Book Review – Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

Aftermath

The second Death Star has been destroyed, the Emperor killed, and Darth Vader struck down. All major victories for the Rebel Alliance. But the battle for freedom is far from over.

Determined to preserve the Empire’s power after its defeat in the Battle of Endor, the surviving Imperial elite are converging for a secret summit to consolidate their forces and prepare for a counterstrike. Above the remote planet Akiva, as Star Destroyers gather like deadly birds of prey, rebel pilot Wedge Antilles finds himself the sole witness to the looming threat—only to be capture before he can alert the Alliance. Meanwhile, former rebel fighting Norra Wexley has returned to her home on Akiva, ready to leave the ravages of war behind. But when she intercepts Wedge’s urgent distress call, she knows she must help, no matter the cost. What she doesn’t know is how close the enemy is—or how dangerous her mission will be. Together with her technical-genius son, a Zabrak bounty hunter, and an Imperial defector, Norra prepares to take the fight to the resurgent Empire—and do whatever it takes to end its oppressive reign once and for all.

Aftermath by Chuck Wendig is unique among the Disney Canon of Star Wars novels, being the first among them to deal specifically with the fallout of the events of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. While I had personally chosen before now to linger in fiction that takes place amidst the first six films, it was this largely uncharted territory that had me especially looking forward to starting this novel and the subsequent sequels that make up the Aftermath trilogy. Despite the Emperor’s fall and Darth Vader’s redemption the war is not over, as the tagline says, and I was eager to see the more in-depth details of the true end to the Galactic Civil War.Read More »

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Book Review – My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

MyYearOfRestAndRelaxation

Our narrator should be happy, shouldn’t she? She’s young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, works an easy job at a hip art gallery, lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like the rest of her needs, by her inheritance. But there is a dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2018) is the latest novel by Ottessa Moshfegh. The story follows an unnamed narrator who is fed up with her life such as it is. Both her parents are dead, her recurring ex-boyfriend is a high-class dirtbag, and her only consistent relationship with her friend Reva is toxic. Life offers nothing of meaning or value to her. Everything is a superficial façade. In attempt to remedy her existential dilemma, with the help of a terrible psychiatrist, the narrator embarks upon a journey self-renewal. She begins taking a myriad of sleep aids and medication to keep herself sedated in her apartment as often as possible for an entire year, believing that by the end of this time she will emerge restored in mind and spirit.Read More »

Book Review – Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

MovingPictures

People might say that reality is a quality that things possess in the same way that they possess weight. Sadly alchemists never really held with such a quaint notion. They think that they can change reality, shape it to their own purpose. Imagine then the damage that could be wrought if they get their hands on the ultimate alchemy: The invention of motion pictures, the greatest making illusions. It may be a triumph of universe-shaking proportions. It’s either that or they’re about to unlock the dark terrible secret of the Holy Wood hills — by mistake.

Moving Pictures (1990) by Terry Pratchett is the tenth novel in the Discworld series. It is also the first book in the Industrial Revolution novel sequence, where the catalyst of the story is some manner of technological innovation or invention. Unlike the other sub-series that focus on a specific character or characters, this book introduces a new cast to the reader. It isn’t until the fourth Industrial Revolution book that a recurring protagonist is introduced. This novel, unsurprisingly, follows the emergence of a motion picture industry on the Discworld and the mayhem it eventually unleashes.Read More »

Book Review – Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne

JourneyToTheCentreOfTheEarth

Professor Otto Lidenbrock’s great adventure begins by chance when a scrap of paper drops out of an ancient book he has just bought. The coded inscription reveals the existence of a passageway leading to the centre of the earth and that the entrance lies within the crater of an extinct volcano in Iceland.

The professor travels to Iceland accompanied by his nephew, Axel, a keen young geologist. Together with a Swiss guide, they descend into the bowels of the earth where an amazing prehistoric world awaits them.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth, first published in 1864, is Jules Verne’s second novel. It is placed as the third book in the Extraordinary Voyages series, though it was added retroactively by the author. This series ultimately numbered 54 books. While far from the first example of subterranean fiction, a subgenre of adventure fiction, this book was highly influential and helped make the subgenre more popular. Verne is not an author I’m hugely familiar with, but I enjoy reading old science fiction and adventure stories when the mood strikes me, which is part of the reason why I first picked this up. The title evokes cheesy movies for me, whether adapting this book outright or just influenced by it, so I was interested to have a firsthand look at the source material.Read More »

Book Review – Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Circe is the newest novel by Madeline Miller, published on April 10 of this year. Though not a sequel, this is her second novel exploring the world of Ancient Greek mythology following her first novel The Song of Achilles, which I have yet to have the pleasure of reading myself. I have heard many great things about that book, but being a greater fan of The Odyssey than The Iliad I jumped at the chance to read an in-depth tale about Circe, the alluring goddess and sorceress of Aiaia.Read More »

Book Review – The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

Summary

The Companions of the Ring have become involved in separate adventures as the quest continues. Aragorn, revealed as the hidden heir of the ancient Kings of the West, joined with the Riders of Rohan against the forces of Isengard, and took part in the desperate victory of the Hornburg. Merry and Pippin, captured by Orcs, escaped into Fangorn Forest and there encountered the Ents. Gandalf returned, miraculously, and defeated the evil wizard, Saruman. Meanwhile, Sam and Frodo progressed towards Mordor to destroy the Ring, accompanied by Smeagol–Gollum, still obsessed by his ‘precious’. After a battle with the giant spider, Shelob, Sam left his master for dead; but Frodo is still alive–in the hands of the Orcs. And all the time the armies of the Dark Lord are massing.

