Friday, March 26, 2010

I ROCK the Vote

By just recently joining the Guild of Calamitous Intent, er...I mean LDStorymakers, I can now vote in the Whitney Awards. Out of the multiple genre's the only one I have read up on and am therefore qualified to vote in is SPECULATIVE. And now for my ever so brief review of the finalists, of which I have read more of some than others.

Servant of A Dark God, by John Brown
This is the first in a trilogy of Dark Gods and John knows how to capture his readers attention with both action and mystery. The world building is superb because John doesn't shy from the dirt, grime, superstitions and hostilities a feudal people would have. The legendary creation story background was familiar and yet still different. For epic fantasy this was a very strong debut novel.

Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson
Great intriguing prologue that gripped me and then everything slowed down for the sake of princess's-powerful princess's with chromatically based magic and tragic destinies that I could not care about. That and Lightsong, a returned God, brimming with Chromatic magical power, left me equally unimpressed. I have a hard time with reluctant protagonists. The character I really liked, Vasher, wasn't in the book nearly enough for me-kinda like Sanderson's other project The Wheel of Time-not having nearly enough LAN, but hey Vasher did have a cool sentient sword not unlike Elric's Stormbringer-lets give it up for evil sentient swords!

Wings, by Aprilynne Pike
Did I like this? Of course not and I don't know why it isn't in the YA category instead of the Speculative. I couldn't get past the sample chapters online, absolute fluff-Gag. It made it to the New York Times bestseller list and I read that Disney is supposed to be turning it and its sequels into movies-but still for me it was wretched I had to be coached (thanks Th.) just to make it as far as I did-maybe 50 pages tops.

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
Absolutely brilliant opening line, the kind I could swear I have read before because it seemed so classic. But again I don't know why this wasn't in the YA category rather than speculative. The characters are the YA target audience age and though others have liked it, I found the new fabricated slang irritating. The stage is set for the sequel but I don't know how much this story speaks to me.

I Am Not A Serial Killer, by Dan Wells
I am not quite done with this yet, but its a contender alright. Dan has a great sense of mood and humor with the background narrator John Cleaver, a kid who is obsessed with serial killers in a very small town that gets its own. I can sense where things are heading but I am anxious to see if they turn out how I am expecting OR how well Dan can turn the tables and make the unexpected fit with a murderous twist.

Yes, these were powerfully weak reviews but I have got my own books to write and hopefully get skewered next year in the Whitneys.

Oh yeah, I should mention everyone listed above is worth listening too on Brandon and Dan's (and Howard Taylor's) brilliant writing podcasts Writing Excuses.


M. Gray said...

It's funny to hear your take on Sanderson's world building and Dashner's The Maze Runner. I haven't read War Breaker yet, but I agree, sometimes Sanderson would spend so much time on power explanation that I would get really bored.

That's funny you didn't like Dashner's slang. You know I loved it. Different things speak to different people, eh?

I really wanna read Dan Wells' book.

I haven't read Wings. It's on my to read list, but haven't been to eager to pick it up since I'm not really into faeries.

I'll have to check out Servant of a Dark God.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Yes, Wings and Maze Runner are definitely YA. I haven't read any of the others, but I have read both of those two and LOVED THEM. Hee hee! They are absolutely perfect for their target audience. I aspire to be as good a writer as them. (again I doubt if you should read my book!) I'll definitely have to check out those others.

Karlene said...

I've read all five and I pretty much agree with you. Although I didn't gag at Wings (but I also didn't think it was good enough to hit the NYT list).

I think the reason some of the YA specs got put in this category is because there are so many YAs and not quite as many adult fantasies out there written by LDS authors! And even then, some were left out--Dashner's 13th Reality and Savage's Farworld.

Karlene said...

Why is there an exclamation point in my previous comment. I swear I didn't put it there!!!!

Paul R. McNamee said...

I am definitely interested in 'Servant of a Dark God' since you posted the talk the author gave - and now hearing that you liked the novel, yourself.

(looks like the same cover artist who has been doing the covers for all the omnibus Glen Cook titles from TOR and NightShadeBooks ....)

David J. West said...

Mary/Tamara-I don't have a real problem with Dashner or Pike-they just aren't my thing, I don't really read YA too often.

And like Karlene said-yes there was a lot of fantasy YA put out lately-but in my opinion it shouldn't encroach upon the adult side of Specualtive-it should just make stiffer competion in that category.

I'm inclined to think Larry Corriea should have made the shortlist for Specualtive and probably Dave Farland too-oh and where is OSC? He released a book last year too right? I doubt I would have liked it better than Brown or Wells but still-it is adulty and not YA.

Paul-I believe it is the same artist.

Kate said...

I read Wings and wondered how it made it as a NYT best seller. I felt the characterization was lacking and even contradictory which made some of the plot feel contrived. Loved the concept though--just wish it had been done better. I wasn't aware that it is considered speculative. It's definitely YA.

Loved the Maze Runner. I read it in 24 hours. I couldn't put it down. I liked the slang. I thought it fit with whole memory wipe thing.

The others have sparked my interest, but I haven't read them. They seem a little dark and violent for my tastes so we'll have to see. Maybe if my library gets them. (ha, ha, I won't hold my breath.)

David J. West said...

Kate-I suppose they might seem a little dark, but that is just part of the journey/story process, for me that's what I like to read.

Oh and I doubt you The Maze Runner is really any lighter than Servant of A Dark God-one just has a scarier title.

Th. said...



I need a way to read pdfs.....

I mean. A nonPC way.

David J. West said...

Th.-Wings was the only one I read on my computer-and you know what I thought of that.

Kate said...

Good to know. Thanks David. I'll have to give them a try.

Kate said...

Oh .. and I must have read The Maze Runner's opening line at least three times before continuing. Brilliant.

Voidwalker said...

So, is that a thumbs up or thumbs down for Maze Runner?

David J. West said...

thanks Kate

Void-honestly I haven't quite finished it, but its just not my thing. It is well written and I personally know loads of people that love it-but Maze Runner isn't capturing me.

But if you like dystopian YA, you will probably love it.

Kasie West said...

I think YA should be separated into genres as well. To just call something YA is so general. There are so many different categories and themes in YA its crazy that the bookstore still organizes the section by author. But anyway, that's just my little pet peeve. As far as the books you've reviewed, I've only read The Maze Runner. I enjoyed it. I've read some of Sanderson's other novels and heard great things about Wells. Congrats on being able to vote this year.

David J. West said...

Thanks Kasie, I appreciate your dropping by.

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

It was so interesting to read your reviews. Isn't it amazing how different tastes are?

Honestly, I haven't read any of these books yet. I suppose Wings went big because of her agent etc... but I do wonder why James's and Aprilynn's books aren't in YA. Who chooses the categories? Weird.

David J. West said...

Exactly Melissa, we'll have to get to the bottom of this.

Kimberly said...

Dan's book was deliciously disturbing and despite being a Sanderson fan I'm cheering him on for the win. Warbreaker was fascinating...from certain angles, but when I reread it I found myself skipping huge swaths of it and focusing on the actual plotline (which got lost at times). I agree that Vasher was the most intriguing character. Overall, I still loved the book simply because the Bio-Chroma aspect was such an inventive basis for the story.

David J. West said...

Kim-I do think Bio-Chroma was interesting-but like you I don't see it as a book I am dying to reread. Your vote was my vote.