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review 2018-07-13 18:35
Tripoint / C.J. Cherryh
Tripoint - C.J. Cherryh

Merchanter Cargo Chief Marie Hawkins has never forgiven the crime, nor sought justice. Only vengeance. And, for 23 years, the Hawkins's clan ship, Sprite, has lived with her vendetta - and with her son, Tom, the boy sired in the violent assault.

Marie's attacker, Austin Bowe, is captain of the Corinthian. When both ships dock at Mariner Station, Marie vanishes and Tom searches for his mother...only to find himself trapped on Austin's ship with a half-brother he never knew he had and a crew fanatically loyal to Bowe. Now as the Corinthian flees the pursuing Sprite and a raider guns after both, the lives on board the two Merchanter ships are in the hands of Tom Hawkins. To save them all, Tom must trust his sworn enemy...His father.

 

 

Normally, I enjoy Cherryh’s work a lot—but this novel I struggled with. It’s that whole “story based entirely on a rape” scenario that I have a hard time with. I’m having exactly the same difficulty with Stephen R. Donaldson’s Gap series, which I still plan to continue on with and it’s the reason that I stopped reading Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series after two books.

I had hoped that Cherryh would make Marie Hawkins a more understandable character, a woman who had a son as a result of a long-ago rape and dealt with it. Instead, it seemed to me that Marie was pretty unstable and had made her son Tom’s mental state questionable too. Is it a good thing when the son is better off as a prisoner/crew member with his pirate father than with his mother on a family ship? I guess this is Cherryh’s exploration of some of those problems that we can’t seem to get rid of, rape and child abuse. I don’t know about you, but I really want to believe that we can conquer those problems before we make it into space. Perhaps I watched too much Star Trek as a child.

The ending made me happier with the book, so if you find yourself floundering during the first chapters like I did, I would encourage you to read on. I’m not saying the end justifies the means, but I was quite satisfied with the end result.

Book number 290 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project.

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review 2018-07-11 10:54
"Full Dark House - Bryant & May #1" by Christopher Fowler - DNF - reluctantly abandoned at 37%
Full Dark House - Christopher Fowler

The premise behind this book was intriguing: a Peculiar Crimes Unit, set up during the Blitz quietly to handle crimes that might undermine civilian morale, leaving lots of room for Mulder-meets-British-stiff-upper-lip humour.

 

The Unit is led by Bryant: an eccentric, ostentatiously intuitive, tactless, scarf-wearing, driven twenty-two-year-old who is more comfortable with exotic books than with ordinary people. His newly-hired first-day-on-the-job side-kick is the enthusiastic, scientifically-minded, charming, good-looking nineteen-year-old May, brought in as a detective despite his lack of experience because all the experienced people have left to fight the Germans.

 

The overall effect was that of a frenetic young "Dr Who" meeting "Endeavour".

I liked the spirit of it. It would make great television. It didn't hold my attention as a book.

 

The opening, in London in the 1990s when Bryant and May are still serving officers although they are both beyond the normal retirement age, didn't quite work for me. It asked me to care too much about characters I'd barely met. I had no context and so didn't get the emotional impact of the devastating fire-bomb.

 

Once the story flipped to London during the Blitz it hit its stride. The writing was strong on visuals, a little predictable on dialogue and way out there on the weirdness of plot.

 

The problem I had was that this retrospective visit to London felt a little too cosy and too nostalgic, a feeling that was amplified by the "Mystique of the Theatre" riff. The murder was surprisingly gruesome but carried little emotional impact.

 

I abandoned the book when my irritation with the changing points of view, sliding timelines and self-consciously look-how-clever-but-quaint-we-were-back-then technology innovations overwhelmed my interest in who had what to whom and why.

 

I'm sure many people will enjoy this. Maybe I'd have ridden with it more easily if there was an all-cast audio version but the text by itself didn't hold me.

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text 2018-07-09 22:38
Reading progress update: I've read 15% and it's getting there after a slow start
Full Dark House - Christopher Fowler

I think this has the makings of a good retro series. The opening didn't quite work for me as it asked me to care too much about characters I'd barely met.

 

Once it went back in time to London during the Blitz it hit its stride. 

 

The writing is strong on visuals, a little predictable on dialogue and way out there on weirdness of plot.

 

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review 2018-07-09 13:36
"Discount Armageddon - InCryptid #1" by Seanan McGuire
Discount Armageddon - Seanan McGuire

I've joined this party a little late. I didn't know about Seanan McGuire until I read the serious and pain-filled "Rosemary and Rue"a few months ago.

 

"Discount Armageddon" is almost the mirror image of "Rosemary and Rue". It's fast, light and witty in a superficial denying-the-danger kind of way. It reaches for sassy, willfully unconventional and effortlessly lethal and makes it most of the time.

It has a great opening line:

"I really don't think you should put your hand inside the manticore, dear. You don't know where its been."

It's sprinkled with clever descriptions that made me smile. Here are a couple of examples:

 

Verity Price on her unconventional childhood

"Other kids got chores and teddy bears; we got gun safety classes and heavy weaponry. Normal’s what you make it."

Verity on first encountering the straight-laced but soon to be undone Covenant new-crusader-in-town who has snared her on a rooftop:

"Straightening, he puffed out his chest and said, “I am armored with righteousness.” 'Does righteousness protect you from small-caliber bullets?'"

I loved the premise of a family leaving the God-Wants-Us-To-Kill-The-Monsters cult and becoming cryptozoologists working with the Cryptids/monsters to create a stable ecosystem - how on message is that. The plot was clever without being too demanding. The originality and variety of cryptids encountered were fun. The mice were cute. The ballroom dancing was... exotic.

 

At times, I thought the pace lagged a little. The sex was eye-rolling but I'm almost sure that was intentional.

 

In the end, much depended on whether you liked Verity Price and cared what happened to her. I decided that I did and that I want to know more - in small doses - so I'm signing on for the next book in the series.

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text 2018-07-05 10:46
Reading progress update: I've read 2%. - as first lines go - this one has legs...
Discount Armageddon - Seanan McGuire

"I really don't think you should put your hand inside the manticore, dear. You don't know where its been."

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