Book Review: Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

Sandman Slim (Richard Kadrey, 2009) – After eleven years in Hell, James Stark plans his return to Earth for revenge and absolution.

Verdict

Ever wish Hellblazer‘s run went on a little longer? You may want to add Sandman Slim to your reading list.

4/5

Review

Beware the monster who kills monsters, be wary of Sandman Slim. After eleven years of torture in Hell, James Stark has hardened his heart for vengeance. Now, the magician is reborn out of hell fire, almost bullet-proof with a knack for snarky comebacks.

Imagine John Constantine and his flair for the dark arts. Leave his usual British quips aside, and thrown in some American colloquialisms. Make sure his cigarettes, black humour, and massive ego stay intact. There, you have yourself a picture of Stark, a familiar but worthy anti-hero ready to unleash his rage back on Earth.

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Book Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel, 2014) – Intertwining fates are uncovered as The Travelling Symphony roams Earth after a devastating epidemic.

Verdict

Station Eleven sifts through forgotten memories, examining what it means to be human.

5/5

Review

Of intertwining fates and post-apocalyptic longings, Station Eleven shares the elegance of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and emotional complexity of Stephen King’s The Stand. These similarities do not draw away from its brilliant originality. An elegiac storyteller, Emily St. John Mandel has painted a beautiful picture of the world as we know it, and a hopeful vision of the future.

Her large band of characters begins their journeys at different points. But they are united in that common struggle to find purpose in life that we all seek. Take Arthur Leander, who has committed his whole life to showbiz, only to find that success in fame is not the answer.

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The Candy Book Tag

I don’t do tags often, since there hasn’t been much free time of late. But this one seems fun. Besides, it’s a holiday as I am drafting this. (Confession: All my posts are scheduled and I’m not really here.)

So thank you to the lovely sisters at Twin Bookmarks for the tag! Do check out their wonderful list here. Now, let’s get going.

Apples – Ah. Healthy food. It is deep, meaningful, and probably won a lot of awards but, um, it really isn’t your thing.

Dear David Foster Wallace, you are an enigma. A genius, but a puzzle all the same. No matter how daunting a book gets, I try to finish them all. Sadly, Infinite Jest turns out a challenge that I just cannot accomplish.

It is admittedly brilliant. I have had lines highlighted and re-written, for I truly fell in love with his poetic observations. Yet my focus meandered as the story did. For a year, this book has sat at 26% on my Kindle. Someday, I intend to get back to my personal Everest.

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Book Review: Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown

Red Rising Trilogy (Pierce Brown, 2014 – 2016) – Lowborn miner Darrow infiltrates the ranks of the elite Golds to bring down a class system that thrives on oppression.

Verdict

An intergalactic war of epic proportions marks the birth of a compelling young hero on terraformed Mars.

4/5

Review

Darrow is a Red, the lowest caste in a colour-coded society. The young Helldiver mines the surface of Mars, content in building a better world for future generations. Then, the truth hits. Humanity has long terraformed the planets. Reds like him are but slaves to the decadent ruling class of Gold.

Only with tragedy is he bestowed a fighting chance. The Sons of Ares, a resistance group, conscripts Darrow into their mission – to impersonate a Gold in the Elite institute and bring down the system from within.

Science fiction at its best, Pierce Brown has built a deeply immersive world of scale, spanning across the galaxy. Diversity is not just in the human race but in distinct aberrant beings, built to their varying upbringing. Even the planets are endowed with individuality. Each caste takes up their own slang, bound to slip into the daily vernacular of Howlers like us.

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Book Review: Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness

Chaos Walking Trilogy  (Patrick Ness, 2008 – 2010) – Where everyone’s thoughts can be heard, Prentisstown has a dark secret, from which Todd must escape.

Verdict

Thrills abound in the page-turning trilogy of grand ideas that are sadly lacking in subtlety.

3/5

Review

Prentisstown is not like any other town. In this town of men, every thought can be heard in an endless stream of Noise. Then, before his 13th birthday, Todd Hewitt and his dog Manchee come upon an area of utter silence. That is where he meets the first girl he has ever known – Viola, who has no Noise. With the Mayor’s insidious secret coming to light, Todd is forced to leave his home and run for his life.

Inspired by information overload in the modern age, author Patrick Ness builds a fascinating other-world, where men struggle with their thoughts that float in the open. Secrets wield powers, and knowledge becomes a weapon. This inventive premise keeps the pages turning in The Knife of Never Letting Go.

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Book Review: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Stories of Your Life

Stories of Your Life and Others (Ted Chiang, 2010) – The collection includes eight of Ted Chiang’s original published stories of remarkable wit and consistency.

Verdict

Meditating on the irresolvable meaning of humanity, Stories of Your Life and Others is an essential for keen readers of sci-fi, theology and philosophy.

5/5

Review

What if language has the power to change our perception? The story behind the acclaimed film Arrival owes its cerebral genre narrative to Ted Chiang’s source material. Story of Your Life tells of one woman’s account of her newfound perspective and resultant personal choices, positing how linguistics can shape civilisation.

The story is interestingly in itself, an experiment in language. Tenses shift between past, present, and future to untangle a complex yarn. Physics come into play with Fermat’s Principle of Least Time. But while rooted in vernacular and scientific technicalities, the speculative work is primarily philosophical, questioning the dichotomy of freewill and fate.

Equally thought-provoking themes can be found in the rest of the collection, Stories of Your Life and Others. Each of the eight short stories proves remarkable in their sophistication, accessibility, and rare originality.

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