Book Review: Elysium


Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you lose everything.

This was a pretty heavy book. I am going to put that right out front with this review. If you are in the midst of mid-2020 and everything around you is depressing and stressful, then this may not be the most ideal book for you to pickup right now.

I am going to have a tough time trying to review this, as it is extremely difficult to try and explain this book without giving it away. Think of it this way. A story has a beginning, a middle and an end. That narrative timeline is progressing through this book, front to back. All the while the characters, their relationship and even the time/place that the story is occurring in change with each section of the narrative. The crux of the narrative is about the relationship between Adrian and Anton. Who those two are though is never the same. Sometimes they are siblings, other times lovers? Sometimes their gender changes, other times the time and place that they are living in changes.

Through it all though it is about their relationship as the world around them is metaphorically and physically destroyed.

This book embodies what I really enjoy most about SciFi novels. It challenges the reader. It challenges the reader on multiple levels about their beliefs, about how they view the world, perhaps even in this case what they think a narrative format should be.

I have a few minor gripes about some of the writing. Often times the vignettes were not always clear. There is one for example midway through the book were our main characters are part of a religious order, wearing white and tending to a flame. I had no idea the context or time of this society. Was it modern? In the near future? Somewhere in the past? That issue came up several times for me.

The book in the end will most likely not leave you satisfied. You do not get a good explanation of everything that occurred or an understanding of what from the story was "real" and what was manifested from the story being told. I think that was the point, but it does leave wanting a few final sentences to tie it all up.

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Book Review: The Three-Body Problem

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book started off pretty strong for me, but stumbled about halfway through and never fully recovered. I really enjoyed the hard science aspect of the book. There is a lot of discussion regarding physics and math here. Unfortunately, some of the story elements broke my immersion. There were several points in the story where narrative beats came across as too convenient.

A scene about halfway in that takes place in a cafe seemed like we had one of our characters jump from outsider to right in the inner circle way too quickly. Several scenes with the trisolarans also seemed a bit rushed, and sometimes even unnecessary. At one point the book spent lengthy amount of time discussing a human computer inside the "Three-Body" game, but that didn't really seem to have a direct impact on the story. And again, another scene having to deal with a large ship in the book too conveniently utilized a nano-carbon fiber that one of our protagonists just happened to be a specialist in?

In the end, it just never came together for me. The most interesting aspects took place in the 1960's at Red Base, and I would have loved to see more happen there, but it just never developed fully.

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Book Review: Blood of Elves

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have a very mixed relationship with the Witcher properties. I love the world and the characters in this series. I can't say I am a huge fan of the video games. I loved The Last Wish, and I fell in love with the Netflix series, so coming into this book I had pretty high expectations, knowing that I just sort of finished up the Netflix show.

Now, don't get me wrong. This is a fine book within the Witcher series, but it doesn't exactly come across as the type of book that is #1 in the series and would hook a new reader in. If you are already a fan, then this kicks off right where you want it to. My major issues are that not a lot seems to really happen narratively. The main crux of what I presume we are shown is mostly what Ciri has been up to since she finally found Geralt and was taken in by the Witchers. Having read the Last Wish, seen the Netflix show and then jumped into this book in that order, the three properties all worked well together. The Netflix show's first season sort of ended right where this book apparently would pickup. Perhaps in fact, that is where season 2 of the show will go. As a standalone book however, I can see a lot of readers quickly falling off the series right after this.

I just hope that we get to see more of the actual plot line develop in the second book, because we basically only caught vertical slices of Ciri with Geralt, and Ciri with Yennifer to show some of her training and development.

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