Tuesday, December 28, 2010

LEVIATHAN (Book 1 of Leviathan Trilogy)—BOOK REVIEW

This is the first review I’ve done since time immemorial, I’m really sorry about that, I was really busy with school. So here it goes. I’m going to review the book Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, the first book from the Leviathan Trilogy.

The plot:

The year is 1914. It is the start of the war between the Clankers (those that prefer machines) and the Darwinists (those that use fabricated animals.)

The story revolves around the separate adventures of Alek and Deryn. Alek is the son of Archduke Franz, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary and his wife, Sophie. Alek’s parents were assassinated that in turn caused a war between Austria and Serbia which started to spread around the continent. After his parents’ deaths, Alek was pursued by his own people, thus, he goes into hiding together with his fencing and mechaniks masters and two more people. With only this small crew and a fighting machine, Alek strives hard to hide, and strives harder to survive the war.

Deryn, on the other hand, dreams of serving the British Air Service. But her dilemma is dictated by her birth—women are not allowed to. So Deryn disguised herself as a boy named Dylan in order to fulfill her dream. She found herself aboard the Darwinist airship: Leviathan, where she struggled to hide her secret and was caught up with the war.

What will happen if these two meet? What will happen to the war? Which side are you on, the Clankers or the Darwinists?

Here’s my take on the book:

To set things straight, this is my first time encountering the Steampunk genre so forgive me guys if I'd lack the proper knowledge to review this book. Still, here goes...

In Leviathan, Westerfeld presented a carefully crafted tale that speaks of a world exhibiting an alternate history to that we know of and at the same time displaying the elevated possibilities of the future. He did this impressively and elaborately. He cautiously placed the elements of both the past and the future and let them meet in the time of the Great War.

It is a good thing that even though the story borrowed concepts from the real world, the story is still filled with the richness of Westerfeld’s originality. This is especially seen in how he created the different kinds of fabricated animals that were made by the Darwinists and also the innovative technology of the Clankers. But as both sides have greatness on their own, it is even more bizarre and wonderful how this author made these two forces clash.

The story did not necessarily say which side is right and which side is wrong, or which side is better and which is worse. The book plainly presented the story of both sides with Alek and Deryn at the center. Having said this, it is pretty much commendable how Westerfeld characterized both the main characters--one being well-mannered and sophisticated while the other one quite haughty. The interaction between them is also an especially significant part of the book, which Westerfeld successfully portrayed with much care, thought, and a lot of enthusiasm.

The only downside that I can see is that since people know, for a fact, the actual technological capabilities that the era had, it may be hard to disassociate the readers’ consciousness to that certain knowledge for them to fully absorb the story. It may be hard for the audience to infuse themselves to every nook and cranny the storyline portrays. But, in answer to this, Westerfeld had clearly indicated and clarified the line that divides  fact and fiction in the world of Leviathan, thus, making the disadvantage less troubling.

My last point goes to the illustrations on the book. Parts of the story were depicted with illustrations that were pretty much detailed. They practically gave off the same vibrancy/mood that the story itself showed. So, kudos to that!

This is a good start for a trilogy, all in all. I will definitely read the next books!

Leviathan is recommended for the younger readers and may also extend to the YA lovers.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Am Number Four--Book Review

It’s been a while since my last review ‘cause I’ve been VERY busy doing school stuffs that I hardly find the time to open the book I’m reading. But after weeks of struggling, I finally finished another book. So here it is, my review on the first book of the Lorien Legacies Series: I AM NUMBER FOUR by Pittacus Lore (which is a pen-name, as I believe.)

The story is about Number Four, presently known as John Smith, one of the nine Lorien kids who came to Earth after their home planet, Lorien, was destroyed by another alien species, the Mogadorians. They came to our planet in order to grow and mature so that they may be able to revive their planet and their kind. But their stay on Earth is not a walk in the park as the Mogadorians are now on the planet in order to slay the Lorien kids, and also to make Earth its next victim.

The nine kids separated to different places on Earth and with a charm, the Lorien kids can only be killed according to their numbers, one to three are dead, which leaves Number Four next. So John, along with his guardian, Henri, should do their best to survive until John’s powers mature so that if needed, they could fight back.

