hopefully tomorrow or monday I’ll post a review on Rocket Girls.
Title: Sleeping Giants
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Summary: One day a girl falls into a hole, except that hole is home to a giant hand emitting a strange turquoise light. An unnamed interviewer begins collecting a team of individuals to begin working on finding the missing pieces of this giant figure and on assembling it. Several things do not add up, including the metal makeup of the giant, the weight, and the light emissions. The team works together to discover its secrets and its capabilities, although not without dire consequences.
Reaction: Love. I love the way Neuvel writes this novel. It’s set up on an interview format minus some journal logs, and the dialogue flows so well. It fascinates me that people can write an entire book in dialogue form. The writing style is engaging and it refuses to dumb itself down. The author trusts his readers and the read is deeply rewarding. The cast of characters is diverse in gender and there are plenty of females in powerful positions which in my history of sci-fi books, is rare, very rare. All characters have their own desires and their own respective issues. For a seemingly outlandish book, Neuvel keeps it real with character responses and portraying the human condition in the onslaught of a technological reinassaince.
Aside from being a story, it’s much more than that. It asks questions, hard questions. Would you kill in the name of future peace? How many lives are worth this project? Can other countries really work together and not use a weapon of mass destruction for an offensive strike? Are citizens really expendable to governments? Is it right to alter bodies to perform better even if that meant making unethical changes? Do the people involved in bigger-than-themselves projects have a right to make any choices about their personal selves?
These are questions that we must ask ourselves as society continues making weapons that remove the human from the physical destruction site. These are questions society and governments must ask themselves: who’s worth losing and who isn’t? Neuvel clearly shows that the western world, while promoting “equality” never really believes that everyone is equal to some. He also showcases a very capitalist point of view: you’re helpful to the government until you’re not, then be willing to get cut from the program and tossed out on your own.
The ending is a twist, one I never saw coming. The sequel which comes out in April of this year is a book I’m definitely going to buy.
Some really good quotes that I highlighted in the novel include:
“You train your soldiers to kill using video games. They blow enough people up on their computer and it becomes easier for them to kill with a real weapon. Why do you think your government funds so many war and terrorism movies? Hollywood does your dirty work for you. Had 9/11 happened twenty years earlier, the country would have been in chaos, but people have seen enough bad things on their television screen to prepare them for just about anything. We do not really need to talk about government conspiracies.”
“I suppose that’s why people are disenchanted with politics. They expect whoever they elect to change their lives.”
“Every major religion has to adjust to this revelation. Whatever god you believe in can’t just be about humans anymore. He, or she, has to be a god for the whole universe. Heaven, Hell, Nirvana, whatever, all these things have to be rethought, reshaped.”
“Redefine alterity and you can erase boundaries.”
Give it a read and then give it some thought; it’d be a great book to discuss a lot of topics that plague society today.
all in this book like whaaa???
Title: Truly Madly Guilty
Author: Liane Moriarty
Summary: Clementine and Erika have been friends since childhood and continue to keep one another in their lives. Erika is the godmother of Clementine’s children, even. But one day when they get invited to Erika’s neighbor’s barbecue, something goes terribly wrong that shapes three families for the rest of their lives. Complete with secrets, dysfunctional families, resentment, and drama, Truly Madly Guilty dives into the ugly and the beautiful of the human condition.
My Reaction: Truly Madly Guilty begins during Clementine’s presentation about what happened at the barbecue through Erika’s perspective. Readers are left in the dark as to what actually happened at the life-altering barbecue until ~60% into the book. Moriarty does not spare any details from the mundane lifestyles of both Clementine and Erika. The perspectives alter in each chapter although the book is written in third person limited.
The mystery of what happened at the barbecue is supposed to fuel the reader’s imagination and interest into the novel, but unfortunately, Moriarty’s need for describing every little detail of every little thing we do in life outweighs the excitement of anticipation. We are left in the dark grappling for: what the hell happened? It’s frustrating and I often wanted to give up on the book.
When it gets to the last 40% of the novel, the pace picks up very nicely. Suddenly readers can spiral into the drama of what happened that day and how / why it changed all three families involved. Compared to the beginning of the novel, the ending is like finally jumping off a plane to skydive while the beginning is like the anticipation but mostly dread of actually getting to the jumping part.
It is the end that saved this book from a 1/5 rating. Moriarty does do very well on describing the human condition and the human psyche but she does it in such a dull, mundane way that I struggled in caring. I did enjoy some of the backstories, mostly Erika’s, but it isn’t a saving grace for the novel by any means.
Unfortunately there were no quotes I liked well enough to highlight and I do not believe this would by any means qualify for literary fiction. There is nothing very insightful that Moriarty gives me as a reader.
The author also has a penchant to tie everything together with a nice little bow on top, and while it’s generally nice that author’s can tie things in together, it’s on the rather dull/obvious side of things. For instance, it’s raining throughout the entire novel until one day it clears up and the sun is out. The metaphor is tiring and trite at best. The other tie-ins are eye rolling ones that aren’t complex at all. And then there are some things, like Clementine’s mother’s resolve at the day of the barbecue that never come to light. There are many things left unsaid or unfinished in the novel.
By the very end things return to the mundane and there were probably about 100 pages of actual good, exciting writing. Not that Moriarty is a bad writer by any means, her prose is generally good by qualifications, but it’s boring and not insightful. But this book could have easily lost 200-300 pages and it would have been a good novella.
20% in the book and i’m still wondering: what the hell happened at the barbecue?