Staying at home is the norm... What are you reading?

Hawki

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Mass Effect: Andromeda - Annihilation (2/5)

I don't think this is the worst Mass Effect novel I've read (that would be Deception), but it might be my least favourite. And TBH, I'm not sure why.

The novel details the story of the quarian ark from Andromeda - the one that was meant to be in DLC, but was cut, so it was in novel form. That said, this doesn't seem to be a 1:1 adaptation, because all of the events take place in-between galaxies, while I assume the DLC would have taken place in Andromeda itself. Anyway, the novel details what went wrong, how it went wrong, and why it went wrong. Not a bad premise, but I just couldn't get into it. None of the characters are human, but that shouldn't be an issue, since most Mass Effect aliens are humanoid in psychology as well as physiology. It could be that the novel spends an inordinate amount of time detailing how pathogens work, and I don't really care about that. Least not in a fictional universe with a fictional pathogen infecting fictional aliens. But, whatever the case, just couldn't get invested.

North Korea: The Country We Love to Hate (3/5)

As the title suggests, this details North Korea - Korean society before Japanse occupation, the occupation itself, the spilt between north and south, and how the north has managed to endure when so much of the communist bloc hasn't. It's at times, an interesting read, but at others, too broad of one. Gave me some insights into the regime and the society, but nothing utterly groundbreaking.
 

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Mass Effect: Andromeda - Annihilation (2/5)

I don't think this is the worst Mass Effect novel I've read (that would be Deception), but it might be my least favourite. And TBH, I'm not sure why.

The novel details the story of the quarian ark from Andromeda - the one that was meant to be in DLC, but was cut, so it was in novel form. That said, this doesn't seem to be a 1:1 adaptation, because all of the events take place in-between galaxies, while I assume the DLC would have taken place in Andromeda itself. Anyway, the novel details what went wrong, how it went wrong, and why it went wrong. Not a bad premise, but I just couldn't get into it. None of the characters are human, but that shouldn't be an issue, since most Mass Effect aliens are humanoid in psychology as well as physiology. It could be that the novel spends an inordinate amount of time detailing how pathogens work, and I don't really care about that. Least not in a fictional universe with a fictional pathogen infecting fictional aliens. But, whatever the case, just couldn't get invested.
I can get why they'd talk about it, to some extent, because the literally have to live in environmental suits pretty much all the time and it's a rather big thing in the trilogy(not as big as the Geth or the Diaspora but you get my point). However, it sounds like (per your review) they went way too hard on that particular angle that had already received ample coverage in the main series because apparently the writer didn't have anything else they could think of to talk about. I mean, what else is there in a story about a one-way flight in the middle of the void between galaxies where ANY POSSIBLE MALFUNCTION could LEAVE YOU STRANDED AND HELPLESS WITH NO POSSIBILITY OF RESCUE?

Unless they did that, and if so, I maybe apologize.
 

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Inverted World, by Christopher Priest

Great book, with a really interesting sci fi premise. Can't really go into the plot that much though without spoiling the book though. On a basic level it's about the protagonist's journey as he slowly discovers that his world is very different from what he was taught, and begins to understand his society's never ending struggle for survival.

I really enjoyed this one.
 

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Attack on Titan: Before the Fall - Volume 1 (4/5)

"Well, look at silly ol' Hawki. There's the twat who picks up this volume from the library, thinking it's an origin story for the AoT universe. Little did he know that "the fall" refers to Wall Maria, not the downfall of human society at large that has the survivours confined to a single walled city."

Yeah, that's pretty much the scenario. That said, while I'm not overly fond of this manga, I did like it more than volume 1 of the original/core series. It doesn't really tell me anything about the wider universe at large, but, well...

Okay, so the volume takes place decades before the original series, and as far as I can tell, "the fall" refers to the outer wall of the city. In this case, a titan is let inside the walls by titan-worshippers, and eats a number of them before spitting them out, before being lured outside the walls...somehow. Yeah, how this is done isn't really explained, nor why the titan decided to vomit people up. Anyway, among the corpses is the woman who led the pro-titan rally, and she's pregnant. The characters come to the conclusion that the baby is the titan's son.

Um...

Okay, in fairness, I can kind of get the idea here. Anyway, the kid is given to some merchant who allows his son to torture the "titan's son" so that when he joins the military, he can claim to have bested a titan or somesuch. His sister, terrified of the 'monster' they've got in their basement, confronts him and realizes that he's just a human boy like any other. Yeah, it's one of "those" stories, but it's executed okay. Maybe, in hindsight, 4/5 is a bit high, in that I barely remember the details after this moment, but I'll take it over the original volume.
 

