Profile for R. Wood > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by R. Wood
Top Reviewer Ranking: 550,600
Helpful Votes: 26

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
R. Wood "Nightlock" (Newcastle, England)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1
pixel
The Declaration
The Declaration
by Gemma Malley
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

3.0 out of 5 stars Missed Opportunities, 14 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Declaration (Paperback)
As an avid reader of dystopian fiction, I was intrigued by the concepts raised in the blurb of 'The Declaration' - plus, the new edition cover shamelessly copies that of 'The Hunger Games', which I loved! As a result, I bought the entire trilogy in one go.

I really wanted to love this novel and I seriously wish that I could give it a better review. Unfortunately, I am unable to do so for a variety of reasons. The concept of the story (people living forever and the negative effects this has on society) is wonderful. It really makes you consider what such a world would be like. However, the world presented by the novel lacks depth, especially in the latter half of the text. Many points are over simplified and whilst the first half of the novel (set in the Surplus Hall) is dark and harrowing, it all goes a little downhill once the story steps into the 'outside world'. Often the plot doesn't seem like it's really going anywhere, and everything is suddenly wrapped up within a few pages and with little tension. It's as if Gemma Malley had been given a budget of how many pages she could write, then suddenly remembered it after writing the start. As a result, the novel is distinctly 'lop-sided': it has a detailed start, a small middle, and a minute ending. The 'shocking ending' that is promised by the critical acclaim was, to me at least, not at all shocking. For it to be so, I needed to care about the chcracters involved. Given their sudden and very recent introduction, this 'shock' did not evoke an emotional response.

The novel also suffers from a lack of description. By the time I got to the end, I realised that I had no idea what Anna, the protagonist, even looked like. That is how serious the lack of description and simplicity of vocabulary is. I couldn't say what colour her hair was, what colour her eyes were, or even how tall she was. Like I said above, to really care about a chcracter, you have to KNOW them, and I did not really know Anna, because I was never given to opportunity to.

Despite its faults, 'The Declaration' is a decent book, and would be especially good for younger readers in the 11-15 bracket, for example. For someone older, however, the lack of description and lop-sided story prove very problematic. Perhaps it's simply an annoyance that comes with age and a wide reading knowledge! Also, as stated above, I bought the entire trilogy. Had I not, I doubt I'd have read the other two in the series. However, they are a marked improvement of 'The Declaration'. Both 'The Resistance' and 'The Legacy' offer a much more balanced story, better description, and more detail on the social and historical backgrounds that drive the novel. I only wish that the author had managed to infuse the original novel with this level of depth.


Numbers
Numbers
by Rachel Ward
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

3.0 out of 5 stars Very inferior to its sequel., 11 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Numbers (Paperback)
As an avid reader of young adult's fiction, particuarly dystopians, I was drawn to 'Numbers' for three reasons:
1) It fit the bracket of books I wanted to read at the time.
2) The entire triology was available, unlike other series (I like to read them all together so I don;t become 'disconnected' during the wait!)
3) I was led to it through Amazon's 'Other Books You Might Like' feature on the webpage of a novel I had previously read and loved (check out James Dashner's 'The Maze Runner', it's great!)

I feel that 'Numbers', unfortunately, falls into that group of novels that sound great when you read the blurb - with a sytlish cover to match - but does not live up to its own - or the reader's - expectations. Whilst the urban setting of London provides a sense of clear realism, I was unable to find any emotional connection with the protagonist, Jem, or the other main chcracter, Spider. Their attitudes were so horrifically negative throughout the novel that I actually re-read the sentence or two where they used words like 'thanks', sure I'd mis-read. At times their attitudes were actually intolerable and I couldn't manage more than a couple of chapters at a time.

