What I’ve been reading, Vol. VII
Published by António Lopes on August 27, 2012
Categories: Books, Geek, Personal

Stieg Larsson – The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

My Review: I wasn’t really impressed with the previous book (The Girl Who Played With Fire) and so, at the time, I wasn’t planning on reading the third book. But since my wife was reading the books and was then planning to watch the Swedish movies based on the books, I decided to also read it. Although the book is better than the second one, it’s not as good as the first, mainly because of Stieg Larsson’s investigative reporter-way of writing. Because of his background as a journalist, Larsson writes with the need to justify everything with facts that, although important to make sure there are not plot holes, becomes really distracting and tiresome for the reader that just wants to follow the thrilling story. That same story, written by someone else would probably have 150 pages less and you would still be able to follow every bit of the story.

My Rating: 4/5

George R. R. Martin – A Game Of Thrones (A Song Of Ice And Fire #1)

My Review: There was no surprise with this book, it was superb. I actually only read the book after watching the first two seasons of the Game of Thrones’ television series. But now I’m reading the remaining 4 books before the third season comes out (if time permits). The richness of the story and the characters is what makes this universe so wonderful and, although hard to follow sometimes (which is almost always the case with such giant fantasy epics), it is brilliantly written. I was also surprised to see how the adaptation to the TV series is so close to the original books. If you think about it, it actually makes sense considering that spreading the story through a 10-episode season per book is much better than condensing everything into a 2-hour movie per book and loose so many important bits of the story. I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that The Lord of the Rings should have had the same treatment as opposed to having 3 movies that left the die hard Tolkien fans really upset. But I guess money always speaks louder. Luckily for Game of Thrones, that wasn’t the case… and fans rejoice.

My Rating: 5/5

Ernest Cline – Ready Player One

My Review: This is not a brilliant adventure story but the real value of this book is not in the main plot line, it’s in the surrounding universe. If you’re a geek between 30 and 45 years old, you need to read this book. The amount of references to movies, games, music and assorted geekery of the 80s and 90s is enough to keep a grin smile on your face most of the time you’re reading it. Bonus points to the audiobook version of the book read by Will Wheaton. He does a wonderful job impersonating all the characters and references throughout the book. Fully recommended.

My Rating: 5/5

Daniel H. Wilson – Robopocalypse

My Review: What bothered me about this book was not the fact that it decided to pick up on a fairly-old theme of robotic uprising against its fellow humans. It’s OK to use recurring themes as long as you bring something new to it. In this case, the author decided to introduce a Cloverfield-like view of the war against the robots, that is, we’re actually “hearing” the testimony of a surviving soldier that collected several testimonies from different people and robots. The problem with this (and this is not a spoiler) is that you already know that the humans won the war. That, again, may not be a problem as long as you provide a good story in between. But, unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case. The author doesn’t fully justify the robot uprising and when that is occasionally referred to in the story, it feels a bit rushed and like the old “You humans are bad. Must destroy.” story. Also, the surviving soldier’s testimony on each of the recording episodes always ends with his assessment of the importance of each event and the people involved. This completely guides the reader throughout the plot and we’re left without a single surprise in the entire story. You basically know everything that is going to happen before it actually takes place. The (very) few times that something interesting pops up, it is quickly dealt with and never to be spoken again, leaving the reader with that “That’s it?” feeling. With all its flaws, the story is still entertaining and I very much liked the robot-view of some of the episodes. And considering that Spielberg bought the rights to make a movie out of this book, I’m eager to see what he’ll come up with.

My Rating: 3/5

George R. R. Martin – A Clash Of Kings (A Song Of Ice And Fire #2)

My Review: Continuing with the brilliance of the first book, this second book does not fail to impress since it follows the multiple story-lines with the same greatness in writing. The characters and their personalities are so well described that you can’t help but feel connected to them, even the seriously disturbing ones. A small note of the TV adaptation of the book. While the first season of the Game of Thrones TV show was closely linked to the first book, the second season has taken several liberties by changing some of the characters’ course (but ultimately maintaining their endings) and, although, most of them don’t really matter to the character development, I can’t help but side with some of the decisions made at the TV show for being even better than the ones in the book. For example: the interaction between Arya Stark and Tywin Lannister in the second season of the TV show (and inexistent in the book) is simply brilliant.

My Rating: 5/5

Related: What I’ve been reading, Vol. I, IIIII, IVV and VI

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