kings twice. My thoughts on them really haven’t changed. (I haven’t yet worked back to 2005 to put the peekle.net reviews here on Goodreads.) I’ve only read A Storm of Swords once, and never read A Feast for Crows or A Dance with Dragons.
A delicious popcorn adventure novel with the imagination of Matt Ruff in full view. Secret societies, action, double-crossing, twists — it’s all here. Very fun.
After seeing the recent movie, I wanted to read the book. It was different and the same. I liked le Carre’s writing just fine, and liked following the story. I’m going to have to read another Smiley book to see if I really like them like them, though.
I don’t often read books all in one sitting. Reading this memoir is like hearing Mike Doughty telling a story — maybe that’s because of the reading I recently went to, but it’s also because his tone comes through so clearly in the writing. Compulsively readable, almost a bit too honest, a few nice finds for fans; well worth the time.
I have to admit, I wasn’t in a big hurry to read The Mirage initially. The blurb summaries just didn’t appeal. I really enjoyed Matt Ruff’s Sewer, Gas and Electric, but The Fool on the Hill has been sitting on the shelf for a while, and I only recently bought Bad Monkeys in a Kindle sale. I have, however, been following Matt’s blog (and his wife, Lisa Gold’s, as well), and he was very enthusiastic about it, and that kind of spilled over, so when I was looking for something very different than a British cozy law mystery, there it was. (There’s something very wrong with that sentence, but I’m going to leave it as is, I think.)
I’m awfully glad I did. The initial conceit (let’s swap the US and Arab states’ positions in the War on Terror!), while at times played for laughs, actually works. The book gradually slides sideways, becoming more complex and simpler at the same time (if that makes sense). It all ends quite differently than I expected while reading, and that’s all right; by the time it gets there, the story has earned the ending it has.
Now I remember why I liked SG&E so much, and am forced to wonder why it took me this long to read another of Ruff’s novels. Won’t take that long for the next.
Another light legal mystery somewhat unstuck in time — Wodehousian characters in a plot about inheritance in a contemporary-ish setting. Vividly drawn and a bit more agency on the part of the characters than Adonis. Only a bit though.
I almost hate to say it, but I kept wondering if I should feel annoyed at Ready Player One because it was aimed so squarely at, well, me, and everyone else that grew up in the 80s. The answer was always “no”, and it was always no because of the writing; the story is kept deft and quick and carries you along quite well. I couldn’t even fault the ending which was, after all, exactly what you thought it would be way back at the beginning of the book.
Popcorn, yes, but good greasy popcorn, the kind you lick your fingers after.
This is one of those books I read because of a recommendation somewhere online — only thing time I remember where the recommendation came from: Jo Walton over on the Tor blog. I don’t always keep up with the Tor blog like I’d like to, but there are plenty of interesting things going on there.
I feel odd leading with this in another review, but I can certainly understand why people have problems with these books. The tone is very arch, or twee, or just plain British, or most probably some mix of all three. It’s difficult to pin down the time period in which the story is meant to be happening. The thing everyone always mentions — that it’s never said whether the narrator, Hilary, is male or female — is practically an aside as far as the book goes, for it truly doesn’t matter.
What the book is, though, is one of those clockwork mystery stories, revealed through a series of letters interwoven with live-action (as it were) interludes, which are mostly coffee-fueled recaps of events that have already happened. There are many things to be amused at, clues slowly trickle out that make you reconsider what’s happened, and the ending is pretty clever.
Jo Walton’s review came with a caveat, that these books are mostly likely not best when read back-to-back, and having fallen afoul of series exhaustion before, I’m going to take that recommendation to heart.