For the duration, Jem has an extremely bad attitude towards education, or anyone who tries to help her in any way, for that matter. After a while, even the upbringing she has had does nothing to stop you from declaring her horrid and insufferable. Whether it be a foster mother who bends over backwards to show her some compassion, or a dog walker who tries to offer her money when she's homeless and sleeping in a field full of cows, Jem's response is usually an aggressive 'F off'. After a while, you simply want to step into the story and tell her to 'F off', to be honest, and perhaps slap her across the face for good measure. It's not the swearing that's the problem (in fact, this makes it more realistic given the setting) - its the constant bad attitude that stops the reader from connecting with her in any way, or actually bothering to care about what happens to her. The realism though, is also let down by the fact that Spider's grandmother is so blase about allowing him to run away from the police. It just doesn't seem feasible and appears to be a very clumsy way of getting the story moving.

The novel is badly let down in three main areas:
1) Although the beginning and end are actually good and keep you page-flicking, the larger middle portion is slow and doesn't really seem to go anywhere (and, to add to this, this is where the reader suffers Jem's appalling attitude).
2) The lack or absence of an ability to connect with the protagonist emotionally - to care about Jem is difficult, if not impossible.
3) The complete underuse of the whole 'I can see the day you die' idea. Whilst it suggests an inner conflict within Jem, it is severely underdeveloped, which is trange because it is what the blurb focused on, what the reader expects, and what the first few chapters concentrate on so clearly, only to tail off and disappear somehwere in the middle.

With all of the above having been said, I would say, overall, that 'Numbers' simply does not live up to expectations. This is of course, only my opinion, and others may not agree. For me however, the lack of consistent realism, the inability to really care about the protagonist (at one point I think I actually hoped she'd die herself), and the sluggish pace of the larger middle section outweighs the glimmers of uniqueness that the novel could have captured in its entirety.

If you were to take my advice, I'd give 'Numbers' a miss and immediately skip to reading its sequel 'Numbers 2: The Chaos'. I'm glad I bought the trilogy in one go, simply because the sequel is superb, and is everything that its predecessor should have been. The pace is fast and furious, the reader is able to care about the protagonists despite their failings, and the setting is much more exciting and realistic - set in the not-so-distant future and quite dystopian. You would literally be able to read the sequel and understand everything just fine, without even bothering to read 'Numbers'. It is for that reason that I can award 'Numbers' three stars instead of two (or even one) - it is the predecessor to a fantastic sequel!


The Forest of Hands and Teeth
The Forest of Hands and Teeth
by Carrie Ryan
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, 16 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
'The Forest of Hands and Teeth' is far more complex than its blurb insinuates. It successfully creates a love story in one of the most unlikely situations you could - initially - think of: a zombie apocalypse. With its unique take on the zombie tale, 'The Forest of Hands and Teeth', with its narcotic, addictive prose is a breath of fresh air in a genre that has become littered with (pardon the pun) deadwood tales. Ryan accomplishes what few authors have done before her - making every chapter end on a cliffhanger which is in no way contrived.

The zombies (or Unconsecrated) themselves are a background 'character', though their threat is ever-present and their sudden, frenzied attacks are ferocious. The real shining star of the story is Mary, a teenage girl who is unable to decide what and who she wants in life. A stark reminder that even in the darkest of times, surrounded by death and the threat of infection, life finds a way to shine a light. Though several of the novel's characters seem to serve only as an instrument through which to uncover Mary's deeper hopes, dream and confusion, the novel itself is fantastically driven.

Ryan has created a dark, haunting world which demonstrates humanity's unending, incessant desire and will to survive against the odds. Both moving and terrifying, 'The Forest of Hands and Teeth' shines like a torch through the haze of similar though inferior post-apocalyptic zombie tales. The novel leaves the reader thirty for more, to uncover the secrets that have been so tantalisingly close throughout. However, this is simply another superb narrative technique by Ryan. Read the sequels 'The Dead-Tossed Waves' and 'The Dark and Hollow Places' and all will fall into place, giving you that "a-ha!" moment that makes all the best series worth reading!


