A book billed as a thriller that explores a family as they come to grips with the disappearance of a child, the book defied my expectations, for good reasons and bad.
The Rocky Mountains have cast their spell over the Courtlands, who are taking a family vacation before their daughter leaves for college. But when Caitlin and her younger brother, Sean, go out for an early morning run and only Sean returns, the mountains become as terrifying as they are majestic.
Written with a precision that captures every emotion, every moment of fear, as each member of the family searches for answers, Descent races like an avalanche toward its heart-pounding conclusion.
There’s no book in recent memory that I found as challenging to review as I’m finding this one. I think that’s because Descent tries to be two things at once: both a thriller, telling the story of the disappearance of Caitlyn, a high school senior and track star who is abducted while going for a run during a family vacation to the Colorado Rockies, and a deep character study of the family members–her father Grant, her mother Angela, and her brother Sean–and their lives, together and apart, as they grapple with the nightmare of a daughter and a sister who disappears without a trace. Each of these stories would, individually, be a gripping read. Unfortunately, I feel Mr. Johnston tried to do too much, and as a result, taken as a whole, nothing works as well as it could.
Of course, I still enjoyed the book very much, and was up way too late during the big climax. But, the more I thought about the book and talked about it to my wife, the more I couldn’t overlook the flaws in this debut novel.Continue reading...
Apparently my new pattern is to read a whole series, then post a review only after the last book is done. So here I am, at it again, this time posting my thoughts about Brandon Sanderson’s The Reckoners, and the final book, Calamity.
When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David’s fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned Prof, his closest ally, into a dangerous enemy.
David knew Prof’s secret, and kept it even when Prof struggled to control the effects of his Epic powers. But facing Obliteration in Babilar was too much. Once the Reckoners’ leader, Prof has now embraced his Epic destiny. He’s disappeared into those murky shadows of menace Epics are infamous for the world over, and everyone knows there’s no turning back. . . .
But everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics—Megan proved it. They’re not lost. Not completely. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back. Or die trying.
First, a quick disclosure: while the book metadata I’ve included with this post implies I read this book, that is a lie! In fact, my wife and I listened to the audiobooks together, knocking down the first two during our trip to see the 2023 annular eclipse, and then finishing the last one in our livingroom.
Additionally, as I mentioned in the post summary, I didn’t get around to writing down my thoughts about the first two books as we finished them, so like my review of The Nexus trilogy, this review is based on my overall thoughts after finishing the last book, Calamity.
And since these reviews are mainly for Future Brett as he tries to remember what he thought about these books, I’ll just say: sorry buddy. I’ll do my best, here, but I make no guarantees.Continue reading...
This is short review of the whole Nexus trilogy by Ramez Naam, though given I didn’t get around to writing notes or reviews for the first two books, these are my reflections after finishing Apex.
Global unrest spreads through the US, China, and beyond. Secrets and lies set off shockwaves of anger, rippling from mind to mind. Riot police battle neurally-linked protestors. Armies are mobilized. Political orders fall. Nexus-driven revolution is in here.
Against this backdrop, a new breed of post-human children are growing into their powers. And a once-dead scientist, driven mad by her torture, is closing in on her plans to seize planet's electronic systems, and re-forge everything in her image.
A new Apex species is here. The world will never be the same.
Unlike my wife, writing reviews for books isn’t something I automatically think of doing. But I always regret not doing it because, years later, they help remind my poor, addled brain what I thought about a book or series. My memory, it’s not great!
So, here I am at the end of The Nexus Trilogy, and I’m gonna try to write a (brief? I dunno, we’ll see!) review of Apex particularly but the whole series in general. We’ll see how this goes.Continue reading...
Re-reading “Product Leadership” by Banfield, Eriksson, and Walkingshaw, and I can’t figure out if I just unknowingly internalized a ton from my first reading years ago, or if I ended up learning all the same lessons, but after ten years in the role, it’s definitely been an object lesson in confirmation bias…
I noticed I haven’t written a long-form post in quite a while so I figured I’d get back into it with a review of Circe.
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child--neither powerful like her father nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power: the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts, and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from or with the mortals she has come to love.
I have to admit it’s been a while since I read Circe, so this review is probably gonna be a) a bit short, and b) based on fuzzy recollections. But, I’ll do my best with what I can recall.
If you’ve not heard of the book, Circe is a mythological retelling, and I have to admit, I really wish I was more familiar with my Greek mythology because, even based on the limited knowledge I do have, Madeline Miller’s work in adapting this tale is really pretty astonishing. Through beautiful prose and incredible characterization she manages to find the humanity in this ancient and epic story.Continue reading...
1 of 14