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What'cha Reading?

Really enjoyed Utopia Avenue, but it got a bit weird at the last 100 pages. Still, it's my favorite Mitchell so far (granted, this was only my fourth book I read of his)

Moving on to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
I read Starsight by Brandon Sanderson over the last two days. Interesting and enjoyable, but the first fifty or so pages is basically a concentrated dose of Sanderson at his worst. His snappy banter is really cringey.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
I generally think its terrible. I thought it was terrible in Warbreaker, I thought it was terrible his Wheel of Time books (though that was as much not fitting in with the rest of the series), I thought it was actually passable in the recent Mistborn books, and I think the stuff at the start of Starsight might be his worst.

I liked the book overall. It put its worst foot forward, but pretty quickly gets to something very fun and propulsive. Its got a very Mass Effect by way of Star Wars feel to it.
 
I've never read a Brandon Sanderson novel but people mention them (in both positive and negative ways) so much I feel like I should just to understand.
 

Behemoth

Dostoevsky is immortal!
(he/him/his)
I generally think its terrible. I thought it was terrible in Warbreaker, I thought it was terrible his Wheel of Time books (though that was as much not fitting in with the rest of the series), I thought it was actually passable in the recent Mistborn books, and I think the stuff at the start of Starsight might be his worst.
My sentiments exactly, including the part about the recent Mistborn books. Based on those I thought he was maybe getting better at dialogue (since I haven't read much of Sanderson's recent stuff outside of the Mistborn books), but maybe those are outliers.

Things Sanderson is good at:

- World-building/magic systems
- Action scenes
- Finishing books/series (although this is falling further behind as he continually adds new series to his backlog)

Things Sanderson is bad at:

- Dialogue
- Prose (other than the aforementioned action scenes)
- Characters
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
I would argue against putting characters in the bad list; he has enough memorable characters (Kelsier and Vin, Dalinar from Stormlight,) with well thought out arcs that I can't call it a weakness, though I am not always a fan of his character names.

I also generally think his dialogue is fine. Much like his prose, it is workmanlike and invisible. It is the stuff in the way of his plot and world building and it is just effective enough to convey those things. I think it gets bad when he tries to write 'witty' dialogue and it reads like someone trying very very hard to write 'witty' dialogue. It strains. And that strain just ruins banter, which kind of needs to feel free flowing.

I want to stress that these are complaints about a 500 page book I read in 2 days and enjoyed very much. Most of the complaints are focused on the first 30 or so pages of the book. Also, I had just read a book with fantastic prose (Piranesi) that made some of the deficiencies of the literally YA follow up I read all the more apparent. (I also forgot that the Skyward series was supposed to be YA.)
 

Behemoth

Dostoevsky is immortal!
(he/him/his)
People may read my list of cons and think "if you take away prose, dialogue, and characters, what's left?", and my response would be "not much." This is one of those points that I'm a self-admitted curmudgeon on, but I think Sanderson is one of the most overrated fantasy authors out there. That said, I did enjoy those Mistborn books (particularly the latter three), and I haven't yet dipped my toe into the Stormlight Archives, so it's probably just me being curmudgeonly. (But why read Sanderson when you (not you, Rascally Badger, you the general reader) could be reading the first two books of The Locked Tomb Trilogy or Piraensi, three books I recently read and loved!)
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
I know we have a Sanderson thread that might be worth moving this conversation to if it keeps going, but I would say people read Sanderson over something like Piranesi because his stuff is so much easier to read. These aren't perfect comparisons, but its like wondering why more people watch Spielberg movies than David Lynch movies or why more people watch Friends than The Wire. You might not find much in the way of memorable prose in Sanderson, but it is so easy to crack open even one of his 1000 page Stormlight Archive books and just blow through the thing. By and large, Sanderson is making the fantasy novel equivalents of action movies. Frequently very well executed action movies. It isn't that he doesn't deal with some big ideas (I think there are a lot of interesting ideas in Mistborn), but his books tend to be more about the action.
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
For myself, Sanderson's prose is about at the base of what I consider "readable," in that if it was any more inelegant I'd put the book down. Which is fine, every once in a while I'll find myself in the mood for an unadorned fantasy adventure with inventive action and some compelling mysteries and make my way through one of his novels. I do think that generally they are too long and I tend to finish them feeling more than a little relieved. My favorite of his that I've read is The Emperor's Soul, which worked well precisely because it was so punchy.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Speaking as someone who does genuinely enjoy the banter in a Sanderson book, the first chunk of Starsight (was that the first book in the series, or the second? I on;y read the first one) is... just awful.
 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
I've got a couple of non-fiction books to get through, right now it is the Square & the Tower the history of networks in western civilization. This is a fascinating book that ties together network theory and the popular conspiratorial style of politics we've always had in the West (now ascendant). Really good!

But! Then I can start my Dragonlance project!
 
The Hierarchies by Ros Anderson. From what I'm understanding by the synopsis It's a book about a sex bot who over the course of the book becomes more aware of the world and who she should be. A Goodreads review said it was a combination of Westworld, Ex Machina, and Handmaid's Tale
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Currently about halfway through Summer by Ali Smith. I loved the first three books in the Seasonal Quartet, and so far this is a pretty fine way to close out the sequence.

It's a little jarring to read a book so specifically set maybe seven or eight months ago, given that the last book I read (Harrow the Ninth) was at least 10,000 years in the future. I wonder if she had to do much rewriting, or if it made editing any harder.
 

Jeanie

(Fem or Gender Neutral)
Just finished Battle Grounds by Jim Butcher. That one hurt a little, not in a quality way, in a Spoiler way.
 

Ixo

"This is not my beautiful forum!" - David Byrne
(Hi Guy)
Started in on Angela Duckworth’s Grit last night, hearing about it on Freakonomics around the time it released several years ago and then forgetting to look into it.
 
Here's a small quibble with what I'm reading, that I just need to vent out. One of the main characters is named Frederick Hawthorne, yet he's called Ricky throughout most of the book. Why not just name him Rick from the outset and have done with it?
 

Positronic Brain

Out Of Warranty
(He/him)
I had put Max Gladstone's Empress of Forever in pause for RL reasons, but I wasn't too keen on coming back to it because I had trouble empathizing with the protagonist. Turns out I had paused the book like three pages before the supporting cast started calling out the protagonist on her attitude, which helped me understand her a lot better, and the book also has started to pick up the pacing in a notable way. Now I'm hooked, and peeved that I have to work a few more hours before being able to return to it.
 
I have mostly good things to say about Ghost Story. Very well written, but the ending was a bit of a letdown. Also, takes about 100 pages for things to start getting good. Stephen King called this the best horror book of the 20th century. Not even close. Up to that point (1979), you had The Exorcist and I would even say 'Salem's Lot and The Shining are way scarier.

Also, managed to quickly knock out Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones. Very good novella, although there was that little twist towards the end that didn't seem to fit.

Now, speaking of Stephen King, I'm currently reading Thinner
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Sleep Donation by Karen Russell. Only about 40 pages in, but I've loved all her previous books and this one isn't looking like an exception so far.
 
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