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Jolly Roger "book lover" (Burntwood, UK)

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Halo: Last Light
Halo: Last Light
by Troy Denning
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.98

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Feels like Halo with good action., 4 Nov. 2015
This review is from: Halo: Last Light (Paperback)
I tend to approach Halo books with a fair amount of trepidation. Being a Halo fan I get very annoyed by the stories that I think aren't up to scratch and because I'm such a picky bugger that tends to be a lot of them. However, with Last Light, I have found myself pleasantly surprised and enjoyed what I feel is a well plotted, fast paced and authentic Halo story.

Once again the action takes place on a Human colony world and once again the population are straining at Earth's leash with some people working in the shadows to engineer all the reasons the colony would need to declare independence. Thrown into this scenario is a UNSC team working to extract information and a vital artefact from a Forerunner site buried deep beneath the surface. Included in the team are a group of Spartans because it would be commercial suicide not to include them.This could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how much you like settings to mix things up but I think it's safe to say that most Halo fans want some Spartan action. So if you are such a fan then breath a sigh of relief because there is plenty of it and very convincingly written.

There are some familiar faces for long time readers of Halo fiction (which you would expect, I suppose, given the fate of most Spartans prior to the Spartan IV program) and we once again follow Fred-104 and his team as last seen in Halo: Ghosts of Onyx. The other major character being introduced in this book is Veta Lopis who is described on the back of the book as a 'maverick detective'. This was one of the things that led me to believe that I wasn't going to enjoy the book because if there's one character stereo-type that I'm sick to death of it's the maverick detective. I never thought I would long for a plain old goes by the book, wears a suit and carries a standard issue sidearm police procedural kind of character but God help me I do. Why do they always need to carry a gun that isn't regulation? I'm guessing Dirty Harry is to blame but maybe it started before then I'm just not old enough to remember. Anyway, I had my concerns about the maverick detective Veta Lopis. Thankfully she is not even half as annoying a character as I was expecting and by the end even a bit likeable.

There are a couple of things that I didn't like about the book. Firstly this book has clearly been written post-Halo 4 and makes significant and important references to things that I'm pretty sure people wouldn't know about until the events of that game. I'm speaking in relation to knowledge regarding the Forerunners and their terminology for technology and philosophy. More hardcore fans of the series might disagree with me here but I've almost everything Halo and I thought it seemed like it didn't belong in this book.

Also there has been the reusing of characters from other books, as previously mentioned, but sometimes they don't come across how their original authors and creators wrote them and, given the minimal impact these particular characters have on the events of this story, I think Denning might as well have created some bog standard place fillers.

The descriptions of the Halo technology and universe feel right to me and the action is well written so, with those two boxes ticked, I'd think it very hard not to recommend this book to a Halo fan. A fun and enjoyable read that looks set to be part of an ongoing series.

Deadeye 1 (Mutant Files) (Mutant Files 1)
Deadeye 1 (Mutant Files) (Mutant Files 1)
by William C. Dietz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A not too terrible detective romp in a hellish future, 16 Oct. 2015
The Mutant Files is a series of books set in a not too distant future where the world has been ravaged by an airborne disease that has affected millions. This society is divided into mutants and ‘norms’ with the mutants getting the raw end of the deal. Special clothing and masks need to be worn and simple luxuries such as eating out have become a masterclass in trying to prevent the spread of infection with specially treated partitions, booths and masks/nasal filters.

In short it’s all a bit grim.

Our protagonist in these dire times is an LA street cop named Cassandra Lee and damn me if the author wasn’t trying to throw every cliché in the book into… well, the book. Lee is a tough as nails ass-kicking heroine who prefers to work alone because of the partners she’s lost in the past, armed with a non-standard issue weapon, tasked with a job that comes straight from the mayor’s office which is putting pressure on the department, who spends her free time trying to solve the murder of her father, also a cop, whilst being stalked by the very same murderer who is both seemingly omniscient and unburdened by too many demands on his/her time. So yeah, just about every cop drama cliché I can think of has been thrown at this book as though the creator said ‘gee, I wonder how you write something almost guaranteed to get picked up by a network’.
I say that because I get the strong feeling that this book would make a great bad TV show. The all-too familiar lead female with her textbook problems (which in TV land of course includes a homicidal stalker) working with poor unfortunate mutants that a costume department would love. I’m particularly thinking along the lines of the Buffy/Angel shows where you had ‘whatever the heck’ demon of the week and then a fairly harmless set of demons that could be shown enjoying a drink in a demon bar. The mutants in this book are the bar demons. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved Buffy and I didn’t love angel but OK, it had some good moments, but in this book I found the idea of an airborne disease that gives some people long floppy ears like a donkey and other people tentacle arms and other people just seriously messed-up puss-filled wounds a little too much to take on faith. This story could have tackled the issues of segregation and divided societies whilst demonstrating the troubles of policing a near post-apocalyptic world without the Carnivale freak-show of mutations. Just replace those with some genuinely upsetting physical symptoms of disease that kills 40-70% of those infected and boom, you’ve got compelling drama without the dead cop father (which wasn’t very compelling).

