Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Books: February reading

Welcome to my February reviews. Only 3 books read this month:

Robin Hobb – The Assassin’s quest: Ultimately disappointed, is the best way to sum up how I felt after reading the concluding book in the Farseer trilogy. I loved the first book, enjoyed the second one but not quite as much. This one left me undecided for the majority of it. First of all, it is a very different type of book from the two that preceded it. Gone are the comfortable surroundings of Buckeep. Instead, as the title implies, Fitz is on a quest. This means lots of ambling around through the country. I don’t like talking about plots too much in my reviews as I hate reading spoilers (even the most minor things) but the first 200 pages drag, the book finally picks up when a host of the characters we know and love return and then there is the final third, that turns out to be very tedious. Hobb really labours the point of the Skill affecting Fitz’s mind and this makes for very frustrating reading. I got to the final 60 pages and I wondered how on earth the story was going to conclude and tie up all the lose ends. Don’t worry, it does, but it felt extremely rushed.  After finishing the book, I went on to Amazon and looked at the reviews. The book received very divisive reviews. Whilst I can see why many hated it, I definitely wouldn’t go that far. The writing is as polished as ever as are the characters but it is the weakest of the trilogy. I rated it: 8.1

Lee Child – Echo Burning: I love Jack Reacher, I think he is a great creation. He is the type of man, we all want to be. So why have I only read 5 of Lee Child’s books and why was the last one I read over 2 years ago? There are two reasons: 1) they are very formulaic. Jack stumbles over a problem and decides to solve it. The story is always interesting and you are guaranteed a few really cool moments from Mr Reacher, but basically I wanted to avoid getting bored with the series. 2) I solved the mystery in the last book (I think it was the Visitor), really early on. I hate it when I do that. Part of me is pleased I solved it but another part of me feels cheated. It was after reading,“the Visitor” that I made conscious decision to not overly think about where a book was going too much in order to avoid disappointment.
            After 50 pages of Echo Burning, I was worried I had guessed the ending again. I prayed that I was wrong and…boy was I. Lee Child does a terrific job of changing the story every time you think you suss out what is happening. I did eventually guess the ending but there were many twists and turns on the way. Reacher delivers some killer lines and has one very cool scene in a bar. In this story, the normally correct Reacher ends up doubting himself, making for a refreshing read.  This is Lee Child back to his best. My rating: 8.5

The Beach House – James Patterson and Peter De Jonge. It seems every time I review one James Patterson’s books I always have a story to tell. Being the geek that I am, around 4 years ago, I started to record the books I had read. This was mainly to help me remember where I was in a series and out of interest as to how many books I read in a year. The system was not infallible though. Two years ago I got half way through James Patterson’s the Lifeguard before I realised I had already read it. This annoyed me as I think there are far too many excellent books out there to read then to waste time reading one that is not groundbreaking. In fact I have only ever read two books more than once. One was Lord of the Rings, not because I loved it (I do, but find it an unpleasant read) and the other was Harry Potter and the half blood prince (I wanted to refresh my memory before the final book came out). I am contemplating re-reading the Ice and Fire series before book 5 comes out but am still undecided. The point is I don’t re-read books as a rule.
Which brings me on to, “the Beach House.” Before I picked it up, I was unsure whether I had read it or not. When I started it, I was sure I hadn’t. Around two thirds of the way through I realised I had. Which kind of sums up James Patterson’s books. I enjoyed the Beach House, but it is instantly forgettable. Is it well written? The easy answer is “no,” but then I think that is unfair. I think like all of his books, the Beach Hose is well written. It is easy reading and a page turner. Does it have much substance? No, definitely not. Do you find yourself caught up in the story? Yes. So I guess that is the sign of a good book and author. James Patterson entertains me. When I am in the mood for a quick read, he is the perfect tonic.
The book itself whizzes by. Jack Mullen is a man obsessed with uncovering the truth behind his brother’s death. A death the community have deemed an unfortunate suicide having seemingly been bribed by the local billionaires. Jack’s character is the same generic character you will find in all Patterson’s books. If he loved jazz you would say he was the same as Alex Cross. Jack is aided in his mission by his friends who drift in and out the story, one minute they are hell bent on avenging his brother’s death and the next they are forgotten. There is also the obligatory love interest – a relationship that blooms out of no where. Basically all of the usual criticisms of Patterson’s books are there but dam it is still entertaining. I rated it: 7.4