Posted by melydia on March 1, 2013
Goliath by Scott Westerfeld (unabridged audiobook read by Alan Cumming; 10.5 hrs on 9 discs): This final installment of the Leviathan trilogy had me on the edge of my seat pretty much the entire time. If Deryn’s secret wasn’t on the verge of being discovered then Alek was in danger or the engines were smoking or some other calamity. This part of our story takes us from Siberia to Japan to the USA, introducing a number of memorable new characters and visiting old friends along the way. And Bovril the perspicacious loris was endlessly adorable. There were far more historical figures this time around, making Westerfeld’s “what actually happened” epilogue even more interesting. You know, I don’t really care for steampunk or alternate histories or books about war – fictional or otherwise – but I really, really loved this trilogy. I loved the characters, how you’re never quite sure who knows what or whom to trust. I loved the technology, the mix of science and fantasy involved in these genetically engineered critters. I loved the story, the adventures, the romance, the suspense. And the ending was quite satisfying, which is saying a lot considering how many loose ends were flapping about prior to it. Highly recommended.
A note on the audio: Cumming is a master of a wide variety of accents – American, German, Scottish, and numerous forms of English – but Russian, alas, is not one of them. It was a little painful listening to his Russian characters. But that’s a pretty small complaint, considering he remained simply fantastic for the rest of the book. It’s also worth noticing that since I was listening to this in my car, I did attempt to make up excuses to drive places.
Posted by melydia on February 15, 2013
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld (unabridged audiobook read by Alan Cumming; 9.5 hrs on 8 discs): Deryn and Alek are in Istanbul, where they meet anarchists (who aren’t really), a perspicacious loris, and a nosy American reporter. I laughed aloud when Deryn and Alek were discussing Lilit, and there were several times when all I could think was, “How are they going to get out of this one, then?” I am thoroughly enjoying this series, which is interesting since I don’t generally consider myself to be a steampunk fan. I guess it helps that this is more alternate history and science fiction than a mere obsession with gear-and-goggle-based fashion. I can’t wait to see how the story ends.
A note on the audio: Cumming continues to dazzle. I’m almost certain that some American dude showed up, shoved Cumming out of the way just to say the American character’s lines, and then left. To my American ears, it was perhaps the best accent I’ve ever heard by a British narrator.
Posted by melydia on February 8, 2013
Devil and His Boy by Anthony Horowitz: I really wanted this to be fantasy. Devil in the title, wizard in the first chapter – I wasn’t crazy for expecting fantasy, was I? But it’s really not. It’s the story of Tom, a boy in the 16th century who finds himself plucked from his crappy country existence into a only slightly less crappy life on the streets of London, where he befriends Moll Cutpurse and aspires to become an actor. The whole plot was pretty predictable and the writing only so-so. Maybe I would have enjoyed this more were I still part of the intended age group, but I suspect I’d have been searching vainly for fantasy even then.
Also posted on BookCrossing.
Posted by melydia on February 1, 2013
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (unabridged audiobook read by Alan Cumming; 8.5 hrs on 7 discs): What we know as World War I is about to begin, but in this world the two factions are the Clankers and the Darwinists. The Clankers have huge mechanical contraptions, sort of a steampunk AT-AT. The Darwinist’s giant war machines are actually carefully designed animals created through grafting genes. Alek is the son of the recently assassinated Archduke Ferdinand, now on the run from his own allies; Deryn is a Scottish girl pretending to be a boy so she can join the military. It’s a fun story, but unquestionably part of a series – the ending leads into the next stage of the plot, leaving you wishing for just one more chapter. I’m so glad I’m reading it now, after the whole trilogy has been released, so I don’t have to wait. I also appreciated the “this is real and this is made up” afterword. Definitely recommended if you like steampunk or WWI alternate history.
A note on the audio: Alan Cumming is fantastic. No, seriously, amazing. To the point where I want to watch every movie he’s ever used an accent in ever.
Posted by melydia on January 29, 2013
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (unabridged audiobook read by Jesse Bernstein; 10 hrs on 8 discs): 12-year-old Percy Jackson is a troubled child. He has dyslexia and ADHD, and he’s been kicked out of six schools in six years. To make matters worse, one day during a field trip his math teacher turns into a horrible beast. It turns out Percy is a half-blood, that is, his mother is mortal and his father is a Greek god. I had a great time picking up on all the various mythological references. Though it’s a modern update – Olympus is no longer in Greece, for example – it’s still a pretty good introduction to these old stories. It is, however, definitely a children’s book. Percy meets a monster every single chapter, and much of the plot is moved forward by people withholding extremely important information for no particular reason. I don’t know if I’ll read the rest of the series, but I imagine I would have devoured these books had they been around when I was 12. I was obsessed with mythology at that age.
