Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Super Summer

     I would call myself an avid reader, but I'm really just minor league. There are those out there that devour books, and I need to up my numbers. Thankfully, summer. Now that all that studying for college is through, I can hit the books. I have 90 days, and I plan to read at least 25 books. I am just experimenting, so I'm not sure what my pace will be. If I can channel my focus, and look towards my goal, I think I can manage to surpass my goal. I will be posting reviews of all 25+ books. And I'm off.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Review of Tom Reynold's "Meta"

    It's back to the summer reading season, and I started off with a book I'd bought a while back but never got to, "Meta." Years after all of the metas, humans who possess mysterious super-powered bracelets, have disappeared, Connor Connolly wakes up to find his wrists wrapped in almost unlimited powers. The bad guy thrown in there is The Controller, a meta who has the power to create monsters to fight for him anywhere he so pleases. Assisting Connor is Midnight, a non-meta vigilante who has been around since the old days.
    The book starts off on a hot streak, and then hits a wall as soon as Connor discovers his powers. Everything comes out of nowhere, and little explanation is every put behind events. Hostile situations will come out of thin air simply to move the plot along. The story jumps from scene to scene like a child playing "The Floor is Lava" where it is okay to omit bridging the gap between sequences. Trying to see it all together is like deciphering a "Connect the Dots to Form a Picture" puzzle that you see on the children's menu. The most glaring example is the magical rooftop of plot advancement, where Connor would teleport, and then some event would be waiting for him in the exact location. The book is relatively short though, so I can see the need to condense.
    One of the aspect that also receives the short end of the stick is character development. Specifically, Connor's relationship with the love interest Sarah. It plods along throughout the book making no significant headway until the end, where it still feels poorly wrapped up.
    The book does have moments that shine, in its humor and witty writing. One particular scene I enjoyed was describing Connor  honing his ability to fly. It was brief, but entertaining and to the point.
The fight scenes are also quite vivid, and the author isn't afraid to censor some of the more questionable moments. It is also a nice break from the slew of superhero fiction that involves months of training in an academy, or fighting the government agency that created the hero.
     Getting back into the swing of things, this was a quick, entertaining read. It has it's share of problems in character development and instances of deus ex machina, but nothing that breaks the tale. It does hint at a sequel, which I would be willing to pick up. This one gets a spot on the shelf.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Mandatory Love Interest

     Though it is not exclusive to the type of books I've been reading, most young adult sub-genre superhero novels with male protagonists have a female love interest as if mandated by society. I see the tactic as a way to interest female readers, but it never makes for a compelling narrative. That is not saying that romance isn't a satisfying genre, but shoehorning a love story into a teenage action-adventure for the sake of expanded the appeal only serves in watering down the story. However, a novel that is chock full of one gender does not have to be a turn off if the focus is spent on the story than on mass appeal.
     For example, Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games trilogy is entertaining for me to read due to the plot, and I view the love triangle as a distraction. But I get it, some men do not want to read a book with all females, and the same applies for women reading books with all men. Still, there are ways to implement both genders while not smashing two together at the lips. Make interesting female characters, who have personalities and interact with each other and that should draw in female readers. Books do not always have to reflect the real world, everything doesn't have to center around love.