Books Read in 2009 – Lousy to Acceptable

OK, these are relative one-offs that were either awful, or “just ok”. “Just ok” means they weren’t worth hardcover prices, but I can respect the effort.

Disasters are books for whom I want my time and money back 🙂

The Meh-Train

  • Gridlinked, Neal Asher. This was emphatically ok. The auther takes the central tenet, that a man cut off from instant data access after decades would be affected by the loss, and then ignores it for the bulk of the book. Add a cardboard cutout villain, creeping epic-ness, and a deus ex machina turn at the end, and it was ok.
  • Close Encounters/Alien Affairs, Katherine Allred. Meh. Chick scifi. Roooomance. Not badly done, but too much lingering over natives bare chests’ for my taste.
  • The Magicians Guild, Trudi Canavan. OK, short, didn’t capture me enough to move on to the sequel.
  • Tetraktys, Ari Juels. This got a lot of ‘net buzz as a sort-of “good” The Da Vinci Code. I hated The Da Vinci Code with the fire of thousand burning suns, so I was hopeful. Tertraktys was better, but didn’t grab me. The writing was less effective than the ideas.
  • Valentine’s Resolve, E.E. Knight. Actually a series book, a series that used to be fun, but has gotten so unremittingly depressing that this may be the last stop for me.
  • Newton’s Wake, Ken MacLeod. Blah. Main characters, tech, world-building is lots of fun. I felt like a should have liked this more. Not sure what was missing. Again with a simple story ending up with a galaxy shattering epic conclusion. I hate that.
  • Infoquake, David Louis Edelman. Again a lot of buzz. I suspect it played to the vanity of tech people. Left me cold, and the sequel was available only in trade paperback for around $13. Fail.
  • The Lost Fleet: Relentless. Series book in a series with interesting characters, but a painted-itself-into-the-corner plot problem that is wearing thin. At some point the time-displaced here has to make it home to the capitol, and then this is a totally different series.
  • Ariel, Steven R. Boyett. Weak. Skipped the sequel. Great writing, boring, overdone plot, unsympethetic characters.
  • Kris Longknife: Intrepid, Mike Shephard. Series book. Pretty weak, easily the weakest in the series. The whole alien technology/culture subplot sucks rocks, and the introduction of a child mascot (Cara) and the ridiculous computer characters of Nelly and her children nearly ruined it for me. Not sure I’ll continue with the series.

Disasters

  • Requiem for a Conqueror, W. Michael Gear. Hated nearly all fo this book. Cardboard cutout characters, preposterous plot twists, awful writing. Honestly, I’ve never liked a Gear novel, so why I bought this is beyond me. At least it was long.
  • Black Ops, W.E.B. Griffin. A long time ago, I really liked Griffin’s Brotherhood of War and The Corps series. That was long ago. This Presidential Agent series reads like a neocon’s wet dream, with lousy writing. Desperate travel buy, and I regretted it.
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, David Wrobelewski. This book won awards, was an Oprah pick, got lots of love. I hated it more than anything I read all year. I think it was the split between the greatness of the evocative writing and the dementia of the plot. No one you root for gets a good ending, not even the dogs. The best character is murdered as the central plot point early in the book, and once he is gone, the book is far worse for the wear. Edgar’s dialogues with ghosts leave you thinking either he is deranged, or the author just felt like he needed a ghost for no reason. Trudy acts the dope, betraying her son and dead husband all too easily. Plot murders writing, crushes characters, enrages reader.

That’s the list of stuff I’d avoid in all likelihood if I was buying again. Next up, the stuff I liked, and the stuff I really liked.

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