Book Review, Stephen King

Book Review: Sleeping Beauties

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Rating: 5 Stars
Date Started: 20 October 2017
Date Finished: 28 October 2017
Pages: 702
Genre: Horror

There’s just something about Stephen (and I guess Owen) King’s writing that I love. I know a lot of people will say that this book dragged on too long and there was a lot of pointlessness in it, but I truly loved every single bit of it. Even the seemingly pointless bits. It added another layer to the world created in this epic that made it feel even more real. Admittedly, it was damned difficult to keep up with all the characters, but at the end of the day each one played their part.

I had an interesting experience reading this book. In general, I frown upon authors using cheap tricks to manipulate the reader’s feelings. There were a lot of things that happened in this book that I would normally consider “cheap tricks”. However let’s look at this in context. This books is making an open statement of pretty much everything that is wrong in this world today. And a lot of that is centered around abuse towards women and minorities. So while I would normally roll my eyes when an author kills a beloved character to prove a point or further the plot, when it was done in this book, it went a little deeper than the surface. Because everything that happened in this book are things that are happening for real all over the world.

I’ve had my fair share of abuse from men, yet I still consider myself lucky because it could have been worse. You hear stories often enough to make you feel like that one boyfriend you had that left a couple of bruises wasn’t the worst you could have ended up with. And hey at least you got away. Even as a mom of a beautiful son who I love with my whole heart, I found myself wondering if I would have voted to come back to this world if I had an opportunity like the women in Our Place?

Sadly, I think there will probably be Stephen King fans who don’t agree with the opinions expressed in this book. He’ll most likely lose a few readers and there might even be an attempt at a “boycot” on his books. Yes, there were cliche’s in abundance and some truly foul characters normally played by men, and this will probably piss off a lot of people and start the shouting of not all men!!! But you know what? Enough men to make this book leave me with a knot in my throat.

Getting past the underlying agenda, the story itself is actually pretty freaking good. I loved Evie and I even found myself feeling sorry for Frank while at the same time I felt like knocking his head against something hard. That’s one thing I can always say about SK’s characters. They’re so rich and unique, they feel real in a way that a lot of fictional characters don’t. I’m pretty sure in another lifetime King would’ve been a pretty decent shrink… or maybe a profiler… which probably more his style.

Bottom line, this book was a great story with a lot of relevant subtext. If you can’t handle that then don’t read it.

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Book Review

Book Review: Assassin’s Quest

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****Spoilers Abound****

Man, what a ride. This book was so long, but it was all good. Everything that happened and that was described felt absolutely necessary in the scheme of things, and I didn’t skip a word. It completely absorbed me and when I finished I felt like I had finished a journey of my own.

In fact, it could have been even longer, because I’d have loved to have more detail of when Verity and Kettricken swooped down on Buckkeep and how they finally defeated the Red Ships. I’m not completely satisfied with Fitz’s recounting of it, and the explanation of how Forging was done doesn’t feel right. I mean it kind of makes sense if you stretched your belief within the scope of the world, but no… I need to know more.

And I need to know more about Fitz’s journeys as well. I want to know more about his year with Black Rolf and what he learned. Suddenly six years have passed and he’s acting like an old man when I make him still in his 20’s. Only six years have passed but now Nighteyes is graying when that would make him less than 10 years old. I mean surely wolves live longer than that!

The quick overview of what happened feels like a teaser and after spending so much time and emotional energy on this journey, I feel cheated out of a satisfying closure. There’s enough teased at in the last chapter to fill another book at least! My only consolation is the fact that I know there is more Fitz in the future books.

Coming back to the actual quest, I must say it was a good one. I like how Fitz is not your typical hero. He’s not so fanatically (okay maybe a little) loyal to the crown that he would give up his own child to it. He doesn’t even really want to do any of what he is doing, but is forced into it because of Verity’s skill imprint. All he really wants to do is find Molly and his child and lead a quiet life with them. Even though I never thought Molly was right for him, and I knew that would mean no more adventures, I like Fitz enough to want that for him too.

His PTSD is also heartbreaking, and I found myself missing the berserker of the second book. I hated Regal even more for what he had done, reducing Fitz to a cowering boy instead of the powerful warrior we had come to know and love (and maybe fear a little). I was all for him following through with his original plan of assassinating Regal, but ultimately I agreed that a better mission was to go looking for Verity.

The characters in this book were mostly familiar, with Kettricken and the Fool playing big parts in the quest. Chade and Burrich make appearances, Burrich mostly in Fitz’ skill dreams, but generally they didn’t play as big parts as formerly, and I found myself sort of missing them… especially Burrich. But then we got Starling and Kettle to make up the rest of the team, and as far as secondary characters go, they were okay. Both were irritating, but I liked them well enough.

