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  • Writer's pictureDan

What I have been reading, October 2019 Edition


I’ve gobbled up some satisfying adult fantasy and YA sci-fi since the last reading update. So, without further ado, here we go.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

I am familiar with Naomi Novik from the Temeraire novels. I’ve read quite a few books in that series, although I stopped reading them when I felt the stories were becoming too predictable. The books follow a definite pattern, which I don’t recall any longer, but it is easy to detect. Uprooted suffers from a similar liability, it’s predictable. The story is so unsurprising, I kept consciously looking for the chance to be surprised. I can think of only one event that turned out differently than I anticipated. Having said that, I enjoyed the story in the end. The characters, especially the magicians, are all interesting, and the protagonist is sympathetic. Many words are dedicated to the practice of magic, which I could’ve had less of. However, I think the depiction of the magic of the magicians versus the magic of the protagonist is very well done and ultimately plays a pivotal role in the story. Even though I enjoyed the book, I won’t go out of my way to read more books by this author anytime soon.

The Magician King by Lev Grossman

I am surprised how much I enjoyed The Magician King, especially after slogging through The Magicians. The problem I had with The Magicians is that the protagonist, Quentin Coldwater, is such a whiny loser. It made it really hard for me to get into the book, although I did before the end. The second book in the series does not have this problem. Quentin is not nearly as whiny – he’s more mature and, I suppose, has less to whine about in some sense, although he is mourning a loved one and still has major personal problems. I also appreciate the many chapters told from Julia’s perspective.

I look forward to reading the climactic book in the series.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Overall, I enjoyed Little Brother. I went out and bought it as part of my YA reading spree since my latest WIP is a YA . This book suffers from a couple of deficiencies. The one that probably bothered me the most overall is the info dumps about tech. I feel there could be way less of this information sprinkled lightly throughout the narrative. I also think Doctorow is a bit heavy-handed with his politics like he is trying to convince people to his way of thinking. I agree with his politics 90% of the time and am at least sympathetic the other 10%. But, it is so gauche in places that it detracts from the story a bit. Having said that, I really enjoyed the conclusion of the novel. The majority of the characters, even some of the adults, are easy to sympathize with. I do feel that the DHS people are depicted as cardboard cutout baddies, which is okay, but the story would be more sophisticated if the DHS and the government at large were shaded in grays rather than black. I do plan to read Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother, soon. Little Brother, despite its deficiencies, definitely speaks to our collective present day in America.


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