But I shall try not to judge this book on what it isn’t and might have been. So what is it? It’s a short book with plenty of action that seeks to entertain you until you reach the last page and no further. I doubt you will be talking about this book long after you put it down. The bad guys are purely bad guys, the good guys have shades of light and dark and the setting is post-post-apocalyptic. It’s the kind of story where bad guys get killed and you’re allowed to feel good about it.

If you like a quick read that doesn't make too many demands on time or attention and has the usual cast of hard-bitten heroes, refreshingly cruel villains and poor unfortunate victims that are either saved in the last minute or discover they had a hero in them the whole time then you might just love this book.

Alternatively you can just wait for it to come out on the Fox network.

Women of Wonder: Celebrating Women Creators of Fantastic Art
Women of Wonder: Celebrating Women Creators of Fantastic Art
by Cathy Fenner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice celebration, could do with more artwork though., 9 Aug. 2015
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The premise for this book is lovely and simple; female fantasy artists. There are fifty-eight artists included and their work covers everything from cartoons to abstract to just good old fashioned fantasy illustrations and all of them are of a very high standard. The book itself is well produced and is edited by Cathy Fenner, a name well known in art anthologies for her work with the Spectrum series of books (the next instalment of which I'm eagerly awaiting), so you can be assured of a high quality coffee table book that is good to dip into repeatedly.

Because this is a celebration of the artists themselves, not just their work, each entry includes a a few paragraphs from these talented ladies explaining why they paint, what they hope to achieve or anything else they wish to say about their art and what it means to them. For this reason I really like this book and it sets it apart from others on my shelves that are happy to just showcase the work. I like to know more about the artists and it gives me the thrill of the connoisseur to be able to spot a piece and say 'oh, that's so-and-so'. Fine art snobs get to do it but guess what, concept artists and fantasy/sci-fi artists are just as distinctive and I like being able to pick them out based on nothing more than a favourite brush tool or a typical mood to their their work.

Without trying to be unfair to all of the artists I would like to pick out a few favourites whose work I've enjoyed for a while (years, for some of them). Names that are always good to look out for such as Melanie Delon, whose book Elixir is well worth a look, and Laurel D Austin whose fantasy illustrations for big names such as Blizzard Studios is incredibly vibrant.

I can't say that you will look at these works and come away thinking that there is a quality to them that makes them clearly 'female'. I think each artists brings their own thoughts and experiences and preferences to the canvas (be that real or digital) and that there isn't anything between the sexes that means you should go to a male or female artist if you wanted a particular piece creating. And I'm sure that's not what this book is saying either, it's just a nice theme for showing off some great work.

There are a couple of caveats, however. Firstly, as ever, this is an anthology so the odds of you liking every piece contained here-in would be, I should imagine, pretty slim. The styles vary quite considerably in some cases and there are pictures here I'm not fond of, although I can easily appreciate the quality. The second issue I have with this book is that each artist only gets a two page spread, one for their written contribution another for a piece of art. I would have liked to see at least two pages of art for each artist as one piece per entry seems like a wasted opportunity to really show off their stuff. I know that would have made the book twice as large but considering it's quite a slim tomb as it stands I don't see that as a problem.

Definitely one to consider if you're a fan of fantasy art anthologies, just don't expect to open this up and be blown away by feminine qualities and the womanliness of it all. This is just really nice art from really great artists who happen to be women and I think it's great that their work is being celebrated.