There was a lot of intrigue sprinkled through the book, like when Starling tells Fitz that the Fool is a woman and I started questioning everything I ever thought I knew. Looking back over everything, I realized it was entirely possible that the Fool could actually be a woman. In fact, was it even gendered at all? Maybe it was a hermaphrodite. And when Fitz actually tried to ask him about it, he never confirmed or denied anything conclusively, except for maybe making a reference as to how he should have shown Starling his manhood when she mentioned “green manhood”. So from that, I think I’ll just go on and believe it’s a he, until proven otherwise.

The thing that really threw me started with the opening paragraphs of chapter 31. That already spoke of betrayal and his child being given up to the king. I thought the one who betrayed him would be Molly, maybe Burrich if I stretched. But then it turns out the elfbark actually hampers the Skill and suddenly it was Chade. That spiraled off into countless other deceptions and betrayals and I was actually freaking out a little. If the betrayer was Chade, that changed everything! Eventually, I carried on reading and the true betrayal came to light, but man, that was a stressful hour…

And last but not least, Regal. Spoiled, petty, clueless Regal. Who cared more about winning and power than what it entailed. I have to take a step back from my intense dislike of him and look at the bigger picture. Sure he needs to take responsibility for his actions and his beliefs and such, but if you think about it, his mother was a horrible person and did quite a number on him. She had fed and stoked his jealousy, planting delusions of grandeur in his head and making him believe he was so much better than Chivalry and Verity and should have inherited the crown instead. She basically moulded him, and if he had been stronger of character, or if someone else like Verity or Chivalry had spent more time with him and included him more, he could have turned out different. Or maybe not. As it is, I laughed when he was killed by the ferret.

Book Review

Book Review: Royal Assassin

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Rating: 5 Stars
Date Started: 26 May 2017
Date Finished: 31 May 2017
Pages: 688
Genre: Fantasy

I dove into this book immediately after finishing Assassin’s Apprentice, so right now I feel like I’m emerging slowly from a long and arduous (though not unpleasant) journey through the Chalced states. I found myself neglecting everyday chores and even turning off my phone so I wouldn’t be interrupted by friends while reading. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been so immersed in a book that I hadn’t lost interest and checked social media every 30 minutes.

Having done such a banger of a job with her world-building in the previous book, there wasn’t as much time dedicated to that in this book, and we instead dove deeper into the power struggles of the realm. It was painfully obvious who the main shit-stirrer was, and yet the drama was still real and engaging enough to keep my lower lip firmly clamped between my teeth. At times you want to rave at the gullibility and stupidity of some of the characters, because Goddamnit man it’s so obvious!! But then you need to take a step back and remember that you’ve got a unique perspective on things and make allowances for the characters and their inherent feelings.

The most frustrating was that it seemed like Fitz was the only damn person out of everyone who seemed to realize just how dangerous Regal is, and how far he would go to get what he wants! I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he’s behind the Red Ship raiders.

Most of the time I felt like climbing into the pages of the book and shaking Shrewd because he wasn’t living up to his damn name! Of course I changed my tune after finding out what’s really going on, but still… he should have abdicated and given the crown to Verity when he still had a chance.

I’m not even going to get started on Verity because I really like him but does he have to be such a damn martyr?! Also he really sucked at being a good husband, or even a nice person, to his wife. Still… I’m rooting for him! Anyone but Regal… can’t someone just accidentally stab him or something? I don’t understand how he has such a following! Then again it kinda reminds me of Trump’s presidential campaign…

Once again the characters really pulled this book through and made all the drama and court intrigue worth slogging through. The battles were exiting and as I suspected the mystery of Forging and the Red Raiders are still unresolved… except now I’m worrying that this is never going to be resolved! Which I know is unlikely but honestly at this point I feel like anything is possible.

One thing that bugs me is this stigma against the Wit. I think it would be the coolest thing ever to be able to communicate with animals, and yet everyone of the six duchies thinks it’s this horrible thing. It sounds an awfully lot like jealousy and fear to me, and how are they okay with Skilling but not this? Skilling in my opinion would be so much more dangerous! Also less cool… I REALLY like the idea of being able to bond with a wolf!