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RWBY: Volume 1 (2/5)

Yeah, spoiler alert, I've never 'got' RWBY. And in the spirit of "it's popular, therefore it sucks," I can't help but resent it for its OTT nature spilling over into Red vs. Blue for a period, how it's overshadowed all of other Rooster Teeth's shows, and why the hell does Camp Camp not have a Wikipedia article yet, when stuff like Recorded by Arizal and Nomad of Nowhere do, when the former hasn't even moved beyond Season 0?

Fine, whatever. I don't like RWBY, and never made it past the pilot. Reading this, giving it a chance...nup, still don't like it. Why?

Well, here we have a world where creatures called the Grimm (bored) hunted humanity, until hunters with dust (bored) drove them back, so now (still bored) there's academies that train teenagers (bleh) to hunt the Grimm. Will our quartet of ladies pass their training and learn the true magic of friendship and gah!

Yeah, not a fan. It's the same old tired cliches I've seen a thousand times. And cliches aren't inherently bad, but I didn't care about anything that was happening. I think it's fair to say that RWBY's popularity will remain an enigma for me.
 

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RWBY: Volume 1 (2/5)

Yeah, spoiler alert, I've never 'got' RWBY. And in the spirit of "it's popular, therefore it sucks," I can't help but resent it for its OTT nature spilling over into Red vs. Blue for a period, how it's overshadowed all of other Rooster Teeth's shows, and why the hell does Camp Camp not have a Wikipedia article yet, when stuff like Recorded by Arizal and Nomad of Nowhere do, when the former hasn't even moved beyond Season 0?

Fine, whatever. I don't like RWBY, and never made it past the pilot. Reading this, giving it a chance...nup, still don't like it. Why?

Well, here we have a world where creatures called the Grimm (bored) hunted humanity, until hunters with dust (bored) drove them back, so now (still bored) there's academies that train teenagers (bleh) to hunt the Grimm. Will our quartet of ladies pass their training and learn the true magic of friendship and gah!

Yeah, not a fan. It's the same old tired cliches I've seen a thousand times. And cliches aren't inherently bad, but I didn't care about anything that was happening. I think it's fair to say that RWBY's popularity will remain an enigma for me.
Funny you should say that, I recently found this.

Not that I plan to actually watch the show, as It apparently has a LOT of problems with how it "tries" to tell it's story....or develop the characters......or develop it's world...or anything other then the cool fights. I just found it funny. Also, Spoilers.

"I CAN TURN INTO A BIRD!"
"Is that bad?"
"No, I can do it anytime I want. And I can turn back anytime I want!"
 
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Hawki

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I can get why they'd talk about it, to some extent, because the literally have to live in environmental suits pretty much all the time and it's a rather big thing in the trilogy(not as big as the Geth or the Diaspora but you get my point). However, it sounds like (per your review) they went way too hard on that particular angle that had already received ample coverage in the main series because apparently the writer didn't have anything else they could think of to talk about. I mean, what else is there in a story about a one-way flight in the middle of the void between galaxies where ANY POSSIBLE MALFUNCTION could LEAVE YOU STRANDED AND HELPLESS WITH NO POSSIBILITY OF RESCUE?

Unless they did that, and if so, I maybe apologize.
It's more a plot point than the quarians per se. Note that when I say "quarrian ark," it's technically a misnomer, as the crew includes elcor, volus, batarians, hanar, and drell as well. And, incidentally, as the best character being an elcor due to the way they speak.

That said, my gripe is more the writing style. A virus spreads through the ship, and the novel spends a lot of time explaining how it and other pathogens work. To, IMO, the point of excess. I get the plot stakes of the pathogen, I don't need paragraph after paragraph explaining its intricacies. Like, with the Genophage, I don't particularly care about the in-universe mechanics for it, only the plot and worldbuilding context.
 
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With the imminent release of the anime version, I dug Ijiranaide Nagatoro-san out of my backlong and read all 75 chapters in like 3 sittings. This story is very addictive. It's an entirely character driven comedic romance with a very thin plot. The show is literally about the eponymous girl bullying the main protagonist in flirtatious ways, which often end up putting her in an uncomfortably embarrassing position because she pushes teasing him about being a virgin loser too much and in trying to titillate him and get a funny reaction out of him (which she enjoys thoroughly and in an almost addictive way) she ends up putting herself in progressively more compromising positions and embarrassing herself instead. Also we don't even know the name of the main character, and we only learn the first name of the heroine in like chapter 68 or so.

