Review: Three Weeks to Say Goodbye

Just finished Three Weeks to Say Goodbye by C.J. Box.

The book is narrated by a man that recently adopted a baby girl with his wife. Life is great until the adoption agency calls to tell him that the birth father wants the baby back. To make things worse, the birth father’s father is a federal judge.

While things seem rather ominous at first, the first part of the book reads almost like a TV special. The judge and his son appear “evil”, but no more so than you’d expect from people willing to tear a child from her family.

But things get worse and worse. People die, people kill, lives are changed. Despite my continual attempts to guess at the ending, I failed pretty miserably until it was pretty much spelled out for me.

Overall, a very good read. I’d definitely recommend it.

Get it here at Amazon.com.

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Review: Variable Star

Just finished Variable Star by Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson. It is a sci-fi book that was outlined by Robert A. Heinlein before he died, and then fleshed out by Spider Robinson many years later.

SPOILER WARNING!

The premise is pretty good. A poor college student finds out that his supposedly equally-poor college student girlfriend is a member of one of the richest families in the solar system. To escape the life they have planned out for him, he hops on a colony ship heading dozens of light years away.

Things are going relatively well until Sol (our sun) explodes, killing everyone and everything except for a few colonies and the colony ship that the protagonist is on. To make matters worse, an engineer that keeps the ship running commits suicide, leaving the ship stranded in space.

This is where things break down. Like the last book I read, it feels a lot like the author wrote a good story, but then got himself in a hole and couldn’t figure out how to get out of it. The ending doesn’t make any sense, because it is based entirely on several highly intelligent main characters being completely ignorant of what should have been completely obvious to them.

Overall, a good read though.

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Review: The Brief History of the Dead

I recently finished reading The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier.

The book’s premise is interesting: After death, everyone goes to “the City”, a sort of waiting room between earth-life and whatever comes after death. The catch: Once everyone that remembers you dies, you leave the City and go to… I don’t know. The author didn’t think far enough ahead to say what happens after you leave the City. You just vanish.

In the book, everyone in the world dies but a single person. This means that the only people left in the City are those that this last individual remembers (thousands of people).

So was it a good book? Eh. The author frequently started down a path that would lead to a good story about different individuals in the City, but always stopped short of actually getting anywhere interesting. Which was frustrating. To top it off, the author’s conclusion to the book was extremely weak and left me thinking: “That’s it? It’s over?”.

Overall, it was a good book except for the ending. Like I said, I wish the author would have picked a storyline he liked and stuck with it, instead of starting and prematurely stopping half a dozen other storylines throughout the course of the book. I would have preferred a more conclusive ending instead of the copout ending he chose.

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Review: Devil May Care

Just finished Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks. Being a James Bond book, I wasn’t expecting a very deep plot and I was not disappointed. The entire premise of the book is ridiculous, and the “surprise” twist at the end was a bit contrived and unrealistic (even for a James Bond novel). The action scenes felt like they should have had “pow!” and “bang!” written in the margins. Maybe this will make a good movie (if the plot is strengthened a little), but as it is, I wouldn’t recommend reading it.

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Review: Anathem

I just finished reading Anathem by Neal Stephenson a few days ago. At 960 pages, this was a pretty hefty book and took a few weeks to read, but the read was well worth it.

Anathem is a hard book to describe without ruining the reading experience. I was fortunate enough to read it while having absolutely no idea what it was about, but I’ll give you a pinch of info on it. The book takes place on another world, similar to Earth and populated with beings similar to humans. The author has created several words that are different enough to help you remember that you aren’t on Earth, but close enough to the words you already know that you won’t have to keep a special dictionary handy to look the terms up.

The people of this world, Arbre, and divided into two major groups: the Saecular (the normal everyday people) and the Mathic (the unusually smart scientists). The Mathics are interested in expanding and preserving knowledge, whereas the Saeculars are interested in the same things we are (fast food, cell phones, work).

The two groups get along fine most of the time, and the beginning of the story is mainly character development and new-world acclimation for the reader, but suddenly and (to me at least) unexpectedly, a plot twist is thrown in. Just when you start to get used to the twist, BAM! You find out the twist isn’t what you thought it was.

Anyways, I don’t want to ruin it for you in case you decide to read it. It is a pretty good deal at only $19.77 at Amazon for a 960 page hard cover.

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