TheLordoftheRings

Finally, I have finished reading all of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. It took much longer than I anticipated, but I’m thrilled to finally have it completed. At first, I was going to finish at the conclusion of the story, but after realizing just how deep into the lore the appendices go I felt obligated to read most of that as well. Once again, while this story is typically divided into three separate books I read through a singular copy, but I split my review of the book into three respective reviews for each volume. So, this is my review of The Return of the King, being the third and final part of my review of The Lord of the Rings.Read More »

Book Review – Skeleton Crew by Stephen King

Summary

From one of the greatest storytellers in modern times comes this classic collection of twenty-two works of fright and wonder unforgettable tales that will take you to where your darkest fears await. Whether it’s a mysterious impenetrable mist camouflaging bizarre, otherworldly terrors that could herald the destruction of humanity or an eerie-looking child s toy that harbors an unimaginable evil or four college students on a deserted lake encountering something that crosses the boundary of sanity or a man suddenly given the omnipotent ability to quite literally edit his own reality the extraordinary narratives found in Skeleton Crew are the enduring and irresistible proof that Stephen King is a true master of the short fiction form.

SkeletonCrew

Skeleton Crew is my first true foray into Stephen King’s works of short fiction. I did read Hearts in Atlantis last year, but that is a cohesive collection of interconnected stories with recurring characters and themes. This collection of stories, originally published in 1985, brings together various short works from his career at the time, many of them previoiusly published on their own in magazines and other publications. Included in this collection is the more famous story “The Mist,” which has been adapted into a film and a TV series. It’s a novella in its own right, making up the first 200 or so pages of the book, followed by two poems and 19 short stories, for a total of 22 pieces of fiction.Read More »

Book Review – The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells

Thanks to the discovery of an anti-gravity metal, Cavorite, two Victorian Englishman decide to tackle the most prestigious goal – space travel. They construct a sphere that will ultimately take them to the moon. On landing, they encounter what seems like an utterly barren landscape but they soon find signs that the planet was once very much alive. Then they hear curious hammering sounds from beneath the surface, and come face to face with the Selenites, a race of insect-like aliens living in a rigidly organized hive society.

TheFirstMenInTheMoon

First published as a complete book in 1901, The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells is the author’s 9th novel in a career of many. While his bibliography is much vaster than I realized, finally reading this book is significant to me because it belongs to a quintet of his books that, as far as I can see, continue to be fairly well-known to this day. The other four are, to a greater extent, The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and The Island of Dr. Moreau. These are all significant to me personally because it was Wells that first got me into reading outside of what I was familiar with, my late grandparents nurturing this interest by purchasing three of these books for me. The First Men in the Moon is one that I’ve always remembered but never got around to picking up until very recently.Read More »

Book Review – The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

Summary

Frodo and the Companions of the Ring have been beset by danger during their quest to prevent the Ruling Ring from falling into the hands of the Dark Lord by destroying it in the Cracks of Doom. They have lost the wizard, Gandalf, in the battle with an evil spirit in the Mines of Moria; and at the Falls of Rauros, Boromir, seduced by the power of the Ring, tried to seize it by force. While Frodo and Sam made their escape the rest of the company were attacked by Orcs.

Now they continue their journey alone down the great River Anduin – alone, that is, save for the mysterious creeping figure that follows wherever they go.

TheLordoftheRings

My reading journey toward completing a singular edition of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien continues, having reached another milestone by concluding the second volume The Two Towers. Before I started I was mentally exhausted from The Fellowship of the Ring’s meandering nature, despite my enjoyment of many parts of it. All the same, I was hopeful that the follow-up would gain much needed forward momentum. As a small indicator of how that hope turned out: I finished this volume a lot faster. Without further ado, this is my review of The Two Towers, being the second part of my review of The Lord of the Rings.Read More »

Book Review – The Lost Army by Christopher Golden

Summary

525 B.C. The Persian King Cambyses sent fifty thousand soldiers across the conquered Egyptian desert to take an oasis city not far from where the Libyan border stands today. According to Greek history, a hurricane-force sandstorm struck near the end of their six-hundred-mile trek. The army—all fifty thousand men—vanished without a trace.

1986 A.D. A British archaeological team, sent to the edge of the Great Sand Sea to exhume evidence of the incident, has gone missing. The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense is sending the world’s greatest paranormal investigator, Hellboy, to find the missing team and discover what became of The Lost Army.

HellboyTheLostArmy

The Lost Army by Christopher Golden is the first Hellboy novel, based on the comic book series of the same name. The book includes illustrations by series creator Mike Mignola. While I’ve enjoyed prose Hellboy stories from a couple of anthologies by now, this was my first venture into a full novel about the character. Since this was published in 1997 there have been nine other Hellboy novels and four anthologies. Interestingly, only a handful of this material is considered to be in continuity with the comic book series proper, which understandably takes precedent. This novel, along with other books and stories by Golden, are considered within canon.Read More »