by Matthew Thompson
With a couple of months already behind us in 2015, I’m going to be running through some mini-reviews for things I finished but didn’t have a chance to talk about earlier in the year. Some game and TV reviews will be coming, but I’d like to run through some novels I finished up so far this year. I’m not quite as experienced with talking about books, so the grading process is a little tough for me (I’m just kind of going by how much I enjoyed them), but I still wanted to include them since I usually do with my mini-reviews. Here they are!
The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
This is the second standalone novel set in Abercrombie’s First Law universe after the main trilogy. The focus on a single battle between The North and The Union lends itself well to his skill at writing action sequences and there is once again plenty to like in that regard in The Heroes. The plot just didn’t entertain me as much as the previous entries in the series. I think some of the points he tries to get across feel like they cover too similar ground to the original trilogy and therefore don’t feel as impactful this time around.
Just like Best Served Cold, you’ll see main characters from earlier novels fleshing out the supporting cast while formally minor characters along with some new ones step into the POV position for various chapters. It is here I found the most enjoyment. Calder, the conniving son of Bethod, and Bremer dan Gorst, Jezal’s opponent from the fencing contest in The Blade Itself, both make for incredibly entertaining POV characters. Still overall it is my least favorite of the five First Law novels I have read so far and a big step back from the two previous ones which were by far my favorite of the bunch. Grade: C+
Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell
by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
This is the second novel based on Veronica Mars. Both take place after the movie with Veronica back in Neptune working as a private investigator. Just like the first one, they have nailed the voices of the characters, particularly Veronica and Keith. I can see them and hear their voices as I read and fans will love seeing more of Miss Mars’ witty snark and the loving relationship she shares with her dad. The novel is populated with other characters from the series like Logan, Wallace and Mac. Not all the characters fit in as well those, some feeling more like cameos, but I do love how they tied the main case into Veronica’s past similar to the first novel.
That being said, I didn’t enjoy the case here as much as the one in The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. It focuses on a rape and attempted murder of a college student, but one twist revealed late in the novel I could see coming a mile away and I’m surprised Veronica didn’t catch it earlier. Still it was enjoyable to see her solve the mystery especially with a loathsome culprit like the one involved here. Along with this case, Mr. Kiss and Tell shows the result of Weevil’s trial stemming from an incident in the movie and features a new race for the Balboa Country Sheriff’s position.
If you enjoy reading and loved the TV series, you will definitely get a kick out of these books. While this one isn’t quite as good as the first, I’d still advise it to any fans of show looking for more Veronica in their lives. Grade: B
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I have already seen the movie which obviously takes a little of the enjoyment out of reading this. It simply doesn’t hold the same surprises. But it had been a while, so I forgot some of the finer details (or things were a bit different and I don’t recall well enough to know the difference). One thing I find about reading a book after seeing the adaptation is that it is always fun to get inside the character’s head the way that reading allows you to do and a movie or TV show often does not. The Hunger Games is written from the first person perspective of Katniss, so you definitely understand her thoughts well throughout the novel.
I won’t bother recapping the premise since I think everyone knows what The Hunger Games is about, but it is a great concept. The actual Games bring about some riveting action sequences while the preamble does a good job showing the differences between the classes that make up the novel’s world. I also really liked the depiction of Katniss’ relationship with Prim and Rue. Their moments together were generally my favorite. The romantic aspects that took on a greater focus towards the end of the book did much less for me and is probably why I’m not exactly this series’ target audience. The only other aspect I didn’t really care for was the twist with the Mutts towards the end, but I imagine your mileage may vary with that one.
I am in the middle of a couple longer, denser reads at the moment, so this was a much-needed respite. It certainly isn’t the most well written thing I have read recently, but it makes up for it by being a fun and quick read. I plan to pick up the other books when I get the chance and after that jump back into the movies. Grade: B-
That will do it for this edition of Book Mini-Reviews. Thanks for reading!