torachan: a cartoon owl with the text "everyone is fond of owls" (everyone is fond of owls)
Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman
Number of Pages: 208 pages
Book Number/Goal: 10/10 for 2012
My Rating: 5/5

Summary: Coraline and her parents move into a large old house which has been converted into flats, resulting in a door in their drawing room that opens onto a brick wall. However, when Coraline opens the door without her mom around, she finds it actually contains a mysterious corridor leading to a world which is a mirror of her own, complete with another mother and father, who have buttons for eyes and pay her more attention than her real parents do. Coraline can stay forever in this other world where everyone and everything caters to her every whim...the only catch is she has to let her other mother sew buttons on her eyes just like theirs.

Review: Usually when a book is made into a movie, a lot of stuff is cut, but with Coraline it's the opposite. There's quite a bit that's in the movie that's not in the book, and it's not because they added stuff while cutting out other stuff. Because I'm used to books having more, and because I watched the movie first, I went into the book expecting it to be more fleshed out, so it was a bit of a disappointment in that regard. I wouldn't say I preferred the movie, though I do think the pacing was a little better, with her going to the other world a couple times before things started to go bad. I definitely enjoyed both the book and the movie, though.
torachan: maru the cat sitting in a bucket (maru)
Title: Feed
Author: Mira Grant
Number of Pages: 608 pages
Book Number/Goal: 9/10 for 2012
My Rating: 4.5/5

Amazon Summary: Twin bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason and their colleague Buffy are thrilled when Sen. Peter Ryman, the first presidential candidate to come of age since social media saved the world from a virus that reanimates the dead, invites them to cover his campaign. Then an event is attacked by zombies, and Ryman's daughter is killed. As the bloggers wield the newfound power of new media, they tangle with the CDC, a scheming vice presidential candidate, and mysterious conspirators who want more than the Oval Office.

Review: The only reason I didn't give this a full five stars is because the beginning is slow. Like, hella slow. It starts off with an action scene, but then grinds to a half with a shit ton of exposition (the book is actually pretty exposition-heavy all around, which is something I could have done without) and just really boring political stuff.

There isn't much in terms of zombies or action (well, lots of exposition about zombies), just the ins and outs of being a journalist following a presidential campaign, which I guess might be interesting for some people, but was just hugely boring to me. I actually set the book aside for several weeks and read a bunch of manga instead, while considering whether I wanted to keep trying with Feed or just give it up.

But I did decide to keep trying, and I'm really glad I did, because once it gets going, it's really good and I enjoyed it a lot. I just wish it hadn't been so slow to start!

I liked the explanation for the zombies and the world-building in general, and there was lots of intrigue. Also I would highly recommend this to anyone who read too much VC Andrews in their formative years, because wow, Georgia and Shaun. Like, there's no actual incest in the book, but only just. XD

However, Georgia dies in the end, so there's that.

I'm not sure whether I will read the other books or not. This felt pretty complete on its own (and: see spoiler above).
torachan: (Default)
Title: Soulless
Author: Gail Carriger
Number of Pages: 384 pages
Book Number/Goal: 8/10 for 2012
My Rating: 2/5

Amazon Summary: Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

Review: I saw these books talked up so much on my friends list that it got me curious, but I think had I read the reviews a little more closely, I would have realised that they were Not For Me. All I really knew was supernatural! steampunk! female protagonist! And for some reason I didn't make the connection that it was a paranormal romance... A lot of people on my flist love paranormal romance, but everything I have seen about the genre has just been utterly unappealing, and this book did nothing to change my mind in that regard. All the tropes of "ooh powerful alpha male beast man" just...gag. Not for me, thanks.

And speaking of tropes that are not for me, I really am picky about vampires and werewolves, and this book was just chock full of all the things I don't like in such stories, from the terminology to the "pack" and "hive" dynamics of werewolves and vampires, respectively. I found Alexia's soullessness to be vaguely interesting, but not enough to make up for the annoyingness of other tropes.

