Entries in mystery (38)

Monday
Jun102019

The Explorers: The Door in the Alley

This is another cute kids book I read with my daughter, and it's a lot of fun and super well-written right up until it falls flat on its face with a gimmicky cliffhanger ending. The author tries to hang a lantern on the ending, but it's still a cheap gimmick that takes away from an otherwise excellent book.

So, this first book sees no-nonsense Sebastian thrown into absolute nonsense when a pig in a teeny hat enters his life. His begrudging involvement with The Explorers Society introduces him to Evie who has some very big problems, including some terrible men trying to kill her.

Sebastian has just discovered the first clues to unravelling the mystery of all the trouble Evie is in. The two become fast friends as they search their home city for exiled members of the Society who can help them out of the trouble they're in, and maybe rescue Evie's grandfather, who is her only surviving relative. They might even save the world.

The story is full of danger and whimsy and friendship with a heartfelt, well-written style that is fast-paced and zany. I enjoyed it and my daughter loved it. The only failing mark is the cliffhanger, which is just so out of place and also so unnecessary. This book is excellent and leaves enough questions unanswered to propel readers into the next book. I really wish the author had trusted the story and not ended with a gimmick.

Monday
Mar252019

The Light Brigade

This novel is far darker and more brutal than I usually read, but I always make a grimdark exception for Hurley because her books are always so amazing. And like with The Stars Are Legion, this one also ends on a hopeful note that made the viscera-soaked journey worth it.

This is the brutal, hard-hitting, anti-fascist, capitalism-eviscerating, hopeful time-travelling military SF this timeline needs. Inspired by Starship Troopers (film version), the book follows military grunt Dietz through basic training and the long, impossible journey through war.

In this bleak future, soldiers are busted down into particles of light and beamed off to war. But it does not always go right. Some soldiers come back with their body parts in the wrong place. Dietz keeps coming back to the wrong time with the wrong memories.

She has to struggle through memories and events that don't make sense, trying to keep a tenuous grip on sanity while navigating the dictator corporation she belongs to. This is an excellent sci-fi thriller/mystery mash up with some time travel for fun and I'm probably going to have to read it again just to keep everything straight.

If you're already a Hurley fan, this won't disappoint. If you haven't read any of her books yet, this is a fine place to start.

Monday
Jun112018

Raven Stratagem

This is the second book in what I believe is a trilogy (or maybe series) and it was definitely much better than the first.

In this book Jedao/Cheris have taken over a swarm (like a regiment) under the pretext that only they can stop the Hafn invaders behind the invasion of the fortress in the first book. No one really trusts them, though the swarm's general and all her people don't have much of a choice.

And that's about as much as I can say without utterly spoiling the book. The characterization is better in this one, and the whole ploy by Jedao/Cheris is fantastic. While I was pretty sure of what was actually going on, the author did a fantastic job of making me doubt myself.

There are a lot of great themes going on in here too, about free will and redemption and what it means to be human. I enjoyed this book quite a bit. So if you got through the first book and are unsure about this one, I definitely think it's worth a try.

Tuesday
May082018

Six Wakes

This is more of my Hugo reads, though I suspect I would have gotten around to reading this one anyway. It's got a cool concept and I like the author. I'm glad that the current Hugo ballot is forcing me to read some great things I was putting off.

Anyway, this is about a generational ship setting out to colonize a new planet. Which is usually a pretty good setting to start with. This ship is being maintained by a small crew of clones. They get old and die, and a new body is cloned for them with their "mindmap" uploaded into the fresh new body. Very cool.

And then the book starts with crew waking up simultaneously with their previous bodies floating around them, clearly having been murdered, with a ship that's slowly going out of control. So they have to get the ship put back to rights and find out who murdered them and why. Their mindmaps have not been updated since before they left Earth, so the crew is missing more than 20 years of memories. Even the killer is unsure of their own guilt!

Despite the dark situation, I like that this book never got truly grim. When grimdark has become such a dominating genre, I'm always so pleased to find something that shows the best of people in bad situations.

I really liked the characters in this book and I really liked the story overall. It was interesting and fun, and the mystery aspect was excellent too. I thought it got a little hand-wavy regarding the revenge-plot that put them all in their situation, but the ending was satisfying overall.

My only real problem with this story was that the author's POV game was a little weak. I couldn't always tell who the POV character was until something jarring well into a chapter. I'm pretty sure this was due to a lack of deep-diving into character emotions, as I didn't really feel connected to any of the characters. I just didn't have enough of a sense of most of them.

But it's a great read and I definitely recommend it.

Monday
May072018

Thud!

So this is another Discworld novel featuring Vimes and the city watch. It was pretty good, but I finished it about a week ago and don't remember much of it anymore, which isn't the most glowing review. But I was in a haze of preparing for and then recovering from my daughter's birthday party, so it's probably not the book's fault.

This one is about Koom Valley, that battle between the Dwarves and Trolls that causes trouble every so often. This time, there's a lot of heated rhetoric, a Dwarf leader is murdered, the Trolls are suspect, and Vimes's authority as the law is under question.

But then the bad guys rather stupidly put Vimes's family in danger and then it's basically all over for them.

It's an interesting read, and so topical it hurts, with all the roasting of stupid rhetoric and old fashioned beliefs based on what turns out to be baloney anyway.

And I really enjoyed the bits where Vimes reads to his son. That the ridiculous book (and is there any other kind for toddlers?) comes into play at the end is just... very Pratchett.

Anyway, good read and another good addition to the Discworld series. I'm getting close to the end now, and it's a little sad.