A note on the audio: Bernstein was fine for all the children, but for some reason all the adults – especially the gods – spoke extra slowly. It was kind of annoying, but not a huge deal. Not enough to keep me from listening on.
Also posted on BookCrossing.
Posted by melydia on January 18, 2013
City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (unabridged audiobook read by Natalie Moore; 15 hrs on 13 discs): Most of this tale takes place in Idris, which is a nice change of scenery. Otherwise it’s more or less more of the same: Valentine is evil, Jace and Clary are conflicted, Simon is awesome. I did have a couple of “noooo don’t die” moments, even during those times when I knew that particular character could never in a million years get killed off, so that was refreshing. All in all, I really enjoyed this world and these characters. I know there are more books in this series, but this ended in a satisfying place.
Posted by melydia on January 15, 2013
City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (unabridged audiobook read by Natalie Moore; 13 hrs on 11 discs): It’s difficult to give a synopsis of this second book of the Mortal Instruments series without completely giving away the first one, but suffice it to say that Clary remains conflicted about Simon and Jace, Magnus remains fabulous, adults still are generally not to be trusted (gah the Inquisitor made me so angry), and Valentine continues to be awful. The plot is once again very easy to follow and predict, but like the first book, I enjoyed the world and its characters enough that I had a marvelous time all the same. Looking forward to the third installment. I understand the series began as a trilogy, so it should have a good solid ending.
A note on the audio: I have no idea why they changed narrators, but it’s not too jarring, as Moore’s voice and inflection are actually pretty similar to Graynor’s. I imagine they switched because Graynor is a Hollywood actress and had other commitments. That’s fine. Moore is quite good, and in fact I prefer her version of Magnus.
Posted by melydia on December 21, 2012
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (unabridged audiobook read by Ari Graynor; 14 hrs on 12 discs): Clary is an ordinary teenager living an ordinary life until the night she meets a trio of demon hunters. They are just as surprised to see her as she is, since they are usually invisible to mundanes. She barely has time to get used to the idea of demons being real before her mother is attacked by one. With the help of shadow hunter Jace, Clary begins the search for her mother and answers to questions about her past. The writing is nothing special – things land “with a dull thud” and people let out breaths they didn’t know they were holding – and I saw every single plot twist coming a mile away. But the characters are fun and the world building clearly extensive. I admit, I was a little put off at first by the main character sharing a name (and hair color) with the author. Luckily, Clary didn’t come across as too glaring of an author insertion. I’ve heard the series goes downhill after a few books, but I think I’ll at least give it one more volume. This world is way too much fun to give up just yet.
Posted by melydia on November 20, 2012
So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld (unabridged audiobook read by Scott Brick; 6 hrs 33 min 6 on discs): Hunter is sort of a Cool Detector – that is, he looks for things that are novel and shoots them off to a certain major brand to see about incorporating it into future designs. The story opens with him meeting Jen, who has tied her shoelaces in a particularly unusual way. When Hunter’s boss disappears, he and Jen find themselves chasing a group of sort-of anarchists. It’s a somewhat interesting take on what makes something “cool” or popular, and why trends fade so quickly, but being someone so totally not fashion-conscious in any form, I couldn’t always relate. I’ve never seen a pair of shoes, for example, that I just had to have. That’s an utterly foreign idea to me. All the same, the story itself was kind of fun and Westerfeld always spins a decent yarn. I just wasn’t the right audience.
Posted by melydia on November 16, 2012
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (unabridged audiobook read by Jeff Woodman; 7 hours on 6 discs): I came into this expecting to love it, as I have loved every other John Green book I’ve read. And I did, though there were parts that hit uncomfortably close to home. Colin is a prodigy – that is, he learns and retains information extremely well and quickly. He is not necessarily, he maintains, a genius (someone who comes up with truly original ideas). When the 19th Katherine in a row dumps him right after high school graduation, his hilarious friend Hassan takes him on a road trip that ultimately lands them in Gutshot, Tennessee. I picked out the love interest in about three nanoseconds, which was kind of annoying, but the characters themselves were so much fun it didn’t really matter. I fell a little bit in love with Hassan, but that seems par for the course with me and Green’s secondary characters. This book says a lot about self-centeredness and being special, lessons I took a long time to learn. In short, I wish I’d read this, like, fifteen years ago. Too bad Green is almost my same age, and probably hadn’t learned these lessons yet fifteen years ago either. Oh well. I’ll get a TARDIS and remedy this at some point, I’m sure.
Also posted on BookCrossing.