Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book Review: Eragon (Book 1 of Inheritance Cycle)

Eragon (2003), Christopher Paolini. Paperback, 528 pages. 

Summary: A boy finds a dragon egg in a secluded wilderness, hatches it, and sets out with a few companions on a journey to combat a tyrannical ruler, meeting elves, dwarves, and evil monsters and minions along the way. For a more detailed summary, click here.

     Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world. A tall shade lifted his head and sniffed the air. He looked human except for his crimson hair and maroon eyes.
     He blinked in surprise. The message had been correct: they were here. Or was it a trap? He weighed the odds, then said icily, "Spread out; hide behind trees and bushes. Stop whoever is coming . . . or die."
     Around him shuffled twelve Urgals with short swords and round iron shields painted with black symbols. They resembled men with bowed legs and thick, brutish arms made for crushing. A pair of twisted horns grew above their small ears. The monsters hurried into the brush, grunting as they hid. Soon the rustling quieted and the forest was silent again.


Writing Quality: 3/10

Depth of Concept: 2/10

Rounded Characters: 2/10

Well-Developed World: 4/10

Page Turner: 4/10

Kept Me Thinking: 2/10

Overall Recommendation: 3/10 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Review: Twilight (Book 1 of Twilight)

Twilight (2005), Stephenie Meyer. Paperback, 544 pages. 

Summary: A girl moves to a small town on the Northwest Coast, and discovers that her classmate is a vampire. Danger and adolescent romance ensue. For a more detailed summary, click here.

     "Honestly, Edward." I felt a thrill go through me as I said his name, and I hated it. "I can't keep up with you. I thought you didn't want to be my friend."
     "I said it would be better if we weren't friends, not that I didn't want to be."
     "Oh, thanks, now that's all cleared up." Heavy sarcasm. I realized I had stopped walking again. We were under the shelter of the cafeteria roof now, so I could more easily look at his face. Which certainly didn't help my clarity of thought.
     "It would be more . . . prudent for you not to be my friend," he explained. "But I'm tired of trying to stay away from you, Bella."
     His eyes were gloriously intense as he uttered that last sentence, his voice smoldering. I couldn't remember how to breathe.
     "Will you go with me to Seattle?" he asked, still intense.
     I couldn't speak yet, so I just nodded.
     He smiled briefly, and then his face became serious.
     "You really should stay away from me," he warned. "I'll see you in class."
     He turned abruptly and walked back the way we'd come.


Writing Quality: 4/10

Depth of Concept: 2/10

Rounded Characters: 4/10

Well-Developed World: 5/10

Page Turner: 7/10

Kept Me Thinking: 3/10

Overall Recommendation: 5/10 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Book Review: Moby Dick

Moby Dick (1851), Herman Melville. Paperback, 672 pages. 

Summary: Moby Dick is, simply put, the kick-assiest of the Great American novels. In a way, it was the first and, in my opinion, perhaps the best of any novel that tried to channel the zeitgeist of its time. Sure, Moby Dick is about a man seeking revenge on a whale. But more than that, it is about the battle between good and evil, between the known and the unknown, between everything and nothing. It may be arguable that Moby Dick should be considered a "fantasy" novel. I consider it such because it so brilliantly explores the unexplainable, cosmic, and even magical qualities of life and death, and summons a monumental and terrible foe in the White Whale that easily trumps Sauron, Voldemort, or any other fantastic evil you could imagine. For a more detailed summary, click here.

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.


Writing Quality: 8/10

Depth of Concept: 10/10

Rounded Characters: 10/10

Well-Developed World: 10/10

Page Turner: 7/10

Kept Me Thinking: 10/10

Overall Recommendation: 10/10

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Book Review: The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book (2008), Neil Gaiman. Paperback, 336 pages. 

Awards: Hugo Award, Newberry Medal, Locus Award, Carnegie Medal.

Summary: Nobody Owens is raised by the undead inhabitants of a graveyard after his family is methodically dispatched by a mysterious killer. For a more detailed summary, click here.

      There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately.
     The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet.
     The street door was still open, just a little, where the knife and the man who held it had slipped in, and wisps of nighttime mist slithered and twined into the house through the open door.
     The man Jack paused on the landing. With his left hand he pulled a large white handkerchief from the pocket of his black coat, and with it he wiped off the knife and his gloved right hand which had been holding it; then he put the handkerchief away. The hunt was almost over. He had left the woman in her bed, the man on the bedroom floor, the older child in her brightly colored bedroom, surrounded by toys and half-finished models. That only left the little one, a baby barely a toddler, to take care of. One more and his task would be done . . .


Writing Quality: 7/10 

Depth of Concept: 5/10

Rounded Characters: 5/10

Well-Developed World: 6/10

Page Turner: 7/10

Kept Me Thinking: 4/10

Overall Recommendation: 7/10