Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Iron Druid Chronicles: #3 Hammered

The third chronicle in the last druid's life is here and this time its something different, The Iron Druid Chronicles #3 Hammered by Kevin Hearne.

Here is the summary of the book:

Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is worse than a blowhard and a bully—he’s ruined countless lives and killed scores of innocents. After centuries, Viking vampire Leif Helgarson is ready to get his vengeance, and he’s asked his friend Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, to help take down this Norse nightmare. One survival strategy has worked for Atticus for more than two thousand years: stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. But things are heating up in Atticus’s home base of Tempe, Arizona. There’s a vampire turf war brewing, and Russian demon hunters who call themselves the Hammers of God are running rampant. Despite multiple warnings and portents of dire consequences, Atticus and Leif journey to the Norse plain of Asgard, where they team up with a werewolf, a sorcerer, and an army of frost giants for an epic showdown against vicious Valkyries, angry gods, and the hammer-wielding Thunder Thug himself.

Hammered picks up right after book 2 Hexed finishes. Our resident Iron druid is a man of his word. It is enough to understand that Atticus was born in the Iron age and so his oath keeping talent. And it was time he did something about them (even if they result in his getting in more trouble than before) even if they yielded life threatening results. Also in many ways this book is very different from the previous books Hounded and Hexed. In a way the title of the book is self-explanatory as to what is about to happen in here and if not the previous books provide some hints as to the happenings here.

Be it stealing a golden apple for a witch at a great cost to his life or following through with the promise he made to his vampire friend Leif (who coincidentally not a sparkly emo-vampire - THANK GOD!). Atticus is gain trifling with the fates. Hammered, practically gives us a rundown of the Norse myths brought to life by our faith. Faith does play a huge part in these don't you think - I mean come on even Spock and Captain Kirk have been realized by faith, among others, appearances by the vengeful Roman god of wine, an obscure Slavic thunder god, an immortal Chinese kung-fu master, and the most influential Christian figure of them all (who is for a lack of a better word - cool -- and even takes a swing at the sparkling emo-vampire).

Despite warning of world shattering consequences our resident Druid follows through with his plan to help his vampire attorney Leif Helgarson to bring an end to the thunder douche (don't mean any dis respect but i'm reviewing as they are put forth). Druid reality check - the Norse thunder God definitely deserves a serious smack-in-the-face. Several chapters are dedicated only to Thor's misdeeds against every member of the group as each share what Thor had done to them to deserve their hatred.

As with the previous books Hammered is filled with every inch of tantalizing action and every niche but there is a certain difference here, a slight change in the air. Things are much more different here, much more drastic and life changing than before. There's a sense of finality in how Atticus goes about putting his immediate plans into effect. And they go on a bumpy ride to where? None other than Asgard itself. Atticus may be as every bit a sarcastic fellow but he has one big quality he fulfills his oaths and at personal risk and conflicted mind he does the deed. Not only does this give a reality check to the Norse divinity but may also lay the foundation for the next chapter in Atticus' life.

Mr. Hearne you really shake things up in every book so far. Got to give him credit, what would probably have been a flat out boring story with his caliber has everything in it - seriousness + witty remark + jokes + the sarcastic remarks. A winning formula for Hearne. Also the vivid details, they not only keep us on the edge but makes us feel through them as if we are actually in the plane of action as it is going on. In a way this book also sheds light upon Atticus' past. Yes he is an old soul but never before were we treated to his past than what we see here. So, give it a try and Hammered will definitely blow you away. Thankfully, this is not the end three more books are to come after this - TRICKED, TRAPPED and HUNTED. So psyched for them now. Hope you all are as well.



Don't normally review novella and this is a first for me. So here it goes - Intoxication by Tim Kizer.

Here is the summary for the book:

For the fans of Stephen King and Dean Koontz...How do you force a confession out of a coworker trying to poison you? Do you kill those who dismiss your fears and believe you are paranoid? What do you do if you start questioning your own suspicions--and sanity--as you take the law into your hands? In this disturbing tale of derangement, a young psychopathic woman is slipping into madness as she fights an enemy that may exist only in her imagination. She has to resort to desperate measures when she realizes that a gun, security cameras in her apartment, and constant vigilance will not be enough to survive.
Paranoia or delirium can make you do a lot of things. Things which you would regret later in life. And if it is a life threatening close call then you are bound to be paranoid. Now I don't claim to be a book critic and as I have already stated above I'm reviewing a novella for the first time. So i'll try to straighten out my thoughts.

Leslie who works for an accounting company just had a near death miss. Someone from her work place had tried to poison her but luckily it was a friend who got in the way and had a fainting spell due to it. This incident triggers Leslie's senses and she goes investigating for the truth but ends in getting more than she bargained for.

Novellas by description are short novels, i.e., by estimation up to 10,000 words at maximum (may vary). The thing is like in novels where every thing is fully described with long sentences and long paragraphs (again depends) the fact does not work in novella where you have to be short and to the point. And Intoxication has every such quality. It is an easy read.

Apart from Intoxication it also has two more bonus stories - Hitchhiker andThe Bike. The three stories in his collection are thriller and expect two-or-three twists is essentially the same. At first the story seemed a bit flat but as we read further the good stuffs come into play. The general plot of this book is intriguing and there are plenty of twists and turns until the surprise ending. Although Intoxication could have been much better as a full fledged novel since the material involved is pretty heavy and a lot of places it felt the plot needed to elaborate more like not enough evidence is shown that Leslie actually had gone made or the fact that she resumed right away that there was poison in the coffee after Rick's fainting fancy.

But overall it was very enjoyable and I commend Kizer for the amount of work he put in it.


WWW: #2 Watch

Second book of the WWW trilogy by master story-teller Robert J Sawyer,Watch. Here it is.....

Summary of the book:

Award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer continues his "wildly though- provoking" science fiction saga of a sentient World Wide Web. Webmind is an emerging consciousness that has befriended Caitlin Decter and grown eager to learn about her world. But Webmind has also come to the attention of WATCH-the secret government agency that monitors the Internet for any threat to the United States-and they're fully aware of Caitlin's involvement in its awakening. WATCH is convinced that Webmind represents a risk to national security and wants it purged from cyberspace. But Caitlin believes in Webmind's capacity for compassion-and she will do anything and everything necessary to protect her friend.
Where dystopias and post-apocalyptic worlds clutter the shelves in science fiction with the errors of humanity, Sawyer’s WWW accepts the fault in humans and brings hope for change.

Watch picks up where Wake ended. In here, Webmind not only begins to develops cognitive abilities exponentially, but through the help of Catlin begins to develop its sense of ethics and, without being too maudlin, an understanding of "the meaning of life." This novel is primarily about this development, along with government agencies trying to figure out how to shut Webmind down, fearing it will become so powerful it will destroy mankind. Yes I mentioned governmental agencies - always the spoil-sport.

