Friday, April 20, 2012

Reading and Kind of Reviews

I've been reading a lot lately and grabbing different books from the Library.

I got some Clive Cussler novels first to try going through the Dirk Pitt series again and seeing if I still liked them as I had when I first read them. I read Flood Tide and I think it's safe to say I don't enjoy the Dirk Pitt books anymore. Granted this one didn't follow the same structure as the ones I remember. There isn't a sunken treasure for them to locate until the end of the book and it plays almost no role in the plot of the novel. The things that turned me off the book was the racist and sexist feel to the writing. The basis of the novel was mass immigration from China to the US that would allow them to split the country, and had lots of negative portrayal of Asians. The female was often viewed deragatorily, by Dirk. I might try something like Sahara later to see if it's better. The writing is okay although the descriptions of characters lets you know whether they are good or bad. In shape attractive people are good, overweight people are bad. That pretty much goes for The Chase the other Cussler book I picked up, although this one is in the Isaac Bell series. I did find this book more interesting, but it does drag on a bit. Cussler's books have simplistic plots and they should really wrap up more quickly than his do. He also has a tendency to go on about how vehicles work, especially cars. The Chase has a lot of description of a car being driven, and a train engine which don't do much for me, but don't really take away from the experience.

After that I made a much smarter choice and picked up a couple of Elmore Leonard books. I read Road Dogs and Bandits. Road Dogs was interesting because it had a supporting character from the only other Leonard novel I've read LaBrava. I first heard of Leonard from watching Jackie Brown, and took too long before I read his novels because they were phenomenal. Both the books I read build up the heist that the characters are planning only for everything to go sideways and the plot gets resolved in an unexpected, but still satisfying way. The plots for the book are an important part and make it feel like a genre piece, but the most important part of the books are the characters as the plans don't work out, and are resolved in the last couple of chapters while so much time is invested in the characters and making the reader care about them and making them seem like real people. I'm definitely looking forward to reading some more of Leonard, but I had to take a break from the noir style for a bit.

The last book I finished is Bernard Cornwall's The Last Kingdom. This was an interesting piece of historical fiction and the kind of book that is tough to put down. At times the Uhtred rushes through his early life, but it's still interesting. The depiction of the past embraces the brutality of the time and the characters celebrate in the violence, but the book doesn't really do that too much. At times the violence gets intense, but that's during the combat and to relay just how brutal the fighting is instead of just to be about the gore. Uhtred changes his loyalties several times through the book, but it's all done in a way that portrays a consistent character and all the changes make sense. From Englishman to Dane, and back and the variances he has within them. There are positive and negative portrayals of characters on both sides. It's fun to see the character complaining about Christianity because it's boring compared to the religious celebrations of the Danes and the Norse gods. Beside Uhtred the book creates the super badass Dane Ragnar who is awesome in every way. He's a great father figure for Uhtred growing up, and a strong leader that makes the reader sympathize with the invading Danes as they commit atrocities on the civilians of the land they conquer. This is the first part of a series and I can't wait to pick up the rest of the series and see how things end.

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