Also, the writing itself was just really not my thing. Exposition and epithets abound, as well as constant switching between people's names (for example, Alexia goes from being referred to as Alexia to Miss Tarabotti from sentence to sentence, and the same with other characters). And so much telling. I did not need to read paragraph after paragraph where Alexia and Lord Maccon think "why do I feel this way, I hate him/her!" and stuff like that.

It was very slow-moving for most of the book, though it did finally catch my interest towards the end (last 100 or so pages of the ebook, so maybe last 50ish in print) when all the excitement was happening and the pace picked up (which is my only reason for bumping it up to two stars; I had been planning on giving it one up until then). But this is really a romance with light trappings of mystery when I would have preferred the latter.

Oh, and this is just a small thing, but I just couldn't get behind the use of preternatural as an antonym of supernatural. They mean the exact same thing!
torachan: (Default)
Title: Battle Royale
Author: Takami Koushun
Number of Pages: 624 pages
Book Number/Goal: 7/10 for 2012
My Rating: 3.5/5

Amazon Summary: As part of a ruthless program by the totalitarian government, ninth-grade students are taken to a small isolated island with a map, food, and various weapons. Forced to wear special collars that explode when they break a rule, they must fight each other for three days until only one "winner" remains.

Review: While I had heard of Battle Royale for quite some time, I only found out what the plot was when I started hearing people compare The Hunger Games to it. For some reason, I had always thought it was a yakuza movie, possibly because I was confusing it with Battles Without Honor or Humanity. Anyway, when I saw people saying The Hunger Games was a ripoff of this, I was curious.

As it turns out, it's totally not. They both feature teenagers being forced to fight to the death by the government in a dystopian world, but they are very different. (And I do find it totally believable that Suzanne Collins was unaware of Battle Royale before writing The Hunger Games, since as I said, even being into Japanese media, I had no idea what it was about myself. It's not like someone saying they've never heard of Pokemon or something.)

Battle Royale takes place in a not-very-well-fleshed-out dystopian AU where Japan is the Republic of Greater East Asia, a totalitarian nation semi-closed off from the west. Every year fifty classes of junior high students are chosen to compete in "The Program", which involves them all fighting to the death. Unlike in The Hunger Games, where the fights are televised and it's a form of entertainment, The Program is all very hush-hush, though the winner is shown on TV at the end. Instead the purpose is simply to terrorise the citizens and keep them in place.

I found the world-building to be rather lacking, the overwhelming cast of characters (most of which had little to no characterisation) hard to keep track of, and the writing extremely clunky (I read what I think is the first translation, so I linked to the revised version in this post because perhaps that's better; however, I could tell from the way it read in English that the problem was not entirely with the translator and the original was bound to be just as bad), but it was still a good read and I did enjoy it.
torachan: (Default)
Title: Mockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
Number of Pages: 400 pages
Book Number/Goal: 6/10 for 2012
My Rating: 5/5

Amazon Summary: Spoilery for the previous book )

Review: This book was just as exciting as the first two and overall I'm pretty happy with the ending. I think that's really all I can saw without spoilers! )
torachan: (Default)
Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Number of Pages: 391 pages
Book Number/Goal: 5/10 for 2012
My Rating: 5/5

Amazon Summary: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

Review: Damn, this was even better than the first book! Partly, I think, because I was 100% unspoiled and thus had no idea what was going to happen or even what was the plot. So much I wasn't expecting!

Spoilery stuff )

Can't wait to start Mockingjay!
torachan: (Default)
Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Number of Pages: 384 pages
Book Number/Goal: 4/10 for 2012
My Rating: 5/5

Amazon Summary: In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games," a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

Review: I went into this knowing at least one big spoiler as well as a few things from fannish osmosis that finally made sense (like all the jokes about Peeta's camouflage), but other than the basic "in a post-apocalyptic future, kids fight each other to the death" I really didn't know much about the actual plot and I didn't really have any idea of what to expect.