"Watch" is coincidentally a governmental agency that has put it upon itself to wipe out the Webmind (the AI), regardless of no proof that the Webmind means harm to humankind. In fact, Webmind finds that humans are fascinating creatures and realizes that if humans are wiped out, eventually he would be too perish. Overlayed on this tale is the story about Hobo, the intelligent chimp/bonabo crossbreed. Hobo starts to get violent towards the woman who is responsible for him and the scientists have to decide what to do with him. Meanwhile, through Dr. Kuroda, the Webmind is able to view more than text files on the internet and branches out to sound and video files. Eventually, the Webmind witnesses a teen suicide through the net. Caitlin becomes furious at it because it didn't intervene.

The book delves into so many topics together that it is almost mind-boggling to follow but it does it in a way that is easy to relate to and follow. So few books release everyday that make you want to ponder your knowledge of the world - well this is one of them. Racism, animal rights, GLBT rights, the privacy act, national security, international politics, and human rights and differences between artificial intelligence and emerging consciousness, autism, blindness, suicide, and the question behind how emerging consciousness can override natural selection and evolution were some of the deeper issues were touched upon by this book.

This tale has WATCH involving other governmental intelligence agencies in the investigation. Caitlin and her associates are interviewed by agents trying to discover Webmind's nature. And as usual with a lot of novels centering upon AI these government organizations want to disperse the entity even before they know its nature - just because it has a capability that far exceeds their own. (Although yes I understand that up to some extent this may be a standard protocol for the intelligence agencies but yes they do tend to poke their noses were they are not welcome)
General complaint about second books in trilogies is often the least exciting or action- or drama-packed, because it often serves as a bridge between the beginning and the end. Not so with this one; Sawyer manages to make mince-meat of that common complaint. Sawyer continues the great storytelling from Wake, discussing the concepts of game theory, and what a sentient presence on the Internet could really mean for the world in his comfortable, conversational way.

Overall it is an enjoyable and an easy read and maybe a much better book that its predecessor and I'm definitely starting the last book of the trilogy Wonderas soon as I finish my currently reading pile.


Dragon Stones

Ahh fiction and an easy read...been really wanting to read one since ages - Dragon Stones by Kristian Alva.

Here is the summary of the book:

Sequestered deep in the capital, the tyrannical Emperor Vosper weaves a plan to destroy all the dragons. He succeeds in driving them to the very brink of extinction. Only a handful of dragons and riders remain; living in exile in the desert. When young Elias Dorgumir finds a carved dragon stone in the forest, it brings empire soldiers to his doorstep, and puts Elias on the run with a bounty on his head. With some help from his friends, Elias must escape the emperor’s wrath and try to make it to the safety of the dwarf caverns. Elias holds the key to the salvation of the dragon race. Is Elias strong enough to save himself and halt the evil that is spreading across the land?
I originally am a fantasy lovers and the type of the said genre I like are where the underdog finds himself an important role and goes on to become the hero. Coincidentally, Dragon Stones is just the same and kind of reminded me as a mixture between Lord of the Rings(J.R.R. Tolkien) and The Inheritance Cycle(Christopher Paolini). In here also, Elias is running away from his opponent because he really isn't good at using his powers yet.

The world building here is the stereotypical high fantasy world with mages, dragons, dwarves, elves, etc. but the thing I liked about it was that it wasn't too complicated, as many fantasy worlds tend to be. The author introduces the world slowly and lets it build so that us reader are able to enjoy the story and get to know the characters first. This book starts out with some dragon slaying, then moves to our main main character Elias and his grandmother Carina. It gets really comfy, like an old fashioned classic fantasy.

At first I thought Elias' character spoke and was treated a little young for his age. I kept picturing him as of to be between 10 and 13 years of age even though he is supposed to be 16. Thorin the dwarf was a great character and made the story feel a little lighter when it could have felt too dark. There are quite a few times when Thorin really looks on the brighter side of things. He is also very bold at times and is a very kind character.

Every book has its pros and cons and for me I felt the dialogues needed some more work. Yes the book in a young adult fantasy but its a high fantasy and after reading some of those you feel like the dialogue should be more formal not colloquial English.

But nevertheless when the adventure begins and secrets start to be revealed, you won't be able to put it down.


Sunday, July 24, 2011


Good enough but not that great here I present before you my views (galley is all thanks to and the publishers) on Trent Jamieson's upcoming book Roil.

Here is the summary of the book:

Shale is in trouble - the creature-filled darkness known as the Roil is expanding, consuming the land, swallowing cities whole. Where once there were 12 metropolises, now only 4 remain. It's up to a drug addict, an old man and a woman bent on revenge to try to save their city - and the world.
Its steampunk - its sci-fi - its full of action and its a dystopic future and on top of that a gorgeous cover -- great combination which should make for a good enough read for me but somehow I lost interest half way through. Lets speculate why....

So, in the south last defence of civilisation, city of Tate succumbs to Roil, a chaotic mass of creatures with one consciousness, that came out from the core of the planet. Roil can't stand the cold, which is the only weapon of the last human cities against its invasion. Margaret, the only daughter of Tate engineers manages to get out of the dying city and heads off up north. In the north David, an addict and a son of one of the leaders of the opposition to the current tyrant watches his father die from the hands of Vergers, some sort of genetically modified human hunters. His father's friends arrange his passage away from the city with the help of one of the Old Men, half-mad and very strange Cadell.

Cadell on the other hand has got his own agenda. He is one of the first Engineers who built the Engine of the World, but they played too much with it, civilisation crumbled to what it is now and the Engineers were cursed with virtual immortality, madness and perpetual cannibalistic hunger for human flesh. Cadell wants to see the extent of damage the Roil has done and get to The Engine to switch on the cold and destroy the Roil.

The thing I loved about this book and which I thought was its strongest quality was the creative & robust world-building. Too often in steampunk-infused fiction, the tech is simply used as ornamentation—bells & whistles without much purpose or functionality. In Roil, the tech, which included endothermic weaponry, semi-organic aircrafts, and colossal steam-operated trains & vessels, took center stage right alongside the characters that continuously relied upon it. Moreover, I appreciated the assortment of unique characters and the unusual, slightly ragtag team of heroes. I have to admit that I have a soft spot in my heart for unconventional protagonists who are rough around the edges and who start off without a single heroic bone in their body, but then end up doing heroic things much to their own surprise.

But there were certain aspects of the book that made them unappealing to me. My first complaint is based mostly on personal preference and that is the use of multiple character perspectives. It is not advised to use too many POVs while writing a novel and more than two POVs tend to be distracting and confusing. Roil incorporates multiple different perspectives of both major and minor characters. I could understand the purpose of this—a way to compliment the sprawling magnitude of the story and fantasy world—but didn't like it at all. My dislike was compounded by the fact that I felt the transitions between those perspectives were often done too abruptly and not always very cohesive in nature. A fact that somewhat detached me from the story line.

