Tag: Plot-Line

Derek Landy – Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light | Review

Title: Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light

Author: Derek Landy

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 605

Rating: 8/10

 

Derek Landy - Skullduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light

Derek Landy – Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light

 

Disclaimer: While I aim to be unbiased, I received a copy of this for free to review.

This book messed with my mind, man – at first, I really struggled to get in to it, and I could never tell who was who, whether they were good guys or bad guys or even what they were actually doing. But then I got absorbed, after the first hundred pages or so, and everything got a lot more exciting.

I get the feeling that I would’ve suspended my disbelief a little sooner if I’d read the earlier books in the series, because the author seems to assume that you know a lot about his fictional world, although the occasional exposition that he uses to fill you in on what happened earlier is actually well-handled and subtle enough that you don’t even notice what’s happening.

Which is a good thing, because there’s a lot going on – people dying left, right and centre, and occasionally coming back to life, switching allegiance or doing something else that’s equally surprising. It gets confusing to say the least, although I suspect it’ll be easier to understand it all if you’ve started the series from the beginning.

 

Derek Landy

Derek Landy

 

And from what I understand, quite a lot of people do just that – when I was reading this at work, one of my colleagues stopped me and asked to take a look at the cover. It turns out that her kids, and her kids’ friends, are obsessed with the Skulduggery Pleasant series, in the same way that my own generation was obsessed with Harry Potter.

In fact, when I first started reading the novel, I did detect the influence of the Harry Potter series, and to begin with I was worried that it might just be a rip-off. It turns out I was wrong – the world of the Skulduggery Pleasant series is completely different, and in places I think it weakens the plot-line. Magic needs some universal laws that must always be obeyed, otherwise it can just be used to explain away gaps in the story, as it was occasionally used here.

But despite that, The Dying of the Light is a pretty compelling read, and once I really got in to it, I did find it hard to put it down. Sure, the barrier to entry is a little high if you haven’t read the other books in the series, but once you get past that, you’ll be interested in the huge collection of characters on offer, and I bet that you’ll find a favourite and settle down with the back catalogue to read about what happened to them before the events of The Dying of the Light kicked off.

 

Valkyrie Cain

Valkyrie Cain

 

I don’t want to go in to too much detail about the plot, partly because it’s too complicated to go in to and partly because I don’t want to spoil it – suffice to say that if you’re in to magic, fantasy and the fight of good against evil, then you’re going to enjoy it. Hell, I’m not even going to tell you who wins!

The only problem for me, when you consider the target audience of kids and young adults, was the level of gore that the book contains – it seems like every couple of pages, someone’s being beheaded, dismembered or otherwise brutally murdered, even some peripheral characters who the author could’ve left alive. It might bother you if you’re reading it to kids.

 

Derek Landy Quote

Derek Landy Quote

 

Click here to buy Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light.


Dan Brown – Angels and Demons | Review

Title: Angels and Demons

Author: Dan Brown

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 620

Rating: 7/10

 

Dan Brown - Angels and Demons

Dan Brown – Angels and Demons

 

Oh boy, 620 words – where to start. Alright, well first off, I’d like to explain – I don’t hate Dan Brown. Oh sure, I’ve complained about him before, notably in an essay I co-wrote with a friend called ‘(The Lack of) Originality in Modern Literature‘ in which we slated his formulaic writing style.

But having said that, his novels actually aren’t that bad – they’re like fast food for the brain, the type of book that people read because it’s easy despite having plenty of pages. And they have a plot-line, too – in fact, this has one of the better ones.

That said, the novel does still have its fair share of irregularities, stuff that’s explained scientifically but still doesn’t sound legitimate, like when Robert Langdon dives out of a helicopter and survives the fall. All of the stuff about antimatter is difficult to believe at times, too – it’s cool, but is it realistic?

 

Dan Brown

Dan Brown

 

Well, luckily for you, I’ve done some research and discovered that it isn’t – antimatter takes more energy to create than to produce, which would cripple our ability to manufacture it, and over the last twenty years, only 10 billionths of a gram of antimatter has ever been produced at CERN, the equivalent of a firecracker in explosive strength.

I’ve never found Langdon likeable, either – don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of the antagonists, although it’s interesting to see how deviously their plans are woven, but I often find that the protagonists are one-sided and often sanctimonious.

Now that the negativity is out of the way, let’s explore why it still received  a 7/10 rating. For a start, the hassassin and the disguised character of Janus are terrifying, there’s a sinisterness about them that leaves an uneasy feeling in your stomach as you tentatively turn the pages.

 

Vatican City, where much of the action takes place...

Vatican City, where much of the action takes place…

 

And in places, the characterisation of the extended cast of characters, those who don’t really fit in to the classic ‘good‘ and ‘evil‘ categories, is actually impressive, and each has their own eccentricity.

Take, for example, Maximilian Kohler, the Hawking-esque director of CERN who, confined to a wheelchair, relies on an extensive array of electronic gadgetry including a computer, a telephone, a pager, a video camera and a gun. With added depth, he also blames religion for his paralysis because his pious parents refused to seek treatment for his condition.

And in a cool case of self-reference, the novel features ambigrams that were created by a man called John Langdon, a typographer. One can’t help but wonder whether a little of Robert Langdon’s character is based upon his namesake.

 

Found this on Google, seems legit...

Found this on Google, seems legit…

 

I’m not sure how much I buy in to the Illuminati, though – sure, I know that the Illuminati existed, but I’m not convinced that they still exist today, secretly manipulating the movements of the world’s major players from behind the scenes. I doubt that Brown does either, using them as a plot device, but I know a few people who genuinely believe (and fear) the Illuminati, and I blame the book for their ignorance.

That said, it’s one of those books that’s worth reading just to find out what the fuss is about, and it is enjoyable up to an extent – it’s certainly the best Dan Brown book, although that’s not necessarily saying much. It’s also well worth reading if you’re thinking about starting with his new one – if you’re going to read about Robert Langdon, you might as well know his history.

Just make me a promise not to tell me what happens in Inferno – I might dislike Dan Brown on principle, but I’m still going to go read it and review it.

 

Dan Brown - Inferno

Dan Brown – Inferno

 

Click here to buy Angels and Demons.