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review 2017-09-22 20:47
The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor
The Book of Phoenix (Who Fears Death) - Nnedi Okorafor

This short, futuristic novel is essentially a power/revenge fantasy focused on the exploitation of people of African descent, especially in medical research. (Calling it a power fantasy isn’t necessarily a criticism; much of sci-fi and fantasy consists of power fantasies for white male nerds, so it seems only fair for others to get a cut of the action.) Despite a compelling start and socially relevant themes, however, this one flopped for me.

Phoenix lives in a future America in which powerful corporations perform medical experimentation on people, mostly black, who live locked up in mysterious Towers. She knows nothing else and is content until something awful happens to her best friend and love interest, at which point she starts to rebel and discovers the powers with which she was endowed. This is a prequel to a post-apocalyptic fantasy tale and has a frame story, so it’s no secret that somewhere along the way the world as we know it is destroyed, and most readers will guess how; nevertheless, this is your warning that this review will contain SPOILERS.

Okorafor sets the stage well, with an oppressive dystopian setting and a young protagonist struggling to make sense of it and survive. The first third of the book makes for compelling reading, with a fast-paced story full of danger set in a believable world. But as in the companion book, Who Fears Death, the protagonist becomes too powerful, leaching the story of dramatic tension. Once Phoenix learns that she can fly for days on end, die and regenerate as many times as necessary, and move through time and space in an instant and apparently without limit, the story no longer presents obstacles that really challenge her. She attacks one of the Towers alone and without planning and succeeds, so the long stretch toward the end spent preparing to attack another with a group seems unnecessary and anticlimactic (though from a narrative perspective, it allows some down time and for Phoenix to bond more with other characters).

The end also proved unsatisfying. Phoenix suddenly decides the world is irredeemable and that the goddess Ani – who, mind you, does not appear in the book – wants her to destroy it. This decision made little sense to me: after all, her lover is alive and needs rescuing, and while she did just discover that several powerful and corrupt men have used the Towers’ research to extend their lives indefinitely, there’s nothing stopping her from hunting them down individually. The connection to the writing of the Great Book and the world of Who Fears Death also seems strained, though I enjoyed the chapters of the frame story as an independent short story.

Meanwhile, the characterization is fairly simplistic; reviewers who have interpreted this as intentional due to Phoenix’s chronological age may well be correct, but I have my doubts, as the book portrays Phoenix as an adult woman in her intellectual capacity and ability to form relationships. Likewise, the writing style is simple and sometimes staccato, which suits the dystopian setting fine. The world has texture and is a conceivable outgrowth of our world, an important but often-overlooked element of a good dystopia. On the other hand, some details seem under-researched: the bizarre chapter in which, despite the secrecy in which these projects are shrouded, the only records of ongoing medical experiments turn out to be catalogued and housed in hard copy in the Library of Congress (which apparently will switch to Dewey Decimal in the future?) available for browsing by anyone with ID, has been thoroughly dissected in other reviews.

Overall, while this book has some interesting ideas, their execution proved to be a letdown. Not having thought much of Who Fears Death either, I’m ready to conclude that Okorafor’s work is not for me.

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review 2017-09-12 02:18
Much Better Than Expected
Renegade (Phoenix Rising) - Brynley Blake

While only in her mid-20s, Gemma is bored with sex. She’s yet to find a partner to truly satisfy her. While meeting potential new clients, she believes her sexual fantasies have been answered. Now she needs to convince him she’s not as naive as he thinks. It just so happens that her oldest best friend, Walker, was in town and Gemma believes he’d be perfect to help her gain experience.

So, this book was much better than I thought it would be. My favorite person in the book was Walker. His character saved this book from being another gawd awful version of FSOG! I think the one thing that bugged me was when Walker is catching Gemma up on her roommate. I felt like it was a super long summary of another book that I should’ve read before this book.

**I voluntarily read and reviewed this book

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review 2017-09-11 21:54
Phoenix / Steven Brust
Phoenix - Steven Brust

Verra, Vlad's patron goddess, hires him to assassinate a king whose country lies outside the Dragaeran Empire, resulting in increased tension between the two places. Meanwhile, the peasant Teckla and the human Easterners persevere in their fight for civil rights. As Vlad's wife Cawti is a firm partisan of the movement, and Vlad is not, their marriage continues to suffer, causing Vlad to make some decisions that will change his life forever.

 

The fifth book of the Vlad Taltos series, and I feel like Brust has prepared the way to get back on track again. Vlad is our friendly, neighbourhood assassin and generally amusing, snarky guy, but he has been involved in Dragaeren politics for several books, with he & his wife Cawti on opposite sides of the divide. It’s difficult to write humour for a character who is engaged in a struggling relationship, and humour is the main attraction of this series, in my opinion.