Then over the three main characters - Margaret, Cadell and David. All three somewhat felt under-developed and making me not feel attached to them at all.

And finally the pacing was a bit uneven. The first half of the book was rather sluggish with a few bursts of action accompanied by lots of traveling between locations and talking without clear explanation which thoroughly turned turned about for the next part. It took me half a book to get into it and somewhat made me give it up. But I suppose any of you could give it a chance - well second chances should be given.


Monday, July 18, 2011

It all Ends 15.7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

The best possible end for the series that began a decade ago. A fitting finale and bittersweet good-bye to the boy wizard who is no longer a boy.

While yes splitting the final Harry Potter book into two movies may have been a risky propaganda from a narrative standpoint but financially and unsurprising move, given its history. If you have one movie that’s all slow, methodical character development and the second movie that’s all fast-paced action, then each movie could be monotonous because they’ve lost the other half of their story. Both of the Deathly Hallows parts i'm pleased to say avoid that problem.

Deathly Hallows – Part 1 was a slow, deliberately-paced and character-driven narrative that saw Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermoine (Emma Watson) struggle with their friendship, their lack of direction, and the ongoing war between Voldemort’s forces and the rest of the wizarding world. By contrast, Part 2 is a lean and focused final sprint as the trio hunts down the final horcruxes, major characters complete their arcs, and we come to the deadly showdown between Harry and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).

Spanning two hours and ten minutes, Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is the shortest of all the Harry Potter flicks, but it feels as rich and full as the best films in the franchise. The movie isn’t just an endless barrage of set pieces. While yes a few sequences may feel not as interesting as the book portrays them but...well ahh... they in the long run serve as a delicious appetizer for what is to come. When you have a battle that covers the majority of the movie’s runtime, there’s a risk that you will wear out your audience. You can only have wizards shoot spells at each other for so long before viewers begin to lose interest. Part 2 avoids the problem with its tremendous pacing. The battles are paced so that you really start getting wrapped up in the action, but when matters become too heavy, someone can cut in with a joke or a beloved character can get their shining moment. And when it’s time to break away from the action entirely for serious drama, the transition is never jarring.

From the directorial style of franchise veteran David Yates to the melodic score by composer Alexandre Desplat, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 wisely remembers that while it is a movie, it is also the final link in an epic chain. As such, the film doesn’t make the mistake of being too overstated or assaulting you with mind-numbing arbitrary action, ear-shattering sounds or overly-dramatic music. 
When the battle at Hogwarts rages, Yates favors more picturesque photography – shots of bodies lying to and fro, familiar structures being destroyed, or characters we know engaged in battle, the focus squarely on their desperate, defiant, or despairing expressions. The music, while still containing familiar traces of epic Potter melodies of times past, also allows for a lot of quieter, more contemplative tunes, which enhance the resonance of all that is happening onscreen. The filmmakers thankfully remember that we’ve journeyed so far with these characters – through the books into the movies as well as throughout the movies up to now – and so they trust that we, the audience, will understand the poignancy and meaning of the events that are unfolding.

This same understated approach also works for the actors. By now, most people will be so deeply invested in these characters that they can pick up on the subtle nuances of their behavior, choices, expressions and banter, sparing the need for everything to be so pronounced or obvious. Watching Radcliffe, Watson and Grint is just moving, given where they began this franchise and how they’ve matured as young people, characters and actors since those early years. The trio close off their roles “brilliantly,” with Radcliffe in particular showing why he will likely have a long career that extends well beyond this franchise.

Yates does a fair job of keeping Harry and his emotions at the nexus of things, so that even if we don’t feel the impact of certain moments or developments, we can see and understand that he feels it.

The movie almost seems more affectionate towards Neville than it does for Harry and I believe that’s with good reason. Harry is the hero. He was always the hero. He was always brave, competent, and strong and the real shading he gets here is to courageously and tragically face the thing Voldemort fears the most. By contrast, Neville is the unlikely hero and even unlikelier leader, and he’s so lovable not only because of Lewis’ performance, but because there’s always the implication that Harry was destined for greatness but that Neville had to work for it.

Part 2 also marks the return of the full cast who all deliver emphatic performances, especially Helena Bonham Carter as the sadistic Bellatrix LeStrange, Maggie Smith as the warm yet deadly Minerva McGonagall and Julie Walters as the grief-stricken mother Molly Weasley. However, no one quite "stole the show" as much as Alan Rickman's final portrayal of Severus Snape; we finally see beyond the unscrupulous and cunning face of Snape as Rickman opens his character to the world as a brave yet broken and damaged man, permanently at conflict regarding his loathing of Harry and his never-ending love of Harry's late mother.

Also us audiences do get to enjoy the infamous epilogue from the final book...well yes it’s hard not to feel emotional. How often do you truly witness the end of an era, and how often does that feeling come while you’re watching a movie? Only a few times in a lifetime, I would bet (and i'm not ashamed to admit that I cried...yes i did) - which may coincidentally one day serve as a launchpad for an entirely new generation of wizards for future muggles to enjoy, possibly through Rowling’s newly announced venture.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fallen: #3 Passion

Background is always great when you are dealing with series'. And Fallen #3 Passion by Lauren Kate delivers it fully.

Here is the summary of the book:

"Every single lifetime, I'll choose you. Just as you have chosen me. Forever." Luce would die for Daniel. And she has. Over and over again. Throughout time, Luce and Daniel have found each other, only to be painfully torn apart: Luce dead, Daniel left broken and alone. But perhaps it doesn’t need to be that way. . . . Luce is certain that something—or someone—in a past life can help her in her present one. So she begins the most important journey of this lifetime . . . going back eternities to witness firsthand her romances with Daniel . . . and finally unlock the key to making their love last. Cam and the legions of angels and Outcasts are desperate to catch Luce, but none are as frantic as Daniel. He chases Luce through their shared pasts, terrified of what might happen if she rewrites history. Because their romance for the ages could go up in flames . . . forever.

Passion takes off straight after Torment ends. With the shocking end of book 2 where Luce steps through time to find out her history with Daniel. Luce, Daniel, the remaining angels and demons, as well as Luce's Nephilim friends jumped into the Announcer at the end of Torment. It was pretty exciting to see more of Luce and Daniel's story and how her past lives played into their current love. Passion does not disappoint. The reader is taken through many of their different romances and you learn along with Luce how much they really do love each other and in Luce's thoughts if she should be with Daniel or not. It was a nice change of pace to have the chapters alternate between Luce and Daniel and get his perspective on different situations, considering we didn't know very much about him for the first two books. We finally get more of his personality and his feelings for Luce. In her quest Luce's confusion about Daniel and their past becomes clearer and things begin to look up until a creature Luce has befriended and trusted along the way surprises her.

