Tuesday, August 25, 2009

no tension at all

Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead
Rating: 2 stars (out of 5)
Genre: fiction
Review: I found this book oddly lacking in tension. Not all books have to have tension, but I got the feeling that this book was supposed to. The main character (whose name we never learn) is supposed to decide between two factions in a small town that have different ideas about how or whether to rename the town. The tension between these two opposing parties should be at the heart of this book, but I just couldn't bring myself to care (possibly because the alternative to the town's current name is just silly). The lack of tension is especially ironic when you consider the name of the town that the main character finally decides on, which I think is supposed to summarize the overall theme of the book: Struggle.

Monday, August 24, 2009

just a little unbalanced

Steal Across the Sky by Nancy Kress
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
Genre: science fiction
Review: Good science fiction is more about the characters than the science. And this is good science fiction. Unfortunately, Kress goes a little overboard in weighting the book toward the characters (sometimes less human drama is more), but this is still a very interesting story. Kress presents a familiar question (what comes after death) and answers it in a unique way, without taking any of the various moralistic routes a less skilled author might have.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

the river and the people

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Genre: historical fiction
Review: Great story with great, believable characters. The language occasionally faltered into too-modern speech, but overall the setting is well-constructed. The conflicts are realistic, as are the resolutions. The black and white period photos are a great addition. A very enjoyable read.

Monday, August 10, 2009

reptition repitition

The Gate House by Nelson DeMille
Rating: 2 stars (out of 5)
Genre: fiction
Review: This is the most repetitive book I've ever read. Not only does it repeat the entire plot of The Gold Coast, but every single point is made over and over again. And over and over and over. To top it all off, the writing is beyond trite. I'm sure it's very difficult to edit a book by such a prominent author, but if ever a book needed a rigorous editing, this book is it. And unfortunately, no matter how interested I might have been in finding out what happened to the characters of The Gold Coast (admittedly, not very much), the lack of editing, not to mention the ridiculously convenient ending, made me care even less.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

nothing new

Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Genre: mystery
Review: If you like police dramas, you will like this book. If you're looking for something new and exciting in the genre, you won't find it here, nor is this book destined to be a classic. But the writing is strong, and the drama fairly compelling, so it's enjoyable for what it is.