Thursday, August 12, 2010

Quick Book Reviews

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao- Junot Diaz
I loved this one as it deftly jumped around in time and gave me my first real look into the history of the Dominican Republic. As a part-time geek, I sometimes cringe at stories too steeped in superheroes and twelve-sided die, but Diaz manages to make it work here. The main problem with a story with multiples characters and story lines is that some are ultimately more interesting than others. As such, the story does meander in spots and I found the ending to be all too predictable. That being said, it was quite enjoyable.

Mother Night - Kurt Vonnegut
As I may have mentioned previously, I’m a pretty big fan of Kurt Vonnegut. The man had a real knack for spinning gold out of straw. He can take a seemingly simple premise and use that as a building block to tell a much larger tale. There’s plenty of absurdist humour here and some keen observations about people, trust and truth. In the end, however, I don’t think I was ever fully sold on the protagonist. Maybe I was always supposed to feel slightly detached from him. With Vonnegut, you never really know.

Counterclock World - Philip K. Dick
This is a lesser work by Dick. Like so many of his books and stories, the concept is interesting, but the execution falls short. Here, time has begun moving backwards and the recent dead return to life. All of this occurs amidst great political and religious turmoil in future America. Unfortunately, the main characters are never fully fleshed out and Dick fails to truly harness the rules of the time in reverse concept. There are just too many times the ‘rules’ are broken, and that kept me from buying into the premise. A good springboard for a movie, but that’s about it.

A Study in Scarlet - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
While I had seen a lot of his work in various formats (film, comics, radio), I had never read any of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle source material. My wife has this on her book club road map, so I dove into during a train ride. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and Doyle writing style holds up quite well. I did find the change in location and time to Utah to be more than a little jarring, and I wish there had been a bit more explanation behind the transition. I find it quite fascinating that a late 19th book has such a ‘modern’ twist involving religion and global revenge. I look forward to more Holmes & Watson.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

sherlock only gets better!!!!

Man of Bronze said...

Funny, it's the same with me, I love the character of Sherlock Holmes, see most movies about him, but never managed to sit down and read the original stories by Conan Doyle. And this is from someone who reads a lot.

There's a lot of classics I have promised myself many times that I will read "one of those days"...

Alexandre Dumas, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Conan Doyle, etc. Too many books to read with just one life... "sight"

Kurt Vonnegut is one of my favorite writer! You describe his style very well in few words. I have not read MOTHER NIGHT. It is also on my "must absolutely read it one of these days".

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