It was extremely enlightening in terms of the curse that has followed Luce and Daniel throughout the depths of time. As Luce journeys through her past lives, readers finally begin to obtain the many answers that Daniel was so keen to keep away from Luce, such as what it feels like to die in her lover's arms, whether she has a choice to fall in love with Daniel, and much more. I really enjoyed the narrative style as it follows both Luce and Daniel on their separate journeys through time as Daniel attempts to find Luce in the maze of their past lives, giving the reader important background knowledge about both characters.

Be warned though Ms. Kate switches up the entire format of her writing style in this book. Sometimes as readers we come to expect a particular style from the authors we enjoy. Passion does not follow the same written pattern developed in the first two books in this series. Having said that, it did not deter me from enjoying this read. Ms. Kate is an incredible writer. Her narrative is delightfully poetic and powerful.

Luce grew in this book more than in any of the preceding books and she found out that the love she felt for Daniel was real and significant, among other things. In all of her lives, Luce was taught a lesson that brought her closer to the ultimate truth that she learns by the end of the book. The love that Daniel and Luce feel in every lifetime if breathtaking, and Daniel's heartbreak from every one of Luce's deaths in excruciating. Daniel's Journey in this book is also important because he is not just chasing Luce, he also finds himself revisiting important moments in his own history that make him remember why he never gave up after all this time. He renews his own hope and understanding of his situation and believes in his choice all over again. The setting of the individual lifetimes come to life and made us feel as if we were there too.

Passion is the perfect example of starcrossed lovers. Throughout so many centuries, they had to suffer knowing that they loved each other so much, but that their love could be destroyed in the blink of an eye. One thing that I would have liked was that the other characters had a bigger part. I saw no Gabbe or Arriane. There was barely any Shelby or Miles moments. But then again, this was Luce's and Daniel's story, so they didn't really need to have a big part in it.

But there is still a big question as to why Daniel chose Luce.

In both Fallen and Torment, we understood that Luce and Daniel were fated to be together. Now, after actually seeing how their love played out through history, I found myself really rooting for their love to stand the test of time. It would be lovely to see more of modern-day Luce and Daniel together, but understanding where they come from, and how Daniel has suffered with each of Luce's incarnations, makes their love all the more tangible. So now i'm definitely looking forward for the final book Rapture, and I can't want to see if the curse can be broken so that Luce and Daniel's love will survive past Luce's 17th year.


Fallen: #2 Torment

One drawback for trilogies or series - the ones coming after the first book just serve the middle and as expected the final novel always ends the series with a bang. Book 2 of the Fallen series by Lauren Kate, Torment is mediocre at best and a little disappointment at best.

Here is the summary of the book:

Hell on earth. That's what it's like for Luce to be apart from her fallen angel boyfriend, Daniel. It took them an eternity to find one another, but now he has told her he must go away. Just long enough to hunt down the Outcasts - immortals who want to kill Luce. Daniel hides Luce at Shoreline, a school on the rocky California coast with unusually gifted students -Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans. At Shoreline, Luce learns what the Shadows are, and how she can use them as windows to her previous lives. Yet the more Luce learns, the more she suspects that Daniel hasn't told her everything. He's hiding something - something dangerous. What if Daniel's version of the past isn't actually true? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else? The second novel in the addictive FALLEN series . . . where love never dies.

So I began Torment without reading the reviews and since I really liked Fallen. I was really hoping that torment would be just as good and exciting. Unfortunately, it was not as good as the first. Luce is so whiny that she becomes extremely annoying. Come on being independent is an admirable trait but girl you should let the guys do the work and not venture into things you clearly don't understand. I almost put it down for good more than once. Luce is away from Daniel for a few short days and starts questioning her love for him and thinks that maybe she would rather be with Miles a boy from the new school. Cliff hangers as long as the rest of the book has something remotely interesting going on. The best part of this book for me were the side characters and the abilities of the shadows (announcers).

Within its pages Torment has an interesting and entertaining cast of characters both old and new, the ups and downs of teenage love, the search for identity, and the ultimate question of what is good and what is evil. The book ends with a promise of more in the next installment. Daniel has hidden Luce away in a new school filled with Nephilm students who are full of surprises. Luce finds new friends, new talents, and finds herself questioning everything she believes in, including Daniel. Meanwhile, Daniel is in and out fighting an unknown enemy, and occasionally drops in to churn the emotional waters. At the school, Luce is more comfortable and less of an outsider than she ever was at Sword and Cross, but it's what she doesn't know that still haunts her. Eventually, she learns the Shadows that plague her are windows to events from her lives, both current and past. She intends to manipulate them and illuminate her relationship with Daniel. The problem? The Shadows only reveal a glimpse. Sometimes partial understanding is more misleading than none at all. Ultimately, viewing her past confuses Luce. And, adding to her sense of bewilderment is Luce's new friend Miles, a warm, funny, open guy who is so different than Daniel.

Like Fallen this one also starts out slow and after halfway through reading Luce whining about life and everything in secret - all the time she is with the others we don't see a hint of sadness in her - she seems to be enjoying herself with other but in secret, when alone would whine for just about anything. The second half picked up, though, when relentless action and a few unsuspecting plot twists are thrown in. From there, I was willing to finish it, and really got absorbed into the story.

The love Daniel has for Luce is to die for - literally swoon-worthy. There were some things however that got on my nerves in this book sometimes. Daniel treated Luce at times like she was a child, telling her exactly what she could and couldn't do. In my opinion that is something you just don't do to someone you love- unless you have a good reason and even a good reason is only justified by letting the other person know exactly why and the reasons behind it. Daniels desire to protect Luce by sheltering her and not believing she is stronger than he gives her credit for may have been his only downfall in this story.

Luce on the other hand had me wanting to reach in a smack her hard a couple of times. Of course its normal to miss your boyfriend when he's not around but God knows he's fighting people who what to kill you!! I think that might have a little more priority over your need to have him by your side! Well A - He's fighting for your life! B- He left Heaven for you! C- He breaks the truce to sneak back to see you because he can't bear to be without you! D- When you were with him, your conversations ended with you picking a fight because he wouldn't tell you what you wanted to hear. Really??! How much more could you ask of him? In Fallen in thought "thank God at least she is not like Bella" but I had to eat my words in here. Although I'm well against comparing Twilight with almost anything but my fingers are itching to do just that.

Also Luce seems to garner a naive sense about Good and Evil, Angels and Demons or Dark and light - not good at all. Even a lay man can understand Light cannot exist without Dark, Good cannot exist without evil (or bad) and angels and demons may not be as different as they seems - they are all parts or shall I say two sides of the same coins. Take for example Light and Darkness - Light exists to eradicate darkness - after every night comes a new day, with new hope.

