In a Hole In the Ground There Lived…

 Me.

At least that’s what it feels like. My room has post-college explosion syndrome, AKA everything is everywhere over anything in my room and the junk has nowhere to go.

Naturally this hasn’t contributed a bit to me not posting anything on this blog. That’s just sheer laziness.

BUMBABUMBABUM BOOK REVIEW!

It’s surprising how few book reviews I do on this blog since I read a LOT and I love ranting about how good or bad a book is to my brother. Here are the three I read most recently:

Forrest Gump:

Per my mother’s request. What’s to say about this book? The movie was a hit and has been quoted by kids I’ve known for years. The book is just as good, if not better, than the movie. I honestly don’t think I have the right to critique it.

On a warning note there is a lot of mature language and content so not advised for younger readers unless you’re purposefully trying to scar them young.

The Beyonders: Seeds of Rebellion.

Brandon Mull.

Courtesy of Google Images

I devoured the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull when I was younger. Actually, I devoured MOST of the Fablehaven series when I was younger. Unfortunately I missed the last book in the series and didn’t go back to it for quite some time. Mull created a diverse, complicated world with many characters and in his defense I should have gone back and read the prior books in the series before attempting the last one.

This is one of only a couple of problems that Mull has in his new Trilogy, The Beyonders:

THE GOOD:

  • Mull is one of the most imaginative writers I know. He creates diverse, gigantic worlds and then fills them with incredible animals, places, people and things.
  • The writing is great. Obviously targeted towards younger readers so you won’t find Fitzgeraldesqe writing here.
  • The main characters are fun to be around, though some of the less important characters seem somewhat stale.
  • Mull makes you care about the story.

The NOT SO GOOD A.K.A. THE BAD AND THE UGLY:

  • Too many characters.
  • Hard to pick up the next book in the series after a little while because Mull doesn’t do well at bringing us up to speed
  • There’s a small lack of true character development and really just seems like the story is quickly hopping from one place to the other.

EXPLANATION OF MY REASONING BEFORE YOU RIP MY HEAD OFF:

I love Mull’s books. Like I said before, he is an extremely talented writer who can keep you entertained for hours. That being said his two series, Fablehaven and the Beyonders, do suffer the same few problems, the Beyonders more so.

There are WAY too many characters. I think characters are the heart of the story, but at the same time they can give the book a heart attack and kill it. Mull introduces way too many characters, often all at one time. In Seeds of Rebellion in particular there was a particular scene where the main character Jason is discovering the remnants of a battle. He discovers the dead body of one of his friends from the former book, but this character was so obscure that I don’t even know, or care, that he has died. Actually, I’m kind of glad he’s dead since it’ll give me one less person to remember.

Mull gives every character a name. The random bartender, the random townsperson, the dude driving the cart, pretty much every single person in his story gets a name. And while this is not a big deal because they aren’t mentioned again it diverts attention to trying to remember this new persons’ name.

Almost hand in hand with too many characters is the lack of recap of the previous book in the series. This is the main reason why I couldn’t finish the last book in the Fablehaven series. I had absolutely, positively NO CLUE who was who and what the bloody heck was going on.

For a fantastic example of recapping what happened in previous books, then look to the Harry Potter series. Seeds of Rebellion does this a little better than Fablehaven though I’m still left in the dark about many of the characters and the events going on.

Despite these few flaws the series still stands as a great one and I highly recommend it for anybody that likes Brandon Mull, fantasy series or books in general.

INSIGNIA, S.J. Kincaid:

Image Courtesy of Google Images

I have to say, I was not expecting this book to be as good as it was. I’m usually not a big fan of science fiction, and I’m a little wary of debut novels, but this one was great.

Here’s the summary:

The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S.J. Kincaid’s fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy. The planet’s natural resources are almost gone, and the war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning.

The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn’t seem like a hero. He’s a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.

As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom’s life completely changes. Suddenly, he’s someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there’s a price to pay…

BA BUM BAAAAAA!

THE GOOD:

  • The characters are great. You like the main character almost right away as he has his own flaws and problems. Daddy issues, bully issues, acne issues. You get the idea.
  • The story is LONG and INTRICATE. It spans anywhere from politics, to space battle, to bullying to seclusion. There are diverse characters and subplots.
  •  You actually hate some of the bad guys. Like you want to punch them in their non-real faces.
  • Good character interaction.

THE BAD:

  • Stereotypical bully.
  • Stereotypical underdog rises to the top gig.

Really the biggest problem is the cliché bullying and kid-from-nothing-realizes-he-is-actually-good-at-something-and-rocks-at-it storyline. But that’s okay. You can’t help but like the characters, feel sorry for some, want to strangle others and get drawn in to the story.

The only other downside: I cannot possible imagine any fourteen year old kid who is brand spanking new to a powerful organization going up to the boss and making demands.

I understand the kid is great at what he does and I know he did some cool things and saved a bunch of people, but what I don’t understand is how some kid who was so meek and in awe of everything in the beginning of the book suddenly acts like he runs the place.

AND GETS AWAY WITH IT!

His superiors do nothing to reprimand him even though he gets in their faces and makes accusations and demands. Also, his friends, who were complete veterans before the main character stepped in, let him trod all over them like they’re not there.

I work with teenagers and I don’t care how important one teenager thinks they are, unless it’s Justin Bieber with a group of teenage girls the kids aren’t going to let one of their own act all high and mighty.

And now I’m done ranting.

Anybody else think differently?

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