Resident Evil Revelations: Official Complete Works
Resident Evil Revelations: Official Complete Works
by Capcom
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.58

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Resident Evil reveals it's inner works., 6 Aug. 2015
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Resident Evil is a series that seems about as inclined to lie down and stay dead as it's shambling antagonists. The first game came out on the original Playstation in 1996 and now, in 2015, is going as strong as ever despite Hollywood's best efforts to decapitate it, burn it and put this survival horror/action adventure down for good. And in the 19 years since the first game took the world by storm there have been considerable changes to the horrors plaguing S.T.A.R.S. From the run of the mill brain dead zombies and large insects to parasitic infections and grotesque monstrosities there has been a steady escalation in the enemies faced by gamers. And not just in terms of monsters but the human threats too, from Umbrella thugs to Wesker's superhuman developments.

To be honest, though, I'm kind of done with the games. I loved the originals and still sometimes get the Gamecube set up to have a Resident Evil marathon playing through the Resident Evils zero, one, two and four. Three sucked. But recent games have left me disinterested and not inclined to part with my money. However that reticence to give these modern iterations the time of day does not extend to the design of the games. I'm still a fan of the concept art and so, when I heard about Revelations Complete Works, I knew it was something I had to get my hands on. And sure enough, this book delivers.

Where this book is strongest is with character design. The special forces, secret agents, main characters and all the various (and sometimes bats**t crazy) supporting cast are all done in that distinctive not-quite-manga Japanese style that I like. There are some decent character bios for the main characters and the rest have some insightful comments from the artists explaining costume choices and why certain poses are so important. I'm not an artist so I'm not going to judge that last one, I'll just accept that it's important. There are quite a few pages showing the design process and how characters were brought to their final form. There is a mix here between traditional 2D artwork and rendered CG images (the kind I'm not fond of) and it also includes alternative costumes that are unlocked by players.

Next up in terms of the pieces I enjoy most here are the environments. I think the way the environments are designed here owes a lot to the way the games were originally created using pre-rendered backgrounds. This is what created that game style where the camera angles had to change all the time in a way that was both excellent for ramping up suspense (like when you could hear something slurping along 'off-screen', for example) as well as frequently annoying (like when you couldn't see the damned thing making a slurping noise somewhere in the room with you unless you rotated your character just right and took three tentative steps forward to try and trigger the camera change). The environment artwork in Revelations, just as with earlier titles, breaks down into rooms. Resident Evil has always been about moving from one room to another, find the object/clue you need and then move to the next room/corridor/crazy lab. As such the designers create rooms that are intended for the game creators to easily see what they have to code. Whilst I appreciate this may sound obvious it differs from many other games' concept art in that many of them, with the massive improvements in terms of graphics and processing power, try to convey the 'feel' of a location and use lighting to test the 'mood' of scene. The language of game design now borrows heavily from film design and the artwork has changed accordingly. Except here. While there are pieces that show artistic flair there are a lot of pieces that are very straightforward room designs and while that might sound like a criticism it isn't. I can appreciate a well designed space and will often use such artwork when planning a roleplaying game or a bit of writing.

Obviously I can hardly review this book without commenting on the creature designs. Characters are great, environments are crucial but without monsters the only people playing Resident Evil would be a bunch of home improvement fanatics saying 'crickey, just think what you could do with this mansion if you just knocked that wall through and got rid of all the weird locks and electrical system that requires a series of chess pieces to activate'. And while that is a game I'm possibly sad enough to play (I definitely would) I can't deny that it's better with the monsters. As you can well imagine there are quite a few creature designs for a Resident Evil game and sure enough there are loads. I can't say I'm much of a fan of the direction the monstrosities have taken in these games, from basic zombies and large spiders to twisted and deformed lumps of flesh and inexplicable mutations, but on the other hand I can't complain about quality of the design work. There are still a few of the old favourites such as mangy zombie dogs and insectoid terrors but due to the setting and storyline there is a greater preponderance of water based creatures, many of which look like a seriously messed-up version of Davey Jones' fish-headed crew from the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels.

So what to say in summation? This book is precisely what you would probably expect from a concept art book from one of the Resident Evil games. You've got monsters galore, creepy settings and a slew of characters ranging from the square-jawed heroes such as Chris Redfield to the sinister and faceless henchmen of the Umbrella Corporation. The book is nicely put together and can withstand a lot of flicking back and forth (you'd be surprised how many start to come apart after just a few flick-throughs) and the only problem I have with the layout is that too many of the backgrounds for the pages are solid black. This becomes particularly a problem in the environments section as the page is so dark, and the designs so dark for the mood, that it's not the easiest thing to look over and pick out details.

