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A Once Crowded Sky Paperback – 9 Jul 2013

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone Books; Reprint edition (9 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451652011
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451652017
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.3 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 198,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

A tour de force debut novel from a former CIA counterterrorism officer, A Once Crowded Sky fuses bom....

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've never written a review for a book on amazon before, but seeing that this excellent novel had only 1 review, and a mean-spirited 1 star review at that, I felt I had to set the record straight.

If you've read the previous review, you'll see the only reason for the 1 star was because this book has swearing in it. This is true, as a book that has adults speaking in it, of course there is the occasional swear word. Truthfully, there's not even that much 'bad' language in it, apparently there was simply an incredibly over sensitive reader.

Right, with that out of the way, to the book itself.

The plot revolves around a world that was, until recently, the home of many super heroes. Now only one remains, and the rest must learn to cope to live on without their powers, and the exciting life they used to lead. If you're hoping for non-stop action, this is not a book for you, much of the story is based around character moments rather than set pieces, although there are the occasional super heroics and battles involved, and well written ones at that.

More than anything this is a beautifully written love letter to the art of comics themselves, with a narrative that explores what it would be like to live in a world caught in the endless status quo that is so prevalent in comic books. Each chapter is named as if it were a comic issue, such as Devil Girl #257 or Prophiteer: The Secret Origin, and the writing style changes dramatically depending on which character the action is following.

To say much else would ruin the surprises this novel has in store, so I';ll leave it here. If you read comics, then I cannot recommend this enough, as it has been written by an author who truly loves the medium. If not, I still recommend it, as the style and pacing are impressive, and the story is just plain fun.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this hard going due to the style of the authors writing. Uncompleted dialogue and quick switching of perspective is ok for pub story telling but it makes following the plot of a novel overly arduous. Background is added seemingly randomly throughout the book and a lot of the characters feel two dimensional (go figure) !
The plot is good enough and it held my interest to the end but this is not a page-turner. It is a slog.
Overall a good premise - A world of superheros suddenly without all but one of them. Brief glimpses of how superheroes react to suddenly becoming average.The rest of the book details the redemption of the remaining powered hero and his disjointed journey.
As a short story this could have been very good.
For me this didn't work as well is i believe it could have but that may well be due to my preference for more linear tales.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I rarely write book reviews, but thought this one definitely deserved a better rating then it currently has.

This book hit a great balance between providing great action orientated story telling with thought provoking insights into the philosophical implications of a comic book universe, and non-comic book related topics too. I also enjoyed the interspersion of graphic novel type art throughout the book.

I didn't notice any particular needless or overwhelmingly gratuitous vulgarity as one review pointed out, and thought that it handled adult topics with more maturity then most books on the market.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough to people with OR without an interest in the traditional comic book multiverse.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Please be aware that this book has a lot of strong language. This wasn't mentioned in the write up on the website so I have wasted £7.99. I feel that if a book contains strong language it should be made perfectly clear the same as it is with music so customers can make up their minds in advance before the spend their money.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x884b0a08) out of 5 stars 77 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x889ebc60) out of 5 stars The comic book hero that saved the novel 10 July 2012
By Eric - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Usually, comic books are not novels, novels are not comic books. King has done something UNusual by mixing the two genres. For the most part, he does so without sacrificing the power of either one, which is impressive. Imaginative and carefully done, the book is both literate in the dense and self-reflexive world of superheroes and complex enough to offer long-form character development. You need to know comic books to really get everything out of the book, but it works on other levels too. King seems well-read in many kinds of literature and has come up with fresh sets of characters and ideas. It's a terrific first novel, and I'm curious to see its effect on literary conventions. But mostly, I think readers will like reading it.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x889ebb28) out of 5 stars A Literate Take on Super Heroes 11 July 2012
By James Joyce Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
My husband is one of those lucky comic book nerds who found a fellow comic book nerd to marry. Long before I met my hubby, I was turned on to Watchmen a couple years after its release when I was about ten or so. It was easily the smartest piece of literature I touched until high school, by which time I'd read Watchmen twenty times. I've been trying to amass a collection of comics and graphic novels--or any literature for that matter--which sets out to deconstruct the genre, and I've sadly concluded over the years that all of these works generally do little more than expound on Moore's original work, AT BEST. I think that the Incredibles must have done more to introduce comic-deconstruction themes to a mass audience than most comics since Watchmen.

AT LAST, we have another work to look deep into the meaning of comics and the idea of metacomic writing in Mr. King's work. For the first time since my read of Watchmen all those years ago, I find myself reading this title, now for the second time since I got it yesterday and blew through it in one night. I'm happily finding new insight in both the storyline and the greater themes that King must have considered at length before he wrote word one of this novel.

