Sunday, November 25, 2018

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Skyward (Skyward, #1)Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I get why this is fantasy, but honestly, it is probably the coolest scifi book I've read in a long time. There is enough technology in this book to satisfy the scifi crowd, and enough world building and politics to satisfy us fantasy geeks. All in all, another great Sanderson read.

I did feel like it took a little while to get going, but I didn't mind all that much. The plot did move along, and by the end I couldn't put it down. I would understand that casual fantasy/ scifi readers might draw a lot of parallels or offer criticism, on potential parallels with Ender's Game, but there was enough that was unique that none of that bothered me at all. Sanderson books are also always heavy on physics, so expect physics puzzles in this one as well.

The biggest challenge for me, might have been the exceptional mechanical skills of a teenage kid with a single wrench, but I suppose I've suppose I've read worse. Looking forward to the next installment.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross (Warcross, #1)Warcross by Marie Lu
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I went into this with dreams of another Ready Player One. RPO has surprised me by becoming one of my all time favorite books, and not because of the movie they made. It stunk.

Sadly, Warcross is no Ready Player One. It is a decent idea, plagued by multiple drawbacks. The characters are annoying. The plot is as holey as swiss cheese. The setting is a waste of a virtual space.

Characters: Emika seems like a weak, powerless character who for some reason is taking out bad guys while on a skateboard. What? This makes no sense, other than a potentially flashy book cover/movie poster. And then there is Hideo, with all of his internal anguish and unexplainable tech genius. He is a mishmash of so many fantasy characteristics (rich, attractive, genius) and antagonistic roles (insane, dictator, control freak) that in the end he didn't make sense either. He was a too perfect as a good guy, and too perfect as a bad guy that it left him, in my mind, not a person at all.

Plot: Why didn't Zero try to recruit Emika from the beginning? She apparently had some hacking skill, and then was obviously in a useful position, but that didn't even come up. Then, the first time they met, why not just tell her what he was about? If this game has professionals, no amateur is going to hang with them. That is how being a professional at something works.

Setting: Why does Emika need to be physically close to someone to hack them? How come she hacks everyone, and never gets hacked herself? Why is there an awesome VR world all centered on ONE GAME? That is the craziest part. It is like the XBOX/Playstation/Nintendo shows up with one game and everyone is just like, boom, that's all we need. Never need another game. It would never go down like that. (To get an idea of how it WOULD go down, check out RPO, or if you're into serial murdering psychopaths, Otherland by Tad Williams.)

To be fair, I might be overly critical given the expectation set by RPO. That is possible. Yet, when I look at these issues, they do all seem to stand on their own. And in the end, all I feel toward this book is disappointment.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection by Brandon Sanderson

Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere CollectionArcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Arcanum Unbounded (which I will call AU from here on) has been moldering on my to-read list for a long time waiting its turn. As a collection of short stories, it just didn't have the appeal that other full length works did. Short fiction reminds me of English classes where you spend more time discussing the story than you do reading it. After AU, I've decided that Brandon's experience in English class must have been wildly different than mine, because his version of short fiction is wildly different. For one, it isn't actually short. As I mentioned in my last post for the Emperors Soul, it was a full length, satisfying story that was the introductory piece for this book. I struggle to see that as short, especially with the full benefit of an existing world to build on.

In any case, my fears of unengaging and unsatisfying stories and characters was unfounded. This is a great read, but I do recommend leaving it until you have a good handle on other Cosmere books. This content isn't needed to understand or appreciate those stories, but there is extra value in this book if you have the background, and emotional investment, from the other Cosmere works, especially Mistborn and the Stormlight Archives.