But aside from that it's a good book and one that should please fans of the series, concept art and horror in general.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 21, 2016 7:46 PM GMT

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - The Skyrim Library, Vol. I: The Histories: 1
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - The Skyrim Library, Vol. I: The Histories: 1
by Bethesda Softworks
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.39

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great stories, not the best art, but definitely one for the fans, 28 July 2015
I can't claim to be one of the longest term fans of the Elder Scroll. I'd dabbled a bit with Oblivion but it was already a bit old when I got it so it wasn't until Skyrim came out that I really discovered what the fuss was all about. I first bought the art book that was released with the special edition (via a helpful chappie on the world's foremost auction site) and loved the look and design of the world so much that I thought I should really give it a go. It didn't hurt that I had friends who were already big fans saying that I would love the game. My only reservation came from the fact that I didn't think first person hack'n'slash games really 'worked'. First person shooter works, that makes sense, but first person walk up and hack at them? I remembered games of old, such as Witchhaven, that had impressive Frank Frazetta cover art on the boxes but which were hardly playable. As should already be obvious I relented and found out that games have come on a little since the 1990s. Who knew. And one of my favourite activities, aside from the quests, was to gather the books. There is such a wealth of lore and history to the Elder Scroll games that I loved to stop and just read (something that didn't much impress the people watching me play) and even, thanks to the Hearthstone expansion, managed to build libraries in all my properties that I worked assiduously to stock with one copy of every book.

So, getting to the point, you can imagine my excitement when I heard about the Skyrim Library collection. I can't remember exactly but it's entirely possible that I kissed my fist and punched the air. A rich, detailed history is essential for a solid fantasy offering. Fact. Try to imagine The Lord of the Rings without the immense wealth of background material. Likewise Game of Thrones. Even if it is never mentioned directly these rich tapestries have a direct impact on the stories and ground them, make them more than just a simple adventure story. It puts the reader/player into a context much larger then it would have been otherwise. To play as part of something epic, rather than just flashy.

Now, before I carry on, it is worth mentioning that whilst quite comprehensive this history is not at the level of Tolkien. I don't consider that a harsh judgement, however, since that's one hell of a bar to reach for. On a level with Game of Thrones? I would say that, in terms of scope and breadth, then yes, these are on a par with George Martin's masterpiece but, you won't be surprised to hear, are not written with the same quality of story telling. Again, though, I say that there's no shame in not reaching that lofty height. Especially when you consider how many stories are included in this book. There are forty-seven entries grouped in to four sections spread across two-hundred and thirty-two pages. So the stories are definitely on the short side, approximately the same length as a decent Brothers Grimm tale. Some are longer, some are shorter, and the early history section includes parts that are just lists of dates and corresponding events.

The four sections are History, Skyrim, Morrowind and Dragons. Most stories are in the History and Skyrim sections and collect the stories that players were able to find throughout the games. This is a very welcome collection, therefore, since I really enjoyed the stories but didn't really want to waste hours of my life reading instead of playing the game. I did, because I'm nerdy that way, but it probably wasn't what you'd call 'time well spent'. Having the stories gathered in hard copy is great.

My only concern, therefore, is that there were a LOT of stories in the games and I get the feeling they've barely scratched the surface with this first volume which, it has to be said, isn't cheap. I'm not saying that it's not worth the money, just that by the time they've completed the library I'll have spent a lot of it. I do feel that they are slightly overpriced, by about five pounds or so.

The only problem I have with the actual book itself, which is very well made, is the quality of the art work. The art that exists for the Elder Scrolls, which I have seen in the special edition art books released for Skyrim and The Elder Scrolls Online, is frankly incredible. The art included with the library, however, mostly isn't. It simply isn't that good by comparison. I'm not saying there aren't any decent pictures, there are, but I was left wondering what happened to all the quality pictures that I had seen before.