Heartbreak On Hold
Heartbreak On Hold
Offered by davehopetrading
Price: 4.18

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A generally solid sophomore!, 11 Jun 2012
This review is from: Heartbreak On Hold (Audio CD)
Having owned Burke's first album 'Overcome' since the day of its release and still playing many of its tracks two-and-a-half years since, my expectations were high for her sophomore album. As I'd expected, it has its up and downs. Such is the 'curse' of the fabled 'sophomore slump'.

The album's stand-out tracks are definately 'Elephant', 'Let It Go', 'Fire', 'Tonight' and 'Oh La La'. Whether its pumping beats or piano melodies, its as clear as ever that this girl can REALLY sing. Throughout the album, and on these songs in particular, her voice ranges from raw strength to smouldering power, determined earthiness to broken heart. Few can dispute that the pumping beats of the album's dance tracks - combined with Alexandra's powerful vocals - leave you wanting to do anything other than hit the dance floor.

However, it is worth noting for anyone hoping for something earth-shatteringly original (aka The Adele Factor) on this album, that this is not quite the case. Lyrically, some of the tracks are simply not as strong as those of Burke's debut (she appears to use the word/phrase 'Tonight' in 70% of the songs). Some of the dance tracks are also slightly generic i.e. they lack a sense of clear individuality and artistic direction. However, if like me you come home after a week's hard work and simply want to forget the pompous "Ooh, this isn't exactly original, is it?" thoughts and have a good time, this album is undoubtedly just the ticket.

Burke is clearly a very VERY talented vocalist and I only hope that she continues to make music for a long time. The British music industry needs ferociously hard-working power vocalists like her!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 5, 2013 12:16 PM BST


The Birthing House
The Birthing House
by Christopher Ransom
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

1.0 out of 5 stars 407 Pages...1 Huge Disappointment!, 11 Jun 2012
This review is from: The Birthing House (Paperback)
Having bought this novel on the strength of its haunting cover and chilling blurb (plus the fact that it was labelled as "The scariest novel since Stephen King's 'The Shining'"), I was eager to get started on what I anticapted would be a terrific ghost story. However, after several chapters I quickly realised that this wouldn't be the case. Having never been the sort to admit defeat - I've only ever given up on a novel once before - I ploughed ahead, and page by page, over the course of an agonising three months where I'd practically bribe myself to read another chapter, I closed 'The Birthing House' and said aloud, "Eh?"

There were a few positives about the novel - there were several generally frightening moments (for example, the creepy doll that walks on its own around the bed) and the character of Nadia was vaguely interesting. Unfortunately, the thumbs-ups stop there. The protagonist seems to suffer from a case of small penis syndrome, constantly prattling on about how unattractive, fat and unsuccessful he is in comparison to his ball-busting, career-obssessed wife. The narrative is painfully slow (hence why I'd regularly bribe myself to read another chapter) and it's constantly near-impossible to understand exactly what the point of it all is. Throw in a few instances of someone having sex with a ghost (wonderful adjectives and verbs are used to describe that!) and you get one of the most confusing novels ever. My biggest regret, however, is not buying the novel based on its cover (cue "I told you so"s)or bothering to finish it. It is the fact that I also bought the second 'ghost story' by the same author. Unless I have a sudden and inexplicable determination not to have wasted my money, I will likely either donate both to a charity shop or put them in a time capsule so that generations in the future have an example of terrible writing.


Small Town Girl
Small Town Girl

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She Should Have Won American Idol 5!, 25 Feb 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Small Town Girl (Audio CD)
When I watched American Idol 5 I really liked Kellie's personality and her voice and really wanted her to win and when she was voted off I thought it was totally wrong. Turns out she didn't need to win anyway, because her debutalbum is absolutely amazing! A few of my thoughts on each trach would be:

1. Red High Hells - Really catchy and just one of those songs you simply have to sing along to, a brilliant first single

2. Gotta Kepp Moving - Amazing song with great music behind her voice

3. Things That Never Cross a Man's Mind - Anoth catchy song and one of the most country-sounding on the album

4. Didn't You Know How Much I loved You - Really heartfelt and you can hear the conviction in her voice

5. I Wonder - Probabaly the best song on the album, and about Kellie's mother, who left her when she was a baby. This is the saddest song I've ever heard and the emotion that comes through her voice is incredibly powerful

