Outside the Wheelhouse: Evermore by Alyson Noel

Evermore by Alyson Noel
Evermore by Alyson Noel

Evermore (The Immortals Book 1)
Alyson Noel
St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009

OK, don’t judge me. Well, at least not yet. I’d light to thing that my earlier reviews of certain titles by Stephanie Meyer set some precedent here but maybe that’s thinking too much. Regardless, sometimes I get curious about what people other than myself look to read. And when a title in terms of cover design and general plot outline resembles another series so much my curiosity becomes a thing to fear. I fought it for a long time but not so long ago, on a whim, I snatched up Alyson Noel’s Evermore (the first book in her Immortal series). Its resemblance to Twilight is undeniable and like Twilight it isn’t exactly the most sparkling bit of prose you’ll read. On the other hand, in terms of plot and character it exceeds its YA cousin in many degrees. Alas, its basic similarity to Meyer’s work (mostly superficial) is also its greatest detriment and the shadow cast by Meyer’s certainly taints one’s perception of Noel’s series.

Evermore opens as teenage Ever is living with her aunt after her family is killed in a car crash. In addition to taking the life of her family, and nearly her own, Ever is left with some residual gifts due to her near death experience: telepathy and the ability to see and talk with her little sister’s ghost. A popular girl turned somewhat reclusive due to her new abilities she hides from the world behind a pair of earphones and a seemingly endless supply of baggy sweatshirts (skin contact enhances her abilities). Of course all that changes with the entrance of Mysterious and Impossibly Attractive Edwar Damen. Of course Ever can’t hear Damen’s thoughts (the inverse of a certain other relationship if I’m remembering correctly). Ever is drawn into Damen’s strange existence and as more information comes to light the nature of Damen and Ever’s relationship becomes increasingly bizarre.

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Review: City of Ruins by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

City of Ruins by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
City of Ruins by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

City of Ruins
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Pyr, 2011
So, as you may or may be aware I was rather a large fan of Diving Into the Wreck. I have a bit of a thing for derelict space ships so it is no small surprise that a sci-fi tale about a character whose job is diving abandoned ships would appeal to me. As it turns out, generally speaking any story that in some way involves Exploration of the Unknown is one that will have my rapt attention. This is a good thing when it comes to City of Ruinswhich, as you might have guessed by the title, trades in the abandoned space ships for something a bit more sedentary.

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Review: Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes
James S.A. Corey
Orbit, 2011

When I finally purchased The Dragon’s Path on my e-reader of choice I was pleasantly surprised (that is an egregious understatement) to note that it included a free advance copy of Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (aka Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). Advance advance buzz, the bare whisperings often heard by those of us who stalk books on the web, was that this was going to be old school type space opera. Of course the truth is even better because not only is this old school space opera but it is also a little bit hardboiled detective fiction. Believe it or not but for this reader things only got better from there.

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Review: Conviction (SW: FotJ #7) by Aaron Allston

Conviction by Aaron Allston
Conviction (Fate of the Jedi, Book 7)
Aaron Allston
LucasBooks, 2011

The 7th and latest volume of the Fate of the Jedi saga, Conviction, is here.  This time it’s Aaron Allston at the helm and this time…it’s more of the same.  First off let me start by saying that whoever wrote the back copy for this book should be summarily fired.  I’ve never read a description that tries its hardest to spoil everything that happens in the novel and is, in many regards, patently misleading.  Seriously, absolutely terrible job on that part.  Furthermore, I’m sure I’ve said it before, that the publishing schedule is all sorts of bizarre for this series.  When the final volume is published in April of 2012 this series will have been running for just under three years.  For comparison sake Jim Butcher has been known to release a new book every 6 months, by himself.  Apparently three authors writing a single series eight books long requires 3 years of writing.  If I’m not mistaken I do believe that Allston has had some health issues over this time but I still found that the stop and start publishing schedule is a serious detriment to the series (books 1 to 3 were released every other month followed by a six-month break then two more books every other month then another 6 month break, from there things are a bit more irregular).   While I’ve certainly enjoyed aspects of the series so far what is even more distressing is lack of much progress made in resolving any of these storylines.  The broad focus on the different aspects of the series has stalled developments to a point where I suspect that this was initially multiple series that have been condensed into a single narrative.   If you’ve read any of the other volumes in this series the structure and themes of this book might feel familiar.

