Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What I’ve been reading

  1. Nineteenth Street NW by Rex Ghosh: The characters were somewhat cliched and the plot predictable but Ghosh writes well. In a way the biggest weakness of the book was to focus more on the financial “thriller” aspect rather than character development. There were flashes of character development that were worth exploring and might have worked better if the book had been turned  into some kind of a “drama” rather than a thriller.
  2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon: Somewhat enjoyable. I am a little divided on this in that while the plot was predictable I felt baited and switched for some inexplicable reason. There was a somewhat unexpected reference to Malaysia when the protagonist talked about “orang utans” which took me by surprise.
  3. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson: I was taken in by all the endorsements, especially Stephen King’s: “Not just the best novel I read this year, but the best mystery of the decade..... I defy any reader not to feel a combination of delight and amazement.” In my case, I felt neither - in fact I felt deceived. This was chick lit disguised as a mystery. If it had been just chick lit I might have enjoyed it but the fact that it was being marketed as a mystery was a huge letdown. What was especially annoying is the device the author uses to keep the reader reading is to withhold key facts to be revealed later. I can take this once or twice in a book but she does this continuously through the use of flash backs and different points of views. Generally I feel that the reader should know what the protagonist knows the same time the character in the book knows it.
  4. The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner: This was enjoyable and good for a few chuckles. I read this while we were in Yellowstone and it’s a good vacation book.
  5. China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh: I had to include the links because I am not quite sure to make of it. It was a good read and I agree with the review that says its a lot like reading Kim Stanley Robinson. Nothing much really happens but the setting and description of life in the future with China being the dominant economic force and America under socialist influences were particularly interesting.
  6. The Peace War and Marooned in Realtime by Vernor Vinge: Pretty good reads but not “deep” in the sense of McHugh’s book. Some have described Vinge as “hard SF” but I did not find these to be the case, especially compared to Charles Stross’ Accelerando.

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