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The Martian: A Review

I’d been seeing trailers for the film for a while and happened to notice it was based on an Indie book. When my bookclub peeps suggested we read it I was all for giving it a chance.

MartianIf you’re offended by strong language then I want to start by saying this book isn’t for you. The F word features on the first page and it and several other words like it are used throughout the book, but to be honest, I think if I was stuck, alone on Mars, and already aware I’m likely to starve to death because no one knows to come rescue me I’d not be too picky about my language either.

That’s pretty much where this book starts. Guy, on Mars, pretty sure he’s going to die but trying not to anyway. There’s a lot of science as our hero is a botanist and an engineer, but for the most part it’s well explained even if I did find myself skim reading a few bits so I could actually find out if he survived.

Martian-Matt-DamonIt had me unsure whether he was going to live pretty much throughout the book, which is pretty good going for this sort of book. Usually the writer makes it too obvious one way or another. And for a book that’s mostly held up by one character it’s a great one character and I love the idea that Matt Damon played him in the film. I think that’s likely to have been perfect casting.

The downside of the book for me was the other characters. They really were just there to support the main character and in a lot of cases were the same sort of person. They all joked in the same way (regardless of gender) and although the writer evidently tried to give them some differences they were almost identical people with different names. It was probably a good thing all the other characters had very small parts.

All in all I really enjoyed the book, even if I was a little disappointed by the secondary cast. I couldn’t put it down and loved the main character.

The Last Changeling: A Review

We picked out this book for bookclub a few months back based partially on the cover and partially on the description. It sounded like a very interesting blend of Sherlock esque stuff and mythological fairy-like creatures.

The Last ChangelingThe book started off a little on the slow side, I was intrigued but it felt a little wandering in plot and ideas. There was plenty of talk of metahominids (the books version of fairies) and how evil they are. by a third of the way in it pulled together and had plenty of action, some great bad guys and abilities and some very interesting cool characters.

I struggled to put the book down until I got to about three-quarters in and then it felt like the book went downhill a little. There were some chunks of text from what seemed like completely pointless points of viw, like an underground train driver, and after setting up lots of different metahominids with different strengths they onle really shot bows and arrows at people.

Also there were a few bits where I got completely confused as to whose point of view it was from. Something was really hinky with the formatting which made it difficult to tell when it switched, but that was only a problem a couple of times.

Finally the ending felt a bit like a wash out. There was some Deus Ex Machina with a plane that our main hero could suddenly just go get and someone’s fairy uncle who suddenly united the fairies, but then they turned out to not understand humans at all. The ending felt rather rushed and like the author had put all these cool fairie powers together and then couldn’t actually think of a way for the good guys to win against those odds, so conveniently made the metahominids weaker all of a sudden.

All in all there was a lot of great potential in the book and I’d definitely read a sequel, just wish it could have ended a little better.