cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (Default)
[personal profile] cloudsinvenice
Books finished:

A Fairy Find, by Andrew Lanyon (see last week's post)

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. I didn't expect to love this so much - it gave me the feeling of reading books I loved in childhood, which is difficult to describe. I can't remember the last time I got that feeling. It's also a great example of how to handle really dark subjects when writing for that age group. I wanted to know more about Silas, which is just me being predictable, of course...

Books given up on:

Shadow Wave (CHERUB series, book 12), by Robert Muchamore. The thinking behind this seems to have been, "What if you had something as gritty and nasty as many adult thrillers, but with short chapters (and book, overall) and a writing style simple enough to engage short attention spans?" I was out after the first ten minutes' worth of racial epithets and the moment when a bad guy flashes his penis at some people in a cafe. I kind of hate reacting like this, because it feels like I've joined the pearl-clutching ranks of, "You can't write THAT for teenagers!", but honestly, if I wanted this, I'd be reading gritty adult thrillers... I'm just not the intended audience here.

Robopocalypse, by Daniel H. Wilson. At the end of the robots-vs-humans war instigated by the sentient AI Archon, some soldiers discover a cube containing a record of the human resistance - audio exchanges recorded when the humans didn't know it, video footage of them being interrogated (whether they believed their interlocutors were human or machine), military tribunal transcripts and police interviews from those first, sinister incidents worldwide in which working robots began to go wrong... anyway, one soldier transcribes them for us, and that's the book.

It's a nice idea which could've worked really well if he'd felt like varying the character voices, or compensating for the different circumstances in which the words were spoken. A teenage girl confiding in another member of the human resistance and recounting the time her childhood doll attacked her is necessarily going to sound different from a badly injured man who was almost killed by a domestic bot in his restaurant workplace, but the only real difference comes in when the author doesn't know enough about the type of character or setting to make it feel real.

So the teenager's flashback is about being ten and still sharing a room with her eight-year-old brother (their mum's a congresswoman; I think they can afford multiple bedrooms), and her baby doll (which she only stopped playing with a year earlier - while there will be girls for whom that would ring true, I think most nine-year-olds who like dolls would be more into some future equivalent of Monster High) attacking her before being interrupted by their carer, who lives in her own little house out back (because the congresswoman is really going to leave her kids sleeping while she's at work, with no adult under the same roof).

I get that these are small details, but they add up to show the author's lack of interest in certain segments - even the AI is laughable here: it goes from using the doll to try and persuade the girl to ask her mother (who is about to pass an anti-AI law) to play with them at home (presumably it's going to self-destruct or go for her throat or something), to a Roy Batty-esque monologue that is hilariously OTT and villainous. And then it goes back to, "Get Mommy to come home and play with us!" mode - as if even the dullest child is going to be fooled after all that!

Anyway, I was skeptical then, but the next section was a repetitive transcript of a flight on which I presume the on-board AI came to life, and I lost interest before it reached the, "I can't let you make an emergency landing, Dave" stage.

Currently reading:

Bossypants, by Tina Fey. I have actually seen very little of her work. I know the Sarah Palin sketch and have seen a couple of random others and Mean Girls, but I still need to check out 30 Rock. But the book looked very funny and accessible, had big print, and is in a genre that I usually find easy to get into, because I like reading people's awkward childhood/teenage stories and their how-I-got-into-my-chosen-arts-field stories. So far it's great!

Reading next:

Probably The Poison garden by Sarah Singleton.

Oh, and on [community profile] vc_media the first Queen of the Damned group read discussion post is up!

Date: 2015-01-15 03:35 am (UTC)
birke: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birke
I didn't love The Graveyard Book, but I did like it. I thought it was creative and emotionally satisfying.

Date: 2015-01-15 07:35 am (UTC)
londonkds: (Default)
From: [personal profile] londonkds
Your review makes Robocalypse sound like an inferior imitation of the excellent World War Z.


cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (Default)
"What can the cat-posters hope to gain?"

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