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Toby Andersen (UK)

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Volume 1: Long Way Home
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Volume 1: Long Way Home
by Georges Jeanty
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.39

27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disasterous premise, awful drawing and completely un-buffylike!, 3 Feb 2008
i just finished watching the entire series (all 144 episodes) and was having withdrawal symptoms and decided to pick up and read Buffy Season 8 in comic form.
i wish i hadn't!
within these first few issues the entire premise of Buffy is subverted.
the comic is advertised as not being constrained by a small screen budget, but i think Whedon needs to realise that that is part of the reason buffy was soo good - it wasn't relying on money - it relied on great writing.
the story is totally warped - buffy and the gang have relocated to scotland - why?
they own and operate out of a castle - how did they get the money for that - Buffy is minimum wage!
they also have way way too many enemies - small budget meant few enemies per episode - but now there r zombie hoards - just as normal daily life and a t-rex demon and its just not right. it doesn't make sense - they destroy the hellmouth and now there's MORE enemies? wtf? i no there r more hellmouths but its silly and backwards
Xander and Buffy have a weird relationship starting - with no explanation
and the worst part is that in only these first 5 issues about 4 old enemies come back pointlessly. - ethan raine! Warren - with no skin! and amy - suddenly more powerful than willow!?
has joss run out of ideas? - does he have to keep rehashing old stuff?

its also very un buffy like
its all military styled - the 500 or so slayers sorted in regiments etc - it is almost like the awful 'initiative' of season 4
willow comes in to deal with amy - and she is un willow like in the extreme! - no concern for using her powers or going evil again - she jumps in to the fray - flying and pulsing magic and its totally un credible.
the silly general hunting buffy down is tragic - 'lets nuc her' in a city?! its just absurd

the structure of the story and comic itself is also incoherent - there is very little explanation for the odd things that happen - scenes change without any exposition - and the drawings are very unhelpful - amy and buffy look the same. in short it made me angry reading it.

i now cant remember buffy as ending on the highway - now it has stupid military insensible stuff added on after
the only reason this didnt get 1 star is that it has one redeeming feature - the script - just the words that appear in the bubbles - it is funny and buffylike and the comics only plus point

in short - avoid! if you enjoyed everything buffy was on TV then you will be disappointed - maybe even angry like i am.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 14, 2008 5:20 PM BST

Snake Agent: Detective Inspector Chen Novel (Detective Inspector Chen Novels)
Snake Agent: Detective Inspector Chen Novel (Detective Inspector Chen Novels)
by Liz Williams
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome chinese flavoured occult investigation - not to be missed!, 2 Feb 2008
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Liz Williams' Detective Inspector Chen series starts off with a bang with 'Snake Agent' - the first in a supposedly 4 part series. Set in near future China this novel is interesting and compulsively readable, fusing a huge array of exotic concepts and genres including police procedural, near future Sci Fi, occult magic, goddesses, demons and flitting between parallel worlds.
A shakey partnership between occult detective Chen and demon Zhu Irzh develops during a fast-paced investigation into the ministries of Hell, virgin ghost killings, a cross world kidnap and a government sanctioned bioengineered plague.
What follows is one of the best new novels i have read in months - a great display of cultural knowledge, interesting concepts, beautiful description and tight plotting. Williams has outdone herself creating an ornate world, populated with memorable characters and scenes and monsters and magic to put many fantasy novels to shame.
About 3 years ago i read 'Banner of Souls' by Williams - it was an awful novel of bad plotting, ineffective description and concept absurdity that i was hard pressed to finish.
i am SOOOO glad that i gave this novel (Snake Agent) a chance (on the strength of its cover - of all things!) and that Williams has proved that she can write - Snake Agent is well structured and readable, understandable, tightly plotted and fast paced.
Chen is the police liason with hell and when Chinese goddeses, dragons, ghosts and demons walk between realms he has got his work cut out for him.
Overall a great novel, pick up this new paperback edition (although the truely beautiful cover is missing and hard and expensive to find) and enjoy something very unique in a genre (supernatural investigation) that can be very stale.

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters
The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters
by G.W. Dahlquist
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Do not believe the hype - this is a real let down!, 23 Jan 2008
Reading the propaganda and reviews on the paperback edition of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, you'd be forgiven for thinking you had indeed picked up a immense literary achievement, 'the best read of 2007' and with 'scarcely a dull moment to be had', your new favourite book. But, I think you will be disappointed - this hype is false in the extreme and for many reasons this book is a real let down after the high hopes kindled by the advertising campaign.