The fact that a story with such a thin plot can make it so far and sell millions of volumes and get an anime is a testament to the chemistry of the characters basically. It goes from very genuinely mean-spirited to a sort of flirtatious affectionate interaction at some indeterminate point, there's subtle character growth.

Also yeah the main heroine is cute as a button and makes awesome faces (inbetween asking Senpai to put socks on her and smearing suntan oil on her with her feet and posing for his drawings and whatnot), that's about half the secret of its success right there lol.
gpkqu2i2ioz11.jpg
 

Hawki

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Star Wars: Dark Disciple (2/5)

I admit that going into this, I might be at a disadvantage, in that it's an adaptation of Clone Wars episodes that were never aired, and expects you to be familiar with the Clone Wars cartoon series. While I am vaguely familiar, I'm not absolutely familiar, so I could be missing context here. Nevertheless, I don't think that being familiar would have made me like this novel much more, if at all.

So, basically, Asajj Ventress teams up with Qinlan Vos (a Jedi) on a mission to assassinate Dooku. Right from the start, there's arguably a problem here, in that we know that Dooku won't be assassinated, but hey, that's prequels within prequels for you. However, this is a novel written by Christie Golden, and being a Christie Golden novel, there's of course going to be romance. Maybe that's an exagerration, but yes, Ventress and Vos find 'true wuv' with each other, as Ventress teaches him how to use the Dark Side for reasons I don't get (what, his Light Side powers aren't good enough for you)? Things go awry for all those involved. I won't get into spoilers, but you already know going in that Dooku can't die, so there's part of the novel spoiled for you already.

Even that aside, I'm not fond of the writing. This problem isn't exclusive to the novel, but "Force this," and "Force that," and it really gets tiring eventually. Also, Dooku is chewing the scenery, and uttering lines such as "there is no good and evil, only power, and those too weak to take it," which is pretty much taken verbatim from Harry Potter. I'm pretty sure Star Wars (or at least Clone Wars) fans will get more out of this novel than me, but it did nothing for me.

Star Wars: Kindred Spirits (2/5)

This is a prequel short story to the above one. There's even less to say here, but basically, didn't like it any better.
 

Hawki

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Andromeda: Coda (3/5)

This is a script treatment from Robert Wolfe basically detailing his original plan for the Andromeda TV series. In case you didn't know, Wolfe was showrunner from season 1 to the middle of season 2, and you pinpoint down to the episode where the shift occurs. Basically, the TV series had a change in direction, and Wolfe's original plans were scrapped. Coda is basically him telling the audience what those plans were, but using the frame of a short episode to do so.

It works. It really, really works. If any of you have watche through all five seasons of Andromeda (and if you have, well done for making it through seasons 3 and 5), then I highly reccomend you read this. While the timeframe of the 'episode' is basically a sidequel to Ouroboros (the episode were things shift as I mentioned), I'd actually reccomend reading it after finishing the series. Because if nothing else, while it details plotlines that never happened, it does, by proxy, explain the nature of the Abyss (something the TV series never did) and goes into more details with the celestial avatars (or, as they're known here, Lightbringers or Lucifers). It doesn't exonerate the show for not explaining these things within it, but it at least provides explanations for things, and gives us a look at "what if?" scenarios that, to be frank, would have been better than what we got on-screen (at least conceptually).
 

Hawki

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But even if we cast canon stuff aside, Coda is very well written. It's entirely between Trance and Harper in a 'possibility ripple' (it makes sense if you know the setting), and there's a sense of tenderness that permeates the whole thing, of the closeness between the two characters. And, after all's been said and done, ends with them simply watching the stars as they wait for the 'ripple' to end. "Coda" is a good name for it, and the epigraphs match the feeling. And also adds to my assertion that if you read this, it should be after watching Andromeda, not during season 2.

So despite all this, why only 3/5? Well, simple reason is that you're not really going to get anything out of this if you haven't watched the whole series. This really can't stand alone too well. That doesn't make it bad, but still, it's very much a "for fans only" sort of thing. But, at the end of the day, I liked reading this. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Andromeda is one of the worst cases of squandered potential in a TV series that I've ever seen. Reading Coda doesn't change this, but having come off season 5 not too long ago, it does give a sense of closure to the TV series. Very much a "coda," in every sense of the word.
 

