Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review: some mini-reviews of Resistance, The Great Glass Sea, The Septembers of Shiraz, and The Mirror Empire

I haven't done any reviews since restarting this blog so I'm rather behind.  I've decided to post some short reviews of select books I've read since August to help me catch up.

Resistance is the sequel to Turbulence by Samit Basu.  The first book introduced the world in which a couple hundred people on a plane to India inexplicably developed superpowers.  The follow-up begins several years later in world where thousands now have all kinds of special abilites.  One thing I've really like about these books is how the author deconstructs the superhero genre.  He pokes fun at all the cliches and tropes twisting them around on the reader.  Thus the books are funny, rip-roaring but also intelligent stories.

Rating: 8/10. 

The Great Glass Sea has an interesting premise, about a pair of Russian twins who get caught up in work and politics surrounding a gigantic greenhouse project, but ultimately is slightly disappointing.  The theme of the novel is somewhat transparent in that the brothers end up on the opposite sides of the issue with one representing the romantic past and the other the uncertain future.  I get the feeling the author was going for a Russian Epic feel for the story, but there really isn't enough here to pull it off.  The writing is still competent enough for a decent story.

Rating: 7/10. 

This one is a fairly well written, but somewhat forgettable story about a wealthy Jewish family suffers persecution in Iran after the fall of the Shah.  The idea is intriguing, however the reader gets very little sense of the time and country so the story rests on the characters.  Unfortunately, some of the characters aren't sympathetic enough to carry the story forward.  This book almost comes across as a sob story about the loss of privileged wealth and is just readable enough to be redeemable.

Rating: 6.5/10.

I saved the best for last.  I've been a big fan of Hurley since her first book, God's War.  One word a lot of people have been using with this book is "ambitious" and in many ways they're right as Hurley really goes epic in the world-building of this new epic fantasy.  There are parallel worlds, different kinds of magic, different cultures and political systems from communal to strict matriarchies, and of course there are the semi-sentient, mobile carnivorous plants.  Add Hurley's trademark complex characters and you have fascinating new fantasy series.  The only real drawback is that world-building is so complex that it could have used more clarification. 

Rating: 9/10.

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