The Codex Alera Book Review

It’s been ages since I did a book review, you probably think I haven’t been reading eh?  Not so, in fact I do have my GoodReads account pinned to the side panel if you are interested in what I’m reading at any given time (when I remember to update it hehe).

2015 had me reaching back to my love of Science Fiction and Fantasy Fictions.  We were visiting the U.S. and couldn’t resist the Barnes and Noble – one thing I do miss being in Japan.  I love a good browse in a bookstore.  This time I found Furies of Calderon, the first in a six part series called The Codex Alera by Jim Butcher.  Figured I would grab the first book and if it was good I’d keep going through the series and man am I glad I made that spontaneous grab. (I mentioned the series in a post a while back Plans In The Making)

Obviously, the first book grabbed me enough to want to continue with the next and just yesterday I finished book six.  For me, a good story is one that I can lose myself in and actually visualize.  It’s just how my brain works which is a bit odd because for crafting and such I can’t visualize finished products which is the main reason I don’t paint, sew, knit, make pottery or anything else very creative.  I just can’t look at tools of a trade and see how it will become a finished thing.  Though if I have instructions I can usually produce whatever is shown, I just can’t freehand things.  With good books, the creative and often stagnant part of my brain wakes up from it’s coma and ignites and this particular series had my brain fired up.

The descriptions of characters, surroundings, emotions, reactions and thought processes were a perfect recipe for me to fall in completely.  I loved the alien aspects mixed with very human and somewhat familiar and the author obviously has a lot of familiarity with battle strategies, armor and weaponry…or maybe he and I just have similar ideas of what that might entail.  Also, when an author creates a world and actually supplies a map of it in the front of the book, I am in love.

This series was a bit of genius to me and I think Mr. Butcher’s imagination is a beautiful thing.

2016 has me on two book challenges/clubs, which I mentioned here, one which dictates which book to read and the other which I think will challenge me to read different types of books so it is possible the sci fi/fantasy books will be on hold for a bit but when I do return to the genre you can be sure I will pick up another Jim Butcher book, perhaps The Dresden Files series although there are so many books in it, I am hesitant.

Koushun Takami’s “Battle Royale”

Holy Crap!

 

battle royale

Yes, that ^^ was my first reaction to this book.

I read “The Hunger Games”  a few months ago and quickly found out the author’s story was being criticized as stealing from something called “Battle Royale”.  Well, of course I had to go get this book and see for myself.

First I will say, this book is not for the faint of heart, specially if you are sensitive to children in any kind of danger.  If you have a tough skin and like me are able to separate yourself from disturbing things fairly well, then I say go read this novel if you haven’t already!  It probably also helps if you are into gore (not Al but the blood and guts kind) and sci fi / action type books/films.

Now, as far as the claim that Suzanne Collins writing is a copy I say bollocks!

Did she perhaps gain inspiration from “Battle Royale” that helped create “The Hunger Games” very likely so, but why is that being thrown around like it’s a dirty thing?  Since when are people not allowed to use previously written/filmed stories to influence their own?  This happens so often in Hollywood it’s practically the “how to” on making a film since maybe 1990.  They haven’t had an original idea in decades over there.  Many books have similar styles, background ideas and similar characters.  Mr. Takami himself wrote about being inspired by wrestling characters and a few from other authors such as Stephen King and some manga.

Yes, Ms. Collins wrote about a bunch of teenagers who are put in an isolated area by a corrupt government program and basically forced to kill each other.  Honestly, that is just about where the similarity ends.   The children in her story are not in the same class and in hers they range from 12 to 18, many of them did not know each other very well, it takes place in a post apocalyptic future where Battle Royale is set in current times.  The overly dramatic game part of “The Hunger Games” including the training days and forcing the people to watch is completely nonexistent in “Battle Royale”.   There are a lot of other differences but I don’t want to completely spoil anyone’s potential reading of either.  I’m just sayin, these two books are very different other than the basic idea.  By the way, when I finished reading “The Hunger Games” I wondered how this is possibly a teen book as I heard it is sold in teen sections.  After reading 10 chapters or so of “Battle Royale” I thought, ok the other was definitely a nicer version of this idea.

“Battle Royale” is dark, bloody, psychological, fierce and barbaric.  I plan to hunt down the movie that was made even though it’s in Japanese.  Subtitles anyone?

Karen Miller’s “The Innocent Mage”

I read this out of order and found it rather interesting to read the mage’s past and how things began after the second book of the culmination of the meeting of all of the characters in the first.  Again, the language and some inconsistencies troubled me a bit but once past those I enjoyed the reading and the characters very much.  Finding out how Morg made his way into the world was truly enticing after reading what he’d done/tried to do.

Karen Miller’s “The Awakened Mage”

For some reason I got the different books in the three different series mixed up and read this before Innocent Mage which is the first book.

The story is interesting, certainly a different take on an isolated society and I enjoyed the magical and medieval-ness of it all.  However, there are some inconsistencies in Karen Miller’s writing.  For instance, I’m not positive because I wasn’t there but I’m fairly sure they didn’t say “aint” in this period, once I got passed a few of these types of inconsistencies I did enjoy the book and went on to read the first in the series.  The main “mage” character is interesting and has a crass attitude which I find infinitely witty and fun.  The final battle did not leave me disappointed, it was a bloody magical mess.

I’ll be tremendously disappointed if I find out they did say “aint” in and around the castle…somehow this image invokes Monty Python which is true hilarity and I love them but I don’t for a second think they depict England’s historic past.  Ni NI NI NI

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Slight Spoiler Alert!

I try not to “spoil” too much, hopefully the following just covers enough not to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

First I want to say I have heard that this story was rather stolen from an earlier book, I plan to read said earlier novel to see if there truly is a similarity but and this is a big but, a lot of stories tend to have rather similar lines.  There have been many novels and movies done with the idea of humans being hunted, survival of the fitist and such so, I don’t give much drama to the idea that this story may feel like others.  For me, as long as it grips me in a new way is what matters.

And This One Did!

To read the first novel and it alone would be a travesty.  All three books are in their own rights great reads however the trilogy together truly tells the entire story.  That being said, I can’t help but hope the author is working on more. =)  I am greedy.

The first book tells such an interesting story of fear and growing up with uncertain fates.  The strength of each character is well thought out and I truly believed those who won each battle would have and could have done just so.

The second book shows the crazy world the “winner” takes part in and the heretic minds that run the system and government.

The third book I can’t even imagine the idea of going back in, and constantly throughout these novels I am reminded that we are talking about teenagers here, not adults.  That they gather and fight back is riveting and depicted in great detail.

Though these people live difficult lives the realization that what they consider to be their terrifying upbringing and circumstances are actually not as bad as others have it is mind-numbing.  The way the author subtly shows the main character coming of age through the most difficult circumstances was scary and wonderful.

Now I can watch the movie. =)

Small disclosure, it’s been a few weeks since I finished this trilogy so I’m hoping I got the three books right lol they all ran together a bit.  It was difficult separating the three in my head.