Monthly Archives: August 2015

Book review: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Buried Giant is a book I picked up based more on complaints than on praise, having seen a number of reviewers say this was nothing at all like Ishiguro’s other works. I have not read anything else by the author, but I do not consider a change in style to be a bad thing. I thought perhaps I might start here and later on read more books to form a basis for comparison.

Coming into this story, it begins somewhat ambiguous and hazy, and as I read on, I found that every single last character is an unreliable narrator. Part of this is explained in the story itself as part of the over-arcing plot. Part of it has to do with the roles two of the characters have to fulfill even as they speak to each other like allies and friends. Ultimately, this ambiguity and unreliable narration make for a slow and sometimes irritating read, because even as the characters confess that this time, they’re really telling the truth, you can’t be sure, and yes, it’s revealed that they’re lying once again. The ending is equally ambiguous and feels like just another lie, and so what seemed at first like a triumphant victory is instead a dreary opening to more and more tragedies.

This is not to say I did not enjoy the journey. All of the characters are interesting, and the setting in the times after the death of King Arthur is a welcome change of pace from my usual modern reading fare. But the hope I invested in the characters feels wasted by the ending, in which every good deed is done not to ensure peace, but to bring about more hatred and animosity between all people. And this elderly couple I’ve followed with some hope of resolution to their past is instead denied, their fates are left in the hands of yet another unreliable narrator.

“But the ending is ambiguous,” one might say. “It is open to interpretation.” No, it isn’t. The very early chapters establish the working routines of certain characters, and knowing their methods, it becomes quite clear the last narrator is lying not only to the characters, but to the reader as well. Thus, a story that begins in hope of redemption ends in destruction, death, and isolation.

Not every story has to end happily ever after, and I did enjoy the story, even if the ending left me feeling cheated. So I’ll give The Buried Giant 4 stars, and I can say for certain that this will not be the last book I’ll read from Kazuo Ishiguro.

Book review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

I need to begin this review with a warning that it contains spoilers for most of the book. Normally I hate to do this, but to talk about the parts that bugged me, I have to “go there” and cover the major plot points. So this is your only warning to skip this review if you want to go into this book and be surprised.

With that out of the way, last week, hubby and I went to meet a friend downtown, and he said he needed a travel book. So I suggested we go to the local Feltrinelli, which has a rather huge selection of books in English. While hunting for a new book, I saw More Than This, and even before I saw the title or the author, I read a blurb from John Green: “Just read it.” I do like John Green’s books, and I thought maybe he wouldn’t steer me wrong. So I bought the book, and I started reading while walking behind my husband and his friend. I spent the entire trip downtown reading, and when I got home, I dropped the other books I was reading for “just one more chapter.”

The first hundred and forty pages really sucked me into this story because after the main character Seth Wearing drowns, it seems like he somehow wakes up in hell. Each time he sleeps, he has flashbacks to his old life, and all of the characters in these flashbacks are interesting and helped keep my attention. Continue reading

Game review: Galak-Z for PS4

Galak-Z is a game I’ve been wanting to get from the first time I saw footage of the early alpha version, and I got even more excited when it was changed to a procedurally generated game, something that’s becoming one of my favorite buzz terms in gaming. So yes, this was a day one purchase for me, and…I want to like this game, even to love it, but my feelings are decidedly negative for a number of reasons.

First, I should cover what I like, and there is a lot to cover. Obviously, the graphics are fantastic, with the backgrounds being so pretty, I had to stop and stare at them on many levels. The ship’s design is also great, and all the enemy designs and the levels themselves are worthy of praise. There’s environmental hazards that can harm or hinder you, but that can also be used to trap or kill enemies.

The combat is gleefully varied, and there’s no one right way to approach fights. This is especially true after you get to the second season and unlock the mech transformation. Then you can choose to dogfight up close, take potshots from a distance while flying backwards and using juke to fly over the enemy’s bullets, use the robot’s grappling hand to grab enemies and slash them with a sword, use the same hand to throw explosive objects, or use the mech’s shield and sword to hack an enemy up close and personal-like. There may be many more methods to dispatching enemies that I don’t even know about, but those are the options I went with depending on the type of enemy I was facing and the number of enemies onscreen. It’s even possible to not fight at all and go all stealth on missions. There’s no one right way to play the game, just the way that feels right to you. That’s awesome. Continue reading

Game review: Diablo III: Reaper of Souls -Ultimate Evil Edition for PS4

Diablo II was one of my favorite games, and long after it came out, I was willing to come back and sink another couple hundred hours into playing through the various acts. I got even worse once I discovered character editors that would allow me to build the ultimate badass without having to grind for the right equipment.

But when Diablo III first came out, I downloaded the demo and walked away feeling dissatisfied with the changes made to it. When the game was released on PS4 under the extremely long title Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition, several reviewers said that this was the version to get, with further claims that the game felt completely different from its initial release. I was tempted by the fact that the console version didn’t have to always be online, and I found it on sale on the PSN store for almost half off.

I initially planned to wait to review this until after I had tried all the modes and difficulties. But after completing the full five acts with two characters and making several more runs with the other classes, I’ve reached a point where I can’t make myself play it anymore. It’s not a bad game, I suppose, but to me, it’s boring even on higher difficulty settings. Continue reading

Book review: Ghost Town by Rachel Caine

Yes, it’s another Morganville Vampires book review. For me these things are like text crack for so many reasons, but chief among them is that the series creates a world where vampires are well aware of their outnumbered position and are cautious to avoid being hunted to extinction. One thing that’s been a pet peeve of mine with the stereotypical vampire story is their indiscriminate killing sprees combined with the “What is this thing?!” trope. If a vampire left half as many drained, fang-pocked bodies lying around, there’s no way vampires could be a well kept secret, is there? And yet, the tired trope plays out over and over in horror.

But not in Morganville. Instead, the vampires have created a town where they rule silently over a population of humans who can’t leave thanks to a barrier created by a computer system augmented with a vampire’s brain. Or rather, that’s been the case for a long time, and in the last two books, the vampire brain who ran things went crazy and tried to expose the town with the help of an overly ambitious human. Ada, the vampire running the barrier, was rebooted, but ended up killing herself, leaving the town exposed.

So at the start of Ghost town, Claire is tasked with the impossible, creating a barrier to protect the town without using a brain. Myrnin, her vampire boss, helps her to craft a new system, but soon after it goes active, people begin going crazy. The machine affects both humans and vampires, and soon everyone is losing their minds, even elder vampires like Amelie. Claire must find a way to shut down the machine, a task made even more difficult because Myrnin has also lost his memories and has reverted into his former maddened state. Continue reading