jethrien: (Default)
#43: Don't Feed the Trolls - I reviewed this out of order, go back a month or three.

#44: Victoria: The Queen by Julia Baird. 4. Straightforward biography of Victoria. Seems to cut a middle path between fetishization and demonization.

#45: All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. 4.5. I'd seen End of Tomorrow well before reading this, so the contrasts were definitely interesting. (Similar: fundamental concept. Different: just about everything else.) They each have their strengths--the book has much less of the Hollywood structure going, although I found the Hollywood structure somewhat more satisfying overall. I much preferred the original's geeky scientist sidekick, though, who's female and obliviously charming.

#46: New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson. 5. This book is both pessimistic enough to envision a New York flooded by global warming to Venice levels and optimistic enough that the city survives and thrives anyway. With big problems and blatant inequality, but really not much worse that what we have now. The author, in the text itself, repeatedly protests that his happy ending is only temporary and not a fairy tale ending and it's really a "doth protest too much" situation, and I don't care. It still makes you want to cheer.

#47: 1985: Stori3s from S0S by E.C. Myers. 4. Doesn't particularly stand on its own, but serves as a nice connecting web between the two Silence books. Penny's story is particularly engaging, and the early hacker details of Max's parents' courtship are delightful.

#48: Reasons My Kid Is Crying by Greg Pembroke. 4. Yes, most of these photos of children wailing, with their captions of the ridiculous reason why, are on the website. Still hilarious. Especially since my four-year-old sobbed himself to sleep tonight because his pajamas had the wrong kind of tag on the side. (Not that he doesn't want the tag. I could cut out the tag. He demands a specific kind of tag, down to fabric type and placement, which exists on maybe a quarter of his shirts at most. We're out.)

#49: Parenting is Easy: You're Probably Just Doing It Wrong by Sarah Given. 3.5. Yes, most of these ridiculous stock photos of families, with their sarcastic captions highlighting the insane premise of each photo, are on the website. Still hilarious.

#50: I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells. 4. A teenage psychopath who's very much aware that he's got the exact right profile to become a serial killer and has set himself very elaborate rules to avoid doing so runs into a serial killer. Wells cleverly makes sure you're aware this is actually urban fantasy very early on, so the later twists aren't a total betrayal.

#51: The Deaths of Tao by Wesley Chu. 3.5. Clever and tense, but the fact that the bumbling agent-accidentally-possessed-by-an-alien is all grown up now means that it lacks some of the charm of the first book in the series.

#52: Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey. 3.5. A perfect serviceable urban fantasy that hits all the usual beats--kickass sarcastic heroine with a weird backstory, multiple potential love interests from different paranormal types (in this case, a ghoul, a psychic, and the obligatory werewolf), lots of humor with a shot of horror. But spends a lot of time setting up for a long running series so a number of plot threads are pointless for this book. Kind of generic, which is unfortunate, given how iconic some of Carey's other fiction can be.

#53: Finding Serenity ed. by Jane Espenson. 3. Essays on Firefly. Unfortunately, there wasn't really enough Firefly, so these get kind of repetitive.

#54: Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne, vol 1: 1781-1815 ed. by Anka Muhlstein. 4. The first half of the memoirs of a French Comtesse who spent her childhood being petted by Marie Antoinette, her teenage years hiding in England during the Terror, and then her adulthood gallivanting around Europe with her diplomat father. (Very unhappy marriage.) It's fascinating, the kind of primary source that actually gives you insight into what people were thinking. It's also inadvertently funny in that she's an ardent Monarchist and repeatedly explains how the best form of government is what they have in England, because of the importance of breeding and having an aristocracy to ensure wise decisions and stability. However, her actual opinion of every single royal she actually interacts with (which is the entire French royal family and a number of the other Bourbons ruling Piedmont, etc) is that they're all idiots. Well, except Emperor Alexander of Russia, who really was pretty decent and smart during this period. (It's later that he gets his head stuck up his ass, and she admits that.) The cognitive dissonance never seems to register.

#55: The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks. 4.5. I wasn't crazy about the first Culture novel, and was assured this one was better. It is, much. The issues of keeping oneself motivated in a fully post-scarcity society are well handled if not answered--for some people, it's just not going to be easy. There are so many games being played here--by the games expert sent to a backwards military empire who base all status on a single elaborate game, by his hosts, by the people who sent him. It's a significantly less nihilistic book than the first novel, but still somehow ends on the same emotional note. The driving emotional resonance of the Culture seems to ultimately be one of futility--when dealing with time and space scales that are so vast, and where most things are controlled by AIs with intelligence so far beyond ours, human will seems to mean relatively little.

#56: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky. 4. This pedantic novel-length Harry Potter fanfic managed to still be sufficiently emotionally engaging that I basically wasted multiple evenings I was supposed to be doing something else because I just. couldn't. stop. reading.

#57: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. 5. A gut-punch of a book. The mother of a school shooter looks back and tries to figure out what went wrong. It's deeply chilling and completely absorbing and incredibly well written. It also features a highly unreliable narrator. I'm not sure picking it up was the best idea, but then it wouldn't let me go from its chill, dark depths until I had finished it.
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