But you don't buy a book like this for the pictures. That's what the art books are for. You buy a book like this for the histories and lore and on that playing field it scores highly and is a very nice collection. Needless to say this is one for the fans above all others so if you're not a player of the games, and Tamriel might as well be the name of a country in the Middle East for all it means to you, then you might want to give it a miss. If you just like a nice fantasy tale then I suppose you could enjoy it but without being able to place things in the wider context of the games, things like the races you've played as and the monsters you've killed, then it might feel like a fairly hollow experience.

But if you can tell your Khajiit from your Argonians and feel confident you could walk from Hammerfell to Morrowind without winding up in the Black Marsh then this book is for you.

Einhell GC-PM 51/1S 51cm 3-in-1 Easy Start Self Propelled Petrol Lawnmower with a Briggs and Stratton Engine
Einhell GC-PM 51/1S 51cm 3-in-1 Easy Start Self Propelled Petrol Lawnmower with a Briggs and Stratton Engine
Price: £348.13

5.0 out of 5 stars A cut above the rest. (yeah, I said it), 15 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A great lawnmower, quick to set up, easy to use and overall a great performer. The box on the back has a good capacity and the mulcher option is really handy for keeping the grass trimmed without having to deal with a sack full of cuttings at the end. Although I would say that you have to be careful how much you're cutting when using the mulching option because it doesn't take much to clog up the mower.

Overall, very impressed.

Gale Force Nine GF973905 Dungeons and Dragons Paladin Spell Deck Game (44 Cards)
Gale Force Nine GF973905 Dungeons and Dragons Paladin Spell Deck Game (44 Cards)
Offered by etailz UK
Price: £5.49

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very handy gaming tool., 15 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Handy and useful, these cards are great for saving you time (flicking through the rule book) as well as keeping tabs on what spells you have used for your character's daily allowance.

I only dock it a star because the deck only goes as high as level 5 spells, which isn't very high.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 15, 2015 10:06 PM BST

Halo: Hunters in the Dark
Halo: Hunters in the Dark
by Peter David
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A passable effort but not great., 15 July 2015
Halo is great. I'm a huge fan of Halo and have consumed quite a considerable amount between the games, books, comics and films. But I can see now that Halo has been so successful it has fallen into the trap of being contributed to by more and more authors and the quality, as with any mass production, must therefore go down from time to time.

In a nutshell Hunters in the Dark revolves around a team of humans and elites going to the Ark (from the 3rd Halo game) to try and stop a countdown that has begun and will result in all of the Halo rings firing, wiping out all life in the galaxy. Therefore the portal that is on Earth, that was used by the Master Chief, is re-activated and the team head off and much adventuring ensues. That's the main premise and it's not a bad one, fitting nicely with what we already know about Halo.

Unfortunately Peter David wrote it.

Peter David is an author I really enjoyed as a teenager. But his work is one of those things that I look back on now and realise that I simply wasn't able to tell a good book from a bad one at that age. He uses lines like 'in a voice that sounded as if it came from beyond the grave' in an attempt to add flair to simple dialogue. Good authors don't do that. Or, if they do, they use something that at least makes sense and isn't quite so hyperbolic.

This doesn't feel like a necessary book (as Fall of Reach did) but very much has the air of something that was churned out with the Halo name on it for no greater reason than to take my money. This book neither complements the larger Halo universe or seems like it will in future. It does, however, feel like a Halo product (which is more than can be said for the backstreet abortion that was Halo: Nightfall). The setting feels authentic and the characters feel like Halo characters, albeit exceedingly two-dimensional ones.

Regarding characters; the human ones are much more poorly presented than the Elites. The humans say and do things that leave me thinking 'no they wouldn't'. Or they suddenly comprehend things that they have no reason to. Or they are able to do things that frankly requires such specialist training to achieve at the standard being described that I'm left thinking 'nonsense'. Such as being able to speak to a Huragok flawlessly in their own language which, for those not initiated into the lore of Halo, revolves around sign language using their multiple tentacles. This strikes me as about as likely as talking to a chameleon by changing your colour. Which I know isn't why chameleons change colour but you get my point. The Elites, on the other hand, come across well and are not given any abilities that seem out of keeping with their traditions, training and culture. Aside from the gunnery officer being an A-class medic able to fix human bodies that have sustained massive trauma. Which is especially strange given that Elites shun medical treatment for themselves, let alone others. The book makes this point but I don't think the author pointing out that something doesn't make sense is a suitable way to address the fact that it doesn't make sense.

