[personal profile] curuchamion
...terribly long, but hey - I don't stop reading just because LJ goes down. ;-)

X-Men/Avengers: Gamma Quest by Greg Cox (trilogy) (re-read)

Summary: Involves kidnapped mutant superheroes, killer robots that look like Hulk villains, a very long fight at Niagara Falls, and various other things. Starring (in no special order) Rogue, Wolverine, the Scarlet Witch, Storm, Cyclops, Beast, Captain America, Iron Man, the Vision, Iceman, and the Hulk. And some supervillains. Also Nick Fury.

Reaction: Well, I like it. It was written much later than "Devil in the Sky", and you can tell; the POV voices are much more consistent, the pacing is way better, and the characterization is quite good - not fantastic, but... reliable, I guess.

Wolverine is well-handled and similar to Chris Claremont's Wolverine, which is my touchstone for X-Men fic *g*; Captain America is a bit portentous, but not bad; Beast is absolutely fantastic. Greg Cox likes to go overboard with adjectives and general word-fun in his writing, and when it's coming out of Hank McCoy's mouth, that actually works. (Whenever I try to write Beast dialogue, which is almost impossible for me, this is my main reference.)

Also, the plot is way less predictable than "Devil in the Sky". Heck, I didn't list the villains above because finding out who they are is a Major Plot Point. And my littlest sister (who likes to start halfway through a book, read to the end, and then finish the beginning) actually had to read the whole thing frontwards in order to make sense of it. :D

Janus Gate by L.A. Graf (trilogy) (re-read)

Summary: Timey-wimey gapfiller fic for the three days after the Enterprise was thrown back in time at Psi 2000 (in "The Naked Time"), till they caught up with themselves.

Reaction: I LOVE THESE BOOKS. So much. I love the plottiness, and the twists and turns, and the creepy suspenseful stuff in the caves, and the characterization of all the TOS Seven, and the heavy focus on OCs and minor characters... (Zap Sanner! Yuki Smith! Riley and Palamas and Martine/Tomlinson and and and! :D Zap Sanner is my favorite fictional geologist ever - not that there are a lot to choose from, but he and Jaeger remind me so much of the real geology profs I know. ♥)

Also - apologies to Diane Duane, but this is still THE BEST BONES EVER. ;D The snaaaaark! And the awesome! And everything! :D Also the end of the book where he and Spock are arguing. AAAAAAAH SO MUCH LOVE.

Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (recced by [personal profile] sophia_sol)

Summary: A Napoleonic-Wars-era story about the last two practicing magicians in England, who are fated to bring back magic to the land. Or something like that. X-)

Reaction: ...this is a weird thing to say about a book as thick as two standard trade paperbacks together, but it's too short. There's the skeleton of an excellent book here, but it wanted another couple years of rewriting and some expansion of the worldbuilding and characterization. (Granted, I've been spoiled - the first fantasy novel I read was LOTR, which is unbeatable - but I still think it could be improved.)

That said, it IS a good book. Very plotty and well-written, very self-consistent and well-structured, very interesting. I was up half the night finishing it, having overestimated the font size and thus underestimated the reading time required. And even though I spotted some of the plot points in advance (what do you expect - my dad's a lawyer, plus I grew up interpreting Redwall riddles *g*), it was still fun to watch them work out. Also some of the concepts were Quite Fascinating... which is to say I wish there was more of it. ;-)

Storm Front by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files series, #1)

Summary: Harry Dresden, the only wizard in Chicago's Yellow Pages, tries to solve a double murder for the police before the murderer can kill him.

Reaction: You know what? I'm getting quite tired of magic in recent fiction. It's predictable, it's overly structured, it's... basically, it's alchemy. It's all about the spells and the ingredients and how everything has to be just so, and for someone raised (like me) on "Annon edhellen, edro hi ammen!" etc (what? of course I have that memorized *g*) it's boring. Very boring.

Which is a shame, because I was looking forward to this series. The concept is brilliant, and a lot of my friends like it. I quite like some of the writing in this book, too, and the general pacing is very well done. But the magic bores me, and there's something... off... about the minor characters; everybody's too dang pretty, including Harry. A guy with a voice like that ought to be more deprecating about his own looks, and a story set in the seedy underbelly of Chicago ought to have distinctive characters, or at least ones you can tell apart. (I was getting thoroughly mixed up among all the beautiful women by the end of the book.)

There's a part of my brain that's trying to create my own urban-fantasy world now. I'm not sure if I should let it; I have a knack for getting bogged down in worldbuilding technicalities, which is exactly what I'm complaining of in other 'verses. *thinkyface*

The Wounded Sky by Diane Duane

Summary: A new long-distance hyper-warp drive has strange effects on the Enterprise's crew.

Reaction: She is good. Inarguably. (I forgot how fond she is of weird metaphysical stuff - this book reminded me of her "X-Men: Empire's End", which involves psychic projections of the X-Men fighting... something I don't recall - but she can really rock it. The second half of the book was essentially a gorgeous prose poem; it took me quite a while to get my head out of pastiching that style. And I loved the image of Bones's soul burning so bright with compassion that you can barely look at it, because that is RIGHT. ♥)

But I can't really relax into her writing, for two reasons. One is that she doesn't do her research, and she's really good at pulling stuff out of thin air and making it sound convincing. Which is good when you're building a totally original world, but having to remember not to believe her on interesting-sounding tidbits unless I know them from somewhere else... that gets pretty wearing.

The other is that she plagiarizes. I'm sure she doesn't mean it that way, and "homages" to classic sci-fi are admittedly fun, but CREDIT IS IMPORTANT. For instance, there's an exchange in this book ("It would break your heart" - "Why? Was it so sad?" - "Sad? No!") that's straight from Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but it's not credited in any way, and I couldn't recall where I'd read it before... so I couldn't enjoy some of the other awesome lines properly because I was wondering if they were original to her or yoinked from things I haven't read.

(Greg Cox does a better job, fcol. He's just as fond of skiffy homages, but... well, I quote: "Maybe if I try reversing the polarity of the neutron flow, she thought, I can clean up the transmission a bit. Lord knows it always worked on Doctor Who." Admittedly he's writing present-day there, but... *shrugs* Present-day refs in Trekfic, though disorienting, don't bother me as much as "what a writer! wait, was that her writing or someone else?")

I've got more newly-read books to post about, but not tonight... ;-)

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curuchamion

July 2011

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