Archive for July, 2013

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The Blue Sword

July 30, 2013

The Blue Sword (Damar, #1)I read this book as a group reading assignment. Otherwise, I would have never touch this book. And after reading this one, I think I will never read anything written by McKinley.

First of all, the story line is predictable, simple, not engaging, even as a YA book, which means I have lower my standard. Once the story is laid, everything goes as predicted. No surprise, no excitement. So, if you do not like surprises, and expect happy ending in all the books that you read, this book is for you. It does not mean I dislike all juvenile or young adult book, but this one is just below par. I can enjoy Nicholas Flamel series, even Percy Jackon. But not this one.

Secondly, the writing itself is not enjoyable. It is sub-standard, far from beautiful. The author is telling things that I don’t care, and she did not do a great job in the process of telling it. Her descriptions of the setting is bland, and the character is one dimensional.

The story line is, a strong woman, Harry, saved the entire realm, by defeating the invasion by pulling of a very powerful magic, which no one can explain, even the author. That’s all. And that is not even a spoiler.

Many reviewers have already mentioned that the woman character is a Mary-Sue, so I am not going to explore it further. The plot itself started quite OK in the first chapter. The setting is laid properly. And then it becomes boring. Later, going about one third portion of the novel, it becomes better. But later it goes down again, till the end. Even the climax is not good. The story is resolved with one single strike! And that’s all. I feel cheated.

It would be ashamed to categorized this book as a YA. It would be better to consider this book as a children or at least preteen. The vocabulary is not difficult. The story line is not convoluted. It is a decent novel to practice your reading, but not to kindle your love for reading a decent fantasy novel. It is more like a fairy tale instead of a fantasy novel.

As a novel I will give it a ONE STAR. But as a children book, I still can give it a TWO STAR or even a THREE. For avid fantasy readers, avoid it like a plague. There are many other books out there. Don’t waste your time. I begin to regret my decision to read this one.

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The City and The Stars

July 2, 2013

The City and the StarsThe story is about Alvin, a Unique, who tries to escape from the city of Diaspar, just because he wants to find out what lies outside his confined city. Once he manages to get out, he will change the fate of not just his city, but the entire humanity.

This novel is full of dialogues concerning science, philosophy, religion and psychology. It is what you expect from a full blown science fiction, and you can expect it from one of the grandfather of modern science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke. But since the ideas addressed in this novel is not “novel” to me, it think it costs the novel one star in my part. The writing is also a bit dry, less emotional that my taste. I find it a bit difficult to find a character that I can attach with. Maybe Clarke did this deliberately, because the citizens of Diaspar are lacking of emotion indeed.

One thing that I need to mention specifically is the prophecy made by Clarke in this novel. In the future city of Diaspar, once in a very long life span of the citizen of Diaspar, they will be an artist. Their art pieces will be displayed in the city, and the other citizens vote. The one which gets enough voting will be preserved, otherwise destroyed, or at best preserved among the artist’s friends. Clarke correctly predicted the era of Internet when art is democratized by voting on Internet! Well, maybe not the entire artworks, but you get the idea; when you click “like” on facebook, youtube, or whatever social media site. The one which gets most “like” is preserved, otherwise forgotten.

Compared to his other works, I find that this novel is a bit below par. My favorite Clarke’s novel are still his Rendezvous With Rama series, followed second by 2001: A Space Odyssey series. Maybe because this novel is among his earlier works, but he definitely writes better in time.

A 3 star.