Having said that, I’m not fond of the way the Wit was used to “save” Fitz. It holds water in the overall story and fits in with the plot and whatever, but I don’t like it. Just like I didn’t like Rosemary…

**SPOILER ALERT**

 

I like Molly as a person, I really do. I think she’s strong and feisty and good. But I don’t think she’s right for Fitz and definitely won’t fit into his life. I’m glad she stood up for herself and left, because Fitz was not treating her right and in leaving she actually gained so much respect. I also have a suspicion that all her herbs didn’t help and that’s why she really had to leave, but I guess we’ll find out sooner or later if that suspicion is true. If it is it would be kind of ironic…

This line was perfect:

“I wanted us to share all our lives. You wish to keep me in a box, separate from your life. I cannot be someone you come to when you have nothing more important to do.”

Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review: The Fireman


★★★★★

Let me just state, first and foremost, I really loved this book. I haven’t read that much of Joe Hill’s stuff, but I obviously know who he’s related to, and I’m a super-fan of King. Which is also why it was pretty difficult to ignore the similarities between this dystopian novel, and The Stand. They’re completely different, yet a lot alike.

The similarities though… Not only do we have a deaf boy called Nick, but we also have a guy called Harold who hated everyone in the community and kept a diary filled with his hateful thoughts. A little meta, but Hill didn’t just draw from his father’s work. Mary Poppins had a significant role, and even J.K. Rowling was dragged in. It was a little disconcerting, but to be fair, these people are pretty big in real life, and it wouldn’t be weird for me to come across conversations about them or their works. I guess that’s what made it disconcerting… it made it feel like this book is set in our world… not a fictional one.

In the Fireman, we see a dystopia where people get infected with Dragonskin (I actually prefer it’s medical name; Draco Incendia Trychophyton, which has a beautiful, almost poetic ring to it), which seems to cause whoever is infected to spontaneously combust. Understandably, there’s a panic, and all kinds of shit goes down. What’s left is split between the healthy and the infected, with the healthy paranoid about staying that way.
This, of course, brings out the worst of humanity, and you have people who embrace their own sociopathic tendencies and use the legitimate fear of others to fan the flames of hysteria. Of course, after that it’s easy to justify genocide… you know, it’s for the good of everyone else.

We follow Harper, our Mary-Sue main character who is obsessed with Mary Poppins and tries to emulate her in everything she does, who gets infected with Dragonscale pretty early on. She is also pregnant, and determined to be delivered of her baby because she’s sure he’ll be healthy. Her husband doesn’t agree, and in trying to escape him and the people who kill the infected “for the greater good”, she is found by The Fireman and taken to a community of infected people. Here, she finds out that being infected doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to combust, as long as you give the spore what it craves… Oxytocin. I immediately wondered why this is not bigger news, but of course, scared people don’t necessarily listen to reason. Especially if they have a figurehead telling them what to think and how to feel and what to do.

The funny thing is… even in this community of infected, that same mentality prevails. To be perfectly blunt, it’s more like a cult, but at first, everyone was really good and accepting. Of course, this doesn’t last, and because Harper doesn’t want to blindly go along with everyone and join the crazy, she gets ostracized. The worst, or maybe the best, thing this novel does, is make it easy to understand how it can happen. When you’re scared, you look for someone to look up to, someone who will protect you. You’ll go looking for acceptance and security, holding on to even the slightest hint of it with a fanatic zeal. If someone or something threatens that thin membrane of security, you’ll do anything to stop it from breaking through. Anything.

The Fireman is different than the rest of the affected people though. While they can only keep the dragonscale from turning them into human blowtorches, he seems to be able to control it. He doesn’t want to share how he does it though… he’s a bit of an ass actually. But also likeable. I see David Tennant in his role if there’s a movie deal in the future…

While he does his fair share of saving the day, Harper isn’t your average damsel in distress. In fact, she generally goes around saving herself and everyone else, including The Fireman. Inevitably, they fall in love, and while I liked both characters separately, I wasn’t much of a fan of the way Hill wrote their relationship. It felt kind of forced and desperate, which it might well have been. Luckily that wasn’t a huge factor and I could look the other way while they bumbled through a very unconvincing romance…

There was a lot going on in this book, and I guess it wasn’t perfect. But I very much enjoyed the story. I loved that nothing was rushed, and he took his time to get the story out there. Sure, most of the time it was pretty obvious what was going on and what would happen, but it’s always been about the journey for me. A lot of times, that’s where authors go wrong. They think they have to rush. Sure, if the story ain’t any good, rush away, but with something like this, it’s like a slow burn (excuse the pun), and if you try and force the flames too quickly, you’re more likely to smother and kill it.

More than anything else, this book made me fear for humanity, because let’s face it, this kind of mentality is alive and well, even in today’s age where there isn’t an obvious threat like disease. But if someone convinces you that there is a threat, but that they can help if you give them the power… well, people can be gullible. And horrible.