Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Title: Chasing The Prophecy (Beyonders #3)
Author: Brandon Mull
Price: $19.99 ($14.78-Amazon)
Rating: 3 out of 5/ The Mole
It's a fairly well known fact that children's books are not very realistic. Most of the time a few lucky kids are plucked from their boring lives and have grand, friendly adventures before they are dumped back home with riches and stories. The parents (who are always stupid in one way or another) are never the wiser about the fact their children have gone missing or that they spend their time running around smacking things with swords. There's always that cliche happy ending, and all those inconvenient loose ends simply disappear or are tied up nicely. Thankfully Brandon Mull has decided to take a refreshingly different approach in his newest adventure. The kids go missing, the parents panic, and in each world not everyone has a happy ending. Sacrifice is the most prominent theme in Beyonders, and this honest approach to cause and effect will make children think twice about wishing for adventure.
After years of running, beyonders Rachel and Jason have discovered the long sought prophecy to save the world of Lyrian. Now they must each lead half of the surviving rebels in opposite directions to stop the tyrant Maldor. Unfortunately, the fact that each of their missions is knowingly suicidal isn't helping to inspire confidence. Now they must decide to trust fate or their own instincts as they chase fairy tales and rumors to find the artifacts that will keep a world from an era in darkness. Success means a ticket back home while death would be a kindness compared to the treatment they will receive if they fail.
The weaknesses found in this book are unusual for Brandon Mull. This is an author who's greatest strength lies in the development of memorable and unusual characters. It stand out even more then, that the characters in this novel are so badly developed. The characters, which are a little too plentiful, get lost in one another with their difficult names and similar attitudes. With the exception of the two main children, the other characters are bland and seem to only exist for the support of the children's roles. When characters begin to die, their deaths have little to no impact on the reader. Since there are so many dramatic death scenes in the book they become simply a pattern of chapter endings instead of having the emotional impact the author intended.
My favorite part of this book, as well as the series, is the unapologetic reality of the story. The decisions that the children make throughout their adventures have real impact and gravity. The characters make some terrible choices and mistakes, which have consequence on the people they care about. As you read the book it becomes clear that not everyone is going to have a happy ending, nor will everyone get what they want. Sacrifice is a common theme and the children are often asked to sacrifice things they treasure for the sake of the larger picture. This theme continues all the way to the finale of the series and it gives the reader an ending that is not entirely happy but still satisfying.
As a series Beyonders is a solid trilogy but it is far from the best on the market right now. Younger children might enjoy it but adults that have a love for children's books will find it lacking. It seemed that Brandon Mull was playing it safe this time. So I hope that his next series will be the risky, fantastic, and imaginative writing that we are used too.
Picture Reference: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15801381-chasing-the-prophecy
Thursday, October 31, 2013
This Halloween the world was blessed by The King himself! Stephen King bestowed upon us a new novel titled Doctor Sleep. This unexpected book turned out to be a surprise sequel to the contemporary horror classic The Shining. To celebrate this new release and the holiday that accompanies it, The Office has carefully constructed a drinking game for your party tonight. Simply put on The Shining, grab a beer, and follow our rules. The Office would also like to remind you not to travel alone tonight... you never know what could be lurking behind the bushes.
1) If at any time you realize you're holding your breath take a drink
2) If Danny talks to his finger or Danny's finger talks take a drink
3) If a ghost appears take a drink
4) Every time room 237 make an appearance take a drink
5) Whenever Jack is at his typewriter take a drink
6) Whenever Jack breaks something take a drink
7) Every time one of the great quotes of the movie is said take a drink (This includes Redrum, Here's Johnny,
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy, the shining , etc.)
8) Whenever you spot blood take a drink (we chugged during the elevator scene but if your sane you won't do that)
9) Whenever someone dies take a drink
10) This is the most important rule! If you are able to yell BOO and get someone to jump while they are watching the movie they must take a drink
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Author: Dan Brown
Price: $29.95 ($14.09-Amazon)
Rating: 4 out of 5/ A Double Agent
This is likely the most pointless review I have ever put time into writing. I mean if we are going to be completely honest here, you've already decided wether you love or hate this book before you even turn the first page. Hell you probably decided it before you bought it. Reading a Robert Langdon adventure is the literary equivalent to watching a Indiana Jones movie. The formula that drives both of the doctor's adventures never truly changes. There will be betrayals, guns, a mini boss fight in the middle, a final boss fight at the end, sexy women who follow them around, and lots and lots of historical references put together in a way you'd never imagine but seem common sense once they're revealed to you. If you love that sort of thing, you will always love it along with this book. Meanwhile if you hate the predictability... well lets just say it isn't going to be throwing you anything jaw dropping in the shock department. So with keeping the futility of my efforts in mind I will attempt to break down the best and worst of Dan Brown's newest historical thriller.
