Dune by Frank Herbert
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Dune. It's the final frontier for my sci-fi reading journey.
I have failed.
Miserably. Well, not entirely miserably…I made it through half the book before I decided to put it down and never pick it up again.
Dune is one of those books that's been circling my periphery for ages. Everyone loves this book. One of the best sci fi books in history. Except, just not for me. I struggled with Dune like I struggled with the movie Blade Runner. Do people think this is good because it was one of a kind at the time, only to give it this historic mythos it doesn't actually deserve? Reviewers with better vocabularies will likely be better able to describe the good things about this book and there are definitely a few.
If you've been living under a rock with me for a while on this one, the basic story is that there's a "chosen one" teenager (this is not YA?) who is meant to save an alien planet from destruction and save the people from starving to death. Or it's a desert planet…so maybe dehydrate to death. Don't get me wrong, there's action and monsters and some of the monsters are human. There's also a love story at some point I think.
Now if you're frustrated by this vague review, I completely understand. I was frustrated reading it. I got about 400 pages in, realized I still had no idea what was happening and decided it was time to call it quits. For full disclosure you should know that I did what I normally do with 800 page books. I alternated between audio and the physical book in order to try and 1) get through it faster and 2) understand it better. It simply didn't work.
I felt like I was dropped into the story with almost no exposition. The kid finds out he's "chosen", his powers manifest almost immediately after that with no training or trying. There's a whole race (cult? still not sure) that his mother belonged to. There's an assassination attempt. They're on another planet. And there are sand worms.
I picked up the book because I wanted to read it prior to seeing the new movie, but I don't think I'll go back to it any time soon. I promise I wanted to like it. It felt like reading A Clockwork Orange. Where I didn't understand anything I read, but when I read it a second time it made perfect sense. Except, Clockwork wasn't 800 pages long and I've got more interesting things to read.
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House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Whew! Y'all, Maas does not play around with her world building. She's back this time with her first "adult" novel and she's painting a vast and in depth picture of this new world.
I had read all of Maas's other books by the time I got to this one so I had a good idea as to what I was getting myself into. Somehow I was still unprepared for the depth to which I felt attached to the main character.
We join Bryce Quinlan with her life sort of in progress. Her closest friends are brutally murdered and she survives the attack only to become a shell of herself. We rejoin her a couple of years later to find that she's sort of going through the motions. Her quiet and relatively safe life gets turned on its head when she gets tasked with helping to solve that murder. She's teamed up with an angel with a dark and brooding/brutal past.
I don't think I'll touch too much on their relationship. I'm sure you can figure out on your own how that's going to go. Contentious, friendly, madly in love by accident. Surprise!
So this world that's being built is super intricate. There's almost too much information given for the current storyline. Well, ok…so it's not too much…it's just a lot at the beginning instead of it being more spread out. There's magic and angels and werewolves and everything else…
Honestly I loved Bryce. She was layered and far more relatable than Feyre and Aelin ever were. I think the main difference between Bryce and the others was a lack of arrogance. She just wanted to live her life and be left well enough alone with her grief. She still more than rises to the occasion when she needs to, she's still got that self-sacrificing air that all of Maas's women do, but with Bryce it feels a little more like her choice rather than her destiny (even though you could argue that it's her destiny).
This is a BIG book. 800+ pages, so if you're going in, you have to commit to the finish. As for the "adult" nature of this book, I feel like the only thing adult about it compared to Maas's other works is a well placed use of the word "fuck". Otherwise, if you're worried about sexual content I can tell you that ACOTAR has way more graphic depictions of folks coupling than HoEaB.
Honestly, I could have bought this book simply for the cover and front page art. It's a solid 4.5 stars from me.
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