And now for something completely different—at book’s end, we see a new Vlad emerging. Has he really put his assassinating ways behind him? Or will he find that it’s a difficult profession to retire from? Are he & his wife going to have to go their separate ways? How much longer will he have his beloved grandfather to lean on?

I’m glad Brust didn’t write another prequel to avoid the issues. I’m looking forward to the next book to see where the tale goes from here.

Book 263 of my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project.

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review 2017-09-05 00:45
Meandering
The Space Between Words - Michele Phoenix

The Space Between Words is really the story of two women, Jessica and Adeline, and the tragedies they faced in their respective times. While both stories are interesting in their own right, I found the bouncing back and forth to be a bit distracting. Add Jessica's flashbacks of surviving the Paris attacks along with an almost separate story of her resistance to romantic relationships and the story becomes quite busy. The story has a good premise and the characters are very well developed, but with so much going on, I found it hard to stay focused. The author seems to be making a comparison between the Huguenot persecution and the Paris attacks, but I failed to see the connection, other than the fact that both women faced extreme circumstances. I actually laid this one aside several times and came back to it, determined to finish and see where Jessica's journey would lead and I suppose the book does have a fitting ending, but it felt like it took a meandering route to get there. 

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review 2017-08-31 15:27
Der Orden des Phönix // The Order of the Phoenix!!!
Harry Potter und der Orden des Phönix - J.K. Rowling

German and english review

 

Meine Gütige, was für ein Brocken!!! Aber ich hab es trotzdem in 30 Tagen geschafft und bin mehr als zufrieden mit mir. Ich dachte, ich schlepp es noch mit in den September aber ich habe heute vier Stunden lang nichts getan als das Buch zu Ende zu lesen.

 

Ich habe das Buch zum ersten Mal gelesen, ich hatte damals vor Jahren nach dem vierten Band aufgehört und es bis jetzt nicht geschafft, die Serie weiter zu lesen. Schande über mich, es tut mir Leid.

 

Ich muss sagen, obwohl es ja ein verdammt dickes Buch ist, wurde mir nie langweilig und es wurde mir auch nie zu viel. Die Geschichte an sich jedenfalls nicht, die fand ich wirklich unheimlich spannend und auch wirklich richtig gut gemacht. Ich fand das Politische so gut und vor allem auch so wichtig. Umbridge allerdings, die wurde mir unheimlich schnell viel zu viel. Ich muss sagen, dass ich mich mit ihren Szenen wirklich schwer getan habe, weil ich sie manchmal einfach nicht lesen wollte und es mir nicht antun wollte wie ungehobelt und feindselig, sie den ein oder anderen behandelt hat. Das war echt richtig unangenehm.

 

Allerdings fand ich Dumbledores Armee, die sich da aus der Not, gebildet hat, richtig klasse und auch wie bei dem üblichen Showdown in den Büchern, mehr dabei waren als nur das goldene Trio. Neville, Ginny und Luna. LUNA <3.
Genauso toll fand ich wie man mit Hilfe des Ordens, alte Gesichter wieder sehen konnte und neue Gesichter bekommen hat. Tonks <3

 

Das Buch war auf jeden Fall eine Achterbahn der Gefühle, es war alles dabei und hat mir an der ein oder anderen Stelle mein Herz gebrochen, wie nicht anders zu erwarten war. Ich bin so genervt von meinen jüngeren Ich, dass ich damals nicht die Serie weiter gelesen hatte.

 

***

 

Good god, what a chunk!!! But I still got through it in 30 days and I'm more than happy about it. I was so sure I would drag this book with me to september but I sat down today and did nothnig else for four hours straight to finish this damn book.

 

I read the book for the very first time, years ago when the books first came out, I stopped reading them after the fourth book and haven't had the chance yet to continue the series. Shame on me, I'M SORRY.

 

I have to say that even though this is such a huge book, I never got bored reading it, I never got overwhelmed with it. Or let's say, I never got overwhelmed with the story itself, cause it was really exciting and greatly written. I loved the political side of things and thought it was an really important part of the book. Umbridge on the other hand, got too much really fast. I have to say that I had a hard time getting through her scenes, sometimes I just didn't wanna read how freaking rude and hostile she was towards some of the characters. It just made me really uncomfortable.

 

But I loved that, out of necessity, they build Dumbledore's Army, such a great thing for them to do. And I loved how in the usual showdown, there were more people involved than just the golden trio. Neville, Ginny and Luna. LUNA <3
The same goes for the order, and how with that element of the story, we got to see old faces again and got new ones. TONKS <3

 

Overall the book was such a roller coaster ride through all the feels, it had everything and broke my hearts during some parts of the story, I didn't expect anything less.

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