Tuesday, August 13, 2013

REVIEW: Duma Key by Stephen King

Duma KeyDuma Key by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I would actually rate this 3.5 or maybe even 3.75 if GR allowed fractions.

I haven't read any King since I threw The Stand across the room several years ago, but thought I'd dip my toe back in the water when this one fell into my lap.

Technically it is serviceable, but King has never been known as a literary master of style; he's loved for his substance. Unfortunately, I never quite understood what the ancient evil was that had been awoken. Yet even that would have been ultimately acceptable except I never felt King really understood it either. His heroes seemed to telepathically receive instructions on what to do next and then carry out the orders without anyone (character, reader, nor, I fear, author) ever quite knowing why.

Also, there weren't any truly terrifying moments. And it wasn't until about page 400 (!) that a sense of dread began to grow. After that slow build-up, the ending seemed to happen rather fast. Which, unfortunately, put me back in mind of The Stand, which had an excruciatingly extended build-up and then (literally--in every sense of the word) pulled the ol' Deus ex Machina.

Finally, why I deducted two stars (or 1.5) is because I found the dialogue really lacking in character. Despite the fact that one character did employ lots of pidgin Spanish, nearly everyone seemed to sound alike to me. I felt there was a real lack of character in the various voices.

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

REVIEW: The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

The Yiddish Policemen's UnionThe Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After having been unable to finish Kavalier and Clay, I entered into this novel with no small trepidation. Chabon always seems to start strong with me and then peter out in the third reel (K&C was perhaps the most I ever read of any book I didn't finish). Nevertheless, I enjoyed the heck out of The Yiddish Policemen's Union. It proved to be the proverbial page-turner that I've (mostly) just heard about in my life.

There were bits that sounded over written, and the man loves his similies, but I never felt overwhelmed by the prose, even when I had to sift through it for the story. As a bonus I was introduced to "nu" which was a Yiddish word that, despite my long list of Jewish exes and their mothers, I'd never heard.

Highly recommended, especially for cold nights reading in bed (tho I did happen to read it at the height of summer).

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book Review: Job's Year by Joseph Hansen

Job's YearJob's Year by Joseph Hansen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a difficult read for me. I found the protagonist too aloof and a bit holier-than-those-around-him (which wasn't exactly misplaced--he was surrounded by some lousy people)...It kept me from empathizing too strongly.

About halfway through I began to wonder what the point of all this was--the Biblical book of Job, though equally tedious and strewn with disaster, did have a point--no matter how strongly one might object to that point). After reading the last page, I was still wondering what the point was here...

I like Hansen, though I had only read the investigator novels prior to this one, and am going to continue working my way through his work. But I can only really recommend this one for the diehards and completists.

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