Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Memorial Day by Vince Flynn

Memorial Day (Mitch Rapp, #5)Memorial Day by Vince Flynn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

24 in a book.

Like 24, if you try to take this book seriously, you can find plenty to critique. It's treatment of terrorism lacks nuance, and every character is a perfect physical specimen.

But if you're doing that, you're reading it wrong. The quote on the cover says "The king of high concept political intrigue". If you replace the "concept" with "energy" then it's right on. The story is kinetic.

Because I started this on the 6th book, I didn't have as much connection with "Mitch Rapp, Superagent", so sometimes didn't sympathize with him. I felt a little like my approval for his actions was taken for granted, even when those actions were very extreme. I believe that had I started with the first book, my ability to suspend disbelief for a story that I had invested in would be stronger, and my enjoyment better.

Now, because I think it's interesting, I'm going to talk about some things that prove I sometimes was "reading the book wrong".

1. In real life, I think Mitch Rapp would be very messed up. He would need serious counseling to function in civilized society.
2. In real life, the ticking time bomb situation is probably hopeless. If your intelligence has failed to that extent, it's probably too late to save it by torturing people for information. But maybe you do it anyway, because you have to try?
3. In real life, terrorists have a lot of different kinds of motivation(nationalism, personal revenge, power fantasies, religious radicalism). Not every terrorist is motivated by a radical reading of the Koran.

To be fair, this is a fantasy though. It's the author's attempt to say, "Wouldn't it be amazing if there were an agent like Mitch Rapp, working against terrorists, keeping us safe?" And even a way of saying, maybe there's not one person doing all these things, but it's amazing the things people are doing to keep us safe.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Warded Man

The Warded Man (Demon Trilogy, #1)The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I can only barely give this 3 stars.

The world is quite interesting. A post apocalyptic fantasy world, where much has been lost, and the world is shrinking. Humans are losing a war with the demons who cavort in the night. The small towns on the edges of human society are dying out slowly through terror and despair. The Free Cities who depend on the raw products are unable to extend their protection further than their walls.

See, doesn't that sound interesting? The author is really good at setting up opportunities for himself to shine. He can focus on the small terrors and hardships of poorly slept nights, or the banality of laying your head down with only the wood walls between you and whatever stalks the night.

He could explore the frustrations, inadequacies and pettiness of the leaders in the cities, and explain how easy it can be for people living in The City to forget that anything important happens anywhere else(Yes that means you, New Yorkers).

He tries to discuss the difficulty of teaching hope to those who have lost it, but the big problem here is that this is his first book. At least, I hope that's the reason he couldn't build the atmosphere to go with his world. With just a little bit of gray, his book is filled with Black and White. His powers of description fail to bring the terror to life. His characters fall in love unconvincingly.

Now that I have picked on him, I have to say that the book was entertaining. It was imaginative, fast-paced, and the action was good enough. I'm having a hard time deciding if I will buy the second book. Authors often improve dramatically after their first book, so I think I will.

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