Nimona – a Web Comic / Graphic Novel

Besides the fact that the cover and the art work is gorgeous, this comic drove a hole in my heart and firmly made a place in there for itself forever.

There’s something to be said for the people who can make you fall in love with fictional characters: their mind and their social abilities work at a whole other level. People who can possess your emotions, take control and make them go this way and that, are people to be feared or revered. I haven’t decided which. Although, I must say the feeling of helplessly falling in love with minimally illustrated characters is refreshing. This emotional abuse, this manipulation, at the hands of a graphic novel was a roller-coaster ride. It had me rooting for the characters and I was emotionally invested in the final outcome of their lives. And that is what you want for your characters and their readers don’t you?

It’s almost always the small things that make you love someone and that knowledge is what the author used against us readers. She drove us into caring for this villainous creature and we didn’t stand a chance of coming out of this comic unscathed. It was spectacular. Little things like the witty banter between the two main protagonists/antagonists (honestly don’t even know what they are) made me squeal out of love. The story spun knights, legends, magic, science, love, and mystery into a tale that you could tell had been lovingly crafted by the author. It felt like a lot of time had been spent pondering over the seemingly shallow and yet inconspicuously deep story plot.

Somethings don’t need to be spelt out and the author understood that. Somethings are felt. The nuances of relationships that form the basis of love are like a universal language that everyone understands. I loved it every minute of it.

Authors like this make me wish that I could take a peek into a person’s mind. I want to know how it works, what makes it tick, and what it is capable of. People with such deep understanding of how to incite emotions in others scares me. It scares me to think what they could do with this kind of power; someone having this kind of power to manipulate my emotions is not something I take lightly because it is something I am so rarely in control of myself.

The work went beyond all expectations and YOU NEED TO READ THIS NOW. That is all I am saying. READ IT NOW. GO.

Ancillary Justice

“If you’re going to do something that crazy, save it for when it’ll make a difference,”

Excerpt From: Ann Leckie. “Ancillary Justice.”

This book is one that can only be classified as an epic Sci-Fi. It felt like it was setting up for a long haul and that you should probably stick around for the next few books. It was different enough to be interesting. It was about how spaceships were controlled by omnipotent and omniscient Artificial Intelligence. It is about politics and revolution in a science fiction setting.

It is about an Artificial Intelligence being betrayed by a dictator who in itself is another Artificial Intelligence. It’s a game of cat-and-mouse that is being played over aeons by two splinters of the AI dictator and the AI which is the protagonist of the book is used as a pawn and it takes it upon itself to make the fact that the dictator is split known to the world. Admittedly, there was a certain dept to the book and I think, for me personally, it will require a re-read sometime during the future. Since the concept was new and the avenues explored were quite unique, the book was a little difficult to digest at first and needs a little more concentration and deliberation.

Overall, it was an interesting read. I thought it could have been made more interesting. The switching from flashback to the present and vice-versa was kind of too quick and abrupt and left me kind of reeling from what felt like whiplash. I realized it was setting up for a trilogy or a saga so I guess I will have to read the rest of the books to figure out the gaping loop-holes that it left in the narrative.

Dark Matter

Nothing exists.All is a dream.

God – man – the world- the sun, the moon, the wilderness

of stars – a dream. all a dream; they have no existence.

Nothing exists save empty space – and you….

And you are not you – you have no body, no blood, no

bones, but you are but a thought.

Mark Twain

This was a decent book. The premise was interesting enough and most of the book was a mild read. Nothing earth-shattering. It had some good bits but most of it was just bland. I’d read it if I couldn’t find something spectacular to read. I don’t know if what I say from this point onwards is a spoiler or not, but how the plot was going to unravel was pretty obvious to me from the beginning.

It’s about a guy who gets kidnapped by some other version of himself that has managed to invent a machine that can allow him to cross over to parallel universes because he didn’t like the life he was leading in the other universe. Some things in it made sense. Some just got lost in translation from science to fiction. Read it if you wish. Everything was pretty bland from my point of view.

Golem & Jinni

For a book with such a cheesy title, this book really surprised me. It really wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be and there was a quiet pleasure in reading it. Admittedly, the title WAS the reason I was attracted to it and wanted to read it. The word “Jinni” just has such a pull to it, at least for me because of the mystery surrounding the legend rooted in our culture and religion. Regaled with stories from our parents and friends as kids about these mythical creatures that are made of fire and have powers that could allow them to rule the world if they so wished, our level of interest just got wired at the very mention of the word “Jinni” making us hungry for more information, any story that could reveal the nature of these beings so hidden from us.