When you wake up in the hospital, it's been a bad day. When you wake up in the hospital shot in the head, no memory of the last 24 hours, on the wrong side of the world, and the target of a tenacious assassin your having a Robert Langdon bad day. Still unimpressed? Well there's a plauge of bubonic proportions being released by a Dante obsessed madman millionair who has payed off all parts of government to bring down Langdon at any cost. And of course, like any good villian, he has kindly laid a trail of clues that will help lead our heros to their goal saving the world in a sadistic race through Italian history.
It has to be understood that I am simply one of those people who love the formula behind Dan Brown adventures. I loved it the first time and chances are good that I'll still being loving it the tenth. That being said I did manage to tally up some fair complaints regarding this latest installment. The story is as predictable as always, but this time there were a few head turning twists thrown in, and it's here that I had my biggest problem. The twists are terribly unfair, and when they were revealed it caused more anger then astonishment. I might be old school but I like to have a few clues before the big reveal. Then when I realize how wrongly I had put my information together I simultaniously feel stupid and awed for not piecing the puzzle together earlier. The clues that Dan Brown gives us in Inferno are so misleading that often times they were, quite frankly, lies. When you realize that the clues you have carefully collected through the stories were simply wrong or bad information it causes frustration and distraction. The rest of the complaints are small details, often regarding the unrealistic behavior of characters in the story and the seemingly constant terrible aim from the worlds bests soldiers.
The best part of a Robert Langdon book is, as always, Robert Langdon. The mix of humor, action, history, and akwardness from the main character will keep you engaged for hours. The humanity apparent in this unexpected action hero causes readers to be emotionally invested in the survival of Robert as he races out of the frying pan and into the fire. For those readers that like their books to be action packed, look no further. The book opens with a literal bang and doesn't let up until it has forcefully driven it's reader to the final sentence. Disregarding the somewhat dissapointing twists, the mystery of the novel as a whole is fantastically done. Albeit not very original Inferno does prove that fighting off the impending Apocalypse never gets boring.
A good book is one that drives the reader through the story relentlessly, and in this sense Inferno succeeded. That earns it a 4 out of 5 and like a good Double Agent full of twists, I think you'll feel satisfied at the finish.
Picture Reference: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2013/05/dan-brown-inferno/65174/
Monday, September 2, 2013
|Trust us, we won't be drinking Butter Beer!|
As the year passes and summer comes to an end, I am once again struck by how unfairly I age while my heros stay as young as ever. Harry Potter may still be a teenager but those that first fell in love with him have become adults. Luckily their childhood passions still leaves a mark upon the world. To honor them and their work this Labor Day we at The Office have created a drinking game just for them. We tested it out on the first film but we tried to make the rules applicable to all the movies!
1) Whenever someone says the name Harry Potter take a drink. (they must say the full name)
2) Respect for Muggles is hard to find, whenever someone says Muggle take a drink to honor them.
3) Everyone loves Hedwig so every time you see him take a drink!
4) Quidditch is the most popular non existing sport in history, played the world over by drunk college students everywhere. Every time someone references to or you see someone playing quidditch take a drink.
5) There are a lot of important red heads in the Harry Potter world, and they're all crazy in their own special way. Anytime you see two or more at the same time take a drink.
6) Dare I name he who must not be? Every time Vold... umm I mean he who must not be named is brought up take a drink for courage.
7) Hermione Granger has a certain know it all tone that drives everyone crazy. Every time she starts lecturing or otherwise telling off Ron and Harry take a drink.
8) Ron may be a sidekick but his antics often get Harry into more trouble than help. Every time Ron's shenanigans get Harry into unpleasantness take a drink.
9) Severus Snape might be an jerk but we can't help but love all the creative ways he makes Harry's life a living hell. Every time he practices that time perfected art of ass-holery take a drink!
10) As the hero, Harry Potter spends most of his time foiling evil plots. Every time a villain's carefully laid plans are laid to waste by our favorite teens take a celebratory drink in honor of all we love about the series.
