Review: “Kizumonogatari: Wound Tale” by NisiOisiN, trans. by Ko Ransom

KIZUMONOGATARI by NisiOisiNKIZUMONOGATARI: Wound Tale
by NisiOisiNVOFAN (Illustrator)Ko Ransom (Translator) 

3 stars out of 5
For a book that had such a funny start in its prologue, it never really picked up from there. The writing style is fine — full of dry sarcasm and snarky humour, but never in such a way that I felt there was progression.

Basically: didn’t love it, but don’t hate it. It’s perfectly fine, but nothing to call home about.

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Review: “Uncommon Type” by Tom Hanks

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
Uncommon Type: Some Stories 
by
 Tom Hanks

3.5 stars out of 5

Tom Hanks, it turns out, is a surprisingly good writer, and I think the short story format suits his talents best.

As with any short story collection, I enjoyed some tales more than others, but I do appreciate that Hanks found a common theme — as you’ve probably guessed, typewriters — and wove it throughout the entirety of the collection. Not only that, but characters from one story may be revisited in later tales, which is always fun for me as a reader. I like finding/seeing connecting threads through otherwise unrelated stories.

Did this short story collection knock my socks off? No. But it was still delightfully entertaining, and having the author himself read the audiobook version definitely made it even more charming and fun to consume.

Review: “Artemis” by Andy Weir

Artemis by Andy Weir
Artemis 
by Andy Weir (Goodreads Author)
4 stars (out of 5)


**Thank you to Crown Publishing for providing me a digital ARC copy of this novel via Netgalley for the purpose of review**

Let’s just get this out of the way: this is not The Martian. I think there are many people who are going to go into this book and will have The Martian on their minds — understandable, but ultimately unfair to this novel. This is not a one-man survival show, and the only thing that Jazz Bashara and Mark Watney have in common is their penchant for sarcasm. I completely approve of this, by the way.

What I find most interesting about this story is that characters’ specific cultural origins are explicitly stated in the narrative. I state that only because I found the very lack of such information (for the most part) an interesting aspect of The Martian. It made visualizing the characters physically almost unnecessary: they could, again for the most part, be any race, religion, origin in my own head — in anyone’s head — and that’s that. Having that grounding in Artemis is a different experience, but also an interesting one, especially as it plays into the personal mores of each character.

Jazz is a rip of a protagonist — I loved her sass and her frankness in dealing with people. She uses her sharp tongue both as weapon and armour, and is a right proper rogue. I liked her a lot, as you can probably guess. Her host of fellow characters are just as colorful and interesting, which makes this book nothing short of good fun.

Where it stumbles a little for me is in the plot. The mystery is good, but it feels…incomplete. A little unsatisfying. Perhaps it is the brevity of the novel, and while that certainly keeps the pacing snappy, it leaves me feeling wanting, as if some parts are missing. Perhaps this is a result of having read an uncorrected proof and not the finished copy, but perhaps just some more details about the world of the moon base, about the corporations involved — more than just the information we receive at the end.

Nevertheless, Artemis is a fun ride, because Weir has a unique ability to make science fiction feel a little less like fiction, and I chalk that up to what I’m sure is a good deal of research.

Review: “Pierce Brown’s Red Rising: Sons Of Ares #6”

Pierce Brown's Red Rising by Pierce BrownPierce Brown’s Red Rising: Sons Of Ares #6 (of 6)
by Pierce Brown (Goodreads Author)Rik HoskinEli Powell (Illustrator)

5 stars (out of 5)

Slain. I am so slain, I tell you.

Wow. Okay, just…wow. There were so many parts of this issue that were even more brutal than I’d anticipated they’d be. You’d think I’d have hardened myself to all of the brutality and violence and tragedy that occurs within Brown’s world but NOPE.

I mean, yes, having read the Red Rising trilogy, I knew this was forever going to be doomed as a tragedy — that’s usually the thing with prequels: we have a sense of how it ends — but I did not realize what all of the details of that tragedy would be. I think that everyone involved in the creation of this comic series managed to balance all the different angles at play within these six issues.

And they knew, with issue six, when to gut-punch the audience and let one of the most tragic moments sink in. This is something I feel many stories don’t do too well or not often enough: let emotional impact breathe. So many times, I find stories rush through characters’ grief for the sake of plot in a way that I find unrealistic and frustrating. But this issue, perhaps because it was the last, knew how to stretch a moment so it felt, for lack of a better word, natural.

I cannot recommend this comic series — and soon-to-be hardbound graphic novel — enough, especially for fans of the original trilogy. This provides much-desired and well-executed background information on the creation of one of the enigmatic characters of the Red Rising series, along with some powerful visuals to aid in the visceral nature of the storytelling.

Review: “Pierce Brown’s Red Rising: Sons of Ares #5”

Pierce Brown's Red Rising by Pierce Brown

5 stars (out of 5)

THIS REVIEW HAS BEEN TRUNCATED DUE TO SPOILERS: YOU CAN FIND THE ENTIRE REVIEW ON GOODREADS.

Content-wise, this is some of the best freaking dialogue we’ve had. We’re in the realm of “Mad’s Emotions Are On Such A Rollercoaster She Has Lost The Ability To Can” — that is just how good this dialogue is. What I love is that it’s not just inner monologue from Fitchner, because Bryn and other characters get some of the best lines…but most especially Bryn.

DAMN, GURL. First off, this woman is a bloodydamn Red queen and I am not prepared for my heart to be shredded by how I basically figure this will go. Augh. My heart. Not prepared.

Send help, I won’t last this series.

Review: “La Belle Sauvage” by Phillip Pullman

La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
5 Stars (out of 5)
It’s raining…on my face…inside. How strange.

Was I likely to already enjoy this book because I frequently tell anybody who will listen how much I love Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and that it’s one of those series’ that, for me, was profoundly impactful and essentially changed my life?

Yes.

Does that in any way mean I would not call out this book if I did not enjoy it?

No.

It is, therefore, with great pleasure (and almost a strange sense of relief) that I can say that I adored this book. It was so lovely to be back in Lyra’s world, while, at the same time, experiencing it before her rise. To see the world through completely different eyes — from the perspective of a character who is not a part of the later plot of His Dark Materials — was refreshing, and yet also familiar. It’s like catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen in 17 years.

Also, I need to take a moment to shout out just how downright fabulous Michael Sheen’s narration is. What a talent — I mean, hey, I love him as an actor, but I also want to petition he go back and read all of the His Dark Materialsfor some kind of special re-release or re-recording of those books. His ability to change inflections, pitch, tone, etc etc…it’s incredible, and he really helped to bring this world to life in an even more visceral way.

So…when do we get the second Book of Dust?