The myth of the Golem was not something I have heard of. From what I read and will now research, it is a Hebrew legend. Beings made of clay as opposed to the Jinni being created from fire. In my religion, humans are made of mud and clay too. Does that make humans a form of Golem too? Hmm. I wonder. It’s unfortunate that Wikipedia doesn’t have the answer to life. It would make my life so much easier.

Anyways the book read like an epic and in a good way. The language was expansive enough to keep it interesting and not formal enough to be a difficult read. It was poetic and yet easy to make it an enjoyable read. The ideas were there, woven together and just like in life, some characters didn’t play an interesting enough part or have much of a role in the overall story and it seemed like it was close enough to real life and how some people just don’t play an important enough role in your life to make a lasting impression.

Her future unrolled before her like a dreadful tapestry, its pattern set and immutable. There would be a wedding, and then a house somewhere nearby on the avenue, with a nursery for the children that were, of course, mandatory. She’d spend interminable summers in the country, traveling from estate to estate, playing endless games of tennis, chafing under the strain of being constantly a guest in someone else’s home. Then would come middle age, and the expected taking-up of a cause, Temperance or Poverty or Education—it did not matter so long as it was virtuous and uncontroversial, and furnished opportunities for luncheons with dowdy speakers in severe dress. Then old age and decrepitude, the slow transformation into a heap of black taffeta in a bath chair, to be displayed briefly at parties and then put out of sight; to spend her last days sitting bewildered by the fire, wondering where her life had gone.

It’s true isn’t it? Sometimes I feel like we are all following a script and we are expected to play the roles that we are supposed to. Our entire lives are planned out by our society and we can’t choose a different life for ourselves. If we want something different for ourselves, we have to fight for it every step of the way.

She didn’t have the stomach for prolonged family strife, nor the fortitude to make her own way in the world.

And that brings us to this quote. Who has the strength to extend wars we have to fight to live the life that we want, that may be different from what others want for us.

Lexicon

This book was definitely one of a kind. Max Barry took all my beliefs about the power words have on us and turned it into a thriller that blew my mind. All of this while keeping us entertained with such an interesting premise. What if there truly a series of words that have the power to destroy us? Depending on our mental state, language is possibly a potent weapon most of us don’t really value the influence of and don’t understand the capability it has of destroying us. We wield the power to jab each other, hurt each other, cause pain or create happiness. What if there were words that we could use to take over another person’s mind? Does the idea truly seem far-fetched? It makes sense to me.

“For each person there is a sentence – a series of words – which has the power to destroy them.” – Philip K. Dick

It was fast-paced, predictable enough to make me feel smart but not enough to piss me off. It was exhilarating and infectious. There could have been some more character development but overall I was not disappointed in the book.  The guy in the book should have been the main protagonist in the book rather than the girl. The story should have analyzed why he was unique in being the only one in the world that could resist the power of words. Also, the antagonist’s motivations weren’t clear enough. An attempt to make him a religious zealot, a cancer patient and a person with just a shitty personality seemed like a Frankensteinish method of stitching up an antagonist that would piss most people of and cause most readers to root for the protagonist. It wasn’t required, but it was a small flaw in the overall amazingness of the book.

I loved how it spun the history of the spoken language from what started in Babylon when God was pissed off and how he split humanity by giving us different languages, with the thrill of a chase. I believe in today’s day and age, most problems are caused by our lack of understanding. If only we could communicate without the barriers of language, we would be so much better off as a whole. Language has a serious binding power. It tethers us together. Whether we are from different regions, different religions or different color or race, language gives us an anchor that knits us people together. I understand this, more so now than I ever did before, living in a country where a common language draws us people together like moths to light. Overhearing someone speak the same language as you works to provide you with a base; it acts as a linchpin that keeps people together and provides comfort to those that feel like they are stranded on an island.

The book definitely had some seriously awesome quotes that resonated with me. I definitely enjoy books with unique premises such as this and am always on the lookout for more. Give this a try if you are looking for some books that won’t bore you out of your mind.

“It’s defining yourself through the eyes of another. It’s coming to know a human being on a level so intimate that you lose any meaningful distinction between you, and you carry the knowledge that you are insufficient without her every day for twenty years, until she drives an animal transport at you, and you shoot her. It’s that.”