Though she was acting like a fool a lot of times but it is understandably clear as to why she takes a lot of decisions in here and her reasons. All she did was question whether or not she was supposed to be with Daniel, which is ok, but she was all over the place. The constant whining was redundant. I know I have already mentioned this but it really made me angry.

Although no questions asked Miss Kate is a great author. She can write and she writes like a pro. The prose in both the books was amazing. But Torment really tormented me. That said I know I shouldn't read Passion (read it already anyway) but the covers are beautiful and only two are left. So moving onto Passion now.


Fallen: #1 Fallen

Once in a while you really get some good enough young adult novels which don't have a way of sticking to you without feeling super-imposed and does not make you cringe like a certain sparkly vampire does. Fallen by Lauren Kate does just that.

Here is the summary of the book:

There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori. Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move. Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

Fallen is a compelling, dark and sexy page turner with a heavy Gothic element. It is a rather long, drawn out excursion into the teen world of peer pressure, alienation and supernatural boyfriends. But I guess if you enjoy immersing yourself into gothic, forlorn atmospheres and long for intimacy things that creep in the night you'll most likely enjoy what lies within.The plot is pretty simple and easy to get into. Luce, our protagonist enters Sword & Cross, a school for troubled teens, that looks and feels like a prison - in other words, a madhouse - she doesn't expect anything, much less an inexplicably hot guy, to whom she feels completely drawn to, so much that she practically stalks him. Meet Daniel. Daniel who want nothing - and has made it very clear - with Luce.

A good portion of the book centers around Luce and Daniel's relationship. Luce comes across Daniel and is enamored by him. While it is swoon worthy but sometimes it felt downright annoying and made me remember Twilight and I must say i'm well past my obsession over the sparkly abominations of nature. But instead of vampire we have Fallen angels which is a very much interesting concept for me. I'm not a christian nor do I know every nook and cranny of the bible but yes Fallen angels do interest me a lot and so I decided to read it and I must say it is much better than Twilight. Plus the characters are (well most of the characters are) funny and entertaining. Such as, Arriane, my favorite, who is funny, the most entertaining, and certifiably insane.

As Luce is trying to get closer to Daniel, Daniel is making it pretty obvious to Luce that he doesn't want anything to do with her. I should also add that Daniel has a better self control than our resident sparkly cullen vampire seems to have towards Bella. The longer she stays away from him the safer she will be. Can she put him out of her mind and stay away? What will happen if they get together? Will digging into the past get her killed in the end?

Miss Kate had me wear my thinking cap for quite some time and had me thinking why is Luce infatuated with 

Daniel if there is this hot guy completely falling for her is she crazy! Daniel was rude to Luce on many occasions and I guess the woman in me was getting upset on how she would just keep chasing after him. When everything unraveled only then did I understand why Daniel acted the way he did and ended up in love with his character. Fallen is a story of an age old battle. A battle that has been tested since the dawn of time. The fate of all eternal souls resting in the hands of star crossed lovers. Very biblical don't you think?

The book starts pretty slow clearly Lauren Kate took her time developing the characters. Fallen opens up with a prologue looking into one of Luce and Daniel's past encounters, then the first chapter thrusts you forward into present day Luce creating more of a mystery around her making you even more intrigued to know what happened in her past.

Clearly a YA paranormal romance, Fallen can make easy transition towards adult fiction and is an easy read - good work of fiction and definitely should be given a chance.

WWW: #1 Wake

A great Sci-fi is one which takes an issue or a topic then speculates on those that are theoretically possible given some of the conditions and advances of our current level of technology. And in the case of Robert J Sawyer's WWW trilogy #1 Wake that speculated future maybe the best so far.

Here is the summary for the book:

Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math-and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind. But Caitlin's brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. So when she receives an implant to restore her sight, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the World Wide Web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something-some other-lurking in the background. And it's getting more and more intelligent with each passing day...

The book centers around networking (kind-of obvious - its named WWW trilogy after all) and its co-relation to sentience. The plot follows three stories, connected only by this thread. Due to a massive influenza outbreak, the secretive Chinese government cuts off its people from the Internet, because of its decision to take care of the problem by exterminating the village where the outbreak occurred. This causes a cascading reaction that "awakens" something in the Internet. It becomes a living being, slowly, even painfully, comes to understand it exists.

Young Caitlin, blind since birth, is offered a chance to see, using a new optical technology, funded the University of Tokyo. Something goes awry, and instead of the actual world, she becomes the first person to actually be able to "see" the web, as a series of geometric shapes, colors, lines and nodes. Eventually, as the plot progresses, she is able to switch her EyePod (!fitting!) to either view WebSight, or, in a different mode, external reality, i.e., her mother, her schoolmates, etc.

The third story is of a primate research lab where a bonobo and an orangutan are given the opportunity to have the first cross-species live webchat. As a result, something "turns on" inside the bonobo's mind, and the researchers realize that he is capable of more than just a few sign-language gestures, but representational art that depicts his favorite members of staff.

And although the the book follows three plots intermingled together, the side plots actually felt meaningless since our main focus is Caitlin and how she gets an implant that is supposed to fix her blindness. However, what she can do after the implant is see the infrastructure of the World Wide Web and then interact with an entity which lives inside of it. She becomes a teacher to this entity just as Annie Sullivan did to Helen Keller (the book's analogy) and radically expands its consciousness, knowledge and ability to communicate.

It was actually the cover (beautiful don't you all think!) as well as the description on the back cover that made me want to read it. Sawyer's writing style is approachable even for those who are not big Sci-Fi readers. An element which I dare say is most often not found within this genre. Certainly the science is there (which is also accurate) but his books tend to deal more with the culture of the day and the way the characters respond to that while the science goes by in the background.

Thought provoking,a good read and an introduction to modern thought on human perception and pattern recognition. The plot is pure science fiction and points to a plausible future maybe years in the distant future from now.

It is also very refreshing optimistic read of the future. Super-Artificial-Intelligence as a concept can be dealt about but in the long run is a very difficult topic to base your work on without making it an info-dump. Writing an entire thread of the story from the Super-AI's perspective must have been daunting. During the "waking" of the internet being, Sawyer illustrated how concepts that humans take for granted would be viewed by an entity with no framework in place to interpret them, and then goes on to show these concepts and worldviews could be altered.
Wake is a book that will grow on you as you read it. Sawyer has done a fantastic job of researching the science, but also throws in lots of references that any savvy Internet user will recognize, appreciate, and be amused by; as well as putting the readers in the mind of a blind person and how they do the amazing things they do each day. By the end of the book readers will be impatiently wanting the sequel, Watch. I know I am.


For Every Action: There Are Consequences

Finally I get to read a suspense novel of the good kind and I loved it. Here is For Every Action: There are consequences by Gail M. Baugniet.

