Ernest Cline, Armada (2015)


I could sum up this review with one short sentence: this is one of the worst, the most shameless and cringe-worthy case of Mary Sue-ism I have ever read, on par with Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. Period.

But that would be unfair to all the readers. When you see such an authoritative assertion, you want to know the reasons for it. All right. Here they come.

Cline’s second novel, Armada, describes an alien invasion on Earth. Just like in most of the books and movies you’ve ever seen: the bad aliens swoop down from the heavens to wreak havoc and kill innocent lives. More, it’s EXACTLY like most of the books and movies you’ve seen, because Cline shamelessly rips off everything that there is to be ripped off, from Star Wars and Star Trek to Top Gun, Iron Eagle, The Last Starfighter, Rocky and even Snoopy… To say that his novel is full of allusions and references would be to say nothing at all. His novel is comprised solely of those worn, well-loved but equally well-known, simple and obvious themes and motifs. It could be construed as plagiarism, but Cline doesn’t hide his inspirations, on the contrary. So if you’re worried you wouldn’t catch all the references, don’t: Cline will spell them out for you, in big, bold, sparkling letters. He will shovel them in your mouth and watch you gag. It could have been nerds’ heaven, but instead is some kind of exceptionally terrible hell. Not even purgatory, because you know that there your punishment would end. Here – not really. Since the opening sentences to the very end, full of monuments and inscriptions and medals, the whole novel is one dragging, unending, nerdy Mary Sue wet dream. (Yeah, I’m not really into that Marty Stu stuff. Mary Sue covers both sexes perfectly well.) Alas, what to expect from a guy who drives DeLorean?


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Life after Witcher

So it’s ended. The great Witcher re-read and 200+ hours gameplay of Witcher: The Wild Hunt and both major DLCs. And now – what to do? I got my life back and it’s just not as fascinating as the game. Even the trees outside, they’re not as bright and beautiful as in-game ones. Huh.

Now I guess I have to start playing Dragon Age: Inquisition 😀

And read books I could review.

Also, Dr Strange hit cinemas, Luke Cage is on Netflix, and yearly Book Fair opens in Krakow tomorrow. So, not all is bad. And all these are topics for blog posts.

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Naomi Novik, Uprooted (2015)


Naomi Novik’s books have been reviewed here before – her Temeraire series was given a thorough once-over and emerged quite victorious 😉 I think Napoleon and dragons were the main lure for Piotrek ;). But the novel that woke real interest in her, at least in Poland, was Uprooted, a classical fantasy tale with witches and wizards, and with openly advertised Polish roots. Fragments of it had been even read on the national radio this summer, which is a rare occurrence enough, especially for fantasy books.

Novik spun her tale from the many Polish fairy tales she had heard as a child – she is of Polish descent and although her first language is English, she was careful to keep the Polish names of people and things into her story (paying more attention to how they should sound than look, which I imagine made the pronunciation much easier for English-speaking readers!  ;))

It a classic story of a hero(ine) of modest background but an enormous talent, discovered by a reluctant, close-mouthed and seemingly distant mentor who, although he had been doing pretty well on his own for over a century, now finds himself in a desperate need of her help. Well, it’s not even his fault, as she is simply destined to great things and he happened to be on her way. A debilitating curse of a Special Snowflake Syndrome. Do I seem sarcastic? Just a tiny bit, I assure you.

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A few words on not liking Kate Daniels series.

I am conflicted about urban fantasy lately. Maybe that will change when Butcher finally gives us the next Dresden story, but my last encounters with the genre were unlucky. I couldn’t get into October Daye, Iron Druid Chronicles books were boring, pretentious disaster, Laurell K. Hamilton is ancient history better left forgotten.

Oh, there is also Ben Aaronovitch, and hopefully his next book will be published this year. Regrettably The Rivers of London have their place in paperback part of my bookshelf and so I won’t be able to read it for a good while. But it’s completely different pair of shoes than Ilona Andrews and their Kate Daniels series.

It turns out the only urban fantasy series with female lead I enjoy is Patricia Briggs’ Mercedes Thompson. Mercy I adore. Strong female protagonist that stands on her own, romances a guy, marries him and don’t spend pages after pages fantasizing about musculature of werewolves around her. Or, when does, the rest is interesting enough that I don’t mind.

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Eric Frank Russell, Wasp (1957)


Long time, no entry. Warszawa takes more of my attention than I would’ve liked, what with constant travels and over-hours I’m already packing into my “teaching abroad” 😉 I have no time to write, but a lot of time to read on the 2,5 hrs train ride to and from Kraków… And so today a short review of an equally short book, a sweetly sour oldie proudly wearing its badge of acclaim (at least my copy does!) from the late Sir Terry Pratchett:

I’d have given anything to have written Wasp. I can’t imagine a funnier terrorists’ handbook

Well, those two short sentences sum it up pretty neatly. I wouldn’t have to add another word ;).

But for those who didn’t have the pleasure of reading this book yet… a bit longer review.

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The Great Witcher Re-read (a short note)

I’ve been playing Witcher 3 for a month now, with a hundred hours or so clocked in, and simultaneously I started reading the saga again. Two volumes of short stories, arguably the best part, and now I’m in a forth novel, with one more to go. Than another short story volume published recently, and a couple stories from Maladie collection (now wholly about Geralt and his world).

The whole series, probably in its finite form by now, goes as follows:

  1. Sword of Destiny
  2. The Last Wish
  3. Blood of Elves
  4. Time of Contempt
  5. Baptism of Fire
  6. The Swallow’s Tower
  7. Lady of the Lake
  8. Season of Storms

and Something Ends, Something Begins/Maladie anthology that includes some Witcher stories.

1-6 are published in English by now, with 7 to follow in 2017, and I can only assume the rest later on, it seems to have some popularity, at least among numerous fans of the game. Knowing the books changes one’s perspective on certain game events, I can tell you that. Forums are full of people changing their loyalties and swearing to re-play to aim for different outcome.


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Pierce Brown, Red Rising (2014)


Today a review of a YA novel, the first installment in a sci-fi dystopian trilogy that made quite a splash a couple of years back. I had been eyeing it for a while, sci-fi and dystopia being my constant points of interest, but the trigger to read this book was a friend’s recommendation – thanks, Dave! 🙂

I’ve read the first book and now am finishing the second. I think I can reasonably well tell you now what that fuss was all about :).

Red Rising was Brown’s debut, and has all the marks of a typical debut – the author is trying to find his voice, the writing is uneven, there are great ideas along some pretty bad ones… The story is YA-ish simple, the list of clear inspirations and allusions to genre literature and pop culture staggering. To sum it up in one sentence, I could say that Red Rising is a smooth mix of Lord of Flies/Ender’s Game/Hunger Games/Harry Potter/Braveheart/Gladiator. It would be completely true, but at the same time a bit unfair to the book. It is unoriginal; there is no point in arguing otherwise when one of the opening scenes is taken straight from Braveheart and the final ones clearly imitate Gladiator, when the whole imagined culture is a sadly trivialized version of the culture of Roman empire and the middle part is basically Ender in Hogwarts. But, surprisingly, I didn’t mind it overly much. Why, when usually I’m so awfully picky? Well, the answer to this will take a good number of sentences to explain, but in short – the worldbuilding and the characters in general, but especially the bloody-minded main protagonist.

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