As it turns out, it's a really awesome book! I'm glad I wasn't any more spoiled than I was, because while of course you know Katniss has to survive, all the "how" was really interesting and I found it hard to put down. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the next one.
torachan: maru the cat sitting in a bucket (maru)
Title: Snuff
Author: Terry Pratchett
Number of Pages: 416 pages
Book Number/Goal: 3/10 for 2012
My Rating: 3/5

Summary: When Vimes takes a holiday to his wife's family manor in the country, he's expecting to be bored out of his skull, but when a goblin girl is killed, he finds himself with an investigation on his hands.

Review: This was enjoyable, but I just didn't love it. The theme of a species previously looked down upon and treated badly by humans and everyone else becoming more accepted has been used in many Discworld novels and it's really geting old. If the surrounding story is good enough, then I'm happy to go with it, but I just really found the story lacking in this. I kept putting it down and not reading for days or weeks because it just wasn't keeping me interested. I really like Vimes (I used to say he was my favorite character, but that's now Moist), but Vimes on his own is much less fun than Vimes with Vetinari and/or the rest of the Watch. I like Sybill all right, but I really dislike how anything with Vimes and Sybill together turns into all this stuff about gender stereotypes and "oh those women, how can we ever understand their ways!?" I guess that's part of Vimes' characterisation, since Pratchett doesn't do that with other female characters, but it's not something I enjoy and it makes me dislike any time Vimes is with Sybill (which was a lot of this novel). I do like Young Sam, but he wasn't in this very much. And I love Willikins. He was probably the best part.
torachan: arale from dr slump dressed in a penguin suit and smiling (arale penguin)
Title: A Study in Scarlet
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Number of Pages: 134 pages
Book Number/Goal: 2/25 for 2012
My Rating: 3.5/5

Amazon Summary: When Dr John Watson takes rooms in Baker Street with amateur detective Sherlock Holmes, he has no idea that he is about to enter a shadowy world of criminality and violence. Accompanying Holmes to an ill-omened house in south London, Watson is startled to find a dead man whose face is contorted in a rictus of horror. There is no mark of violence on the body yet a single word is written on the wall in blood. Dr Watson is as baffled as the police, but Holmes' brilliant analytical skills soon uncover a trail of murder, revenge and lost love.

Review: This was okay? I enjoyed it, but it didn't get me really excited about Sherlock Holmes or make me see what all the fuss is about or anything. I will definitely be reading other Holmes books, though.
torachan: devil boy from sinfest holding a CD, looking like he's just been in an explosion, with the text "smokin" (smokin')
Title: The Dark Tower
Author: Stephen King
Number of Pages: 1072 pages
Book Number/Goal: 1/25 for 2012
My Rating: 5/5

Summary: Roland’s ka-tet is reunited, but not without cost. The last episode of the story takes them on the final stretch of their journey to The Dark Tower. Though they have rescued Susannah, there are still enemies who must be dealt with along the way and who could be their ultimate destruction. The journey is long and ka is but a wheel.

Review: This book was dense, and had so much going on it felt like several books (like, in the future, I'm sure I'll forget which stuff happened in this book because it felt like it spanned so much time that surely stuff at the beginning must have been in a previous book). Overall I felt pretty happy with how things wrapped up. I was sad about Eddie, but especially about Jake, who I'd really hoped would make it to the end, so I was really happy that Susannah was reunited with an alternate version of them. The ending felt right to me, though I do wonder if Roland is redoing things over and over so that they're different (like maybe next time he will have different companions, etc.) and if so are the Beams really breaking over and over? Or is he just going back in time to relive the same events the same way? Oh! And I especially loved the stuff about John, Aaron, and Moses and would totally read a whole book about them and the Tet Corporation and everything going on in the keystone world.

Anyway, it feels weird to be done with the series. I first read The Gunslinger in 9th grade, so over twenty years ago. O_o That's kind of a long time to be reading a series.

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