Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Title:  Incarceron
Author:  Catherine Fisher
Format:  Hardcover
Pages:  702
Genre:  Fantasy/Steampunk/Young adult
Series #:  1 of ??
Read:  February 17-19, 2011

Rating:  A-

Synopsis (from the publisher):  Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells, but also metal forests, dilapidated cities, and vast wilderness. Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, has no memory of his childhood and is sure that he came from Outside Incarceron. Very few prisoners believe that there is an Outside, however, which makes escape seems impossible.
And then Finn finds a crystal key that allows him to communicate with a girl named Claudia. She claims to live Outside- she is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, and doomed to an arranged marriage. Finn is determined to escape the prison, and Claudia believes she can help him. But they don't realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost more than they know.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Totally unexpected ending!  I love books that end with a surprising twist, and Incarceron did not disappoint.  Besides an amazing ending, it also had great characters and an original & exciting concept.

Claudia and Finn are the best characters in the book, with great depth and development.  The secondary characters also receive plenty of attention and detail, making them much more than two-dimensional sidekicks.  I wish there had been more time to develop the Queen's character.  She seems like a much more vicious and scheming villain than Claudia's father, but she doesn't come in until the end of the book, so we only catch a glimpse of her dark side.

The plot and concept of the book were unique and exciting.  Once I really got into it, I couldn't put the book down.  The idea of a living prison that watches over its inmates, that has turned evil itself over time, is incredibly creative.  And on the outside, the people have been forced to freeze progress and stay stuck in one particular time in order to establish peace in the land.  So despite amazing advancements in technology, everyone's living as if they were born during Shakespeare's era, with ruffled clothes, arranged marriages, and only a few modern amenities (honestly, they weren't going to give up toilets).

My only complaint with the book was that it seemed incredibly jumpy and fractured at times, like something had been skipped over in the story.  I had to reread a few parts to make sure I hadn't missed anything.  Otherwise, Incarceron was amazing.  A-

Friday, February 18, 2011

Title:  Hogfather
Author:  Terry Pratchett
Format:  Paperback
Pages:  384
Genre:  Fantasy/Satire 

Rating:  B+

Synopsis (from the publisher):  It's that most wonderful time of the year, Hogswatchnight, when the Hogfather himself dons his red suit and climbs in his sleigh pulled by—of course!—eight hogs, bringing gifts to all the boys and girls of Discworld. But this year someone else is riding the sleigh. Death. He's had to stand in for the missing fat man—otherwise the sun won't shine tomorrow... 

It's up to Discworld's intellectual elite—with the help of a motley collection of unusual cohorts—to come up with a plan to save the universe. And they'd better hurry...

Yes, there's a "new" Hogfather in town.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Like Going Postal, I think watching the miniseries adaptation of Hogfather first affected my perception of the book.  I kept comparing it to the miniseries, and there were a few parts I felt the adaptation did better than the book.  Besides that, I really liked the story, the characters, and the writing.

Death is definitely my favorite character in Pratchett's books.  His conversations with his "granddaughter" and his unique outlook on the people of the Disc are entertaining and fun.  The villain of the story, Teatime, is genuinely creepy.  I would not want to meet him... ever.  The entire concept of the story was great too.  Death having to step into the shoes of the Discworld's equivalent of Santa in order to save the holidays... awesome!  B+

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Title:  Hercules
Format:  Netflix
Genre:  Fantasy/Miniseries
Rating:  D

Awful special effects and bad acting/writing made this miniseries a chore to watch.  There were such talented actors in this; it could have been better.  But even they couldn't save the terrible script.  And some of the other actors were definitely not skilled; combine their lack of talent with that writing and voila! Instant crap.  Maybe they should've spent less money on getting big-name actors and more on good writers and special effects.  D
Title:  Meteor
Format:  Netflix
Category:  Sci-fi/Drama/Miniseries
Rating:  B-

I really don't think a synopsis is necessary for this one.  If you can't figure out what the miniseries is about from the title or the picture, I can't help you (you're beyond help).  A pretty standard disaster flick.  Think Armageddon or Deep Impact, only longer and kind of average.  There was nothing special about it.  The only part that I felt strongly about was the ending.  I hate movies that end on a "cryptic" note.  Everybody else is happy, but one person is already spreading pessimism and despair.  Blah.  B-
Title:  I Am Number Four
Author:  Pittacus Lore
Format:  Hardcover
Pages:  440
Genre:  Sci-fi/Fantasy/Young adult
Series #:  1 of ?
Read:  February 12, 2011

Rating:  A+

Synopsis (from publisher):  
We may be walking past you right now.
We are watching as you read this.
We may be in your city, your town.
We are living anonymously.
We are waiting for the day when
We will find each other.
We will make our last stand together—if
We win,
We are saved, and
You are saved as well.
If we lose, all is lost.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Wow.  This book was amazing!  I don't blame DreamWorks for grabbing up the movie rights (let's just hope they do this story justice).  With great characters, lots of exciting action, and a sweet romance, I Am Number Four has something for everyone.

The book tells the adventures of Four, a gifted alien from the now-desolate planet of Lorien, who escaped to Earth with eight fellow gifted aliens and their keepers.  They are called by their numbers because they can only be killed in numerical order.  After splitting up the group in order to throw off their pursuers, the Mogadorians, Four has lived all over the U.S. and is now attempting to make a home in the small town of Paradise, Ohio.  Unlike every other place he's lived, Four actually begins to settle down, make friends, and fall in love.  While trying to live an ordinary life, his keeper, Henri, trains him to use his gifts or Legacies so one day he can defeat their enemies and return to Lorien.  It is also especially vital that he knows how to use his Legacies because alien Three is killed, making him the next target.

Everything is going smoothly until a near-fatal fire leads the Mogadorians to discovering his whereabouts, and they move in for an attack.  The growing tension and thrilling climax are extremely well-written, and I can't wait for August when the sequel, The Power of Six, is released.  I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy, sci-fi, action, and/or romance.  A+