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crowyhead has commented on (758) products.

Vampire$ by John Steakley

crowyhead, November 9, 2011

I know that this is not actually all that great a book. There is zero characterization, it's a bit cheesy, and the writing is pedestrian. But somehow it is WAY more fun than it has any right to be. It moves along at an insane clip, it's funny, and while the author is not a great writer, he has a clear storytelling style and an authorial voice that makes everything good fun.

It's really too bad that Carpenter's movie based on the book is not as good as it should be. I would love to see a good film treatment of this -- it was born to be made into a movie, pretty much.
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Dead Reckoning: The New Science of Catching Killers by Michael Baden
Dead Reckoning: The New Science of Catching Killers

crowyhead, November 9, 2011

Marion Roach has done a great job of co-writing this book. Reading the descriptions of Dr. Baden's work is rather like having Michael sitting across the dinner table -- she captures his voice wonderfully.

If you are already familiar with the science, this book might have too much overview for your tastes. It's a great introduction however, and has some really engaging case studies. Great stuff from a man at the top of his field.
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A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick
A Scanner Darkly

crowyhead, November 9, 2011

I've been told for years that this is a classic mind-bender, but I only just now got around to reading it. I loved it. I finished it and turned around and re-read most of the book. It is viciously, viciously funny, paranoid, and painful. I thought it was great.
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Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis

crowyhead, November 9, 2011

Meh. I really liked the concept here: a sort of Alternate Portland with an Impassible Wilderness in St. John's, with the St. John's bridge as a ghostly portal. But I was pretty disappointed with the execution.

The language is often kind of overwritten and clunky. Prue and Curtis are not well-defined as characters; I wasn't even able to put my finger on how old Prue was supposed to be until she came right out and said she was twelve at one point. First I thought she was much younger, if precocious, but couldn't quite buy that if she was eight or nine she'd be babysitting her brother all day, unless her parents were of the negligent type. It almost felt as though her age changed throughout. Similarly, I had a hard time believing that, if Curtis was twelve, he would have been rejected by his classmates for his "babyish" habit of drawing superheroes -- from my recollection, 11 and 12-year-olds who can do a decent drawing of Wolverine or Spiderman receive a grudging respect for their talents, even if they're low on the totem pole.

Basically, the first thing a children's or YA author has to do with a child protagonist is establish them believably as a child, if a potentially heroic one, and Meloy fails to do so.

The frustrating thing about this book is that if you describe the individual elements to almost anyone who loves books of this type, their eyes will light up: children kidnapped by crows, disappearing bridges, bandits, evil sentient ivy, an Avian Protectorate, etc. etc. Yet it's all a bit hollow and unsatisfying, in the end. I really feel like this is a book that needed to undergo at least one more major rewrite before it was published, and I'm sad that it didn't, because I think it could have been much, much better.

On the other hand, I loved Carson Ellis's illustrations. She is AWESOME.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)

The Finder Library, Volume 1 by Carla Speed Mcneil
The Finder Library, Volume 1

crowyhead, November 9, 2011

I'd vaguely heard of "Finder" prior to seeing this at my library, but I'd never had an opportunity to read any of McNeil's work. I'm so glad I found this!

McNeil has created a fascinating, complex world full of messed up people, joy, and magic. It's exceedingly hard to describe. I was grateful for the author's notes at the back of this volume, because they clarify some of the details that I otherwise would have had to feel out on my own. It turns out that nine times out of ten I was on the right track, but it was nice to have a little bit of confirmation.

I love the artwork, as well, and it's fun to see McNeil improving as the comics progress. I'm definitely looking forward to finding volume 2!
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