Picture Reference: http://io9.com/5903968/this-harry-potter-art-makes-us-long-for-an-animated-series
Friday, August 16, 2013
Title: Seeds of Rebellion (Beyonders #2)
Author: Brandon Mull
Price: $7.99 (Amazon- $7.19)
Rating: 3 out of 5/ The Mole
The last time that we all gathered to discuss Brandon Mull our topic was on the creation of reading sanctuaries. These sanctuaries are vivid worlds created by talented wordsmiths who have crafted a safe (or sometimes not so safe) place for their readers to take shelter in from the real world. Brandon Mull is a master of creating some of the strangest and more enjoyable worlds currently gracing our bookstores. While his work sides on the more innocent childlike scale I always enjoy dropping by to get a break from the darker and sometimes jaded adult fiction. In the first book the world of Lyrian was established and we were introduced to a world at the mercy of a sadistic tyrant. Unusual for a child's novel, in Beyonders the main character was toyed with, tricked, and generally at everyone's mercy as he was sometimes literally dragged along for a quest he never volunteered for. As we dive back into the world we start to see the chain reactions of the seemingly small decisions made in Beyonders.
Jason is once again stranded in a land he doesn't belong in...America. Since leaving the world of Lyrian and coming home Jason has thought of nothing else but Rachel and the war he left behind. As Rachel's parents still franticly search the globe for her, Jason's parents are relieved to have him back. Even if they are becoming more and more suspicious about his unexplained absence. His experience as a soldier of rebellion has caused his personality to become irreversibly changed and Jason has slowly become a stranger to his family and friends. The slow lumbering days of summer and the stress from not being able to explain anything has pushed him to the edge, and it has become a matter of get back to the world that needs him or die trying.
I think what I find most refreshing about Brandon Mull's work is the reality in spite of so much fantasy. I love the fact that these kids are sucked into a different world and it causes very real consequences in the reality they came from. Their parents become frantic, offer rewards, have massive man-hunts covered by FOX, and eventually presume they are dead. When a kid pops back and is found walking around in different cloths in a different state, refusing to speak about it, the parents are practically ready to assume they escaped from some underground slave ring. Seeing a child experience and deal with the aftermath of these serious consequences puts the reader in an unusual point of view. I found it to be a breath of fresh air in the normally stale state of children's literature. Other points of praise are the writing, which as always is well done, and the interesting villains. This is one story where I find the villains to be so much more fun than the heroes that often I don't know which side to cheer for.
Where the book starts to drop off is when we find ourselves back in the world of Lyrian. The whole world is a bit of a clique, look a dangerous swamp, hey a dangerous mountain pass, oh wow a dangerous jungle etc... these locations lack the uniqueness to make a real visual impact on the reader and I often found myself visualizing lands from LOTR movies. The heroes also seem a bit cookie cutter and when put against the villains they pale in comparison. Many of the main heroes often seem almost superhuman, escaping from impossible odds, fighting blindfolded, healing almost immediately. I know that I'm being very nit-picky but characters that defy even basic laws of nature drive me crazy. The kids have a tendency to be very good at everything they try, which is annoying, but it's not nearly as bad as in some other children's books (*cough *cough Adventurers Wanted). Seeds of Rebellion focuses on the work required to actually begin a rebellion and it is very dialog heavy. This isn't necessarily a fault but I missed the mystery and puzzles that were sprinkled throughout the first novel. I found myself less driven to turn the pages and had an easier time walking away than when I was reading Beyonders #1.
Overall if you enjoyed the first Beyonders book than you will enjoy this one as well. The differences in writing style from the first one isn't drastic and the world still feels the same. I was looking forward to more puzzles and the mystery driven story line of the first novel, which simply wasn't there. Thats why I decided to give Beyonders a 3 out of 5/ or The Mole. This is one step down from the last book but with trilogies it's often the middle adventure that dips a little. Hopefully the conclusion will be the best one yet and have everything us fans are looking forward to and more.
Picture Reference: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11254850-seeds-of-rebellion
Monday, July 22, 2013
Title: Metro 2033
Author: Dmitry Glukhovsky
Price: Currently not available in U.S.A.
Rating: 4 out of 5/ A Double Agent
Today I would like to introduce you to the greatest book you will never read. Metro 2033 is being called such things as a runaway hit, instant cult classic, the game changer of European science fiction. It currently has spawned two major American video game adaptations and is being made into a movie from famed studio MGM. Metro has become a literary lantern, leading readers away from the safety of sci-fi predictability and plunging them into a dark and horrifying world they will never want to leave...that is if english speaking readers can actually find said lantern. It is written by Dmitry Glukhovsky in his native tongue of Russian and tracking down a copy that has been translated into english is about as difficult as finding a first edition Hobbit. To purchase this book in a language that my foolish brain could understand required contacting every bookshop on the East Coast, then being directed to a bookshop in London, and finally writing a ridiculous check to get it shipped to my current country of origin. Was the three month delivery date worth it...yes. But someone please tell Russia to stop hoarding all their best books.
