Apr 092012
 

Author: Stieg Larsson

Pages: 503

PublisherAlfred A Knopf

Release Date: 2009

Genre: Thriller, Revenge

Characters:

Lisbeth Salander- Protagonist, highly intelligent and has problems with authority.

Mikael Blomkvist- Reporter for Millennium magazine driven to dig to the bottom of a good story and will do anything to help Lisbeth.

Alexander Zalachenko- Former Soviet spy. Everyone wants to know who he is.

The Blonde Giant-Hulk of a man who seems to be impervious to pain.

Synopsis: Mikael Blomkvist and Millennium magazine are working with Dag Svensson,a journalist and Mia Johansson, a doctoral student, on an exposé about the sex trade in Sweden. But unexpectedly, Dag and Mia and Advokat Nils Erik Bjurman are killed by an unidentified killer, and circumstantial evidence points to Lisbeth Salander. She must avoid capture by the police while she and Mikael once again work together to solve a wide-ranging mystery and clear her name and avoid being killed in the process.

Analysis: I can’t believe how quickly I read this book and it is because it is better than The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo. I really liked that one, but The Girl Who Played With Fire is better for several reasons. For one, it has a very broad scope. Lisbeth and Mikael run all over Sweden to find the truth about the murders and if the truth of those is found, it could destroy the Swedish government. The other strength of the novel is that Lisbeth is the main character this time, and the reader learns much more about her history and delve deeper into how her minds works.

Pro:

  • Lisbeth’s growth as a person.
  • There are a few good scenes that follow Lisbeth’s hacking process.
  • Mention of the David Bowie song “Putting Out Fire With Gasoline”

Con:

  • Dragged a bit with the Harriet Vanger contract resolution.
  • Bias for Mac computers vs Pc.

Conclusion: Since Larrson died before this was published, I thought it was interesting that part of this novel is about publishing a book after an author has died. Once again, Larsson has written a really great book and it is sad that he had to die before he could have written many more. After I finish this, I will begin the last of the series but a bright spot is that I heard recently that he was working on a 4th one when he died. Crossing my fingers. As far as this one goes, I highly recommend it, go out and get it!

 

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters

5

Plot

4

Imagery

3

Read Again?

5

Average

4.25

 

Apr 052012
 

Author: Max Brooks

Pages: 342

PublisherThree River’s Press

Release Date: September 12, 2006

Genre: Horror, Zombie, Mock Journalism

Characters: Nearly every chapter focuses on a different character, a Chinese doctor that finds Patient zero, a soldier that fought in some of the greatest battles in America, and a deep-sea diver battling underwater dead long after the rest of the world has gotten back to normal and many others.

Synopsis: When Max Brooks wrote the Zombie Survival Guide in 2003, he included a few short stories about historical Zombie attacks in the last chapter. In World War Z, he has taken his skill with narrative zombie stories and expanded it into a vivid alternate future 20 years after a massive outbreak of the living dead. In each chapter, the narrator interviews the people who fought in and survived the zombie apocalypse.

Analysis: I’m a great fan of zombie movies, novels and almost any other format you can find. Occasionally, I will find myself thinking about what I would do to avoid being the first guy to die in an outbreak. It appears that Max Brooks has also done his fair share of thinking and has come up with solutions to this problem. He has created a fantastic and entertaining series of short stories tied together and advanced by placing himself in the novel as the interviewer. I think one of the best parts about this novel is that in taking place after the war, it promotes the idea that humanity can pull together to overcome a large problem and avoid extinction. Despite the gore and zombies it is hopeful in the end.

Pro:

  • The interviewer does not directly contradict his subject, but the footnotes often do.
  • Funny little details:“A guy who I’m damn sure was Michael Stipe, although I never got him to admit it.”- Todd Wainio
  • Very good advice if you are in that situation: “Don’t write their eulogy, don’t try to imagine who they used to be, how they came to be here, how they came to be this.” -Christine Eliopolis

Con:

  • Brooks needs to give a better of description of things like the Lobo.
  • Several times he mentions several songs in a way that makes them seem common and popular, but I did a poll and barely anyone I know has heard of Roxy Music, much less their song “Avalon”.

Conclusion: This is a very decent book that entertain, shock and get you thinking about what you need to do to get ready to survive World War Z.

Trivia: Max Brooks is the son of actor, director and comedian, Mel Brooks.

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters

3

Plot

4

Imagery

4

Read Again?

5

Average

4

 

Mar 282012
 

Author: Larry Niven

Pages: 342

Publisher: Del Ray Books

Release Date: 10/1/1970

Genre: Science Fiction

Characters:

Louis Wu- A 200 year old human adventurer.

Nessus- He is from an alien race called Pierson’s Puppeteers. His cowardly race considers him insane because he is less cowardly than the rest of them.

Teela Brown- Phenomenally lucky young human, yet very naive.

Speaker to Animals- Part of warrior race called Kzin. He is a large dangerous humanoid tiger.

Synopsis: In the year 2850, Louis Wu, Teela Brown, Speaker-to-Animals and Nessus travel to a massive alien artifact, the Ringworld, a vast ring with a habitable surface area of 300 million Earths. After their ship is nearly destroyed by robotic defense mechanisms, they begin to search the structure and meet the inhabitants. Despite being far away from human space, the inhabitants are human, but their culture has suffered a huge cataclysm. The group of adventurers attempt to uncover the mysteries of the Ringworld and find a way to get home.

Analysis: Larry Niven has created a great classic science fiction adventure with interesting and unique characters. I’d say that one of the few drawbacks is that the Ringworld is so vast and complex that this novel only explores a very small part of it. Actually even after 3 sequels, it seems like there is much more to learn. It is part of his Known Space universe and this is just a small part of the more than a dozen novels and more short stories.

Pro:

  • Based on the Dyson Sphere, the ring is a unique compromise.
  • The Pierson’s Puppeter is an interesting creature. Engineers other creatures to make more safe.
  • Teela’s power is very interesting.

Con:

  • I have yet to hear a good reason why Kzin would look like a humanoid tiger.
  • The book too short!

Conclusion: This is a great book and is part of a great series. It is 4th time I have read it over the past 20 years and I highly recommend it to anyone that is a fan of classic science fiction.

Trivia: Over the years, the unique structure of the Ringworld has caused much debate and speculation about the real physics surrounding it and its construction.

 

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters

4

Plot

4

Imagery

4

Read Again?

5

Average

4.25