Here is the summary of the book:

Pepper Bibeau’s insurance investigations for a Wisconsin-based company sometimes involve a murder, but she never thought she would cause one. Days before the 1968 Democratic Convention, Pepper arrives in Chicago to settle questionable medical claims from an elusive doctor. Her assignment also includes a background check on a life insurance beneficiary who admits to stabbing his wife. When a close friend is killed, and Pepper is hospitalized after an unprovoked attack, a homicide detective decides someone wants to put a stop to her investigations. For her safety, he suggests she return to Wisconsin, but Pepper is determined to learn why her insurance investigation has stirred up a tragic chain of events. What she discovers are the devastating consequences of one person’s greed that she must expose before someone stops her, permanently.

There are few suspense/thrillers out there which are detailed and offer a plot which gradually escalates the tension at each step while also keeping it steady, For Every Action... does just that. Although I'm not very much in times with American History or the Vietnam War (come on its bad enough learning all those names and dates about all the wars fought here in India - so don't expect me to know about the history of every country in detail) but i'll try to straighten the facts and thoughts on this book.

Pepper Bibeau, our protagonist is an insurance investigator for a Wisconsin based company which sometimes handles murder cases but she would be the cause of a murder is hard to believe. Pepper arrives in Chicago to settle questionable medical claims for an elusive doctor. Her assignment also includes a background check on a life insurance beneficiary who admits to stabbing his wife. There in Chicago some unforeseen events leads to her friends murder and when Pepper herself is hospitalized after an attack, the homicide detective decides someone wants to put a stop to her investigations. For her safety, he suggests she return to Wisconsin, but Pepper is determined to learn why her insurance investigation has stirred up a tragic chain of events. What she discovers are the devastating consequences of one person's greed that she must expose before someone stops her, permanently. An interesting plot and along we go on the ride.

Pepper is a strong woman character dealing with her own personal demons while suffering from PTSD after a stint in Vietnam where she served a 12-month deployment in Vietnam. After she returned home, she took a job with an insurance company and now investigates insurance claims. The author has a feel for the times; her social references to the 1960s are on target. She travels to Chicago in time for the 1968 Democratic Convention to track down a shifty doctor who has some explaining to do to her firm. The story also has a Hawaiian connection; Pepper was born there and her son is now staying with relatives there, so the storyline moves between the three locations, making for an intriguing read.

Within these pages the author expresses a unique writing style and cadence to the story. The premise is plausible and the book's descriptions are very well done. There are many instances where minutest of details are provided where most authors would overlook doing it. The locations are described so well that I felt I was right there in the middle of it all. The book's pacing is a unique combination of story and character development delivering hypertensive action with a relaxed pace, which is not an easy task i'll tell you.

The book is interwoven with subtle nods to historical events and landmarks of Chicago. The corrosive elements of unchecked greed and drug use result in murder, leaving no one unaffected. Though set in 1968, this mystery is as timely as today's headlines. With its colorful characters, attention to detail, and plot twists, For Every Action....will string you along and keep you guessing right up to the end.

The Awakening

Manga is my guilty pleasure (besides boy bands that is) and courtesy to netgalley and the publisher I got this ARC of The Awakening by Donald Lemke, illustrated by Claudia Medeiros.

Here is the summary of the book:

In every moment of time, two sides exist. Each has a story, and each its own point of view. One event. Two perspectives. The choice is up to you... In 1984, a teenager finds a cassette on the streets of Tokyo, Japan. At home, the teen sticks the mysterious tape into his Walkman and pushes play. Suddenly, an Oni-like creature awakens deep below the apartment building. It surfaces, seeking out the irritating music and chasing the boy to the rooftop — where both their fates will be decided. A part of the Good vs Evil series.

As the tradition goes manga is read from right-to-left but this graphic novel can be read in three different ways. All of which can be interpreted in equally different manners. The scenes enfold in blue and red frames, showing Yoshihiro Tanaka’s point of view for the good, and the Oni’s (demon) for the evil. There is a note at the beginning of the book saying that the reader can first do all the blue frames before doing the red ones, or vice versa, and read them all together afterwards and see how differently it works each time.

I tried to read through the blue and red frames separately only ended up confusing me. I guess this type of reading material does not really work all that effectively when read as an e-copy since you have to scroll through the whole page and see either the red or blue frames anyway even when you’re reading the opposite color. I appreciated the story more when I read it in full, blue frames, red frames and all. The ending, though, leaves a wide array of interpretations for the readers.

Lots of questions arise at the end of the book - Has Yoshihiro been eaten by the Oni? Has Yoshihiro become the Oni? Are those scenes where the Oni awoke to the music from the mysterious cassette tape mere representations of the monster finally awakening within Yoshihiro’s subconscious?

If you ask me then i'd consider Yoshihiro and the Oni are two different being - its easier to understand the plot like that and in the last frame where both of them stand in the same posture it looks like they have somehow merged together because of that mysterious tape or somehow Yoshihiro is no longer the same after that ordeal.

Nevertheless, the graphic novel cannot be seen in one light even if you think long and hard over it because different people with a different mind-set are bound to view the plot from a completely different angle than the other and with all the differing lines of thoughts I suppose it is best to leave it at that.

The Last Dragon

Thanks to netgalley and the respective publishers we get to read up coming books a.k.a. advanced reader copies before they hit the the market and offer our views of them. Coming under here is another one of them, graphic novel The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen and Illustrated by Rebecca Guay.

Here is the summary of the book:

Master storyteller Jane Yolen ("Owl Moon" and "Sword of the Rightful King") and celebrated fantasy artist Rebecca Guay ("Swamp Thing" and "Magic: The Gathering") weave a textured and lyrical tale of adventure, homelands, and heroism the hard way. Two hundred years ago, humans drove the dragons from the islands of May. Now, the last of the dragons rises to wreak havoc anew - with only a healer's daughter and a kite-flying would-be hero standing in its way.

So the story here is pretty simple to follow and the concept pretty old, Dragon. These fire breading reptiles used to rule the lands two thousands years but humans have driven and defeated them in the May islands. But one is still left. The book portrays the life of this one dragon; how it grow un-noticed, how it wreaked havoc in the surrounding village and how eventually it met its end. The plot swirls around the honored fantasy tradition of family caught in the battle to save their village from a rampaging dragon.

The above paragraph makes it sound like a fairy-tale. Well yes it is styled as a fairy-tale. A Chinese or Japanese (don't know the difference b/w their art forms) fairy to be exact since dragons feature heavily in their culture. True to its word every illustration has an oriental touch to it. Certainly every picture has been elegantly drawn, stringing us long to the ancient times. Although e-copies don't exactly make you appreciate the work as much as they do in print but oh well.

