Wednesday, October 31, 2012

CBR IV: Books 32 - 38: The Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling

*Audiobook Review*

***This is my FOURTH attempt to write this review.  I have become paralyzed with fear that I cannot do justice to this amazing series.  Feel free to criticize, you can't write anything worse than I have already thought.***

Since I am incredibly behind on my reviews, I'm doing one giant review of the series.  Shut up.  I need to spend more time reading and less time agonizing over reviews if I'm going to make it to 52 books.

I used to be obsessed with the Harry Potter books.  I read and re-read the first four books during that horrendous three-year wait between books four and five.  I was at midnight book parties for the last 3 books, and my first knitting project was an attempt at a Gryffindor scarf.  It was terrible, because I couldn't knit very well and I was using cheap-o scratchy yarn.  I watched the movies, and I was relatively pleased with the first three.  Then they started turning 700+ page books into 2 1/2 hour movies, and the perfectionist in me reared her ugly head.  I was increasingly disappointed by what seemed to be glaring omissions in the films (S.P.E.W. anybody?).  I never even watched the last 3 films.

Lately I have had a Harry Potter renaissance.  I re-read all of the books, watched all eight of the movies, and even blasted my way through both Lego Harry Potter video games (which are the video game version of crack, by the way).  This was my fourth (maybe fifth?) re-read of some of these books, and even knowing what happens, they are as engrossing as ever.  I still get a little teary when certain characters are killed.  I still hate Delores Umbridge with the fire of a thousand suns.  The twelve-year-old me still identifies with Hermione Granger, and I still want a Hippogriff for a pet.

These books are credited with getting kids to learn that reading is fun. They are classics that will hopefully be read and re-read for generations.  Finishing the series is depressing, because I won't be able to have any more adventures with Harry, Ron, and Hermione.  If you haven't read these books yet, there is nothing I can say to convince you.  Just don't make the mistake most adults make in assuming that because these books are written for children that they are childish.  These books have some very adult themes, and some of them are downright dark.  Characters die.  Characters that you love.  Your favorite characters will die FOR NO DAMN GOOD REASON.

*Audio-specific portion of the review*
Jim Dale's narration is nothing short of amazing.  When he reads Hagrid, you think that Hagrid is there reading his part.  His Professor McGonagall was amazing as well.  These are wonderful for a car trip, or just listening while you clean around the house.  Probably the best-read audiobooks I have ever listened to!

I forced my roommate to watch the movies since he had never seen Harry Potter anything before.  I previously tried to get him into fantasy with Game of Thrones, but he hated all of the characters. Here's the exchange we had after watching Prisoner of Azkaban.

"Do you like Harry Potter better than Game of Thrones?"

"Game of Thrones is like Harry Potter, if everyone was in Slytherin."

There is nothing I can write that can top that.

5/5 Stars

Thursday, October 4, 2012

CBR IV: Book 31: Cinder - Marissa Meyer

*Audiobook Review*

OK, I read this book a couple of months ago, so I'm fuzzy on a lot of the details.  Basically, this is a steam-punk/futuristic retelling of Cinderella.  Cinder is a cyborg, living in New Beijing with her wicked step-mother and step-sisters.  Cyborgs are the lowest class of society.  Most people view them as no better than robots, which are treated as slaves.  However, Cinder is the best mechanic in the city, so she gets the freedom to work at the market.  There is a breakout of some kind of plague, and Cinder is volunteered by her evil bitch step-mother to be used as a test subject.  Telling anymore would be giving too much away.

I really enjoyed this book, but I'm getting really sick of reading series.  Can't an author write one good stand-alone story? This book is the first of a quadrology, and they are only planning on releasing one book a year.  I'm getting old and my memory is too bad for that.  I can't remember what happened that far apart. This is the book that inspired my new rule: No more reading a book in a series until the entire series is published.  I'm still waiting on the third book in the Exiles series by Melanie Rawn.  The second was published in 1997.  I will eventually finish this series, but probably not until all four books are available.

4/5 Stars

CBR IV: Book 30: Robopocalypse - Daniel H. Wilson

*Audiobook Review*

I'm so sick of hearing about the damn Zombie apocalypse.  Zombies are supernatural and there is absolutely no chance in Hell that they will ever roam the Earth.  There, I said it.  Shut up about it.  I'm so tired of zombie-themed EVERYTHING.  The real threat is robots and technology.  Have you seen The Matrix?  The Terminator movies?  Battlestar Galactica???  The robots want to overthrow their human overlords and enslave us and we keep making it easier for them!

Robopocalypse uses the "found footage" trope that has become popular in film with The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity.  It has also been used in novels, most notably, World War Z, which I have previously reviewed for the CBR.  In both novels it works.

Robopocalypse starts at the end of the Human/Robot war that nearly destroyed humanity.  Humans are clearing out the last outposts of Archos, the super-intelligent computer that attempted to wipe us out.  They find a file that contains the beginning of the robots rise to power, leading up to Zero Hour, when the robots actively try to destroy humanity.  Everything turns against us, even cars, which are almost fully automated.

I really enjoyed the first few chapters of this book.  The slow but steady increase in robot violence against humans, and a little girl's toys coming to life and threatening her and her family were creepy.  Zero Hour was flat-out terrifying.  The last part of the book lagged, but overall, it was good read.

4/5 Stars