Friday, February 26, 2016

Last Month's Books: "The Marriage of Stellar and Subpar"

I haven't had much time to read this month, so I'm rationing book reviews from last month out a bit. Padding things, see. It's a viable review tactic. Totally. Hopefully next week will be calmer. In other news, I hate business-class phone systems and the issues they have. 

John Steakley

Armor is the anti-war version of Starship Troopers. No. Really. It's literally Starship Troopers with the serial numbers filed off, and more of an emphasis on how awful war is. (As if that wasn't clear enough in Starship Troopers). All the characters are incredibly jaded and fatalistic, which becomes incredibly tiring to read. You need a BIT of hope or brightness or SOMETHING to break up the monotony. The writing itself isn't bad, but overall it just feels like a more jaded, post-Vietnam Starship Troopers. If you want that, there you go. It was alright. Not amazing, but alright.

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
William Blake

I would rank this up with Dante's Divine Comedy or Milton's Paradise Lost in terms of its depiction of, well...Heaven and Hell. In particular, the Proverbs of Hell section was incredibly striking. Some proverbs were incredibly progressive and equitable, while others were fiendish. I'm not a huge fan of the poems/Memorable Fancies/whatever as poems/Memorable Fancies/whatever, but the imagery is so very good...

Anansi Boys
Neil Gaiman

Well this was both hilarious and sad, which seems fitting for a novel about Anansi. Everything about this felt like an Anansi story, while still also feeling like a modern novel. Best of both worlds, more or less. If you liked American Gods, you'd like this.

Gary Whitta

I have some very positive things to say about this book. And a few moderately negative ones. First off, it's really clear that Whitta researched the historical period this book takes place in--everything from the Danelaw to bits of historical trivia are there. So thumbs up for that. Props, also, for writing a horror novel set in the 880s. The only other one I can think of is Michael Crichton's Eaters of the Dead. The germ of what makes Abomination a horror novel is, well, it's not the newest horse in the stable, but it's also not one that's been overused. I particularly liked the initial descriptions of the horrors--quite well done. The characters are interesting, and the writing is both mechanically sound and enjoyable to read. The main problem is with the plot. Namely, the plot beats are just a bit too obvious. Maybe I'm jaded, but then again, it's not very often I go through a book saying "Ah, called it!" at every major plot juncture. And for me, personally, that took almost all of the actual horror out of this. It shifted from horror into some sort of...almost young-adult fantasy novel with a bit more grimness than usual. This is not wholly a criticism. Abomination is still a very good book. It's just not as scary or suspenseful as it could have been, and that lost potential is a bit saddening. For a first novel, Abomination was a good, enjoyable read, and I hope to see more good work out of Gary Whitta.