Archive for potential

THE SUICIDE EXHIBITION By Justin Richards – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2015 by stanleyriiks

Hmmmm…. Where do I start with this? Should I start with the title, which is good and what drew me to buy the book but is barely mentioned? Do I start with the fact that this is the first part of a series and barely has enough of a story for one episode? Do I start with the potential this series has, but that it fails at the first instalment?

This book makes me angry. The first half of the book is pretty slow and boring as the various characters are introduced. If these were great characters, if we were given some insight into them, if the background of the second world war was convincingly portrayed, you might forgive a slow start.

The second half does ramp up the action a bit. We have a secret government organisation usurping Foreign Office officials, army personnel, Bletchley Park code-crackers, and American female pilots, attempting to infiltrate a secret Nazi conspiracy to use ancient burial grounds and UFOs against the British. The first half merely hints at this and introduces the characters, the second half of the four hundred page novel (it seems like so much more!) sees our intrepid team venturing into enemy territory and making some headway in their investigation into the Nazis’ obsessions.

Just as everything starts getting exciting, there a reasonably entertaining climax, left open-ended obviously, and we’re expected to stump up the cash for the second instalment.

I’m afraid I won’t be there. I’m assuming this will be a trilogy, but there’s not enough of a story in the first book to fill the whole of it. Pretty much the first two hundred pages of this book could have been covered in a quite interesting prologue.

Barely memorable characters, a half-baked plot, and loads of potential do not make for a good read. This took me a month to finish because I was just so bored of it. Towards the end I was reading loads just to get it out of the way.

Another failed attempt at a world war two alternative world series. I wish someone would just write a damn one-off novel for once. I don’t want to have to read three books to get a single story.

Unimpressed and disappointed.

The Quantum Thief By Hannu Rajaniemi – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Jean le Flambeur is a legendary thief, who is broken out of prison by the alien Mieli and her sentient starship Perhonen. Jean is a post-human, his body was taken from him, his mind was imprisoned and mental torture took place during his incarceration. Now he has a new body, but his memories are not intact, and to do what Mieli asks of him he has to rediscover who he used to be.

What follows is an intricate spider-web of intrigues, layer upon layer of deception and politics.

Difficult is not a word I use often to describe a novel, but I found this one a challenge. There is a deep and complex world here, and Rajaniemi doesn’t make it as easy as it could be. This book written by Peter F. Hamilton would be another six hundred pages long, but would make a great deal more sense.

The climax the story builds towards seems to fade out before actually happening, but the complexity and intricacies of the plot had me floundering at times. On the surface this is a simple crime-thriller, but deeper it is a massively detailed political siege drama.

There are a lot of complex and excellent ideas, the gevulot privacy system, sharing memories, and post-humanity are clever. The fact that nothing is described, information is given only as part of the story, and sometimes details and explanations can be lost, or simply not explored enough, create a sense of confusion in the reader (in this reader anyway).

The failure of the climax (did I miss it?) is just as annoying as the lack of clarity.

For those willing and able to re-read a book this is likely to be one of those books that grows on you with a second or third reading, but I want to enjoy a book on the first read, and don’t want to have to give myself a headache concentrating and working out what every idea is before moving on with the plot. An appendix with explanations might be been a helpful addition.

This book shows massive potential, but feels like an unedited manuscript in need of more explanation. Great cover though, and I’ll likely pick up the second book in the trilogy when it comes out later this year, in the hope that some knowledge of the first book will help.

GARDENS OF THE MOON By Steven Erikson – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by stanleyriiks

In the author’s introduction to this novel he says that he’s unapologetic for the “throw you straight in” style of the book and he leaves readers to either sink or swim. He also says that the book was always ambitious in scope, and readers will either love it or hate it. Well, I did both.

For the first hundred pages I loved this book, the richly portrayed fantasy world, the sheer depth, and the fast-paced action drew me in. Then we get to the second section of the novel, where the various factions and their plotting to take over the city of Darujistan come to the fore and things start getting complicated, very complicated, and I admit that I got lost. Not with the plot which is fairly simple, lots of factions attempting to take over the city or using whatever means necessary to stop someone else taking it over: from the Empress’ Adjunct; the Bridgeburners (Imperial Army but almost outcasts); a young girl being used as the pawn of a god; a thief, also being used; Captain Paran; the Council of Darujistan; the Ruler of Moon’s Spawn; the Alchemist Barak; The Guild of Assassins; and the list continues. It is the sheer scale of the story that gets in the way of its telling. Fantasy isn’t normally this plot-orientated, and in some ways this feels more like a science fiction epic.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the complete lack of characterisation means that none of the characters is even noticeable. The scale of names to remember and the fact that several characters have more than one name, and it just gets confusing.

As the various threads of the story begin to come together for the denouement, everything begins to make sense again, but Erikson chooses then to get the gods more heavily involved than they already were. A couple of hundred pages towards the end everything suddenly becomes clearer, although still muddied.

Ambition is no bad thing, but here the ambitious scale has meant good characterisation is sacrificed. Yes, we have one of the most in-depth worlds ever created, possibly due to Erikson’s gameplaying background, a world with several sets of humans, other species, gods, and a full background history. But we have no good characters to follow other than standard cardboard cut-out stereotypes, a young love-struck thief, a world-weary Sergeant, a ruthless Empress… Again a victim of Erikson’s gamer background?

For every plus with this first book of the tales of Malazan there is an equally important minus. Erikson’s sacrificed character for scope, he’s thrown away clever plotting, and thrown in everyone (including the kitchen sink) in an attempt to make the story more complex than it really is, just confusing everything.

The fact is this book shows great potential. I’m just not sure I’ll be willing to put in the effort to read another of the Malazan books to find out if Erikson can reach that potential.

Not the best introduction to a world, and not the worst. A shame that it wasn’t better, as I could have been completed hooked.

VAMPYRRHIC By Simon Clark – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2010 by stanleyriiks

I quite enjoyed this. It’s not normally my kind of thing, it’s a gentle, old-skool horror novel.

The premise is excellent, Thor (from Norse mythology) made a pact with a family a thousand years ago and gave them a vampire army to destroy all of Christendom. Unfortunately the family didn’t stick to the plan, and now, a thousand years later, David Leppington has returned to the family home to find that he is the last of the line, and expected to take control of the vampire army on its unending march to domination of the Christian world.

That would have been a great book. Unfortunately what we get is this great idea as the back-story. The main plot concerns David Leppington returning to his hometown, the town of Leppington, named after his family, and discovering the legend of Thor’s vampire army from his uncle, and then attempting to destroy the army before they begin their attack.

The first two thirds of the book set up the story as we are gradually given more information about the legend and the town. The story slowly and gently unravels, the vampires begin to escape and attack the human population of Leppington, but it isn’t until the uncle blows a hole in the bars imprisoning the creatures that the action kicks up a notch and David and his new-found friends, must fight for their lives.

Clark is a writer of such potential, as shown by the premise. But here he’s missed a massive opportunity. The book we’re given is in no way as exciting, entertaining or as passionate as it could have been. It seems this is a much more traditional, staid, and middle-of-the-road novel, playing safe rather than provoking any kind of emotion.

The writing isn’t Clark at his best either, his characters are all weak, limp-wristed, wet-wipes. Nothing there to incite any feeling.

Still, being the wrong book, a massive missed opportunity, a complete failure in potential, this still isn’t such a bad book. It certainly doesn’t have much going for it; but it’s a good little standard horror novel, similar to what Richard Laymon used to churn out endlessly.

Typical low-impact horror.