Tag: Literary Bête Noires

This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel

Posted October 20, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Young Adult / 0 Comments

This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth OppelTitle: This Dark Endeavour (Goodreads)
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Series: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1
Published: Simon & Schuster, 2011
Pages: 304
Genres: Young Adult
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Most people know my obsession with Frankenstein so I wanted to give This Dark Endeavour a go; since the author Kenneth Oppel calls this a prequel. Victor’s brother, Konrad, has fallen ill and no doctor has been able to cure him. Victor’s determination to save his brother has turned to alchemy to find the forbidden Elixir of Life and save his twin brother. With the help of his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and best friend Henry, Victor pushes the boundaries of nature and science in a treacherous search for the ingredients to help Konrad.

This is book one in The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series which I believe is being made into a trilogy. My first thoughts were that a YA novel about Victor Frankenstein was  never going to work, but then after a bit of a look at the book I decided to give it a go anyway. I thought maybe if his research of Frankenstein is in-depth enough and he keeps to the dark and gothic elements of the original classic it might work. I really should have stuck to my first thoughts because from the very start I hated this book.

First of all this book follows the same old paranormal young adult formula which means not so much dark and gothic elements but lots and lots to do with a love triangle. I really hate love triangles in books and this novel felt like the entire plot was centred around the love triangle. Sure, they search for the Elixir of Life but there was more to do with Victor’s feelings toward Elizabeth than the actual alchemy.

Personally I wish I never read this book, it really did nothing for the Frankenstein story and love triangles are always annoying. There is a small steampunk element in this book but that felt like the author was jumping on the bandwagon to help market this book to the readers that want Steampunk, Paranormal, Love Triangle filled Young Adult romance. If you want gothic and dark YA like I do, then this book is not for you. But if you like the idea of a romance with paranormal elements in it, then maybe give this book a go.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Posted October 8, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Science Fiction, Young Adult / 0 Comments

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson WalkerTitle: The Age of Miracles (Goodreads)
Author: Karen Thompson Walker
Published: Simon & Schuster, 2012
Pages: 373
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I know everyone seems to be reading this novel and I try not to follow the crowd, but this book sounded too good to pass up. The Age of Miracles tells the story of eleven year old Julia and her experience in a drastic change to the world that could be the start of the apocalypse. The world is slowing down and the days are getting longer, first by a few minutes and then by hours. Julia is trying to recount the events of this difficult time; both the end of the world and being a teenager.

This is a wonderful blend of a coming of age story with a back drop of a speculative novel. Amongst the chaos and people not knowing what to do, you have a Julia talking about her journey into adulthood. But does it work? Personally I would have liked to know more about the world slowing and the speculative fiction elements, but I think the blend between young adult and genre fiction was masterfully done.

My biggest problem with this book and it’s one of my literary bête noires in post apocalypse and dystopian fiction is that Karen Thompson Walker writes this book in first person past tense. This gives me a sense of knowing what will happen in the end and there is no way to build tension. But this is only a minor issue in a book like this because this more a beautiful novel of self discovery and growing up.

Karen Thompson Walker writes with such elegance and beauty that I was surprised to find this was a debut novel. Her skill of mixing YA with speculative fiction and then making it into something that I would consider literature was just done brilliantly. She has such skill of not overshadowing the coming of age elements with the chaos of the world around her. I was surprised at how fast I read this book, I was fully immersed in this book and the beauty of what I was reading I was a little sad to see it end.

I can’t recommend this book enough; Julia was a wonderful protagonist and her journey was delightful. The Age of Miracle doesn’t give you any answers but cleverly revels what is going on without forcing anything on the reader. It’s a fascination novel with really needs to be experienced firsthand. Sure the science of the slowing would be interesting to read about but it would never work in a book like this. I must admit I look forward to see what Karen Thompson Walker does next and would be interested to find a book similar to this gem.

Thirst by L.A. Larkin

Posted September 16, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Thriller / 0 Comments

Thirst by L.A. LarkinTitle: Thirst (Goodreads)
Author: L.A. Larkin
Published: Pier 9, 2012
Pages: 332
Genres: Thriller
My Copy: ARC from Publisher

Buy: Book Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

In the harsh environment of the Antarctic, the people of Hope Station are been hunted down. Glaciologist, Luke Searle has to fight for survival against a mercenary that will win at any cost, while trying to prevent an environmental disaster. He only has 5 days to fix this, can he stay alive long enough? Does he really know what he is going up against? L.A. Larkin’s Thirst is an Eco-Thriller set in one of the harshest environments known to man.

Thirst is a fast paced novel that will suck you right in with its constant suspense and the unpredictable elements within this book. The harsh setting of Antarctica and the sense of solitude and danger really helped drive this book and became my favourite element of this book. But there was something in the book that really didn’t sit well with me. This book has one of my Literary Bête Noires in it; the villains. I’ve blogged recently about how I never seem to enjoy cliché villains and unfortunately the fact that the protagonist was up against the Chinese in the book really detracted from my overall enjoyment of this book.

Apart from that one element, this book is a typical thriller, highly enjoyable read with some explosive situations. I’m happy that the book never seemed to go into the realm of formulaic but it did sit on the border and I did feel myself cringe at that thought it might head in that direction. Thankfully Larkin’s was able to recover with her writing style and her research of the environmental aspects of this book.  I must admit that towards the end of the book, when I pictured the protagonist Luke Searle, I kept comparing him to Steven Seagal and expected him to act that way.

Thirst was an enjoyable Eco-Thriller which was a lot of fun to read, while I did struggle with the villains being cliché, I did enjoy reading this novel. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes a good light read. I know many people are going to compare this book to Matthew Riley’s Ice Station but that shouldn’t be deterrent, it’s nice to see a female (why is there a lack of thrillers written by women within Australia?) can write a thriller just as exciting as something written by Riley.

Literary Bête Noires: Villains

Posted September 15, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literary Bête Noires / 0 Comments

I’ve felt like my blog is starting to be overrun by book reviews and there is less to do with random book banter than I would like. So I plan to rectify this with introducing some more regular segments. In this one, I want to look at thinks that I find in books that either annoy or don’t sit right with me. Everyone has pet peeves with literature, it can be topics that have been overdone, cliches or just the way people seem to write. So I wanted to go though some of my literary bête noires as a therapeutical way to vent and maybe generate some interesting conversations in the comments.

The first literary gripe I want to look at has to do with villains. If you are writing a book and the villains are Russians, Chinese, or Middle Eastern then you have pretty much lost me already. There are other countries that annoy me to a lesser extent. But it’s not really the country that is the problem, all the writer is doing is generalising the people by making it sound like that the entire nation is full of villains; that is just plain lazy.

Alright it’s understandable if you are setting it in a war but when writing a thriller how about mixing it up a bit try something original, that’s all I’m asking. This formulaic approach to villains are one of my biggest problems with action or thriller novels. As soon as you enter into overdone territory with villains you’ve lost me.

There are more elements I find annoying with villains in literature but I mainly wanted to focus on nationality for this one. Please let me know your thoughts on villain nationality or villains in general and if you have any other insights on the topic that I’ve missed.