Thursday, August 4, 2011

One Sentence Book Reviews, 2011, pt. 2

I've gotten through another twenty books since last time. This puts me about a month ahead of schedule in my reading, which means that I might just have time to read Infinite Jest after all.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman - Cynical and somehow still wondrous, and offers a nice variety of emotional impacts.
Bossypants by Tina Fey - Comes from the "collection of anecdotes" school of autobiographies, but still manages to stay entertaining and have small moments of insight.
Transition by Ian M. Banks - My least favorite book by Banks so far, mostly because it seemed florid to the detriment of coherence, which I've found to be one of his most common authorial sins.
The Family Trade by Charles Stross - Doesn't really offer anything new. It has all the technical grit of Stross with none of the usual charmingly original ideas.
The Hidden Family by Charles Stross - Sequel to the above, and ideally (since this is a six book series) shows some promise of how he'll expand the central premise into something better.
Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde - Fforde seems to write the Thursday Next books in trilogies, and this first one was somewhat aggravating because it doesn't resolve anything.
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins - A book steeped in a deep and abiding anger, and which retreads so many arguments I've heard over and over. I'd recommend it for someone who knows nothing about atheism, but not anyone else.
The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde - Somewhat better than Lost in a Good Book, mostly because it's more whimsical and fleshes out BookWorld a bit more.
Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde - The culmination of this Thursday Next cycle, and for that reason probably my favorite. It also offers a lot of twists (and time travel!), which I dearly love.
First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde - ... And we get right back to the start of a new cycle, with too many plot hooks hanging. I also think one of the problems with whimsy (the defining feature of Fforde's writing) is that eventually things start to get too crowded.
Guns, Germs, Steel by Jared Diamond - Very interesting, but he labors a little too long on proving himself, which tends to be a problem with books which are attempting to present novel science theories (as opposed to books which present pop science that already has sufficient backing from the community).
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov - This was my first reread of the year, and I liked it much less than I did in high school, mostly because the narrative seems too disparate.
The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Micheal Chabon - Despite (or because of) the fact that I had to keep consulting a Yiddish dictionary, it was interesting and atmospheric.
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson - World War Z, but this time with robots and worse porse!
The Company by K.J. Parker - This book is so multi-layered that I'm not sure what the ultimate message was, which I think works to its benefit.
A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin - An improvement over A Feast For Crows, but only by a little bit, and Martin hangs too many cliffs.
7th Sigma by Steven Gould - It unfortunately looks like Gould will never top Jumper. There are too many hints towards a central plotline that never comes to fruition.
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino - More like reading a book of poetry than an actual novel.
Rule 34 by Charles Stross - This is the Stross that I know and love, with a fast pace and interesting ideas at every turn. It's only slightly marred by being written in the second-person - I understand why he did it, but I think it hinders immersion more than it helps.
If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino - I can't decide whether this book was brilliant or completely masturbatory, but I'm leaning towards the former. There are books within the book, and a series of events that get continually more absurd.

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