Sadly there's the usual B-movie quality sub-plots that you might expect from a tie-in novel like this, revolving around old feuds and missing family members that (Surprise!) turn up later in the book. There's also the way the book moves on at a rollicking pace as though it had to keep to some kind of time limit. And the action lacks the authenticity that Karen Traviss brings to her works, no doubt informed by her background as a defence correspondent during her time as a journalist.

Looking for positives; the cover art is absolutely brilliant. That can't be denied. And the Monitor on the Ark, called Tragic Solitude, is an engaging presence that I enjoyed reading and learning his thoughts and perspectives. His dialogue with, what I suppose, is the lead female protagonist, Olympia Vale, is for me one of the highlights of the book. His time stuck alone for 100,000 years on the Ark have left him with some interesting ideas on what needs doing to the galaxy and why.

But overall this book felt like a slog to finish it and I'm still not really sure why it's called Hunters in the Dark. I think this book will seem like a great read to younger audiences (my 15 year old self would have loved this) and people who just can't get enough Halo of any quality will, presumably given those criteria, find it an enjoyable read. But I personally found it an unnecessary tie-in with generally weak characters, unsatisfying action and too many implausibilities.

The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road
The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road
by Abbie Bernstein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.98

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Would have preferred more art, less photos, but a good book all the same., 29 May 2015
The art of Mad Max is almost a bad book. As an art book it is overshadowed by the photographs and film creator's comments about the making of the movie. And the art itself is of a very rough and unappealing quality that reminds me of early Judge Dredd comics. I have looked at enough so-called 'art of' books for movies to know that they are usually barely worthy of the name (World War Z being a particularly egregious example), and should in all honesty be called 'movie companions' or 'making of' or just about anything other than 'the art of'. Speaking as a collector of art books I've all but given up on getting a decent one related to a film (with the blessed exception of Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit).

So why is this only almost a bad book? because as a movie companion (or whatever) it really is one of the better books around. The photographs are great and the commentary is genuinely interesting. And the artwork, for all is brutal roughness, suits the film perfectly and takes the time to show how ideas and the look of the film developed, rather than just showing finished pieces.

For fans of Mad Max I would have to say that this book is close to being an essential purchase. And I'm only saying close to essential because I'm the kind of person who questions the necessity of material goods. So if you're not that kind of person, and you're a fan, then you can go right ahead and call it essential. The references to the original films are great and really help ground Fury Road in the mythology of Max.

However if you're looking for a great art book then this might not be the book for you. Also, unless you're really interested in film set anecdotes and glimpses into the movie business, then you might not find the photos alone worth the money. All of that being said, all put together, it's a decent product and worth a read.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 6, 2015 10:56 AM BST

The Machine Awakes (The Spider Wars 2)
The Machine Awakes (The Spider Wars 2)
by Adam Christopher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars dark and interesting science fiction, 25 May 2015
The cover of this book carries the comment "SF you will want to read with the light on". Skipping the temptation to make a facetious remark about difficulties reading in the dark I think it's worth pointing out that this book isn't actually that creepy or scary. It does however deal quite deftly with the darker side of science fiction and I found this book to be quite an entertaining read.

It's possible that I have spoiled myself somewhat when it comes to science fiction. I typically prefer to read titles from the Masterworks collection and I don't think it's being unfair to say that this book doesn't meet that standard. It's not badly written but I found the style to veer towards the conversational and it didn't always, I felt, set the right tone. This carried through to the way characters spoke to one another and it struck me that it was often too casual or informal.

However the themes of this book, the concepts covered and the science fiction, are certainly worth a read and I thought that the pace of the book was well handled. I also enjoyed the strong elements of corruption and conspiracy. Despite the fact that the characters are a little two-dimensional they're a compelling bunch and you quickly develop favourites. I particularly liked the character of Mr Glass, which is funny considering how that works out.

As I read this book I couldn't help thinking that it's the kind of story, with the kind of characters and action, that would translate well into a film and found it sometimes easier to imagine it as a Hollywood blockbuster, especially in regards to the action. The fight scenes and tense moments roll along well and give the book plenty of juicy bits (if you'll forgive a technical term). Having said that the book did feel that it dragged a bit towards the end and could probably have done with being a few chapters shorter.

In conclusion I'd say that this is an interesting book, with great themes and plot points, let down slightly by the writing style and length but recommended for sci-fi enthusiasts.

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