27 November 2013

Lexicon by Max Barry

What a read!  After finishing Dan Brown's Inferno, I dove straight into Max Barry's Lexicon.  It's the most fun I've had reading a book in quite a while.

From the blurb for Lexicon, I have to admit, I had imagined something radically different that what I got.  I suppose I was expecting something like Lev Grossman's The Magicians.  After all, it tells the story of Emily Ruff, a 16-year-old admitted to a school for "poets" - people who use words as weapons, to persuade or control people.  Sounds kind of like magic, right?

Imagine my surprise when I realized the book was in fact a thriller.  Not only that, it also told the parallel story of Wil Parke, who may or may not be uniquely immune to Poets.

I had a really hard time putting the book down.  I actually stayed up way too late several nights reading, only to have to give up mid-chapter when I got too sleepy to make sense of what I was reading.  And it is dense reading: if you're not paying attention, you'll miss things.  Max Barry showed a unique grasp of his craft, I thought; the language in the book was outstanding.

Lexicon was the most pleasant surprise I've gotten in quite a while.  It was thought-provoking,  compelling, and yet totally whimsical at times.  I can't wait for the next surprise.

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Books: Lexicon.  Taking a break from new stuff to do a re-read of Harry Potter this December in lieu of my usual Lord of the Rings annual reading.

Bottles: Got some new stuff from wine club but forgot to take notes.  Blurgh.

Writing: Nearing the 50% mark again.  Yea!

Guitar: "Echoes" still.

Happy Thanksgiving!

21 November 2013

Dan Brown's Inferno - Spoilers Abound

Sorry it's been so long since the last post.  Not that I'm sure anyone reads this...

So, I read Dan Brown's Inferno, the fourth excursion with Robert Langdon, who I still, for good or ill, picture as Tom Hanks with weird hair.

I've previously read both The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol.  Inferno stuck to the established formula for the most part: hooking up with the female sidekick (could Robert Langdon be an incarnation of The Doctor?); uncovering the sinister plot; finding MacGuffins; finding out that some MacGuffins were, in fact, decoy MacGuffins; and the obligatory betrayal by someone close to the case who seemed at first to be an ally.

There were a few twists, and a few twists that ended up untwisting themselves, which was disappointing.

Again, Spoiler Warning...

I was surprised, and pleased, when Sienna, the female sidekick, also ended up being the obligatory betrayal...up until it turned out that she was only sort of betraying Robert, and they ended up on the same side and kissing at the end anyway.

Dan Brown definitely got me a couple times, with red herrings and clever use of pronouns and nicknames to mask the identity of FS-2080.

The most subversive thing Brown did in Inferno - and this is what ultimately set the novel apart from its predecessors, to me - was that the ending wasn't 100% happy.  Langdon failed to find what he was searching for in time.  While the consequences weren't as apocalyptic as we (and he) were led to believe they might be, it was still an interesting choice to have the quest end in failure.

Inferno was also strangely paced to me; it felt like I was doing interval training.  The novel seemed to lose steam in several places, and in others it was so frantically paced I couldn't always keep straight what was happening.

Overall, an adequate read; I don't know that I'd said I completely enjoyed it, but I didn't hate it, either.

For comparison, though, after finishing up Inferno I picked up Max Barry's Lexicon.  After only two days I'm already a quarter of the way through it.  Inferno took me considerably longer to finish.

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Books: Finished Inferno.  Reading Lexicon.  It's super awesome.

Bottles: Chappellet Signature 2008 in Magnum at a party last weekend.  It was a popular bottle and very nice.

Writing: Nearly at the half-way point for chopping my novel down in size.  Also in a good place with my query letter, I think.

Guitar: "Echoes" from Meddle.  Actually, technically, the one I'm doing is a shortened version from Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd.  It's missing about 8 minutes.  But it's still awesome.