Monday, July 11, 2011

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Another post apocalyptic novel by Bacigalupi.   He received a nebula for his debut novel, the Windup Girl but to be honest I preferred this one.  It seemed more honest, and the simple determination and courage of his characters shines through in a world now almost devoid of oil, and where even small children are put to work breaking up wrecks for the small amounts of metals they contain. 

Nailer's days on his job are numbered, almost too big for light crew and the job of crawling through ducts for wires, and too small for heavy crew he faces an uncertain future.  His only remaining family a brutal father strung out on drugs, he has created a family of sorts among his crew, but loyalty in this world is a hard thing, bought in blood and broken for money. 

When a rich girl washes up with a storm, he is left with the choice to slit her throat, take her wealth and make a better life for himself - or can he justify the risk of keeping her alive?

A gripping book without the technical or scientific bullshit of his previous novel, this was for me the ultimate teen read even if, from what I understand, it is being sold for adult consumption. Great fun!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

This and That. Books. And Things. Apologies for being so slow to post.

 There's something about books, going into a bookstore and looking around to see what's new.  There's always something exciting, some new author, or an old favourite just waiting to be read.  And because I work there, I can be real fussy.  If I read a paragraph and don't much like it, I'll try another, somewhere a little further in. That's it.  No more chances, unless it's come recommended or I've enjoyed reading the author before.  I almost threw down the latest Sanderson book, even though I think he's a great writer, because the characters at the beginning weren't empathetic or compelling enough.  Then I made the mistake of saying that to my husband.  He looked at me with utter shock.  "But you can tell it's going to get good."  Yes, but for me it had to get EXTREMELY good to make up for the mucking around.  And I still think that first section could have been pretty much edited out with no/little loss of story. 

Then I was chatting about books with a friend, and to a certain extent we liked the same sort of thing, but I was shocked that she could love Hyddenworld by William Horwood.  Someone had recommended it to me so I stuck at it for the requisite hundred pages, maybe even one or two more.  But in my eyes it was unoriginal hack.  Nothing new, nothing original, the same old same old... more Tolkien anyone?  But for her it was like cuddling up with a favourite blanket, and a warm cup of cocoa.  Nice, and warm and friendly.  Now I'm busy struggling though Tad Williams latest book, and I love bits of it, and hate others.  Shadowrise is I continuation of his Shadow... series.  And some of it is exactly the blanket and slippers and cocoa and its fantastic and some of it - I have to wonder what he was thinking.  It's just not as succinct as I expect from a writer of his calibre - and it's not that its not succinct because some of the charm of the series is that its epic.  And I love epic.  Truly properly epic, but I think it's just because its at the stage where Robert Jordan, and even to a certain extent George RR Martin struggled/are struggling with their epics.  There's just so much happening, and the characters are so beloved it's hard to focus on the real story and the way it.  Now George, well he was earning enough that he could spend the years it takes to knock his behemoth into shape (and hopefully he has - because boy, I haven't looked forward to a book half so much as I've looked forward to his latest - due out July 12 - in America) but Tad Williams undoubtedly lacks that luxury, so he just keeps on keeping on, which is great because for me these books are that cosy blanket, the hot drink, the gluten free muffin, yes, it has many aspects of trite fantasy, the very stuff I railed against in Hyddenworld, but there's a life here, a soul, a little unexpectedness, and an unexplored world - that for me still holds some excitement, and enormous potential.  So, yes, it's taking a while but I'm happy to keep reading on, to find out if Briony and Barrick will ever fulfil their early potential, to see if Flint, the orphan boy is really who I think he is, and if Qinnitan will eventually find her freedom, and the King too, and to see if Tad can do what he always seems to have in the past, pull his series together in a surprisingly good ending.  And once I've finished this series, there's China Meiville, George RR Martin, and I live in hope, another Frances Hardinger, Robin Hobb... and that's not counting the new authors, the ones where you pick up the book and can't put it down, I found both Frances Hardinger and Emma Clayton that way, and there's always the hope that I'll find another un-put-down-able author - and may be this time they wont be kids books.They'll be the "important sort of biographies that Joanna and Mary like so much, the literature...  No, who am I kidding, I like what I like - and as many have said before, there's no accounting for taste and still, that's half the fun.

Yes working in a bookshop is very rewarding, because there's nothing a writer likes better than talking about books. Great Books. 


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