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Alrighty. Resumed my read of the Malazan series. Toll the Hounds. Book 8

I don't get what the retirees plan at Krul's was? I must have missed something. I liked the story about Hrallo but it sounded pretty pointless just removing some irrelevant pieces from the board. Broken leg Imass was immediately eliminated.

Hood and Anomander's battle was very interesting and unexpected. The Rom's had me distracted but that was fun too. The 'fight' between them was ridiculous. Spite and Envy was also pointless. The Kruppe crew were pretty useless and am wondering why we are visiting them at all.

Overall, not as confusing as some of his other books. More interesting than the last which was by far the most boring one 8/10
 

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Delicious in Dungeon 9 dropped in the states. Ryoko Kui continues writing a masterpiece.
Fantastic art, fantastic world building
 

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Reading After Dark by Murakami. So far it's every Murakami novel I've ever read: a lonely, demure character conversing with creepy weirdos and getting into creepy situations without having much of a reaction to either. All very bluesy and enigmatic.
 

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I have a feeling I may be the only person in these forums who is young enough to have been a fan of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, but here goes.

My sister bought the final book in the Heroes of Olympus (the sequel series). I almost can't believe this series is 10 fricking years old. I read up to the 2nd to the last book when I was in high school, and never bothered to finish the series. I remember being quite unhappy with how it seemed so much inferior to the original series. My curiosity, boredom, and need to rest my eyes after a week of non-stop God of War won out and I decided to reread and finish the whole series.

Well, I still didn't like it. The books seem much less clever than Riordan's original works, despite being maybe twice as long. There was a lot of missed potential when it came to the idea of modern Greek mythology and even more missed with the duality of Greek and Roman culture. If I had to describe the series with three words, it would be "Percy Jackson fanfiction". It really does feel like someone was just copying Riordan's style and humor, but worse with way too many jokes.

But perhaps the biggest thing bugging is me is how literally EVERY character in the series has some romantic relationship. Not only is this incredibly annoying with how often you're just reading teenagers being in love with each other instead of exploring Greek or Roman mythology, but I find it quite creepy. The characters in these books are all teenagers. One of them is even thirteen! They're all fucking kids. And while it may sound insane to find the idea of children having relationships gross while being perfectly okay with them putting themselves in mortal danger, I feel like this sends a bad message to the kids. Being in love with someone is not the end all, be all of life. Sure, its great, but its also completely fine to be single. The series has not one, but TWO characters who constantly moan and whine that nobody loves them.

Am I just too old and jaded? I don't know. I've always wondered why young adult series always seem to go down the shitter, and it seems like Percy Jackson is just one more to add to the pile.
 

Hawki

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Read some stuff:

-The Librarians and the Lost Lamp (4/5)

-The Orville: Season 2.5 (4/5)

-Anthem: Dusty's Deal (1/5)

-Anthem: Korox in the Box (4/5)
 

Drathnoxis

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I have a feeling I may be the only person in these forums who is young enough to have been a fan of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, but here goes.

My sister bought the final book in the Heroes of Olympus (the sequel series). I almost can't believe this series is 10 fricking years old. I read up to the 2nd to the last book when I was in high school, and never bothered to finish the series. I remember being quite unhappy with how it seemed so much inferior to the original series. My curiosity, boredom, and need to rest my eyes after a week of non-stop God of War won out and I decided to reread and finish the whole series.

Well, I still didn't like it. The books seem much less clever than Riordan's original works, despite being maybe twice as long. There was a lot of missed potential when it came to the idea of modern Greek mythology and even more missed with the duality of Greek and Roman culture. If I had to describe the series with three words, it would be "Percy Jackson fanfiction". It really does feel like someone was just copying Riordan's style and humor, but worse with way too many jokes.

But perhaps the biggest thing bugging is me is how literally EVERY character in the series has some romantic relationship. Not only is this incredibly annoying with how often you're just reading teenagers being in love with each other instead of exploring Greek or Roman mythology, but I find it quite creepy. The characters in these books are all teenagers. One of them is even thirteen! They're all fucking kids. And while it may sound insane to find the idea of children having relationships gross while being perfectly okay with them putting themselves in mortal danger, I feel like this sends a bad message to the kids. Being in love with someone is not the end all, be all of life. Sure, its great, but its also completely fine to be single. The series has not one, but TWO characters who constantly moan and whine that nobody loves them.

