Posted tagged ‘book review’

Arthur Phillips – The Egyptologist

April 23, 2010

Arthur Phillips – The Egyptologist

“Tonight, I toil in the clamour of a little cabaret where the chicha smoke forms jinn who embrance their puff-cheeked masters with massaging fingers.  I watch the smoker by the door: a nest slowly coils around his head, the faint echo of an ancestor’s mummy wraps, but each time the door opens to his right, all at once the smoke rushes out, away, up into the star-flecked, plum-coloured sky.  The door closes and he begins again, shrouding himself top to bottom with smoke; the door opens and invisible plunderers again unravel his work.”

That’s a hell of a descriptive paragraph.  Sadly, that level of authorship only bursts forth erratically, as the book is a bit amateurish.  Engrossing, yes, but I was disappointed as each of the characters revealed themselves to be nasty and brutish as the story progressed.  A good mystery works no matter when the reader figures it out–this one wasn’t very fun for the most part after I solidified my guess about 2/3 of the way through.  Still, it wasn’t bad, just not great.

I Evoke Brow 34: Just remembering John “Beezer” Vanbiesbrouck makes me smile

April 30, 2008

A certain chemistry : a novel [WorldCat.org]

Miles apart from Mil Millington’s first book, Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About (not to be confused with his website, thingsmygirlfriendandIhavearguedabout.com), but at least as good. Where the first had a ludicrous plot that was safely ignored in favor of the phenomenally funny writing, A Certain Chemistry retains much of that humor (I initially wrote that as “humour”–hard to shake those Britishisms after reading it) but greatly surprised me by showing off some serious writing chops. I’m tempted to give it a perfect score, but I think it falls just short: 9/10.

I Evoke Brow XXIX: As many reviews as Robert Johnson has tracks

September 26, 2007

The Ghost Brigades, John Scalzi

As alluded to in the last post, much better than the first book. This one is follows the Special Forces, which are of course more exciting than the GIs, but it’s also more introspective and developed. Still, I wish it had taken its time with some of the moral issues the characters touch on at times–it moves at a fairly breakneck pace, especially as the book goes on. The setup for the inevitable sequel is a bit campy, but not distractingly so. And alluding to the love story of the first book while basically setting it aside until the final chapter was a peculiar choice. But all these negatives are occurring to me now, upon reflection–while reading it I was merrily engrossed. Scalzi blends well thought out future technology with other convenient devices (like spacewarps, though they are not so named) that he doesn’t seem interested in rationalizing. The result is a a novel that retains much of the feel of Hard SciFi, but really is more of a futuristic technothriller. Not necessarily a bad thing but I would have gone in with different expectations, especially for Old Man’s War, if I had known that.

8/10