So far so good but these factors fall short of the cons present. The story felt rushed, it is be pointed out that a graphic novel works only when they go hand-in-hand with the plot. While the plot was pretty simple a lot more could have been done to it to give it a new touch and the end felt a little bit to rushed to me. Also the title makes it sound like the dragon plays a huge part in it - like it talks or feels - while yes the events center around the reptile shaping the story towards the conclusion but he doesn't do anything else that is implied with a title with ‘dragon’ in it. The story is also pretty slow on the uptake. Also there are no character developments shown.

The illustrations was incredibly beautiful though the story line did not quite resonate with me as much as I had hoped. Pretty much the only reason as to why i'm giving it a 3/5 rating.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hp7 part 2: It all ends 15.7.2011: Last hurray for the boy-wizard, Trafalgar Square and Fans Through-out the world rise to the Occasion

Everyone mark 15.7.2011 in your calenders - for it marks the closing of an era (one which I and a lot of folks around the world are not yet ready to say goodbye to). Potter Fans both in UK and the world turned up and bid farewell to our favourite boy wizard on Thursday.

In a lavish premiere, fans were treated to a magical evening ahead of the July 15 global release of the final chapter in Harry's life, The Deathly Hallows Part II - the eighth and the final motion picture of Jo Rowling's bestseller saga. The road linking Trafalgar Square with cinema district Leicester Square was transformed into Diagon Alley- the magical street invisible to non-magical eyes.

"For the last decade we've been gripped by the on-screen battle between Harry Potter and his arch enemy Lord Voldemort and this is one of the most eagerly awaited films in history," Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said in a statement. "As befits a great British triumph, I can think of no better venue than the iconic surroundings of Trafalgar Square in which to stage the most spectacular of send offs for this dramatic finale."

Everyone turned up for the occasion - the cast, crew, producers, directors, Miss Rowling, the trio (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint) and shared a moment of grief as the chapter closes on the "Harry Potter Era". The three main stars particularly – Dan, Emma and Rupert - found it pretty hard to say goodbye – “We have spent 12 years together,” said Radcliffe. “I think the bond is unbreakable.”
Each of the stars had something special to say to both J.K. and their audience. Watson, who plays the brainy Hermione Granger, expressed her thanks for writer Steve Kloves for giving Hermione her true, strong voice. Grint, who plays Ron Weasley, claimed that the film and those involved had “made the last 10 years the best half of my life.” Radcliffe, on a more sentimental note said: "while it may be the end of the films, the stories and the characters will live on because people will carry the story with them for the rest of their lives," according to the Hollywood Reporter.

"It (the series) will be sorely missed," Yates said. "It's going to create a huge hole."

"We are delighted that our plans for the finale of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' will take place in such a spectacular venue," added Warner Bros. Pictures UK president and managing director Josh Berger. "We pride ourselves on the creativity of our premieres and the space within Trafalgar Square will lend itself to being a magical experience for both guests and fans."

The series is an unmatched phenomenon in the entertainment world. The books have sold millions of copies, been translated in 67 languages.

(Down below is the edited live premiere from youtube)


Friday, July 8, 2011

Transformers: Dark Of the Moon

This summer Hollywood has some High-rolling movies releasing and after Thor, X-men: First Class, Cars 2, Green Lantern its time for the ever warring Cybertronians a.k.a. autobots and decepticons for supremacy. Yes its the third movie in the Transformers saga, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. It is a great summer blockbuster experience. It’s not a perfect film – downsized by some plot-holes, lack of development in some of the new robot characters (as well as returning humans), and an overlong run time -- but in a summer that’s been punctuated by some major disappointments, Dark of the Moon delivers a big screen spectacle like no other, and is at length the best film in the series.

In the war for control of Cybertron (home planet of the Transformers), the Autobots had a secret weapon to defeat the Decepticons. However, the spaceship carrying the secret weapon, pillars with the power to teleport objects through space and time, was shot down as it attempted to escape. Despite Cybertron being a distant planet, the ship somehow managed to make it all the way to our moon where it crash landed. The Apollo 11 mission wasn’t one of discovery but one where a comical JFK impersonator laid out a secret mission to explore the wreckage.

Dark of the Moon centers around a half-century old conspiracy: the 1960s space race was actually a response to a downed Autobot ship, The Ark, which crash-landed on Earth’s moon back in 1961. As a result, the Apollo 11 mission wasn’t just about getting to the moon before the Soviets – it was primarily a mission to investigate and recover the extraterrestrial technology in the Ark. When a piece of recovered Transformers machinery hints at the Ark’s location, The Autobots and their human allies -- Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), Lt. Colonel Lennox (Josh Duhamel), Agent Simmons (John Turturro), and Carly Spencer (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) -- are forced to confront a larger Decepticon plot that could lead to the annihilation of both the Autobots and the entire human race.

The flick more than either of its predecessors, struggles to find a compelling place for leading man Sam Witwicky. While the character has some genuinely entertaining moments (most notably an Office Space-like work commentary), the scenes of Sam’s personal life, set-against the struggles of the Autobots and U.S. military, still seem at odds. He seems selfish, unimaginative, and feels entitled to meaningful work after saving the world twice. Another movie might try to explain how Sam can receive the Presidential Medal of Honor and take a photo proving he recieved that honor, but he’s not allowed to tell people why he won the medal. Instead, the script ignores that obvious logical conflict (as it does so many others), and simply has Sam whining about wanting to “matter”.

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is a welcome improvement in the love-interest department – though her actual character, Carly Spencer, has less of an edge than Megan Fox’s Mikaela Banes. For the most part, despite her professional success, Carly is relegated to damsel in distress – where Banes was presented as a more capable companion for Sam. Unlike the prior installments, the relationship doesn’t bog the film down too much -- leaving room for the ensemble cast to do a bit more heavy-lifting.
Many of favorite Transformers also return, including Autobots Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Sidewsipe (thankfully not The Twins, Skids and Mudflap), as well as Decepticons Megatron, Starscream, and Soundwave, among others. Characters that got short-shrift in Revenge of the Fallen are featured more prominently this round. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson also reunite, aiding in one of the other improved elements of the film – the implementation of NEST and military forces. By the time the film lands in Chicago (that epic set piece featured in the trailer) the city is a complete warzone, leaving room for viewers to finally see a believable Autobot/Human resistance effort.

Instead of simply shooting at the same enemies as their Autobot allies, the human soldiers (along with the larger military machine) are given genuine moments to shine – and opportunities to turn the tide. Being the last installment in Bay’s trilogy (well that is until the box office profits spawn a fourth film), the death toll for recognizable characters is dramatically higher, offering some intense and brutal moments that will likely shock audiences and can, at times, solicit a surprising amount of emotion and I got emotional through a lot of it.
Bay also improves upon a major problem with the prior installments – frantic camera work that turned epic set-pieces into blurry swirls of robot action. Dark of the Moon features a set of slow-motion action beats which, in any other movie, might seem overused. But here, the slow-motion allows for moviegoers to really hone-in on the great visuals. The much talked about 3D - well for a director like Bay who can now not only fill the width of the frame with mayhem, but now can also fill its depth, its perfect. At times, the 3D is wasted on static shots of humans talking in an office building; however, when the action starts ramping up, it’s easy to see how filmmakers can offer a 3D experience worthy of the added ticket price.