Am I just too old and jaded? I don't know. I've always wondered why young adult series always seem to go down the shitter, and it seems like Percy Jackson is just one more to add to the pile.
I read the first three Percy Jackson books around the time the first movie came out (never watched it). I remember enjoying the first two but getting kind of tired of the series by the third for reasons I don't really remember anymore. It might have been that the plot started to revolve around annoying misunderstanding based conflict between characters, but I can't say for sure anymore.
 

Drathnoxis

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Fahrenheit 451. I'm pretty mixed on this one. One the one hand some of its themes are very on point. The people of Fahrenheit 451 are kept constantly entertained by shallow programming on wall to wall televisions and entertainment devices they bring with them wherever they go. They don't have time to think and reflect because they are constantly bombarded with snappy and easily digested sensory information and facts without substance. Basically it's the world we live in today. However, just about everything else about the book is really inconsistent and shallow.

Characters? Montag is basically the only one and he doesn't make any sense. He loves fire and starting one is enough to keep him manically happy all day... for about the first page, then that aspect of his personality is dropped and he's only a fireman because his dad and granddad were firemen and he pretty quickly starts to hate all the other firemen. Despite loving his job he's been stealing books for years to stash in his air vent and... not read... for reasons. He is a huge impulsive idiot that blows his cover constantly for no reason and yet somehow manages to outsmart the authorities and throw the hound off his trail. I don't know if I was supposed to think it, but he seemed mentally unhinged with his constant insistence that he could do things like sense the pill bottle the second before his foot hit it and smell everywhere he'd been in the old guy's house and stuff like that.

The world is barely sketched out for us beyond the complacent and pleasure seeking populace. Books are illegal and yet it seems that everybody is literate, since magazines and digests are still produced. Nobody reads or thinks complex thoughts but one woman bursts inconsolably into tears after hearing a poem so dense on metaphor that I could barely parse any meaning from it at all. People are complacent and don't care about anything except shallow entertainment and yet there are marvelous technological advancements like fireproof houses and blood replacing stomach pumps that must have required a lot of intelligent and dedicated engineers and scientists to develop. Where do they come from in this world? The world is a totalitarian state that can burn your house if you so much as own a book, except... is it? Beyond the book burning we don't see any evidence of totalitarianism, there are elections (I guess fixed, maybe?) and people seem to live their lives as they wish. The school kids are apparently allowed to run eachother over with cars without repercussion. The only thing we see the government take a hard line on is books, and apparently the people were the ones who wanted them to be burned in the first place. And there's a war, I guess? It hardly matters, or relates to any of the themes of book burning.

The firemen are just stupid. Great, houses are fireproof, now we don't need anybody to put out fires (what, no wildfires or fires in large complexes that, despite not harming the structure of the building you might still want to control? I don't know, I just don't see a future where fires are nonexistent.) so what do we do with all these firemen now? They can burn books! And they need to rush out and do it immediately as soon as the fire alarm goes off, like it's some great emergency. And how come the fire chief is the apparently the most well read person on the planet? He can quote line after line from classic works and seems to know it all for some reason that is never explained or even hinted at. The whole concept is just silly.

To me it seems like Ray Bradbury read A Brave New World and 1984 and wanted to smoosh them together, but didn't put in half the thought required to do so effectively. 1984 has themes of restricting thought, and describes why and how the government is doing such a thing: they are removing words from language so people can't express themselves in any way that may be subversive. Fahrenheit 451 just has people burning books because they make them feel dumb. 1984 has constant war because it gives people a focus to direct their dissatisfaction and negative emotions. Fahrenheit 451 has war... because. 1984 has O'Brian be an almost omniscient figure because he's a part of the ruling governors that focus their life on knowing and controlling the populace. Fahrenheit 451 has Captain Beatty be the most well read person on the planet because, I have no idea why. I guess he's been breaking the law and reading books, and just admits it casually for reasons. And from Brave New World it obviously lifts the complacent and pleasure obsessed populace that fits very poorly with the aspects lifted from 1984. It's all wrapped up flowery dialogue and long unnecessary descriptions that don't really do a whole lot to further any of the books themes and are really just fluff.
 

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Also, I read some more Hornblower books and Mistborn: Shadows of Self and Bands of Mourning, which were all fine and I don't have too much to say about them. The Mistborn books are definitely not as good as the original trilogy. The plots aren't as suspenseful, the mysteries aren't as interesting, and the constant ridiculous fights against dozens of opponents got kind of tedious, but they were still entertaining enough that I'll probably read the 4th one eventually when it comes out.