Peregrine

Having just finished All the Birds in the Sky, I feel like this should be a more momentous occasion. Especially—Spoiler Alert—after that last scene.

“You are,” the Tree said, “like me.”

“A distributed consciousness, yes,” Peregrine said. “Although your network is much larger and vastly more chaotic than mine. This may require…a rather ambitious firmware update. Stay tune.” The screen went dark.

Through this ending, Anders draws attention to the similarities between technology and magic. Both having a sort of network, one connected by magic, the other connected by internet. This shows how dissimilar the two societies communicate, and yet, it shows how alike they are, both working in the same way. By understanding how this book crosses genres, using fantasy and scifi elements, you can better understand how scientists can be religious and religiously devoted to their studies, how people can be devoted to explain the explainable and, at the same time, accept the unexplainable.

And yet, it was so slap in your face, so obvious, that I find a hard time being attached to this ending. Imagining a piece of technology attached to a tree? It was practically waving the theme in your face. And I found it hard to accept, especially since this if the first time of technology attaching to nature in the book. I would rather accept Peregrine—the know-it-all tablet and AI baby of witch Patricia and scientist Laurence—as the savior of humanity instead. Maybe since he’s already a cross breed?

I also didn’t really like how the timeline took these awkward jumps forward.

He would be doubting his relationship aloud with Serafina…

“This is weirding me out. I mean, I feel like our communication has sucked for, I don’t know, a month or so…”

“So…I’m not on probation then?”

…”I guess you are now.” (138)

And then all the sudden they’re on the equivalent of a ‘probation.’ How does one follow that logic? Maybe I’m just too easy going, but surely when someone voices their own doubts, you don’t punish them for it? Isn’t that a betrayal of trust and communication?

Then, we would go from Laurence dating Serafina…

But this was someone he’d known half his life, with whom he had this whole labyrinthine history. He could not screw this up. Plus Patricia might be used to crazy magic sex. (218)

To him and Patricia getting down and dirty. Isn’t that third base? They hadn’t even made it to one. And what happened to Laurence dating Serafina? I wanted some closure (or at least explanation) of what happened to the first relationship before he moved with a new one.

Overall, these were only minor hiccups to the story. Still disturbing—jolting you out of the story when you least expect it—but it’s not anything super bad. In this case, it was outweighed by the positives: creating realistic characters.

Truth was, Laurence only half paid attention to the amazing sight of these bright tropical birds devouring flowers, because he kept trying to wrap his mind around the fact that he had nearly erased a human being from existence…Plus when he tried to sleep, his heart did a circus drumroll as he remembered Priya’s mouth opening and closing.

Even now, sitting with Patricia on a rough horse blanket on the grass, Laurence kept bracing himself for her to say something—she knew full well what had happened to Priya, maybe even better than Laurence did, and she hadn’t said one judgmental word about it yet. She was probably just waiting for the right moment. (207).

What I particularly like about these paragraphs is that it shows how guilty Laurence feels for what he did, and yet not once does it say, ‘He felt guilty.’ Instead, Anders shows us how guilty he feels: re-imagining Priya in pain, going over the scene again and again; imagining he’s going to get punished, expecting that punishment. These are all the signs of a child who knows they committed an immoral act. And it was sooo much stronger than saying, ‘He felt guilty.’ I definitely want to practice this skill more because this is what made this book special for me. The emotions are so intense!

Anders, Charlie Jane. All the Birds in the Sky. New York, NY: Tor, 2016. Print.

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Henderson’s Humor

Before we grow any closer, there’s something you should know about me…

I’m a fan of puns.

Let me show you why:

  • I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.
  • I’d tell you a chemistry joke but I know I wouldn’t get a reaction.
  • It’s not that the man didn’t know how to juggle, he just didn’t have the balls to do it.
  • My teacher accused me of plagiarism. His words, not mine.

And if you didn’t laugh at any of those, you’re broken inside.

Anyways, these stand as proof that puns can be funny. If they’re done right, they can make you laugh, and I love how they play on words. But, at least for me, I imagine they’re very hard to create from scratch. You’d probably have more luck finding your own than making one up. Unless you’re Henderson.

The white jacket and pants became brown and green camouflage, blending with the pine trees and ferns around us.

“Nice!” I said. “Jacket by Ralph Lothlorien.”

I’d actually seen a real elven cloak once…(211).

