Friday, December 20, 2013

Red Sparrow

TyRed SparrowRed Sparrow by Jason Matthews
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like me a great spy novel. This was a spy novel but it was not great. It had some great concepts, however, that were never fully realized, and some pretty lame filler. The best part of the book is the recipes at the end of each chapter that told how to make foods that the characters ate in the preceding chapter. Needless to say the characters ate a lot. But for a foodie like me, it was a great tie-in. They all sounded delicious.
Another great concept is Dominika, the newbie spy, can see colors around other people, indicating that they are warm, trustworthy, or evil, sinister. Does she ever really put that to good use? No. In fact, she often misreads things like an ordinary person, so what is the use of her super power?
She is also essentially forced to go to Sparrow school, where spies learn to seduce to gain information. It is too detailed in my opinion, of degrading sexual exploitation. Especially since she never uses the techniques she learns. It only serves to make her hate the people she works for. Which could have been done in a different way.
I'll admit I liked Nate, the American spy, and his colleague Benford. MARBLE, the asset, was equally likeable. The plot and characters were pretty cliche for a spy novel, but I liked it nonetheless. John le Carre it is not, but if you feel like Polish dumplings along with your double cross, it's not too bad.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Reached

Reached (Matched, #3)Reached by Ally Condie
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Why does every author writing in YA fiction feel like they have to write a trilogy? What was magic with Matched gets watered down, repetitive, and grinds to a halt before we reached the end of the series. If Stephanie Meyers doesn't have a poetic bone in her body, Condie more than makes up for it. The problem is, that as much as I like poetry, it tends to be achingly slow. And this novel flows like crystallized honey. Which is stored somewhere in that wasps nest she refers to at least 5 times but has no significance. That is the other problem with this lyrical book...she refers to objects, colors, and events so many times you feel there must be some hidden meaning, but no, just everything in Cassia's world reminds her of something trivial that happened in book 1 or 2, so read up before you attempt to plow through this. It was an okay story, just disappointed how it dribbled out at the end, when it had such a promising start.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Enders Game

Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet, #1)Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book. It had a clear narrative, great story with an awesome twist, and plenty of Big Issues to think about, namely, why do we go to war (literally and figuratively) and what should our strategy be? Is there room for compassion or do you have to beat your opponent so badly he will never think about hurting you again? How do we judge those who are different than us and could a clear line of communication be all that is needed to resolve conflict? How is how we judge others linked in with how we judge ourselves?
Although it is about children, the mood is darker than I thought it would be (esp. with the word game in the title) but it paved the way for Harry and Katnis, and did a better job of it.
The only part that seemed confusing/extraneous was the story line of Valentine and Peter in their roles as political commentators.

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Gone Girl

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an interesting book with an intriguing twist. I didn't like any of the characters, though, and without a character to empathize with, it was hard to get involved whole-heartedly. It made me think about what love is, what marriage is, and how by binding yourself legally, financially, emotionally to another person, it changes you. How it changes you, for the good or the bad, is that wholly up to you, or does it depend on the person we chose to bind ourselves to? The decaying town was the perfect backdrop for this decaying, sick relationship.

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