Sunday, 9 June 2013

Book Review: The Departure by Neal Asher

This is one of the books that featured in my very first haul video! I bought it not long after Christmas.

  • Title: The Departure (Owner Trilogy #1)
  • Author: Neal Asher
  • Page Count & Publisher: 498 | Tor (Pan Macmillan)
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
  • Format: Paperback
  • Links: Amazon UK | Goodreads
Alan Saul wakes up on his way to the Calais Incineration Plant. He can't remember much, but he does remember pain and his tormenter's face. He has an illegal AI in his head who reveals a world full of death and despair. Earth is a hugely overpopulated planet, ruled over by the Committee, watched over by the Argus Array. The Committee need to kill 12 billion in order to stabilise the population of Earth, Saul doesn't intend to let them.

My Thoughts:
This took me some getting through! The first quarter or so of the book seemed to take so long to get through but the second half flew by. It's probably because while I love love hard science fiction (and this is definitely in the ranks of hard sci-fi), I'm not the biggest fan of post-humans. Aliens and such are fine, but something about AI and computer enhanced humans just doesn't do it for me. Maybe I was just traumatised by the Borg as a child.

This Earth is a brutal, violent world where the sheer scale of human life has cheapened its value. The phrase "manswarm" is used a few times and it sums it up quite well. There are Zero Asset and Societal Asset citizens. The be a Societal Asset means you have use (unless you start asking questions, then you get taken away to be re-educated) and the ability to buy food. Zero Asset citizens are nothing.

The world building in this was pretty fantastic. You got a good idea of the sights (and occasionally the smells) around Saul. You can understand how this world came to be, especially with the snippets of future history at the start of each chapter. This world actually makes sense, it feels real. Horrifically brutal, but real.

At first I wanted to sympathise with Saul. He has no idea who he is, everything about him was wiped out during his torture. You want him to find his answers, find out who he was and how he reached that point. However, as he began to get his answers he moved further and further away from what it meant in his world to be human. He's downright disturbing at the end and I even began to ask myself if he was "the good guy" after all. He doesn't seem to want to cause suffering, only death. Some of the obvious "bad guys" were a bit stereotypical bad guy-ish. You knew they weren't good but lacked some depth that could have added more interest to the world and storyline.

I am planning on reading the rest of this trilogy, but it's probably not going to be a priority.

Rating:  photo 1369523037_001_15.png photo 1369523037_001_15.png photo 1369523037_001_15.png photo 1369523023_001_17.png photo 1369523023_001_17.png

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Book Review: Noah's Ark by Andrew J. Morgan

This was my first for review book! The author contacted me and offered me a free download in exchange for an honest review. This has had no effect on the review I'm going to give.

  • Title: Noah's Ark
  • Author: Andrew J. Morgan
  • Page Count & Publisher: 289 | That Right Publishing
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Apocalypse
  • Format: eBook
  • Links: Amazon UK | Goodreads
We follow two characters, Alex and Michael. Alex is living the perfect life. He has a wonderful family and a successful career. Michael is living a perpetual nightmarish existence in a locked facility under sadistic guards. Alex thinks he's along after the darkness took everyone away. He's wrong.

My Thoughts:
This is such a hard book to review because discussing the plot at all will give away the biggest spoiler in the book! It was utterly confusing at first, until you figure out what's going on. And by confusing, I mean to the point where I put the it down for a few days until I could devote a bit more attention to it! You get absolutely no answers during these confusing first chapters but it all falls into place later on in the book.

While this book follows two main characters, there are a few other people involved. I don't think the other people felt as fleshed out as Alex and Michael and one or two were a touch stereotypical. I liked Michael a whole lot better than Alex, even at the start when it appears Michael is a violent, cold blooded murderer. Michael is always fighting for himself, to not give into those around him. Alex slips into a melodramatic funk quite early on and has a lot of things happen at him, rather than to him.

There is a huge amount of descriptiveness in this book, sometimes it's actually quite beautiful:
"His pondering swirled out through his mouth and drew spirals in front of him. They collided, showering reflective sparks in every direction.The ones that touched him burnt and stung; he yelped and they turned and slithered away, wriggling and writhing as they burrowed into the black."
-Noah's Ark by Andrew J. Morgan

Other times, the description got in the way of the momentum of the story, it felt a little bogged down in adjectives.

The tone completely changed once the two met, it got a little "action hero" dialogue-ish. There was some "I can't go on, leave me", "Never!!" type dialogue which felt a bit out of tone with what had happened so far.

There's a huge, and not unexpected plot twist at the end but there's a huge amount that still doesn't get explained by the end of the book.

Overall, it's a good and solid debut. I'm looking forward to seeing more from Andrew J. Morgan!

My Rating:   photo 1369523037_001_15.png photo 1369523037_001_15.png photo 1369523037_001_15.png photo 1369523023_001_17.png photo 1369523023_001_17.png

Saturday, 1 June 2013

May 2013 Reading Wrap Up!

I really enjoy watching everyone's monthly reading wrap ups on Youtube and I thought it would be a fun thing to do on my blog as well!

I had such a good reading month this month, managing a total of 7 books! Five of those were paperback and two were on my Kindle. I actually had a slow start to the month but picked up pace a week or so in.

-Uglies by Scott Westerfeld - my first finish this month, I enjoyed the world that he created and found it to be a pretty easy read.
-Pretties by Scott Westerfeld - I quickly moved on to the next in the series and devoured it in a couple of days. This was another easy read that I really enjoyed.
-Specials by Scott Westerfeld - I don't normally go through a trilogy so quickly so I was getting a little book fatigue by the end of this! Still, it was every bit as good as the other two in the series.
-The Need For Flesh by Matthew Hawking - this was a free at the time download from Amazon. It wasn't that long and I read it over a bus trip. It only rated one star, it might have been better if it felt like it had actually been edited before being released.
-The Departure by Neal Asher - this took my most of the month to work through, it's brutal and violent and took me quite some time to get into. A much better second half helped me finish.
-Extras by Scott Westerfeld - not quite as good as the other three of the series, I'm not sure this really adds anything essential to the overall plot of the Uglies series even though we're seeing the world after the events of Specials.
-Noah's Ark by Andrew Morgan - the last book I read this month (I finished it at about 11pm last night!) and the first book I received for review. A pretty good first half and a mind bendingly twisty plot!

What have you read this month? Any suggestions for me to add?