Excerpt From: Max Barry. “Lexicon.”

I guess I felt this quote meant something to me because I was in the throes of passion – ok I am totally exaggerating – but it meant something to me because there was a person I was starting to feel this way about. Obviously, since then, those feelings have calmed from being a torrential downpour to a soft patter of drizzle on a window on a rainy day.

Here’s another something I found interesting on some book’s Goodreads blurb:

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.

– The Nightingale

Obviously I don’t know what its like to go to war. I was more interested in the love bit.

“Then he discovered God. It had been terribly alarming… He began to see the divine in everything, from the circumvolved fall of a leaf to the fortuitous arrival of an elevator.”

Excerpt From: Max Barry. “Lexicon.”

This is me. This is how I see God. In everything. In the smell of a flower, in the fluffy tufts of clouds, in the night sky filled with stars, in people when they’re not aware that I am watching. He is everywhere. He is inside me. I see Him like no one else does. He is my friend. He is my partner.

Overall this book was great.

Jack Glass – Adam Roberts

It was a good book. Even better than a good book. Most books divided that are into different parts have two plots. One is the more immediate plot with regards to what is happening in that part of the story. The other one is more expansive. It is the plot of the entire story that connects all the different parts of the book and ties them together.

I would give this book 4 stars because there was something, I felt, that was wrong with it. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it. However, having thought about it for a while, I think I have it figured out. It was a tad slow and the conclusions of each part were kinda soporific. Otherwise, it was great. It was sci-fi, set in the future sometime, somewhere when the Galaxy is ruled by a bunch of dictators.

Here’s what I loved about it:

The most powerful form of human life seems to be female, which I thought was so refreshing. And it kept this theme going throughout the book. It was really nice how women being the dominant gender was shown to be something that was taken for granted by the people in this book as opposed to how in our society masculinity is assumed to be the more powerful gender.

There are two whodunnits and one story told in a somewhat straightforward manner. Agatha Christie style. And we already know who the murderer is. Well, not exactly but still. What I didn’t like about it was that the three individual stories didn’t have a solid earth-shattering conclusion. By the time each separate story ended, I was like “Meh!”. For a book like this, the last star would have been earned if the conclusions had been a lot more powerful than they were. But the overall plot of the book was really, really good. There was no unnecessary B.S. in the book and even though the author chose to add something I am usually vehemently against, he did it in such a by-the-way fashion that I actually ended up wanting some more of it. Very well done.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves Agatha Christie. And, honestly, who doesn’t love Agatha Christie? So I’d recommend it to anyone really. Anyone looking for something different to read.

I think this could be a beginning to a new genre. Agatha Christie/ science fiction mashup. I believe it is unique.

Oh, and did I mention that the cover is absolutely fantabulous!? I have recently grown to love stained glass and this cover just mesmerizes me. I want a copy of this book, just so I can look at it.

The Fold – Peter Clines

This could have been a 5 star book. Had the author stopped at about 60% of the book and just put the pen down. The last 40% of the book was entirely unnecessary drama that a sci-fi of this kind did not need. Ending the book earlier would have saved this book from being..just another wanna-be-famous book. Some authors need to stop trying to fit in plots and storylines in books that are not absolutely needed in the hopes that it will sell more. Stick to one thing and make it awesome!
It was a good book initially. Smartest man on the planet working in a high-school teaching English Lit (wish my Prof was like this protagonist; mine just seem like they’re bumbling idiots)

This is my pet-peeve and I know I rant about this all the time but it is the single most annoying thing in the world for me. Others might not agree but authors really need to learn NOT to stick a love storyline/aliens (ok it’s sci-fi so I’ll forgive the want to stick aliens in it…but books having characters that find their one true love in the middle of a crisis really is starting to piss me off) specially when there is already so much interesting stuff going on in the book already. This isn’t some 1980’s sci-fi. Step into the 21st century people. Not all of us need to find love in situations such as this. Do it later. After the story ends. After the book ends. Do it in your head and don’t let anyone see it. It doesn’t add depth to your character. It cheapens them. All the loose ends could have been tied into a nice loose end, rather than introducing a warring alien species into the mix too.

This really could have been a book deserving 5 stars. The last 40% ruined it. If you are the sort of person who can abandon books, read till you hit 60-70% and then leave it. Keep the memory of this being a great book alive in your mind rather than the mediocre one it becomes soon after crossing that threshold.