July 25th, 2009

Kitty: Angry Calico

North, Pearl: Libyrinth

Libyrinth (2009)
Written by: Pearl North
Genre: YA/Science Fantasy
Pages: 332 (Hardcover)

The premise: Haly is a clerk in the Libyrinth, a library so big and so vast that people get lost and are never heard from again. Haly's got a particular talent in that she can hear the voices of books, literally. When she's close, the book in question tells its story to her and only her. This makes her role to protect the books even more personal when the Eradicants make their yearly pilgrimage to the Libyrinth to burn volumes of books. When Haly learns of a plot that will allow the Eradicants to burn every volume left in the Libyrinth, she'll do anything to stop it. But what happens next opens Haly's eyes to a world she's never known or understood, despite growing up with the voices of books guiding her her entire life. Not only does she learn who the Eradicants really are and what they really believe in, but she learns what her true purpose in life is. That purpose could unite the world if she plays her cards right, or destroy it if she lets others make her decisions for her.

My Rating

Must Have: what starts out as a deceptively and almost irritatingly simple book about the dangers of censorship blossoms into something much more complex and engaging once you hit the POV switch. The pace is fast through-out, but I found myself more invested as Pearl North allowed her characters to learn more about the world and the cultures that populated it, and how all of those cultures influenced the Libyrinth itself. Truly North does a fantastic job crafting not one, but two likable and relatable heroines in Haly and Clauda, both of whom have a more important story than merely falling in love with a boy (though one of them does, indeed, fall in love with a boy, that's not the POINT of her particular story). North also does a marvelous job creating not one, not two, but three separate and distinct cultures that have their own values and faiths that come across as believable and real and not one dimensional (though one of the cultures seems one dimensional from the start--bear with the book, you'll be glad you did). But one of the best things Pearl North does with this book is incorporate passages of books into the text, to the point said passages become a kind of commentary on what's happening or what's about to happen. Particularly impressive is North's use of The Diary of Anne Frank, and how it plays into the climax of the story, which is also very well done. I'll be more than happy to pick up the second book in this trilogy, though this book is tied up so well that I'm left wondering just what exactly a second book would be about! Whatever it is, I look forward to it. North has impressed me with her YA debut, and I think she'll impress you as well.

Review style: stream-of-conscious style, because there's not a whole lot I feel I need to say about it. I speak in generalities, so don't worry about spoilers. If you're interested in the full review, feel free to use the link below to pop over to my journal. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

REVIEW: Pearl North's LIBYRINTH

Happy Reading!
Kitty: Angry Calico

Roberts, Adam: Stone

Stone (2002)
Written by: Adam Roberts
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 338 (Mass Market--UK)

The premise: in this utopian far-future, criminality is pretty much extinct, but criminal mentalities do pop up, and our narrator, who refers to him/herself*** as Ae, is one of those mentalities. S/he is a killer, and someone wants his/her services very, very badly. So badly they'll spring Ae from a prison in the center of a star so that Ae can murder the population of an entire planet. Ae's happy to do so, but s/he wants to know why, and who's behind it. The employers won't tell him/her, so Ae takes it upon him/herself to discover why, and thus plays the role of both the detective and the murder at the same time.

My Rating

Worth the Cash: to be honest, I think I liked Gradisil better, but this book is doing something very different from Gradisil so it makes it difficult to compare, even though both are penned by the same author. I really enjoyed the tightness of the narrative and the focus on the story, the various uses of technology, particularly the AI and the dotTech and how all of it played together in the ultimate climax of the book. I also enjoyed how our narrator told his/her story to a stone, of all things. It was charming, in a way, and it worked because Roberts's writing is just very solid, very strong. I also loved the characterization of Ae. Not a sympathetic character per se (though at times, you can't help but feel sorry for him/her), but certainly a fascinating one and one that's easy to understand, especially by the end. I'm glad I decided to get this particular title, and I'm still interested in reading more of Roberts's work, because he's a very good writer, literary in some regards. Stone is a piece of SF that's literary while still entertaining, and offered more "science" in it than I would've expected, though I shouldn't be surprised, given the level of science offered in Gradisil. If you liked Gradisil, you should give this a shot. If you didn't like Gradisil, but were interested in Roberts's writing, this is a very different tale and definitely worth reading, so check it out. Even if you are in the US like me and have to order the UK edition. :)

Review style: breaking the review into two parts has become the norm in my LJ, and that's what I'm doing with this one. What I liked and what I didn't, both including spoilers because this is one of those books that helps to talk about in full instead of generalities. So if spoilers DON'T bother you, feel free to click the link below to my journal. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

REVIEW: Adam Roberts's STONE

Happy Reading! :)


*** = the reason I keep using s/he or him/her and so on and so forth is because while Ae is phyiscally female, the voice is very much male--in fact, the only reason Ae isn't physically male is because the dotTech, which allowed the body to be male, was taken away from him/her. So it's hard to refer to Ae as one gender or the other, because S/he is both, IMHO.