Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This review is very complicated for me. To be completely honest, my personal enjoyment of this book was a 3 out of 5 stars. I usually consider myself a Tolkien kind of reader, I love the details in novels and become very geeky about it, but somehow this book didn’t make me feel this way. I was very surprised about that, especially considering how popular this book is amongst “high fantasy” readers.

I have to give a 5 out of 5 starts for the world and character building within this book. The world is so rich with detail and you really feel like this is a real place with real pleasures and dangers. It’s obvious that the author has an in-depth knowledge of who each and every character in the book is, what their past is, what their motivations are, and what drives their purpose. It was also interesting to me to see how the author continually challenged the characters and how each character would find themselves in a continuously degrading situation.

Besides the world and character “building”, the plot twists and turns were the most interesting part for me. It was fun trying to figure out who was really rooting for who and where people’s loyalties lied. The problem was, the arch of the story was so subtle that the story turned into a bloody soap opera for me. Each subplot moved slowly because there is so much information and were so many POV characters and intertwining stories that there just wasn’t enough time to go through a full story arc. I think this 835 page book (31 hours of listening time) was more of an Act 1 than anything else.

Of the 8 point-of-view characters, I found that only 2 of them actually “changed” from the beginning to the end of the book: Daenerys Targaryen (she goes from being a meek girl who does what she’s told into a self-assured young woman who is ready to take back her inheritance and be queen) and Bran Stark (had a very small change from being a strong, willful boy to being weak and lost – which I’m sure will change again in another book.). One other character that I felt changed from beginning to end was Robb Stark, who never really had a POV but you saw enough of him that you can see him changing from a boy into a man.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of bad things happen to the characters in this book and you see how they deal with each situation that’s thrown at them. Does it count as change if a character is perceived as not conflicted and then conflicted? But the point of being conflicted was the inciting incident, so I don’t think that really counts as “change” over the course of a story. But a character acts in the same way to every situation and I didn’t really see any “growth” in their character. For example, Eddard Stark had his same fierce clutch on honor and goodness at the end that he did at the beginning (even though it was made to look like he compromised his “honor” to save his daughter at the end, he really didn’t).

I believe this talk about character change, simply reinforces the fact that this book is really an Act 1 and not a full Act 1-3 story.

Some subplots were more interesting than others and I’m excited to follow some into the next book, but I’m not sure if everyone really held my interest enough to continue.

There was tones of action, sex, and complicated intrigue to keep the reader entertained, so I totally understand why HBO make it into a TV series. The problem for me, while I was listening to it is that even with the action and intrigue I got bored and when I was 3/4 of the way through the audio thought to myself, “It’s not over yet?” I was exhausted. A friend of mine told me that she had to stop listening to the audio and “speed read” the rest of the book. [sigh] I wish I could do that, but unfortunately for me the audio reads faster than I do.

I actually picked this book up for the first time in 2006, when I was part of a science fiction/fantasy book group at my local library. I have to admit that the beginning was so painfully slow for me to read through, even though the world being painted was rich with color and life and the characters were complicated, real people, I stopped reading after the 5th or 6th chapter. I just couldn’t handle it. I read very slowly and I usually give a book at least 50 pages before I put it down for a more interesting read.

I feel like I have to justify myself because the book is really as good as the fans claim. I personally, found aspects of the book amazing myself such as the world and character building. I think the execution of the story just wasn’t for me.

Kinarra Part 1: The Planet

The planet Kinarra is the backdrop of most of the stories within the Jention Chronicles universe that I’ve created. IDENTITY is the first of many stories that are part of this universe. Kinarra is a Mars like planet, it’s surface is a rustic red wasteland of dunes and rocks. The surface cannot sustain human life: the planet’s atmosphere is very thin, the surface temperature is very cold, there is little breathable air, and the pressure is too remote to be on the surface without a spacesuit. The gravity is much like Earth’s gravity since its size is very similar.

Unlike Mars, Kinarra doesn’t have ice-capped polar regions anymore; when Kinarra was first colonized the icecaps were mined for their water resources and over the years became developed and depleted. Meteorites and other space debris often hit its surface, and as a result, the original colonists were forced to build most of their dwellings in caves and eventually underground. Though plaststeel had been invented, this material was of limited supply since the colonists only had what they brought with them. Instead a plaststeel like coating was developed to seal cave walls and underground caverns to create a barrier between a human habitat and the planet’s habitat.

Most of the people who have colonized Kinarra live underground. There are a few scattered surface cities near caves that serve as space ports, this is where most of the transportation between colonized prefectures takes place as well as launches into space to trade with the space colonies and other worlds within the vast Confederacy.

Note: the picture above is “Terraforming Mars” by ToshuNinja. I found this depiction very similar to what I have in my mind of the Kinarran spaceports.

