Archive for : June, 2016

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Prince Lestat by Anne Rice – A Review

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Prince Lestat is the eleventh novel in Anne Rice’s “The Vampire Chronicles”. After the success of the film adaptation of the most famous (and probably the best) book of “The Vampire Chronicles”, Interview with the Vampire, Rice obviously feels she can milk a little more money out of the franchise by writing just one more book, even though Blood Canticle was originally supposed to finish the series. It feels a little as though Rice is running out of new and interesting ideas to keep these series afloat, and Prince Lestat doesn’t have anywhere near the same sort of depth or level of interest as the previous books in the series.

This novel follows the most famous vampire of Rice’s imagined world and the best-loved character from previous books, Lestat de Lioncourt, who is still extremely well written. This part of the novel is by far the best: Rice’s characterization of her main character is familiar and continues well the things she has already established in other books, whilst not neglecting to develop Lestat and other characters who have already been seen in other novels. The writing is still of the same great quality and is compelling: the descriptions of the places, the building of tension and intrigue… The problem is, the really good ideas just aren’t there anymore, and what ideas there are really aren’t new or interesting enough to hold the reader’s attention for very long.

Overall, the atmosphere of this book is good, but is let down by the tired tropes and the themes that are either underdeveloped or are overdone. The series would have been better off without this addition, since it actually brings nothing new or innovative to Rice’s vampire world that hasn’t already been seen before. Really, the best thing about this book is that it highlights how good the rest of the series is.

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The Martian by Andy Weir – A Review

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Sometimes, you find a real gem of a novel which has seemingly come from nowhere. The Martian by Andy Weir is one such gem. It’s got great atmosphere, intriguing plot twists and characters that you almost think are real.

At first we follow the NASA astronaut Mark Watney, our main character, who is part of the crew of Ares 3. Unfortunately, because of a dust storm, the crew of the space craft had to evacuate their landing site, and Watney is injured during the evacuation. As a result, his suit’s bio-monitor computer is damaged, causing his five crewmates to believe him to be dead.

After this has all been established, the novel really becomes one about survival and how people will really push themselves to their limits in life or death situations. Through sheer strength of will and thanks to his scientific knowledge and technical skills – some of which have been developed by his career at NASA and some of which he just happens to know – Watney has a chance to survive even without contact with Earth.

One really great aspect of this novel is the reality that Weir has imbued his plot with. Although Watney is spotted by people back on Earth and a rescue plan is hatched, Watney continues to not only survive, but also live whilst the rescue mission is planned and prepared for. He plans a mission to the Schiparelli crater, where Ares 4 will land in four years’ time.

Watney, however, faces more and more threats to his survival as his plants die and he faces starvation. The way that tension is built and created throughout the novel is simply superb, and there are moments that you really think there is no way for Watney to get out of his dire situation, and yet there is always some ingenious – and believable – way that he manages to find just in the nick of time.

The plans that are made to get Watney out of immediate danger are intricate, and some readers may be put off at the amount of technical detail that the author sometimes goes into. However, if you don’t mind wading through a lot of techno-babble or through a lot of plans being made and tweaked, then this part will be easy enough to get through. The novel never feels like it’s trying to exclude a reader who doesn’t understand what’s being said, so the technological stuff is never too distracting. Rather, it just adds to the realism and helps make the setting and the problems being faced more realistic.

If you like anything set in space, and if you like reading about the amazing feats that people can achieve even when given limited resources and stuck in the most remote of places, then you are going to love The Martian. The characters are well written and are compelling: you really want Watney to make it out and the whole time, despite being alone and isolated for the majority of the novel, he is an intriguing and compelling man to read about.