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Review: Dreadnaught (Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier) by Jack Campbell

Dreadnaught
Dreadnaught

Dreadnaught (The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier #1)
Jack Campbell
Ace, 2011

OK, I know I skipped the last three volumes of the Lost Fleet series. Maybe I’ll go back and post some lengthier reviews but right now I will press onwards. If you haven’t read the first Lost Fleet series be aware that there will be some spoilers for that series in this review. That there is a second series is likely, on some level a spoiler, in and of itself. So, if you’ve just started to read The Lost Fleet or if you intend to read The Lost Fleet: be warned!

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30 Day Video Game Challenge: Days 22-23

Day 22:  A Game Sequel That Disappointed Me

Insterstate ’82.  Hands down.  Developed in house at Activision it dumbs down the customization options for vehicles (not quite to Twisted Metal-like levels) and given the emphasis on “don’t get out of the car” in the first game the fact that you can leave your car in the second game makes little to no sense.  The game is such a non-entity that I can barely remember the plot save that involved tracking down Groove Champion.  Simplified mechanics, lackluster storytelling, and “advanced” graphics that lack the charm of the original make for a decidedly sour taste on the tongue.

Day 23: Game You Yhink had the Best graphics or Art Style

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.  To this day I think the vibrant cell-shaded graphics are more expressive than any Zelda game since.  Some decried the move, especially after the realistic Gamecube tech demo at the time, but I thought that Wind Waker’s bright colors and fluid motion were absolutely gorgeous.

Review: The Dewey Decimal System by Nathan Larsen

The Dewey Decimal System by Nathan Larsen
The Dewey Decimal System by Nathan Larsen

The Dewey Decimal System
Nathan Larsen (twitter)
Akashic Books, 2011

When checking out The Dewey Decimal System by Nathan Larsen over on Amazon I found out it is part of the Akashic Urban Surreal Series. Unfortunately, beyond that Amazon listing I can’t seem to find anything about this series beyond that it sort of exists. I mean, I guess the series title sort of explains it all but a little more information on it might be nice. Indeed, before even seeing that such a series existed I don’t think I would have classified this novel as surreal. Maybe it’s the fact that my senses are so inured from years of science fiction and fantasy that my interpretation of surreal is a bit askew. I found myself thinking of The Dewey Decimal System as slightly closer to post-apocalytpic fiction than anything else, though even that wasn’t quite right.

The Dewey Decimal System takes place in the husk of a New York City that has been all but abandoned after a flu pandemic, terrorist attacks, and the collapse of Wall Street. The titular character goes by the name of Dewey Decimal a gun-for-hire who makes his home in the New York Public Library working on the side to reorganize the collection into the proper Dewey classifications. Dewey is hired by the local Distract Attorney Rosenblatt to kill a man: Ukrainian gangster and all around bad guy Ivan Shapsko. Of course that isn’t everything. This wouldn’t be a quality hard-boiled/noir tale without a femme fatale and Larsen delivers with Iveta Shapsko; Ivan’s estranged wife. Dewey isn’t the type to follow orders blindly and the notion of just doing what he told never crosses his mind. Dewey’s quest for more information on his job leads him down an ever twisting path of violence made all the more fascinating by Dewey’s own unique psyche.

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30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 20: Favorite Genre

This one goes hands down to role playing games.  Not that massively multiplayer garbage.  Old school, 40+ hour, RPGs.  With cloth maps!  Hack and slash or story based there are few kinds of RPGs I don’t enjoy.  Over recent years there has been a lot of RPG bleed through into other genre.  In some cases this is a mechanical effect: loot, experience, levels and in others it is a bit more subtle.  Something like Mass Effect 2 is an RPG, but at the same time it’s action heavy gameplay mean it trends towards an action game as well.  I used to joke that ability enhancing equipment in Tiger Woods were magic items; was I wrong?  Everything from Call of Duty to Halo: Reach have turned to the carrot of experience points (or credits, or whatever) to lead you ever onward.

 

30 VGC Day 21: Best Story

I’m not a fan of survival horror games.  I’ve just never really been able to play them.  So, when I give my best story nod to i Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem you should know that I don’t do so lightly.  It helps that I’m a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft and while Eternal Darkness doesn’t use the Mythos proper the world and metaphysical elements are strikingly similar.  Denis Dyack and the crew at Silicon Knights managed to weave together a compelling mystery that stretches across several time periods into a single cohesive and engrossing narrative of cosmic horror.  The twelve playable characters spanning over 2000 years of human history serve as the vector for an intricate plot that always ties back to the present day (2000, at the time) in a surprisingly effortless approach that despite the breadth of the action is never overwhelming.

This is problem one of the best games of the last generations and deserves more recognition and maybe a new game set in the same world.  I’d love to see what type of horrors Silicon Knights can conjure up with today’s hardware.