Firstly,the plot
The majority of the plot is about who, out of a bunch of people we dont know or care about, is 'maybe' involved with, the 'thing' we dont know anything about until half way. What i mean is you get no information to even help you through the book until around half way - There is not even a mention of the (plot central) glass books until very late.

the story involves somewhere in the region of 100 pointless characters, being investigated haphazardly by our heroes. You dont know who they are, they dont have much personality and there are so many that you are forgetting who and what happened mere pages later - meaning it takes 100s of pages to understand who has done what.

Secondly i seem to be in wholehearted agreement with the other reviewers on amazon that this novel is in need of some extensive editing. it is around 400 pages too long (out of 700) with vast swathes of pointless description and meaningless conversations. i found myself skimming whole pages where nothing happens. in 300 pages the interest might be kept but at 700+ the novel is very dull and boring for large amounts of time.
in terms of plot, you end up completely uninterested in what the 'Glass Books' are by the time they are explained.

The book is full of pointless meandering, massive sections of prose, albeit nice prose, that doesn't advance the plot even a tiny bit and it seems as if Dahlquist is attempting some dickens-esque literary achievement with the more side lines he can introduce, the better.

because of these copious amounts of description and prose, these passages themselves become ineffective and rambling and over so long, the actual physical areas become disembodied as you cant remember far back enough to know where you are

the book is structured in 10 chapters from single points of view. you spend each chapter wanting the characters to meet - only for them to break up pages later. However, as events involving different characters happen simultaneously, these chapters become confused and over the books great length, a hinderance to enjoyment. The last 3 chapters are so out of chronological order as to completely confuse what is happening and detract from the important revelations that are being told.

on a plus, there is copious amounts of nudity, panty flashes and slit crotch knickers, innuendo and voyeuristic copulation - enough to satisfy any reader - but it does all seem a bit pointless.

I think my last gripe is 'who cares who killed Trapping?' we spend the ENTIRE book not knowing and, personally, not caring who did - and it is a completley side issue - when all the reader wants to understand is the books - not the pointless cabal. no-one cares about Trapping, except Dahlquist. definitely not the reader.

In closing, take Dahlquist's own prose to describe what the book is all about. On page 416 - 'miss temple...felt as if she had become marooned in a rediculous play made up of one rambling conversation after another'
dahlquist knows it. I know it. you now know it.
Dont bother with this book.

My Swordhand is Singing
My Swordhand is Singing
by Marcus Sedgwick
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars atmospheric but dull - but interesting vamps, 12 Jan 2008
A creepy vampire chiller, from Marcus Sedgewick, My Swordhand is Singing is an interesting emalgamation of myriad old vampire myths - brought together in a spare crisp winter world with an interesting, if simple plot.
The vampires are what's quite refreshing about this young adult novel - they aren't your modern, swarve, eroticised dark lovers - these vampires (never referred to as such) are more akin to half-zombies with a penchant for blood. They are animalistic, yet intelligent and organized. almost none of the modern banes of the vamp are used here either - rather the bok is a hark back to old medieval European vamp tales, which makes it seems nice and original.
Overall it is a good book, however, i did have problems with the quite dull 1st half of the book - where almost nothing happens bar exposition - and the dull, 2D lead character.
readable and eerie, but not scary, it has some great images, but they are too sparse. And the book could well have benefitted from being half its 200 page length.

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray
The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray
by Chris Wooding
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars dark and atmospheric - another Wooding gem!, 8 Jan 2008
Chris Wooding's award-winning 'The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray' is an awesome, exciting and darkly atmospheric young adult novel.
A fantasy set in a parallel 'wych'-infested London, the book is genuinely eerie in places, and has a tangible, vividly-imagined atmosphere that you can really see.
The story of Alaizabel Cray, beacon to the horrors of man's subconscious, and her fellow heroes is well structured, and interesting - there is a intricate plot beneath the cinematic description, with satisfying twists and turns and clever revelations.
It is one of the most satisfying single-volume young adult novels i've ever read and deserves it's critical acclaim. It is also the best of Wooding's YA fiction, dripping with visuals, description and plot intricacies, where 'Storm Thief' and 'Poison' were plain and under-described.
Overall a great read, visually-written and filmic. Should be made into a film.
If I had to pick a gripe, it would be the change in atmosphere when the danger hots up in the final third, but its just a preference (i preferred the slow, dark and dangerous beginning) - not a criticism.
9.5/10 - only because 'The Braided Path' (Wooding's adult trilogy) is better and I gave that 10