6. Small Town Girl - The album's title track and another one you find yourself singing along to

7. Wild Ponies - Great vocals and again some really good music behind it

8. Girls Like Me - I loved this song! Her voice carries the lyrics beautifully

9. I'm On My Way - Really nice lyrics in this one, another good song

10. One of the Guys - This song has the country-sound to it like others and is a nice diversion from the others on the album

11. My Angel - A contender for the best one on the album along with I Wonder. This one's about her grandmother who raised her and the grief is really evident in Kellie's voice, which really connects with you if you've lost a close grandparent too.

Overall I'd highly recommend this album to anyone, even if you don't usually go for country music. I've also got the albums from American Idol winners/contestants Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood and Katharine McPhee, and Kellie Pickler's is definately up at the top, just behind Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts!!!


Some Hearts
Some Hearts
Price: 5.24

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Fantastic!, 2 Jan 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Some Hearts (Audio CD)
After watching only the final of American Idol 4 online and seeing Carrie win, I immediately decided to buy her album and wasn't disappointed one bit! She has an amazing voice that can rival original American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, and the album is simply packed with brilliant songs. Favourites for me are Wasted, Jesus Take the Wheel, The Night Before (Life Goes On), Before he Cheats and of course her first ever single Inside Your Heaven. Can't wait for her second album, hopefully it will be evejn half as good as her first!


Vector Prime (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order)
Vector Prime (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order)
by R. A. Salvatore
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The New Jedi Order beings with...Vector Prime, 20 July 2006
SYNOPSIS

Twenty-one years after the Rebel Alliance defeated the Emperor at the Battle of Endor, the New Republic is struggling to maintain peace in the galaxy. A civil war in brewing in the Rommamool/Osarian system, and so Leia Organa Solo her daughter Jaina and sister-in-law Mara Jade Skywalker travel to the system to coduct negotiations with the figurehead of the conflict, Nom Anor. The three Jedi are disturbed however, when they discover that Nom Anor appears as a blank space in the Force. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker struggles to hold the Jedi Order together as rogue Jedi begin to take the law into their own hands, and he wrestles with the dilemma of whether or not to reestablish the legendary Jedi Council...

GOOD POINTS

Having adored Star WArs since I first saw A New Hope when I was 8 (I'm now 19), I have always had reservations about reading novels set after Episode VI, as I was afraid that it would change the films whenever I viewed them again. I finally let go of this and jumped in with the NJO, and I can safely say that I'm glad that I finally bit the bullet! As an avid reader, Salvatore's writing skills are amongst the best I have come across, creating the ever-daunting series-first-book with boundless imagination and depth. The death of Chewbacca, whilst very sad to those who love the movies, is an excellent point in the story of vector Prime, as not only does it tug at the heart-strings, but it serves to show that this is a serious book, illustrating that no character is safe, not even those from the films. Also, the flying displayed by the three Solo kids was written so well that you could see the TIE bomber shooting through the asteroids so clearly that it is as if you are watchign the Millenium Falcon do the same during Episode V! However, the best part of the book by far has to be Mara Jade's duel with the Yuuzhan Vong, Yomin Carr on the planet of Belkadan. The description is amazing, and keeps you flipping the pages as Mara executed flip after flip, parry after parry and strike after strike!

BAD POINTS

The whole business with ExGal and the team's failed (miserably with some very grapgic neck-breaks) mission on Belkadan seemed to be unneccesarily drawn out. They served as the parts of the book that you wanted to skip (hence the four stars rating). Also, I agreed (at the time of reading this first book in the series) with some other readers that the Yuuzhan Vong's biotechnology makes it seem unlike classic Star Wars, but by the time I reached the Unifying Force (see that review) my opinion on this changed considerably. Other than the ExGal parts, Vector Prime was a generally solid novel.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 7, 2008 11:06 AM GMT


Page: 1