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Adam Stokes "skoolyad" (London, UK)

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The Windup Girl
The Windup Girl
by Paolo Bacigalupi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Almost 5 stars, 11 July 2012
This review is from: The Windup Girl (Paperback)
The world and characters Bacigalupi has created in 'The Windup Girl' are fantastic. His portrayal of 22nd Century Bangkok is up there with the best dystopian visions put to paper - including Orwell, Stephenson and Gibson - in fact I'd go as far as saying that the destroyed world he creates is so authentic - and yet familiar - that it's possible to totally forget you are reading a sci-fi novel at all. It's worth the price of the book alone... which is good because 'The Windup Girl's story doesn't quite live up to it's premise. It's not bad at all, it just doesn't unravel with a skill and drama to match the world it is set in. I wouldn't let this put anyone off however, as it's a really good read regardless.


Dreadnought
Dreadnought
by Cherie Priest
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Another decent steampunk novel from Cherie Priest, 11 July 2012
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This review is from: Dreadnought (Paperback)
I've given all three of Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century novels 4 out of 5 - although 7 out of 10 is probably more accurate. They're all cut from the same cloth: civil-war era steampunk adventures populated by amusingly-named characters who walk and talk with authenticity, but they're also all subtly different enough to not feel overly familiar. There's also a strong helping of spunky female leads and a smattering of zombies to keep you interested. The real downfall with all three novels is their tendancy to take a while to get going and 'Dreadnought' is no different. The build-up is lovingly and carefully written, it just makes the scenes set on the Dreadnought itself come across a little rushed. It's not a bad read (and the Sci-Fi Essential prints are also very thoughtfully produced) - just not perfect.


Boneshaker (Sci Fi Essential Books)
Boneshaker (Sci Fi Essential Books)
by Cherie Priest
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 stars for the idea - 3 for the execution, 11 July 2012
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I liked the premise of 'Boneshaker' and Priest's portrayal of post-apocolyptic 19th-century Seattle and the characters who dwell there. It's a lovingly crafted book and you can tell Priest has a real fondness for the period - I just felt that it took a bit too much time to hit it's stride (as her subsequent novels have done also) which left the end feeling a little rushed. Also be warned: it's not really a zombie novel - although a zombie-type scurge does inhabit much of the city where the action occurs, but this is not the novel's central theme.


If the Dead Rise Not: A Bernie Gunther Mystery
If the Dead Rise Not: A Bernie Gunther Mystery
by Philip Kerr
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A great central character, 11 July 2012
This is my first Bernie Gunther novel although I didn't necessarily feel that I needed to have read any of his previous adventures to appreciate this one. The evocation of Nazi Germany is fantastic (like a film noir take on Hans Fallada's Alone In Berlin) but the novel is carried by the narration of Bernie Gunther himself - a German Sam Spade with a irreverant sense of humour and a penchant for getting himself beaten up. I agree with many other reviewers that the novel's main weakness is a sudden shift half way through that takes the novel to the other side of the world and decades into the future. It was brave but just a little jarring; perhaps Kerr thought his readers were getting bored of 1930's Berlin? It won't put me off getting other Bernie Gunther novels however.


The Martian Ambassador
The Martian Ambassador
by Alan K. Baker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I'd give it 7 out of 10 if I could, 11 July 2012
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This review is from: The Martian Ambassador (Paperback)
This isn't a bad book; at its heart is a pleasing and somewhat original mix of steampunk and HG Wells' martian-alia - albeit with a nice twist in that the martians here are benevolent. The two lead human characters are also nicely constructed and the villains are also suitably deplorable (there's even a cliched 'bad guy taunts kidnapped heroin with details of his evil plan' scene. It's clearly not meant to be taken too seriously which is why it pains me to say that there are a couple of plot elements that felt just a little too forced and pushed the book's credibility a bit too far over the top - in particular the appearence of a faerie king and queen at one point and the 'surprise' origin of the book's central villain (which I shall not reveal - even though the book does far too early in my opinion). Not bad.