The Wasp Factory
The Wasp Factory
by Iain Banks
Edition: Paperback

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dark and violent - deceptively subtle but is it deliberate?, 2 Jan 2008
This review is from: The Wasp Factory (Paperback)
Iain Banks' 'The Wasp Factory' is at once a brilliantly disturbed, sickening and depraved novel chronicling a psycho and his insane exploits, but its very much a love it or hate it affair.
those who like this type of fiction might swoon about its cleverness, the unexpected ending, the subtlety of the prose and its many supposed facets of meaning, but equally those who hate it would be right in describing it as sickening, pointless, deliberately controversial and loosely tied together with a stuck on ending.
i dont really know what i feel, but i think i am siding with the idea that it is a deliberate take on a scottish 'American Psycho' but never as shocking or as tightly put together. the reasons behind the lead's psychosis are to simple even when you do get to the quite unexpected ending, relying to much on shock and not enough on substance.
However i did enjoy it. it is depraved and sick, but i found it readable and compulsive. the black humour was funny but also took something away from the shock factor of the killings.
overall - i'd recommend not reading reviews of it (yeah i no this is the end of a review) - and reading it without preconceptions, which is thankfully what i did. what follows is a darkly comic, compulsive and violent trip into a depraved mind, but you may feel cheated by the deceptive subtlety and unoriginal idea.

Starscape: Dragon and Thief (Dragonback Volume 1)
Starscape: Dragon and Thief (Dragonback Volume 1)
by T. Zahn
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars great space opera for teens - intelligent adventure, 31 Dec 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Dragon and Thief (part 1 of the Dragonback series) is a great little young adult adventure book. the story of runaway thief Jack Morgan and his symbiotic dragon is an awesome and entertaining read full of adventure and puzzles, twists and turns.
Zahn writes convincingly and with some great edge to his dialogue - some of the conversations between the leads are very intelligent and interesting.
The plot is solid and the twist is a nice satisfying surprise that sets up a neat cliffhanger for the next in the series.
a great book for teens - especially boys - it is a futuristic space opera full of gadgets and skills and danger and fighting.
the only down point is maybe a slight unbelievability to some of the schemes the leads pull off.
overall, well structured, intelligent, exciting and readable - i will definetely be picking up the next in the series after this enjoyable, if short read, from prose-craftsman Zahn.

Hunter's Run
Hunter's Run
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars intricate character development, but very dull novel, 28 Dec 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Hunter's Run (Hardcover)
hunter's run is a very readable character-driven scifi about a man, hunting another man at the beck and call of an alien slave driver. it is an intricate tale of changing loyalties and values and the survival of the fittest amongst unforgiving alien locales.

supposedly it took almost 30 years to get to the hardback version here reviewed, having sat on Dozois and Martin's desks for 2 decades alternately.

Anyways, it is nicely written - all the author's are great prose writers

however, the book is very lacking in terms of any real interesting plot or events. things are well described and lifelike, but i didnt care who lived or died - i felt i was just going through the motions of a story - very uninvolving.
that said, in terms of character development it is quite an intricate story - shame about the rather dull world and outside events.

Overall readable and provocative but dull
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 18, 2014 9:19 PM BST

Death Star (Star Wars (Random House Hardcover))
Death Star (Star Wars (Random House Hardcover))
by Michael Reaves
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a serious let down - not worth it - missed oppurtunity, 22 Dec 2007
this was a real disappointment.
given that Steve Perry wrote the amazing Shadows of the Empire i had high hopes for Death Star. i was disappointed then to find that the novel was totally dull, almost eventless and almost plotless.

It loosely follows the lives of a bunch of imperial employees abroad the battlestation as they go through their lives in the year prior to the station's destruction. but that is almost the whole structure - there is no plot, no development, no cause and effect over more than a scene - i truly wonder why it was written and how it got past the editors. er... no plot guys! it is a series or sporadic events tied together only by being about the Death Star. it boggles the mind that a book could be so pointless.

in terms of prose it is nicely written - Steve Perry is a great writer - but don't expect much - this book will probably disappoint.

overall - eventless, plotless, sporadic and pointless. why was it written?
5/10 (for the prose only)

Star Wars the New Jedi Order: The Final Prophecy (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order (Paperback))
Star Wars the New Jedi Order: The Final Prophecy (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order (Paperback))
by Greg Keyes
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars great set up to the potential endings, 18 Dec 2007
readable solid NJO book
sets up the last parts of the series well - but actually annoying in that the promised revelations still dont quite appear. Tahiri is a central figure and has an interesting part to play and this book is FULL of the Vong. there are massive swathes of the pages divoted to vong chapters about Nen Yim and Nom Anor. Zonama Sekot is threatened and its all very readable - it just doesnt shine out as one of the great books of the series.
it is atmospheric and written well - easy read
bring on the last book - i wanna know what happens!!

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