Sunday, July 3, 2011

Book Irreviews, 2011: Issue II

Song of Kali - Dan Simmons
Plot: A literary journalist is sent to Calcutta to verify the legitimacy of a new poem written by a poet long-thought dead. Disappointed with his initial findings, Robert Luzcak digs deeper until he uncovers a dangerous cult that worships the Hindu goddess of death... and practices resurrection.
Thoughts: Simmons' first horror novel (and first novel in general, I believe). It's solid, not all that scary. I like it because Simmons is a favorite of mine and it was interesting to see how he's progressed. He establishes himself as a research-oriented author in the vein of Michael Crichton.
Verdict: If you haven't read Simmons at all - or are (like myself) a huge Simmons fan - read it. Hard-core horror enthusiasts might be a little disappointed.

Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
Plot: Richard Mayhew lives the rat race in London. A good job, a beautiful girlfriend, and a serviceable flat. One night, on his way to a dinner with his girlfriend's influential boss, Richard makes the fateful decision to help a wounded, disheveled woman who seemed to appear out of nowhere. He doesn't know it yet, but he's just crossed over into another reality... once that exists beneath the city.
Thoughts: Like Dan Simmons' work, I'm a huge fan of Neil Gaiman's. The guy is just awesome... he gets "modern fantasy" and I'd almost be willing to go out on a limb and claim he's the late 20th century's/early 21st century's Lewis Carroll. Okay, I'll go out on a limb and claim that.
Verdict: Read it.

The Cat Who Walks Through Walls - Robert A. Heinlein
Plot: In a strange case of mistaken identity, and uninvited dinner guest is killed at the table. Richard Ames, an adventurer in his own right, is caught in a web of conspiracy that only his would-be lover can help him solve. People are never who they seem and actions are never what they are.
Thoughts:Robert Heinlein wrote one of my favorite books (Starship Troopers). I've read something from all of the "Big 3" of 20th century science fiction (Asimov and Clarke, the other two), but I've been wanting to expand my Heinlein. I should've went with Stranger in a Strange Land, but I picked this mess instead. My impression? That Heinlein read Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and felt he could do better. I realize that The Cat Who Walks Through Walls is part of a larger story, and I realize that it's not the first book in the (loose) sequence... but I still don't think I would've liked it.
Verdict: Skip it, unless you've a hard-on for Heinlein. Or have read the books you're "supposed" to read first.

The Man-Eaters of Tsavo - J.H. Patterson
Thoughts: The basis for the movie, The Ghost and the Darkness, I was a little disappointed that the titular man-eaters were such a small part of the book. It's mainly a British adventurer musing about his overall experiences in Africa, with the point of emphasis being his hunting excursions and the building of a railroad.
Verdict: Not sure... decent memoir, but I won't recommend it based on the misleading title.

The Third Man / The Fallen Idol - Graham Greene
Plot: The Third Man: Rollo Martins is a pulp novelist called to post-World War II Vienna to visit his longtime friend, Harry Lime. By the time Martins gets there, Harry's been killed in a tragic car accident. Problem is, the cops don't believe it was an accident, and neither does Martins. The search for the truth leads to more tragedy, and a revelation worse than Martins could have envisioned. The Fallen Idol (also known as "The Basement Room"): Young Philip is, for all intents and purposes, raised by two house-servants: Baines and Mrs. Baines. He idolizes Baines and despises Baines' wife. One night, while pretending to run away, Philip sees Baines with another, younger woman. Secrets are kept, truth rears its ugly head, and a cover-up threatens to drive a young boy insane.
Thoughts: Graham Greene is regarded as a literary giant. That's because Graham Greene is a literary giant. His style rocks, his characters rock, his plots rock. He just rocks. I will be reading a lot more of him in the near future. What else do you need to know?
Verdict: Read it (or them, depending on which edition you can get a hold of).


  1. alright, i'll read some Gaiman (i heard 'American Gods' was good?), but then you need to pick up some Mieville (perdido street station).

  2. It took you how long to read all these? Since your last post? Sh*t. I need to quit my job. Can I get paid for reading????? *SIGH*