Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Book Reviews

Sorry I've been away for so long. My days at the office suddenly became quite hectic, so I've not had the time to even open the blog. But fear not!! I have been able to read quite a few books. I have recently finished reading - The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, The Surgeon & The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen, Amnesia Moon by Johnathan Lethem, The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu and The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clark.

I had already started on a review of The 5th Wave but had not been able to post it up on the blog. I will do so now and also write what I think of the other books (though the review might not be as elaborate as the one for The 5th Wave)

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The book had me in its sights the minute I saw that the description said it was a little like Ender's Game. I am also a sucker for a good post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel. This was a good book. I am looking forward to the sequel in the series. This is why I read trilogies and quadrilogies or any series for that matter, when they are already done or almost done. Then I do not have that agonizing wait ahead of me waiting for the end of the book and closure. Or at least I hope for closure, sometimes the quality of the story in the books slips, by the time the end is near. But one can always hope right? And that is basically the theme of every post-apocalyptic book for me - Hope.

Movies have conditioned us to think that when aliens finally make first contact, then it will either be to befriend us or to destroy us for our planets resources or to enslave us. This book falls in the "they've come to annihilate us" category. We also think (probably because of our egos and Star Trek) that the aliens will resemble us, in some basic way. Like them being bipeds and having a humanoid form. This book counters those beliefs by making the aliens that attack earth into beings of pure consciousness.

The strategy used by the Others, as Cassie calls them, is, I have to say genius. First they put the people on edge by showing themselves and not doing anything for almost 10 days. Then they knock out everything electronic using an EMP blast. This was the 1st wave. The 2nd wave was literally a wave in the forms of tsunamis and the 3rd wave was a plague that leads to the death of nearly 7 billion people. The 4th wave are the silencers. The Others in the guise of humans. So that humans couldn't trust anyone.

This book had good characters. Most of the book was in Cassie's POV. I like that she was not a born Bad-Ass. Before the arrival she was a normal teenager with a crush on a classmate (Ben Parish). She was pushed to the edge when she lost her mother to the plague, seeing her father killed and her little brother taken from her.

In the beginning of the book we find her just surviving. Her only goal - to stay alive to see the next day. She has learnt not to trust anyone. And because of this, when she meets another person after a long while, she does not trust him, even when he is in need. This pushes her over the edge and finding Sammy becomes her lifeline.

Then she meets Evan Walker. Who rescues her when she is freezing to death after being shot in the leg. he nurses her back to life and maybe that is why she does not immediately mistrust him. It is this very human need in her that makes her want to trust him that I love best. This has been written very well. Even when she finds out that he is one of the Others she still wants to trust him. This is what the Others saw as a weakness. But is also humanity's greatest strength along with the ability to love.  

Moving on to the topic of the Others I love that they did not make them up to be some kind of reptilian like life form. Instead they are pure consciousness. Also the conflict between their own ranks where one faction pushes for total annihilation of the human race the other pushes for coexistence. Also the Others, while on Earth conquering the human race, have to be in human form. They have absorbed their human counterparts. Not completely replaced them. It is this dichotomy that Evan Walker embodies. While the majority of the Others find humans repulsive or not deserving of earth, then there is Eva Walker. He feels a sense of liberation in his human body. He seems more in tune with his human side. This is what makes it so difficult for him. He has his loyalty towards his own kind and also the love the feels towards a girl   whose race him and his kind are determined to kill. I lie that the author didn't make him go cold turkey towards killing just because he fell  in love with Cassie. He just spared her and kept on fulfilling his mission of being a Silencer. I appreciate that the author does not take us readers to be dumb and did not bring about a drastic change in either personalities, be it Cassie or Evan. It was his love for her and also his wish to be rid of the duality within him that he does what he does at Camp Haven. 

Camp Haven being compared to Battle School from Ender's Saga might be a bit of a stretch. It is similar yes. But Battle School  was far more dangerous in my opinion. There all the adults were against you (at least that is what the kids felt). Here  at Camp Haven the kids kinda felt secure with their handlers/guardians. 

All in all this was a good read. I guess I went off on a wide tangent with this review. It has become more of a rant. Well maybe you can think of it as a rant about The 5th Wave instead of a review per se. Now that its been a few days since I finished the book I'd rate it a 3.8 (leaning towards 4).

