What I’ve been reading, Vol. VI
Published by António Lopes on May 4, 2012

Isaac Asimov – Nightfall

My Review: The premise behind this plot is as simple as it is brilliant: a society living in a planet that is surrounded by several suns doesn’t know darkness, until a rare orbital effect causes a total eclipse every 2000 years. It is with this simple plot line that Asimov presents a brilliant story about a society that has to face its biggest fear, which, in fact, serves as a metaphor for any kind of catastrophic event that can launch a society into a primitive state and, therefore, is a great way of making the reader think about their own reality. However, I can’t help but feel that Asimov was a bit lazy about this novel. He does make a point about that in the foreword in which he states that the novel is based on a short story he had previously wrote and that he has made certain choices regarding the characterization of the people in that planet that were meant to simplify the reading process. But what he did was simply think of Earth, add a few suns to it and then describe what would happen if Earth’s population had to face darkness. But a society that never faced darkness would be completely different than our society. There simply wouldn’t be the concept of day as we know it, hence, there wouldn’t be a circadian rhythm. I just think it could have been developed into a full-blown sci-fi novel (probably his best) if only he had extended the idea a bit further. Also, the ending (which, obviously, I won’t discuss here) felt a bit rushed… as if the inspiration ran out or a deadline with the publisher was approaching.

My Rating: 4/5

Suzanne Collins – Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2)

My Review: In my opinion, this is the best of the 3 books. It still suffers from the same problem as in the first book where some of the twists can be easily predicted but less so. But in any case I like the main idea of the plot (which I can’t reveal as it would be somehow a spoiler) and I think it’s quite well written. I also like the way it ends and how it leaves the reader eager to read the next book.

My Rating: 4/5

Suzanne Collins – Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3)

My Review: Sadly, the last book of the Hunger Games trilogy is also, in my opinion, the worst. I don’t know if the intention of the author was to use the book as a personal manifesto against war (by implicitly stating that no one actually wins in a war and most of the times, nothing changes afterwards, in which case I think the book is actually perfect to convey that message) but the story is too depressing and completely different from the other two, in which hope was the main message. Perhaps that is a good thing, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. And I’m not sure that it’ll work as a movie to end a trilogy. Maybe they’ll change the plot a bit to conform more to the other two.

My Rating: 3/5

William Gibson – Neuromancer

My Review: This book was part of my quest to fill in my gaps in sci-fi classics. It is a well known and critically-aclaimed book that defined a new genre in science-fiction about a futuristic society where people have brain-computer interfaces to access a global network system called the Matrix (that rings a bell, doesn’t it?). The story is mind-blowing (yay for artificial intelligence) but a bit confusing and far-fetched at some points, but overall I totally understand why it is considered a classic. To have had the opportunity to read this in 1984 would have simply been a life-changing event. At the age of 33 in 2012 not so much so.

My Rating: 4/5

Isaac Asimov – Foundation #1

My Review: I love Asimov’s writing style and this book isn’t any different. He simply lays the plot’s premise at the beginning and then the reader just follows the story while mixing it with its own thoughts about that premise. That’s what I love about sci-fi, it’s the way it makes you think about those things you’ve never thought about before. In this case, it’s all about the use of knowledge and the power that comes with it, including predicting future events by making use of Psychohistory, a science that can predict the future but only in the large scale of a society, not at the individual scale. However, the book didn’t feel exciting enough to me, which perhaps makes sense because it was not meant to be read as a single book, it is part of a larger story. When I get the time, I’ll read the entire Foundation series.

My Rating: 4/5

Related: What I’ve been reading, Vol. I, IIIII, IV and V


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