Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review: mini-reviews of City of Stairs, Stone Mattress, Invisible Cities, and The Lady

Seems everyone has been reading and raving about this one so it was time to see what the fuss was about.  I like how this secondary world urban fantasy spy thriller, and other books like Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence and the ones by K.V. Johansen, are putting gods back in the mix, gods like the ancient Greek gods that often meddled around in human affairs.  It was also nice to see that the main character was a woman of color who isn't automatically the smartest and most competent person in the room.  The book is very well written with flashes of brilliance that certainly brings things up a notch.

Despite all the praise, I did have some reservations.  Namely, I felt that Bennett got just a little carried away with his world at the expense of the story so that there are plot and logic holes that really should have edited better.  Anyway, I'm definitely looking forward to City of Blades.

Rating: 8.5/10.

This is my first collection of short story collection by Margaret Atwood.  I was curious about her short fiction after enjoying The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake.  Turns out I felt a little let down.  All of the stories in the collection are competently written, but none of the nine really grabbed me until the titular story "Stone Mattress" about a female serial killer seeking justice for a long-ago rape.  The last story, "Torching the Dusties" was also quite good, evoking the dystopian warnings of her novels.  I may try more of Atwood's short fiction in the future, but for now I'll probably stick to her novels.

Rating: 7.5/10.

Invisible Cities is one of the novels most synonymous with the name Italo Calvino so it seemed a good place to give the author a try.  Unfortunately, I found somewhat disappointing.  Given the lush, almost magical prose and storytelling this book should have appealed to me more, but something just never connected.  Perhaps it was something to do with the layers of metaphors and figurative language describing the cities because I could never really figure out what it was trying to say.  It was easier for me to connect to the interludes written by the third person omniscient narrator.  Despite being disappointing, that doesn't mean I'll give up on Calvino.  Some of his other work sounds interesting so I will probably give them a try someday.

Rating: 6.5/10.

The Lady is the second of the Marrakand duology, the first being The Leopard, which I reviewed last year.  While I enjoyed this book, I don't think I liked it quite as much as the first one.  The big reason for this may be that the duology is really one big book split into two so it really deserves to be read in its entirety.  The Lady pretty much picks up right where The Leopard left off and it was a little hard to get back into it after a separation of several months.  Someday when I re-read I'll be sure to read both back-to-back.

Rating: 7.5/10.

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