Goodreads Review – The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2)

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wish Goodreads allowed half-stars. As much as I still adore Jemisin’s writing and world-building, I didn’t quite love the second novel in The Broken Earth trilogy as much as the first.

*VAGUE SPOILERS BELOW*

I was fascinated with the character evolution of Schaffa, but his (and Nassun’s) storyline plods along slower than I would have liked. Likewise I didn’t expect Essun to remain in Castrima for the entirety of the novel, though I enjoyed the socio-political developments, interesting minor characters, and the climactic battle. The best parts were learning about the fascinating world and history, and a much deeper dive into the stone eaters, as well as the awesome and satisfying reveal of the first-person narrator.

Make no mistake, this is still a 5-star series, and an incredible blend of apocalyptic sci-fi, fantasy, great characters, and excellent world-building.

View all my reviews

Advertisements

Goodreads Review – Cibola Burn (The Expanse #4)

Cibola Burn (The Expanse, #4)Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fourth Expanse book almost has the opposite problem of the third book, it sets up the characters, setting, and conflict in an exciting way, then drags on for most of the second half of the book.
Cibola Burn tackles early settlement of the first of the new worlds opened up by the gates at the end of the third book. A renegade group of Belters were the first through the gate, and by the time a giant corporation ship from Earth arrives to document, research, and set up facilities, the squatters/settlers are already entrenched, leading to political conflict, especially when the squatters sabotage the newly arrived ship.
In comes James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante to mediate. The human drama take precedent over the exotic alien planet, but the new characters (including a returning old one from the first book) are all solid new additions, particularly the villainous Murtry and passionate scientist Dr. Elvi Okoye.
A cataclysmic event separates the two halves of the novel, and the second half slows to a crawl as we transition into man vs nature. There are two main storylines, and the orbiting ships in space becomes way more interesting and action-packed than the plodding survival story on the planet’s surface.
I still love this series and the characters are fantastic, but so far most of them could benefit from better pacing and about 100 fewer pages.

View all my reviews

Goodreads Review – The Brightest Night (Wings of Fire #5)

The Brightest Night (Wings of Fire, #5)The Brightest Night by Tui T. Sutherland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

More than the other books in the Wings of Fire series, The Brightest Night has a distinct three act structure. The first act is lame, as Sunny is separated from the others in an incredibly stupid way. The entire plot is ramping up from the last two novels with the RainWings and NightWings but Sunny’s tale begins to feel like an annoying side jaunt that we shouldn’t have time for.
Act 2 picks up as we get a deeper look at the Sandwings, and Sunny’s unique family, including the return of old characters and a nifty Game of Thrones style battle.
Act 3 suddenly thrusts the overarching plot back into the lime light as our heroes decide how to stop the war. Everything wraps up a bit too neatly, yet I also appreciate that the entire SandWing Civil War
and Dragonets of Prophecy plot is solved, not dragged on through book after book.
Ultimately it’s a satisfying conclusion to these characters and the first series arc, and landing somewhere in the middle of my ranking of the first five novels.

View all my reviews

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Rise of the Tomb Raider

Playing through all the Uncharted games last year may have ruined Tomb Raider for me.

Adventuring through my backlog of games, one game at a time. 

Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Played On: PlayStation 4

A funny thing happened on my way to playing the second game of the rebooted Tomb Raider trilogy: I played all five Uncharted games. Particularly Uncharted 4 and The Lost Legacy have set my personal standard for cinematic third-person action games. I couldn’t help but constantly compare them to everything that annoyed me about Rise of the Tomb Raider, resulting in an experience that is middling at best.

The Uncharted comparisons are not entirely fair. Rise of the Tomb Raider precedes Uncharted 4 by a year, but such is the curse of backlog gaming!

Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Rise of the Tomb Raider”

Goodreads Review – The Dark Secret (Wings of Fire #4)

The Dark Secret (Wings of Fire, #4)The Dark Secret by Tui T. Sutherland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Coming off the strongest book of the series thus far is the weakest. The Dark Secret picks up on the interesting major plot thread left dangling at the end of Book 3 and explores the mysterious Nightwings, whom we know nothing about.

The problem is we’re left with only the PoV character, Starflight, completely separated from the rest of the dragonets for about 90% of the book. The Wings of Fire books are best when the diverse group can play off each other, and this one suffers for almost completely lacking that interplay. It doesn’t help that the neurotic hand-wringing (talon-wringing?) Starflight is one of the weakest and least likable characters.

The actual secret is disappointingly predictable and Nightwing society isn’t nearly as interesting as others we’ve seen. Yet even a weak Wings of Fire book is still pretty good; it’s well written and well paced, and the climax is suitably exciting. But compared to the first three it’s definitely a small step down.

View all my reviews

Goodreads Review – The Hidden Kingdom (Wings of Fire, #3)

The Hidden Kingdom (Wings of Fire, #3)The Hidden Kingdom by Tui T. Sutherland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Definitely my favorite Wings of Fire book yet. Glory was always the most interesting of the dragonets. Very defensive and sarcastic, but also carrying the most emotional baggage, from abusive caretakers to not even being part of the official prophecy. Her POV is immensely satisfying.

I also enjoyed that it breaks away from the “go somewhere, get captured, eventually fight their way out” formula of the first two books. The peaceful RainWing tribe is vastly different from the other areas. But we also get brief glimpses into NightWings and IceWings. The overarching plot lays down interesting developments that stay unresolved, but also make getting to the next book even more exciting. And we still get a really fun climax that’s far different than the action-packed endings of the first two novels.

View all my reviews

Goodreads Review – The Lost Heir (Wings of Fire #2)

The Lost Heir (Wings of Fire, #2)The Lost Heir by Tui T. Sutherland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second book in the Wings of Fire series centers on Tsunami the SeaWing as the Dragonets travel to her homeland. This time we’re treated to some lite political intrigue surrounding the mysterious deaths of the Queen’s royal daughters, of which Tsunami is a returning surviving heir.

The overall mystery is a bit lackluster and few of the new SeaWing characters are interesting. I also didn’t like that most of the dragonets are sidelined for the entire middle of the book, leaving just Tsunami to explore and deal with the new characters and setting. Yet that also gives her a much bigger chance to grow and develop as a character.

I’m giving it four stars like the first one because it’s still very well written, with excellent pacing and a good mix of violent action and quiet introspection. I am a bit worried that the books will feel formulaic as the dragonets travel to each different kingdom and end up as prisoners having to escape – thankfully they themselves call that out at the end of this book!

View all my reviews