You can tell he tries to be funny. And I’m sure with part of his audience he succeeds…not so much for me. I can tell he does try, which in itself is pretty impressive since puns are hard to create. But I do think there is a fine line between good puns and bad. Speaking of which…

Speaking of bad witches, riding piggyback reminded me of Pete, who’d often given me piggyback rides when we were younger, which reminded me again that Pete wasn’t with us, which reminded me why he wasn’t with us, which made me sad. It also reminded me of the time I gave barefooted Heather a piggyback ride across a field of gravel while walking her home, which reminded me that she wasn’t talking to me, which again made me sad. That was a lot of bad whiches indeed, which was too bad because I suspected that piggyback rides came along very rarely in adulthood, and it seemed a real shame to not enjoy them. (212)

This made me wince so hard, internally cringing to the point that I think I pulled a muscle. Although, I have to give credit where credit is due. Anyone notice he started with “bad witches” and ended with “bad whiches?” Cute. Either way, there was so much repetition of piggybacks and “which reminded me” that it really aggravated me a lot. This was one of the few instances in this book that greatly grated on my nerves, but I don’t think this is what truly bothered me about this book, nor was it the puns.

It was the constant references to pop culture. I think this book would attract fans who have a lot of trivia knowledge, or keep up with music or art or anything other than books. But not knowing any of that, I felt kicked out a lot, like I was always missing out on a joke, especially since it happened so often. I get it if you mention a reference once, maybe twice. Even if it was something common like The Beatles, where it was so big in history, everyone would know about it, but having seen uncommon references so many times, it was more annoying. Like I’m not in on the joke. That I shouldn’t be reading.

That’s not something I would like to replicate.

Henderson, Randy. Finn Fancy Necromancy. New York, NY: Tor, 2015. Print.

Smooth Introduction

Then there’s Schwab. I liked his last book, and I like this one so far. So simple, so smooth. His story moves like a fine brandy or rum, moving with a building heat as you read more and more.

“Kell wore a very peculiar coat,” he started (1).

Fact.

Schwab starts A Darker Shade of Magic with this small fact, stating the coat is quite unusual, before developing more reasoning behind why its such a strange coat, and why it was so important for the character, Kell. Kell needed this coat for his traveling between realms, which not only gave some development to the character but also built the type of world it was for the reader.

This is a quick scene setting done well. All it required was simplicity.

And then he wraps up this section of the book in the same fashion:

“Kell stepped forward through the door and into darkness, shrugging off Grey London like a coat” (35).

Isn’t that superb? Opens and closes the same way.

Overall, Schwab’s style of writing is very simple, no foreshadowing, no hidden details, which I know is not for everyone, but the story itself is moved so smoothly that you find yourself devouring the book like  Thanksgiving meal – quickly. Rather than savoring the meal you slaved all day cooking.

Happy Reading!

Schwab, VE. A Darker Shade of Magic. New York, NY: Tor, 2015. Print.

PS. Did you guys know VE is short for Victoria?

My apologies for non-fandom

I am not a fan of this book, which I know is something negative, so let me say 2 things positive: This book has conflict. This book has complexity. But as a writer always interested in the why and will behind characters, this book has left me wanting.

Featuring The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles. 1-10.

I have just finished the Nine Princes in Amber, and I find myself wanting to read, wanting to see what everyone else praises, but I am really reluctant to continue, which is saying something, although I do have my own reasons:

1. Why does everyone want to be king of Amber?

Seriously. Why does everyone want to be king? Every male sibling wants to be, and the most we hear as to why is “Amber was the greatest city which had ever existed or ever would exist. Amber had always been and always would be, and every other city, everywhere, every other city that existed was but a reflection of a shadow of some phase of Amber…I remember thee with love, city that I was born to rule….” (61). Cool. So, what happened to first born? Why is every other sibling trying to kill the other? Don’t siblings for the most part get along? And where is the father in this? This seems like a major conflict line, which I get as to why it’s not explained, but at least give me more reason for them to rule besides each sibling thinking, this is the best city ever. (Also, what happened to the girls wanting to be queens?)

2. Why can’t Corwin remember anything and why does this keep happening?

As he mentions, “I am suffering from amnesia. I don’t dig all this talk about Shadows. I don’t even remember much about Amber.” And apparently this has happened for some time. As he mentions later, “I had been without full memory since the reign of Elizabeth I” (60). Why only him? Why not his siblings? And why is this conflict never again addressed in this book. This is a serious issue. What if it happens again?

3. The battles bored me.

The details within this book are amazing. It’s clear this author is a fanatic for world creation, and you can tell with his devotion to the parallel universe theory, especially since one deviation from the original world leads to a billion other possibilities. But for the battles, it’s always “three hundred dead from eating poisonous native fruits, a thousand slain in a massive stampede of buffalo-like creatures, seventy-three gone…” (77). I skim read most of the battle, more so than usual, stopping at the beginning of every paragraph to see if the battle was over yet. Talking about the battle this way, although visual, made it too omniscient and led me to being disconnected from the character, and bored.

I want to like this book. Everyone online says that this is a classic fantasy. But I wonder if classic is meaning the start of fantasy, an original fantasy, not necessarily good fantasy? I’m not sure what to think. But I think I have to put this book down before I try any more. I simply don’t want to read it, and I don’t particularly like forcing myself to. But please, somebody convince me otherwise.

Zelazny, Roger. The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles. 1-10. New York, NY: Avon Books. Print.