The Surgeon & The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen 

Let me just start off by saying that I love the Rizzoli & Isles TV series. I really enjoy the dynamics between the 2 main leads. Having said that, it was really disappointing to me that the books did not do for me, what the TV series did. I understand that the TV series is an adaptation and not a carbon copy of the book. But I would not have enjoyed the books even if I had not seen the series on TV. The books just did not capture my continued interest. Rizzoli was such a drag. She hated herself, her family, her colleagues (or at least she did not trust them). She did not even have one friend. I'm sorry to say this but this could be because of her attitude. I mean she doesn't always have to act so tough. She acted like being a woman was the worst thing that could happen to her. She could've leveraged the fact that she was a woman quite a few times, but she didn't do that. Not all female cops have to be rigid as she is. She just went on and on about how it is so difficult to be in the police force. I mean I'm sure it is but all she does is whine about it.
The author has not leveraged the rapport/friendship that could be portrayed between Jane and Maura at all. Maybe that happens in the latter books. I'm still debating whether or not I'll read the rest of the series. I rate both the books 2/5.

Amnesia Moon by Johnathan Lethem

I was going through the posts over at the Book Smugglers when I read about The Angry Robot Publishers. I went to their site and was really psyched about the books showcased there. I read a few blurbs of the books on the site and I was very excited about them. Amnesia Moon was one of them.

I did not know what to expect from this book. The description sounded different and intriguing. I still do not know what to make of the book after having finished reading it. If a book is to be classified as good if it makes you keep coming back for more, then this is a good book. But I kept wanting to go back to the book because I could not understand what was going on in the book. It was weird. I can't say if it was a good/bad weird. I think I liked it. It was a plotline with which a lot more could have been done. A lot more could've been done with the concept of the dream sharing. If this was where the story was going this could've been made in to a novella instead of a Novel. Maybe I just didn't get the book (not just maybe, I just didn't understand a lot of the book). But in my opinion it was still a better read than the first 2 installments of the Rizzoli and Isles series. So this was a 2.5/5 for me

The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clark

I really liked this book. A lot of people might say this book reminded them of The Bicentennial Man with Robin Williams. But that is not completely accurate. Here Finn, the android, is not looking to 'be' human. He is at peace with the fact that he is a machine. The similarity between this book and Bicentennial Man is that Finn falls in love with Cat & in this book she loves him back. To me this story was reminescent of a small part in teh Asimov book, I, Robot, where a little girl has a robot playmate/nanny. 

This book is not about the fighting for the rights about robots . It is a part of the story but not the core of the story. This is basically a love story in which one of the lovers happens to be an android. And through this book, Cassandra makes us think what being a human really is. I am not saying there was a revelation at the end as to what constitutes humanity. I liked it that it made me think about it, if you know what I mean. It was also made me think of what it would take to love someone for being all that they are and not just what we want to love in a person.

I enjoyed the journey that Cat took in her life. It was a beautiful journey with all the ups & downs. This is the sort of book that you love more once you are finished with it. I really loved this book. I rate it 4.2/5.

The Lives Of Tao by Wesley Chu

Let us get the obvious out of the way. The 5th Wave has a similar setting of an alien being inserted in to the human consciousness. I concede that. But in the case of The Lives of Tao, te alien and the human host co-exist. I mean how great is that? 

This book was not written like a typical Sci - Fi book. It had more of a spy thriller feel for me, that reminded me of the Bourne trilogy. 

Tao liked to call the relationship between him and his host as symbiotic but in my opinion the human did not really have much of a say. He/she had to take part in a war that has been raging for nigh on 500 years between entities that have been stranded on earth for the past 65 million years. There are of course advantages. The human host gets the benefit of all the knowledge accumulated over the lifetime of the alien being - be it Prophus or Genjix.

The writing in this book is quite fast paced. The Prophus who are said to be on te side of humans don't come out smelling of roses in this conflict. But that is the necessity of war. I am unsure of whether this book is a stand alone or a part of a series. I hope it is a series. If it isn't then the ending sucked for me. I would rate this book a 3.7/5.

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