But John’s life can get more complicated as it already is as he got involved to some human affairs as well. In his new school, he met and fell in love with a girl—Sarah Hart. How will John live his life without revealing his secret to the ones he learned to love? Will he survive, or will he succumb to the enemy’s powers?

Here is my take on the book:

I found the concept a little intriguing since I personally haven’t tried reading lots of Sci-fi. I guess this was a good start, the only problem that I had with this book is that I didn’t really see it as much of a sci-fi experience; it was more of a fantasy-ride for me. This is because the technicalities of an alien story lacks in it.

The tone used in the book is quite serene and laid back in the start, which I found quite disturbing. This is because the premise of the story is that John and Henri, and the other Lorien kids, are “on-the-run” but the way the story was told in the first half of the book gave a feel that they weren’t really “on-the-run.” I expected a darker storyline but still, it was bearable and the book somehow redeemed itself towards the end with some action-packed scenes. I just thought that this is aimed for teen boys so I guess the romance part on it should be given a little less limelight.

Characterization-wise, the book did an “ok” job. You will be able to understand each and every character, and why they do things they do. But it felt kind of flat, there are no complex character developments involved in the story. Plus, there weren’t any exceptional characters that would be tattooed on one’s mind.

What I totally loved in I Am Number Four are the Legacies, or the powers that the Lorien people possess. It was great watching John as he discovers his powers and uses them in his adventures. Guess I’m a fanboy for superpowers.

Will I read the next book in the series? Probably yes. As far as I can see, I Am Number Four only set out the origins of the Lorien Legacies series. So I am thinking, and HOPING that the next books would reveal more action-packed storyline and pacing.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Artemis Fowl, The Time Paradox—Book Review

Today I’ll review The Time Paradox, the sixth installment of one of my favorite book series, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer.

In The Time Paradox, we see our favorite genius boy go back in time in order to save the last of the Silky Sifaka Lemur species that proved to be the cure for her mother’s illness. The problem is, he was the one who caused the extinction of the Silky Sifaka Lemur almost 8 years prior. Therefore, Artemis of the future should face and outwit the Artemis of the past. Using time travel and escorted by her fairy friend Holly Short, will Artemis defeat his greatest enemy to date, his own self? Can they go back to the past and not alter the future they have known?


My Review:

The book still holds up the same humor and adventurous feel that fans had known from book 1. The adventures that Artemis Fowl goes through are what have driven most part of the book, add clever twists and turns to that and you will get The Time Paradox.  

Like the other Artemis Fowl books, the most impressive part that Eoin Colfer has inculcated in this book is the “reveal.” Colfer still did very well on this one, the wit of writing he used made the twists just make you “Ooooh! That’s cool!”

The book proved to have a much more complicated storyline that seemed to grow with Artemis Fowl. The battle of wit and smarts of the two Artemises is surely a highlight of this book. What could fans ask for more knowing that they can be spectators of an intellectual battle between two characters that they had grown to love and maybe, despise?

What makes this different from prior books is that it showed more on Artemis’ human side. Much more than the genius, here we see how he had grown to be softer. We see how he responds to his emotions and not just his intellectual premise. The book also showed how much Artemis had grown through a comparison of the two Artemises of both time and also how does the relationship between him and Holly develop.

Characterization was never a question when it comes to the AF series as readers are sure to see how Artemis is growing throughout the books’ storylines and how his life has been affected by his involvements with the fairy people. Holly is also given the right and fitting character development. Also, a refreshing thing in this book is the addition of the demon warlock N°1 (first appeared in the fifth book: The Lost Colony) in the lineup of lovable characters.

Reading Artemis Fowl books is like riding the same rollercoaster all over again. But each time you ride it, there are additional features that will make each ride different from the other–a paradox of familiarity and uniqueness in each and every book.

The Time Paradox is surely a must-read for hardcore Artemis Fowl fans! But beware, this book has a little cliffhanger element that will make you want to instantly get the next book: The Atlantis Complex.