And, not for nothing, it is an exciting read, with well thought out and believable characters, particularly with regards to one of the characters (Soldier). I judge most of what I read in any fiction by my ability to believe in the motives of the main characters, which accounts heavily for my high rating.

Happy reading!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x889eb9a8) out of 5 stars The power of good literature is alive and well 10 July 2012
By Amazon LLon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's hard to believe that this is a first novel by this young writer. It has the wit, fluidity, and page-turning intensity that one generally gets only from veteran literary writers. I truly enjoyed every minute of it, and when I had to put it down a few times to take care of some business, its characters haunted me. I couldn't wait to get back to it.

If you are looking for depth and complexity, for literary muscle, King's novel, which turns Dante's Paradiso on its head, has plenty of all of that, but the most thrilling thing about this book is that its depth and complexity and literary muscle don't weigh the book down a bit. For all its abundant intelligence and literary playfulness, the book reads like a summer thriller. It is truly a joy. I also love the little pieces of graphic novel that blend perfectly into the text now and then.

I hope somebody in Hollywood picks up on King's story. It would make a great film. I'd love to experience it as a movie. These are great characters battling a world gone completely wrong, learning how to fight all over again. In this sense, the book is a metaphor for King's own experience. I understand he applied to join the CIA the day after the World Trade Center was attacked on 9/11, abandoning plans to go to law school, and then served as an undercover CIA agent in some of the most dangerous places in the world doing what his characters in this book do: learning to fight an unexpected and deadly battle with tools and fortitude they never imagined they would have to use.

It's a wonderful book, deep and meaningful but truly entertaining. I hope this guy keeps writing. He is somebody to pay attention to.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x889eb990) out of 5 stars Brilliant book for fans of all genres. A wild ride that is fun and quick - page turner. Get it. 10 Aug. 2012
By Ryan J. Parks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
You are a superhero. You are the side-kick to greatest superhero in history. You want to retire. You want to be with your wife and live a normal life. So you do.....
You are asked by your fellow superheroes to come to one last battle, one last event, one last hurrah, but you ignore it....they always say "one last time", and it's never one last time. You're a superhero...there are no finales......so you don't show.
They hate you. You didn't show up.
They did in fact have one last battle, and it was to give up all their super powers. But you didn't show. You didn't show.
Pen Ultimate, the side-kick to Ultimate, didn't show up. And now he is the only man on the planet with super powers. The burden, the heavy burden. He didn't want to play the "game" anymore and now he is the only player alive. All the villains are dead, mass suicide. The "Blue" force took it all.
This absolutely unique take on comic book superheroes is a fantastic novel from the brilliant mind of new comer Tom King. It isn't a comic book, it isn't a graphic novel, it is a legit novel, with the comic book twist spun into a chronological web, chaptered in comic book digests, along with great artwork to help you along and to give the reader a better look at the characters in the book.
The characters are well thought out and gritty men and women, all frustrated with the loss of their powers and there mundane new lives, powerless. Soldier of Freedom, the secondary hero in the book, a poster boy (older man, actually) ala Rambo for the USA, who's lived over a hundred and fifty years fighting all the major US Wars. Prophetier, the man who has been prophesizing the heros battles and falls, since childhood in a notebook similar to his own comic book. Devil Girl (DG), the hot red headed asian from hell (she's really from hell), who has been there to tease and save Soldier forever. Starry-Knight, one of the richest men in the world, who built an empire while all the other heros played kick ass and never did anything else with their lives. Ultimate, Pen's mentor, The Man With The Metal Face...the man that gave it all up to save the world.....and other characters, all with their own stories and styles. Tom King writes them all with a third eye that drags you in and keeps you wanting more, keeps you flipping the pages.
So what does the last superhero on earth do when the shit hits the fan? When something, someone, starts destroying the earth ("Arcadia" in particular, the city where most of the superheros live) and there are no superhero's but him to fix it? He mans up. He becomes the superhero he was always destined to become. The man his mentor Ultimate taught him to be. And in the process, he gives hope and encouragement to other once superhero's who have come to hate him....with the possibilty that in the end, they always come back.
I highly suggest taking a wild ride on this book and jumping right in and letting your imagination fly high into the sky, where you, the reader live the life of a superhero. This book is for all genres: comic book enthusiasts, sci-fi readers, horror fans, mystery and suspense - you name it, you got it. Tom King not only gives you a fresh new outlook on the genre, but brings a philosophy to it and a definiton that has never been told, until now.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x88238c3c) out of 5 stars Elegant, beautiful, thought-provoking 24 July 2012
By Mangraa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There isn't much I can say which other reviewers haven't already said about this book. The obvious comic-book influence actually works in this case, a rare occurrence among books which try, and often fail, to fuse the two different styles of narrative. But don't expect just another stereotypical comic-book narrative out of this one - this book is best read with brain cells fully functioning and thinking fully engaged.
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