In the year 2033 the human race isn't doing particularly well. After an apocalyptic nuclear war that occurred 20 years prior, humanity is on the verge of extinction. A nuclear fallout has covered the entire earth and either killed or mutated everything on the surface. Possibly the only humans left on the planet live in the deepest tunnels of the Russian Metro. Each station has been developed into a town and people travel the tunnels, trade, and try to survive in the endless darkness. Flash lights and guns are now the most prized possessions and bullets have become standard currency. This is where our protagonist Artyom was born, and it's the only life he has ever known. He works hard as a security lookout, helping to keep the border of his station safe from the mutants and monsters that crawl down from the surface. Recently Artyom has heard reports of strange things happening all over the Metro. People disappearing in tunnels that have no exists, strange music and voices in pipes, and a new monsters called dark ones that can make you go insane by reaching into your mind. As Artyom's station is in danger of being overrun by dark ones he is sent out in a desperate attempt to warn the rest of the metro before humanity finally ends forever.
I'm not sure if it is fair to fault the translation of this book as something I didn't like but it stands out as the most frustrating part of this book. Conversations occur with an unnatural cadence and often times I felt as if I were missing key hints. The locations in the book seem to jump around and were all very similarly described, making it extremely hard to visualize where I was in the story. I found myself endlessly studying the tiny map in the back of the book cover trying to figure out where Artyom was and how he had gotten there. The Russian station names are a struggle but creating easy to remember nick names helped me a great deal. Overall the difficulty in reading and understanding Metro caused some serious problems when it came to visualizing the story. It felt as if I had watched a film with stunningly detailed and amazing scenes connected by muddled and fuzzy static, giving you only the audio to piece things together.
I think the reason that this book has done so well on such a global scale is because its been so long since we had an original SF horror story. The book's writing and theme simply has a indescribable classic feel, giving me that nostalgic urge to reread staples from prior decades. Even with the difficulty in translation, a sense of suspense stays with you constantly. Many of the characters come and go without much thought but I challenge any reader to follow the adventures of Artyom and not grow attached enough to fear for his safety, or perhaps more importantly his sanity. Metro 2033 is refreshingly unpredictable, unforgiving, and most importantly unforgettable. It will relentlessly drive you to the last page and then leave you staring into space shocked long after the covers have closed. If the measure of a good book is how long the story stays with you afterward than this simple paperback could not achieve higher marks.
Right now Metro 2033 is extremely hard to find but it is worth every second tracking down a copy. Hopefully in the near future we will see this on shelves everywhere in America, with a fine tuned overhaul of the translation into english. Perhaps then I will revisit my scoring and be able to give this story a perfect 5 out of 5. Until then I will simply be satisfied with the knowledge that another author has finally described the pants wetting fear of a librarian silently coming at you from between bookshelves.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
|because alcohol can't make it any worse|
The final votes of our first ever online poll are in and tallied... and the winner after an emergency tie-breaking vote was Twilight! Now this drinking game is going to be essential for your survival from one of the famously worst movies of all time so make sure you have plenty of alcohol available before you start. And remember your dvd player isn't broken, they just talk that way.
1) As soon as you push play take a double shot... just trust me on this one your going to need it.
2) Every time there is an awkward pause between two characters, yell "line?" and take a drink.
3) I still don't know why vampires sparkle but when they do you'll need to take a drink just to handle it.
4) Being around sparkling vampires is dangerous on multiple levels. Every time he tells Bella about how dangerous he is take a drink.
5) Research now suggests that Bella gives off a smell that makes men go into a love frenzy (similar to sharks). Every time that a man/boy hits on Bella take a pity drink.
6) The super powers of Edward seem endless so every time he shows one off your going to have to drink to it.
7) I can never get enough of teenagers telling each other about how they feel about one another so every time these teens do it take a drink.
8) Bella has a lot of chances to redeem herself by simply walking away from the blood sucking vampires. Every time she chooses not take the obvious decision take a drink.
9) Kristen Stewart has an almost robotic lack of emotion, so every time she tries to contort her face into having one take a celebratory drink.
10) And finally no vampire drinking game is complete without this rule! Every time a vampire drinks blood take a drink with him and don't stop till he does! (Just joking this isn't that kind of awesome movie)