Agent 6 (Child 44 Trilogy 3)
Agent 6 (Child 44 Trilogy 3)
by Tom Rob Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The worst of the series to date, 11 July 2012
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Having read and enjoyed 'Child 44' immensely, I have purchased both of Tom Rob Smith's follow-ups. 'The Secret Speech' is good in itself but felt a little too desperate to come across as an 'epic' and get itself adapted into a Hollywood movie. 'Agent 6' - despite an excellent premise - feels like a TV mini-series that runs out of budget half way through. I was intrigued by the opening chapters which genuinely reel you in, but once the tragic central incident has unfolded, the brakes suddenly slam on and the book wonders around in circles for ages - particularly the scenes set in Afghanistan. It's a brave move by Smith to jump so far ahead in time, only a third of the way in but it's not altogether successful (I was reminded of a similar, equally-jarring period shift in Philip Kerr's 'The Dead Rise Not'). And most frustrating of all, the eponymous Agent 6 (around whom the book's mystery revolves) is neither mentioned nor seen until the final quarter of the book. A missed opportunity.


The Dead-Tossed Waves
The Dead-Tossed Waves
by Carrie Ryan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

3.0 out of 5 stars Twilight Wannabe (except with Zombies), 11 July 2012
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This review is from: The Dead-Tossed Waves (Paperback)
I read (and mostly enjoyed) The Forest of Hands and Teeth, finding it a pretty original take on the well-worn zombie genre. It's sequel - The Dead-Tossed Waves - is more of the same, except that Ryan's desire to cash in on the Twilight phenomenon is much more obvious. Both books are essentially coming-of-age/romance novels set in a zombie-infested world, with teenage girls narrating both stories. The emphasis is on the girls' emotional reflections on the world around them and the romantic entanglements they have with their fellow survivors, so it's a long way from your typical gore-filled zombie fare. The real problem with The Dead-Tossed Waves is the narrator - Gabry - and her Stephanie Myer-esque unfulfilled longing for every male she meets. She's selfish and whiney and seems to change her mind between two particular boys literally from one page to the next; make your mind up love! I'm guessing that I'm not the novel's target demographic, which is presumably teenage girls, who will probably have more empathy with Gabry and have loved Twilight and The Hunger Games. It's not a bad book, just a bit blatant in it's attempts to cash in on this market.


Tongues of Serpents (The Temeraire Series, Book 6)
Tongues of Serpents (The Temeraire Series, Book 6)
by Naomi Novik
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The worst of the series to date, 11 July 2012
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I must concur with many fellow reviewers; I have read all the other books in the Temeraire series and I'm afraid each subsequent novel has declined in quality (some more than others) until we get to this very poor installment. Not only is Lawrence's obsession with 'duty' becoming a little tiresome but we are subjected yet again to more ill-tempered, pompous British bureaucrats who test our hero's patience to the full. But the real problem with this novel is the never-ending and fruitless journey across the Australian outback, which just goes on and on. It's a real slog and one I nearly opted-out of halfway through. I shall buy the next book in the series in the hope that this book is an aberation - rushed-out to meet a publisher's deadline - but my expectations are not that great. I also fear a rather predictable jaunt to revolutionary America is on the way soon...


Ganymede (Clockwork Century 3)
Ganymede (Clockwork Century 3)
by Cherie Priest
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars More of the same, 11 July 2012
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If you enjoyed the previous two novels in The Clockwork Century trilogy (I'm not sure whether the novella Clementine counts or not), you'll probably like this one - as it's more of the same. More zombies. More spunky heroines. More steam-powered engines of war. There's a familiarity that extends beyond the reappearance of several characters from previous installments which is no bad thing in my opinion, except in one area; like 'Boneshaker' and 'Dreadnought', 'Gannymede' also suffers from an overly long build-up. Yes, it draws you in and the world it creates is lovingly created, but the actual scenes within the 'Gannymede' feel rushed and tacked-on. as I've said before, it's a good book but it's not perfect.


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