Fashforward

FlashforwardFlashforward by Robert J. Sawyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

WOW! It’s been a long time since I’ve read any real adult Science Fiction. I know that sounds a bit weird, but most of the SF I’ve read in the last few hears has been space opera or science fantasy adventure (and rereading old favorites don’t count). But Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer is true Science Fiction at it’s root. I must be honest that listening to this book made me question whether or not I could ever be a good enough writer to write this kind of Science Fiction.

Ok. Enough about my awed feelings.

Flashforward had an incredible concept about time travel, it was loaded with fun scientific debate, and had a very compelling human factor. I must admit that the science sounded much more interesting that most of the human dramas that surrounded it. Even though the human dramas within the story were very realistic, I found Theo’s quest to prevent his murder a much more compelling sub-plot than Lloyd’s conflict over whether or not to pursue a marital partnership with a woman, whom he truly loves, because he’s convinced the relationship is doomed to failure.

I found myself often wondering whether or not many of the scientific opinions and biases are that of the author or simply selected biases for each character in the story. This added an extra bit of fun for me as the reader/listener to anticipate how the story was going to unfold. I found that the science and the story were well weaved together from the perspective that the science supported the story in its progression. Peoples discussions about science were natural. Though if I were watching this book as a movie there were many parts of the narrative where I could picture a bubble appearing with extensive notes about XYZ science fact. Hey reader in case you didn’t know this science fact let me fill you in. It was cool, but sometimes a little distracting to the story.

I found this book to be for the major Science Fiction geek. In my opinion, this book weighed heavier on the science than on the story, but that was all right with me because that’s what the story really was about to begin with.

What was the science you ask? Well… A group of researchers at CERN are working with the Large Hadron Collider to create the elusive “higgs boson particle,” the proposed elementary particle allows other particles to acquire mass. But during their test something unexpected happens, everyone on the planet is flashed 21 years into their future and they experience 1 minute and 23 seconds (give or take a few seconds – my memory is faulty) of their life. Unfortunately, “life” goes on in present day which means that everyone stops functioning for that 1 minute and 23 seconds and all hell breaks loose. How did that happen & how will our cast of characters deal with how their lives have changed because of that “Flasforward Event?”

If you enjoy reading about real up-to-date science and enjoy the questions of quantum mechanics and the origins of the universe. This might be the book for you. 😉 As a science, geek myself I totally enjoyed it.

Oh! And from what I’ve heard, Flashforward was also made into a TV series in Canada, I think I’ll check that out.

Fever Crumb

Fever Crumb (The Hungry City Chronicles Prequel, #1)Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don’t remember where I first saw Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve, but I do remember being excited about a story about a female engineer. Being a female engineer myself, this was highly intriguing. I wanted to write a book about a female engineer (that book is still percolating in the back of my brain) but here was one already published. Needless to say, this book sat in my “to read” queue for three years before I finally got around to reading/listening to the story. I am happy to report that I was not disappointed.

I didn’t realize it when I first started Fever Crumb, but this book is a “prequel” to an already written series called “The Hungry City Chronicles” and am happy to say that it doesn’t matter if you’ve read any of those novels or not.

The world of Fever Crumb is rich, complex, and imaginative. It was kind of funny to think of a futuristic world where no one knows what an airplane or computer is yet alone how they work, there were even some technologies that we don’t have and may have in the future. Most importantly, I bought the idea that there must have been some cataclysmic happening that deprived humanity of knowledge and that we had to start from scratch again or at least nearly from scratch. But I was most intrigued by the concept of Fever and the Guild of Engineers. These men are more like mad scientists and inventors than engineers but it was fun to learn about their place in society and what their lifestyle was. I have to admit that my first thought was that these engineers were supposed to be like Vulcans (yes, as in Star Trek), men who suppress their emotions so they can surrender their minds entirely to logic and “rational” thought. Unfortunately, the word “rational” was overused for my taste. Being a very logical and rational woman myself, I found it got annoying to be constantly reminded that the engineers were “rational” and that everyone else was “irrational.”

I’m glad that I listened to this as an audiobook, I think I would have found the pace a bit too slow for reading and it would have taken me a long time. Again, the world was so rich with detail that I found myself enjoyed learning about what the people knew and didn’t know about the technologies that were “left behind” by technologically advanced human ancestors. I found the mystery of Fever Crumb captivating, though some aspects I was able to guess before the time was due. I also enjoyed the relationships that were built around Fever and the character development felt true to the world that had been created. I do wonder what is going to happen to Fever in her future and look forward to reading – I mean listening her next story.

This is a story about a girl who is abandoned as a baby and adopted by a man who is part of the guild of engineers. She is raised as an engineer and accepts it as her profession. On her first assignment in the real world she goes to a manor in futuristic London where she learns that there is a vault that has secret technologies and she realizes that she has memories about things that she shouldn’t understand.