Book Reviews: Clines, Rothfuss, and Hearne
I’m falling behind in my book reviewing, so I’m going to cram a few together in one blog post.
Book the first: Ex-Heroes [Amazon | B&N | Indiebound], by Peter Clines. This is basically a post-apocalyptic zombie book with superheroes, which is an interesting premise. As powerful as the heroes are, they’re not invulnerable, and they’re vastly outnumbered. They’ve established a stronghold called The Mount, in the ruins of Hollywood, where they scavenge for supplies and do their best to protect their citizens from the exes (ex-humans), as well as a street gang that’s discovered some powers of their own.
Clines hits a lot of the expected beats for a zombie story, including flashbacks to the beginning of the disaster, various scenes of humans being trapped by exes, and the terror of the endless sea of undead at the gates. I appreciated that there was at least one twist that I didn’t see coming. (And it has a blurb from Nathan Fillion, which is both cool and incredibly envy-making.)
I’d recommend this one to fans of zombies and Watchmen.
Book the second: The Slow Regard of Silent Things [Amazon | B&N | Indiebound], by Patrick Rothfuss. Pat writes an interesting introduction to this novella (novelette?), in which he warns people, “You might not want to buy this book … it doesn’t do a lot of the things a classic story is supposed to do.”
More than anything, this struck me as a character study. Auri is a secondary character in Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles. In this book, we follow a week in Auri’s life.
Depending on how you read it, there isn’t a lot happening in this book. Auri lives beneath the university, a world of empty caves and tunnels and pipes and ponds and abandoned rooms. In some respects, she reminds me a bit of Luna Lovegood, a character who sees the world in a very different and odd way. But in Auri’s case, you get hints of her past, of someone who was broken and rebuilt herself and her world.
If you’re looking for a strong plot, or for a story that has an impact on the greater world, you should probably skip this one. Auri spends her days exploring, finding lost objects and putting them in their proper places, exploring different rooms, and searching for the right gift for him.
The writing is gorgeous, and I was fascinated by Auri’s character, who seems to walk a very thin line between beauty and crippling OCD. My only complaint is that I wish she wasn’t so fixated on him (Kvothe, from Rothfuss’ novels). I understand that this is in keeping with the books, but it frustrates me to read such a beautifully written woman whose existence revolves around a guy. I’ve just been reading too much of that sort of thing lately.
That said, it’s a beautifully written story, though it won’t work for everyone. It inspired me to try some new things with my own writing and characters.
Book the third: Hounded [Amazon | B&N | Indiebound], by Kevin Hearne.
This is book one of Hearne’s popular Iron Druid chronicles, and I can see why he’s done so well with it. It’s page-turning fun, with a 2000+ year old druid called Atticus O’Sullvain living in Arizona with a delightful Irish wolfhound. For a long time, he’s been hiding from a very angry god who wants a sword Atticus stole centuries ago.
Lots of action, a good helping of snark, and entertaining, larger-than-life characters, from the werewolf and vampire legal team to the possessed bartender to the Irish widow Atticus hangs out with, swapping Irish tales.
There’s also a bit of hetero-male wish-fulfillment going on, with several beautiful and powerful women who all want to sleep with Atticus. On the other hand, Hearne presents a range of female characters, all with their own strengths.
In sum, a fun and entertaining read.
So, that’s some of my recent reading. Any of these three strike you as interesting? Or if you’ve read them, feel free to share your thoughts.
December 15, 2014 @ 9:56 am
“The Slow Regard of Silent Things” makes an excellent reading for a rainy day. Though i am biased toward action (in books as in movies) i liked this one.
December 15, 2014 @ 10:28 am
The only thing I would add about “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” is that Auri was not just fixated on ‘him’, she was also fixated on that toothless gear and where to put it so it would be happy. It would have bothered me if she had focused only on him, but since she was so focused on making everything right and happy – finding a perfect place for her possessions, making soap the correct way, doing the proper things each day – her dedication to finding him the right gift fit in perfectly. (So to speak.)
Jim C. Hines
December 15, 2014 @ 10:33 am
That’s a fair point. Her fixation on the soap and the gear and such was fascinating to read. I’ve been reading enough books with Special Men and the Women Who Love Them lately that I’ve got significantly less tolerance for it.
Angela Highland (Angela Korra'ti)
December 15, 2014 @ 12:38 pm
Zombies, superheroes, and a plug from Nathan Fillion?
I believe the phrase I want here is “relevant to my interests”. 😀
December 15, 2014 @ 3:45 pm
Loved the first book, and the third one sounds like my kind of fun, so I’m gonna go buy it now, thanks 🙂
December 15, 2014 @ 4:49 pm
“Hounded” – if you’ve only read book 1, go out and pick up the other 6 immediately. I binge read this series earlier this year 2 books at a time, with a change-up in between. As soon as I finished book 7, I found Mr. Hearne on twitter and asked why book 8 wasn’t out already. The series is that good.
December 15, 2014 @ 9:14 pm
Having only read #1, I had been debating continuing! I enjoyed it, but a couple of things threw me off–mostly the bizarre behavior of the police and paramedics. Everybody has their ‘thing’ that they know about and therefore nitpick, and I know enough first responders that I read/watch media and go, “Why are they acting like this?? Why aren’t they doing their job? Why aren’t they more upset by what just happened?!?” And hoo boy urban fantasy is filled with this.
Maybe I’ll try #2 and see where it goes! I dug the mythology and side characters.
December 16, 2014 @ 9:45 pm
I read the books mainly for Oberon. I get cranky if he doesn’t (IMO) get enough face time.
December 17, 2014 @ 9:03 pm
Haven’t read the other two, but Hounded I loved. I also binge-read the whole series recently. I adored Oberon. Even though his sophisticated speech seemed very un-doglike, I was having too much fun to quibble. He’s my favourite character!
The other thing I enjoyed about the series was that it didn’t just stick with the Celtic pantheon. All sorts of other gods made an appearance, including Jesus Christ, which really added to the interest for me. Love the Norse gods! It was a clever way of building bigger and bigger problems for Atticus as the series went on.
December 20, 2014 @ 3:07 pm
Kvothe is a very special snowflake, and I got the impression that most female (and some male) characters are just there to emphasize how special he is in the kingkiller chronicles. I am not surprised he takes up space in that side novel, too.