Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1)The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven't read an epic fantasy since finishing the Wheel of Time. While I enjoyed this book, you have to be ready for the scale of a story this ambitious. The mystery, the clues, the complexity, and conflict are all matched to the 1000+ page count.

Pros- I love the philosophy and value systems of the main characters. Here are good people that are actually good. I'm not saying they will stay squeaky clan the whole time (Shalon is a bit of an exception so far), but good characters should have a strong positive value system in my book. The drama enters in when they make mistakes or question those values.

Cons- This is petty, but the monetary system is impractical. I get how the spheres play into the story, but couldn't they embed jewels into coins or discs just as easily? The issue is that glass spheres are just impractical to carry, transact with, etc. They are too bulky and too fragile. Throughout history money has had to be portable to be practical. The question is how to carry as much value as easily as possible, and I think this design is a huge miss. I do like the everyday uses of Stormlight, such as household lighting, but again, it doesn't make sense as a monetary system. If light bulbs are worth hundreds of dollars, I guarantee they would all walk away over time and we would all be sitting in candle light. But it would happen slowly because how could you carry more than a dozen light bulbs? Even small ones?

I'm excited to get on to the next book. Besides, I'm signed up for the book 3 release party, so the clock is ticking. ..

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Circle by Dave Eggers

The CircleThe Circle by Dave Eggers
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book is basically "1984" for the post millennial generation. Like 1984 was in its heyday, it contains enough adult content that it is an uncomfortable mainstream study, in my opinion. But it also teaches the latest generations the importance of independence and privacy. It restates the oppression of the past not in terms of political parties or dictators, but in terms of tactics and false logic. My fear for the book is that it plays the false logic too hard. The logical fallacies about how everything should be known to everyone are plentiful, but are the young people of today able to see them? Do they have the critical thinking capability to weed out values from fiction?

Speaking of values, that is a glaring omission in my mind. Mae did not seem to have any values other than an overly general "Be a good person" and "don't tell lies." She was willing to sleep with strange men on a whim, but internally struggled with not telling her friend the truth about it. She was a basket case.

The other recurring theme I noticed, which is recycled time and time again, is the balance between safety and security. So much of the power grab that was The Circle centered on people's fears and false offers of safety in exchange for control. I like to call this the Star Wars paradox. The evil, power-hungry antagonist champions the rights and will of the people, convincing them to relinquish their freedom in return for the protection of the regime, which then turns on the people to maintain control.

So this is a thought provoking book that addresses new issues regarding our privacy and data collection. It comes with distasteful baggage, i.e. bad language and adult situations. The writing was not my favorite, and in the end I'm not sure there was a protagonist anywhere in the book, but I can promise that the themes in this book WILL make you think. For me, this was 2 stars.