This movie works largely because it does have a really strong story and a good cast. Bay had me hooked with a fabulous opening sequence that deftly cut newsreel footage of Kennedy to set up the premise of the story. In Transformers: Dark of the Moon I actually cared about what was going on, the heel turn in the middle of the movie came as a genuine surprise and works really well.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Green Lantern

After Thor and X-men: First Class the next in line for the origin stories is DC Comics's Green Lantern with Martin Campbell director of Casino Royale and starring Ryan Reynolds as test pilot Hal Jordan, the first human chosen to wear the power ring and join the Green Lantern Corps. But it fails to live up to its expectations.

A cocky pilot for the family aviation company of his lifelong friend and ex-flame Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), Hal encounters the dying alien Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) who bequeaths his power ring unto him with the declaration that the ring has chosen him, a choice the amiable but reckless Hal finds curious at best. After the ring bonds with him and he speaks the Oath, Hal is transported to the Lanterns' home world of Oa, where he meets the great warrior Sinestro (Mark Strong), the towering drill instructor Kilowog (voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan) and the scholarly Tomar-Re (voiced by Geoffrey Rush). Hal endures what seems like a whole day of training before quitting, saying that the ring made a mistake choosing him. Still traumatized by the boyhood memory of his pilot dad's (Jon Tenney) fiery death, Hal must conquer his fears if he's to serve as a Green Lantern.

Meanwhile, scientist Hector Hammond (played by a heavily made-up Peter Sarsgaard), the son of an ambitious U.S. senator (Tim Robbins), is brought in by the government (in the person of Dr. Amanda Waller, played by Angela Bassett) to study Abin Sur's remains. Abin Sur had been mortally wounded by the planet-killing Parallax, and his remains bear traces of the cosmic entity's fear-thriving energy, which infects Hector. He soon develops telepathic powers, his skull swelling to a gargantuan size and driving this already odd man into utter madness. Hal must defeat both Hector and Parallax if he's to overcome his fears, save the world and prove himself worthy of being in the Corps.

Despite having rich source material to draw from, there is just so much that director Martin Campbell and the script writers (Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg) get wrong that it is a compliment to even call Green Lantern a movie, rather than a vapid black hole which sits in place of a movie about a green superhero. The first mistake Green Lantern makes, is that it fails to establish any kind of coherent context or mythos for its titular superhero. The movie opens with some heavy exposition blurted out by fish-man Tomar-Re (voiced by the always impeccable Geoffrey Rush) about “emerald willpower,” ancient beings, power rings, space sectors, Green Lanterns and some “yellow fear” bad guy named Parallax. No mention of the fact that in this comic book reality, all emotions (will, fear, anger, love, etc…) give off different kinds of “lights” that can be harnessed as power; the naming of “green willpower” and “yellow fear” are deemed sufficient explanation. Nope, not good.
This film is by and large an overstuffed, incoherent mess that I’m not sure director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) ever had his hands, his head, or his heart around. The same goes for the script writers. The movie never seems sure of itself -- what to show, how to show it -- and the result is a disjointed patchwork of scenes varying in effectiveness and tone, with many, many, holes left wide open between the seams. Key moments in movement, development or action are overlooked, leaving we, the viewers, to fill in the blanks with either our imaginations, assumptions, or annoyance.

Part of the problem of the film is that it seems to borrow heavily from Geoff Johns’ groundbreaking Secret Origins arc. However, instead of using it as a script, they attempt to mash together different elements while dropping the more complicated material. The result, with Parallax being introduced and Hammond coming in later, sounds right on paper but is inadequately translated to the screen. Oh, and I should also mention that they are trying to do all of this within 105 minutes. While I’ll admit that setting up Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern mythos is daunting, most of the successful origin stories coming out now make an effort to keep the film grounded. Here, there seems to be little attempt to ease the audience into the mythology. You either accept from the opening minutes of the film that a grey cloud that glows yellow with a skeletal face is ravaging the universe, or you don’t.
While the film shoves Parallax down your throat, it uses the home planet of the Green Lanterns, Oa, as a sideshow. Jordan is immediately sent there once he speaks the oath for training. While you might want to sit back and relax as the film introduces you to the way the power ring works and see Jordan progress, they abruptly stop to send us back to Earth. There almost seems to be a lack of confidence from Campbell, as if he is suddenly asking too much of the audience. That’s a real shame because Jordan’s training is one of the few moments where the film seems to find the right balance between intrigue and fun without being unnecessarily self-deprecating.

One part of the film that actually works is the cast, with Reynolds leading the way. Jordan has a cockiness that blends with humanity in the comics, and Reynolds seems to tap into that with ease. He has plenty of one-liners to keep the audience laughing, but they never go overboard with it. He can be serious when he wants, and when he is emotionally wounded, we believe it. Even Blake Lively as Carol Ferris, former flame and childhood friend of Jordan’s, holds her own. Doing the best he can in his shrunken role, Peter Sarsgaard is nearly unrecognizable in his swollen head prosthetic and is a cruel, menacing character that has some shocking moments.

Additionally, Mark Strong manages to make Sinestro—a tall, purple alien with a window’s peak and pencil mustache—intimidating and serious. The camera doesn’t shy away from him either, and the makeup and costume look great on him. There is also a key portion of his character that appears in the middle of the credits, so stick around for that. The real stunner, though, is Abin Sur’s makeup. The muscle tissue and purple glow might cause some to stare in awe, which is a shame because he isn’t around very long. The effects (for all the controversy and money surrounding them) are just…ok. There are some enjoyable moments (Hector Hammond’s psychic powers are surprisingly fun), but they are over pretty quickly. Parallax looks like a silly cartoon (but commits some bizarrely grisly acts) and only some of the CGI aliens work as believable characters (Tomar-Re), while others don’t (Kilowog, The Guardians). The Green Lantern costume Reynolds wears works sometimes and looks cartoony other times, and though the power ring constructs are well done, they’re often used in over-the-top ways meant to fetishize the effect, rather than enhance the film.
Regrettably, Lantern never lives up to the lofty expectations set by both the talented parties involved with the film (even James Newton Howard’s score is mostly uninspired) and the decades of solid material that precedes it. A new franchise typically begins with an origin story that gets you excited for the upcoming films. You simply can’t wait for what will come. With Green Lantern, you might just hope the next volume is better than the first.

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