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December 28, 2007

Reading Update

I feel like I've missed some books in my reading update, but perhaps I've just been watching too much TV.

The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman.

Both re-reads. I find that Compass holds up very well. I remember a great deal of it, and a lot of images from it as well, although not the main plot resolution. Knife, not so much. It's kind of a mess, doesn't have the same high impact imagery, suffers from too-many-parallel-worlds syndrome, has too many bad guys, none of whom actually matter, and is more of a doorstop than a plot.

I'm also having political issues with Knife, in which Lyra decides to submit her spirit and mystical ability to commune with Dust through the Compass to the boy's judgement. I can't even remember the boy's name and I just read the book. Basically, because he's a murderous "warrior", all her courage and intelligence and ability is nothing, if not put in his service.

Also, the only choices of strong female characters in Knife are Mrs. Coulter (evil, crazy bitch), or the witches. the witches are kickass, but aren't quite human, live off in this entirely man-free society, and are sexually available to any man of sufficient accomplishment. in fact, they are so apt to fall dangerously in love, that they represent a fatal force of nature when rejected. their centuries of life and power are, of course, thrown to the winds in pursuit of some stupid man who will only live a fraction of their lives. this is in direct contravention to how Serafina Pekkala describe the witch life in Compass, in fact.

Also, Lee Scoresby, who didn't really do all that much in the first book, suddenly becomes (yet another)father figure to Lyra (after spending about a week with her in the first book) and gives up his life for the chance of protecting her. Retch. And where's Iorek Byrnison?

So basically we're dealing with a first book that offered extremely nuanced and complex understandings of the varieties of human nature, and a second book that gave itself way too much to do and so simpliflied everyone into a stupid stereotype.

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

By all rights I shoulda hated this one, but it was really fun. Basically, a novelization of a superhero comic-book style story, but with complex characterization and much use made of the entirely verbal narrative. Way too precious and jokey and self-conscious, but it really works. 'Nuff said.

Extras by Scott Westerfeld

I know him. Fun book. Go read!


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