Friday, 28 February 2014

Review: The Girl with All the Gifts

The Girl with All the Gifts
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A very original zombie novel, set in the UK, with some original and well-thought out ideas, but a slightly shaky plot. Events that drive the story early on seem to drop out of contention, and the middle of the novel is a bit dull. Having said that the ending is really excellent, well worth holding out for. Some of the ideas in the novel could have been better explored--it often seemed that the more interesting characters' points of view got short shrift, even though they were the realists and the more morally interesting. All in all, I'd recommend it if you're a fan of zombie stuff, but not if you haven't already read and watched the Walking Dead, which has really great writing, interesting multi-faceted unpredictable characters, and much more ambition.

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Review: We Used to Be Kings

We Used to Be Kings
We Used to Be Kings by Stewart Foster

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A really good read, I couldn't put it down and blasted through it in a couple of days. The narration is very original and very brave: Foster shows the thoughts and feelings of two characters sharing one body. I've never seen anything like it before, it is the best attempt to get into the experience of grief and madness that I've read, and it makes for a very poignant, often darkly comic read. I look forward to seeing what the author does next!

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Review: Paper Towns

Paper Towns
Paper Towns by John Green

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My first John Green book, I thought it was great. Lots of excellent wit, some great ideas about literature and human relationships, and a clever plot combining a love story with a really engaging detective mystery story. What I found really amazing about the mystery story was that it combined physical clues with the revelations of growing up, so there was a time issue to the hero finding out what he wanted: he has to go through certain experiences to understand the mindset of the person he's looking for. Very clever, and quite original. Something for everyone.

If I had to find something negative to say (and I do), I found Green's adult characters rather two-dimensional and uninvolved. The intriguing idea of the runaway girl-as-untethered balloon comes from an intriguing adult character, a detective who I thought was going to become involved in the story and act as a realistic mentor-type character for the main protagonist. However, once the character's voiced his idea he doesn't come into the story again, which I thought was a shame. Other adult influences in the story are shallow or apparently non-existent. But perhaps this is what life feels like for a teenager, and I've just forgotten.

Next stop: all the other John Green books!

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