My name is Lianne, and I am an avid reader. When asked what I read, I usually say ‘words on a page’, since I will read just about anything. Fiction, non-fiction, literary, genre, graphic novels. Really, the only things I’m not crazy about (although I will read examples once in a blue moon) are romance, westerns, and hard-boiled detective novels.
Fascism is a thing that a lot of people will refer to (he’s such a fascist!) without really understanding what makes the concept of Fascism. In How Fascism Works, Jason Stanley does a good job of breaking down the elements of Fascism, and providing examples from places like Nazi Germany. He also points to examples of similar behaviours in places like Poland and Hungary and the Middle East, as well as the recent United States.
He doesn’t go quite to the point of saying that the US is on the verge of becoming a Fascist state, but he makes it quite clear that it’s in danger of going down that route, and he does it by going through, step by step, and providing concrete examples. I don’t know that he will ever convince someone who doesn’t want to believe (and who thinks that Trump is good for the country), but he does leave you thinking.
Still, the book is short enough that while he covered the basics, there wasn’t a lot of depth to it. I would have also liked to get an idea of if there are any common signs that a society is in the earliest stages of a slide into fascism.
As a reader of slash fanfiction, I expected Firestorm to be right up my alley, and in a lot of ways it was. Unfortunately, I came out of it wanting just a little bit more.
The concept is a contemporary fantasy, where there are four young men that are hosts to elemental spirits. They use their powers to deal with natural disasters, and they live together, with Fire (Elijah) and Water (Dante) being a romantic couple, as are Earth and Air (Stephen and Christian). But at the start of the novella, when they are around twenty, Fire dies in a car crash. Water is devastated, and even more so when almost immediately, the Fire spirit chooses a newborn as his new host. They are supposed to be partners, as soon as the boy grows up, but he doesn’t want this interloper, he just wants to mourn his dead lover.
The new Fire (Nicholai) ends up on the outside growing up, pulled to Dante, but rejected. Instead he ends up on his own, working solo as much as possible, until Dante pulls his head out of his ass. I doubt it’s much of a spoiler to say that they do end up together eventually, after the Elijah’s secrets are exposed.
I liked the world, although I wondered how the three that are together are living in relative obscurity in a small town when they aren’t needed. Wouldn’t there be tourists that come to try to gawk at them? Wouldn’t religious nuts want to kill them? Wouldn’t the government want to lock them up in protective custody because they are too valuable to run around (let alone die in a car crash behind the wheel). And what about the fact that Fire was ‘reborn’ in a different country? Do they get paid? By who, since they are called all over the world? I would expect them to have giant bank accounts, but I can’t figure out if they have any money at all.
My biggest problem is that when Nicholai is around Dante, Dante acts like he’s the younger one, even though it’s clear that he’s at least twenty years older than his new partner. It’s referred to on a physical basis from time to time, but even at forty, he still tends to behave like a petulant teenager, despite the influence of an immortal elemental. And the elementals are petty enough that, for example, Fire doesn’t let Nicholai have any real lovers, since Fire wants Water, but Dante doesn’t want Nicholai.
I was also left wondering about the fallout of the final twist in the story. We never find out what the reaction of the world to it.
I would have liked to have had the world fleshed out a little more, which would expand the novella to a full novel. Still, it was a nice little bonbon of a read. Just don’t expect any depth to it.
I decided to take a look at the books I read in the first half of this year, since I’m a huge list maker, and I’ve been keeping track of my reading for years (including pages read each day). Still, I’ve never actually looked at breakdowns, other than how many books I read in a year and how many of them were library books. I’ve been trying to up the number of books from the library, since I spend way too much money on books, and buy more books than I read. It’s the same way that I’ve reached the point where I’ve got too much yarn in the house, and I’m trying to restrict myself to buying less yarn than I use in knitting projects (and I have trouble keeping to that when Michaels has a sale)
So, what was my reading up until the end of June this year…
48 books read
Some format break-downs
15 library books
14 from NetGalley
2 graphic novels
My breakdown by genre
8 non-fiction (5 on politics)
9 science fiction
6 horror or dark fantasy
1 poetry collection
1 short story collection (mystery/sf/fantasy)
Now mind you, some of the books I slotted into one category also fits into a second (or third or fourth) category. In the breakdown by genre, I slotted with which category I thought of first.
Finally, here is the list of all the books I read from January to the end of June, in order they were read. Well, not including fanfiction, which would add the equivalent of a lot of books to the list.
I enjoyed Footprints in the Future, a first novel by TG Winkfield from what I can find, but I did find myself wishing for a little more there.
First, the story. A pair of academics in the mid-seventies manage to invent time travel, although we never learn how or what is involved. They put together a team of other academics to oversee the project, and start recruiting young people to actually travel through time to observe history. The first try is something of a failure, since the young man who was assigned to observe da Vinci actually falls in love with him, and abandons the ‘present’ to stay with him, and there are hints that the timeline is tweaked as a result. After that they go for implants to track their travelers. As time goes on, there is hints of other time adjustments from the various expeditions, and that maybe there are other time travelers out there, working towards their own goals. As well, one of the academics pushes for trying to time travel to the future, where it turns out that a man-made disaster has caused widespread death and destruction.
The characters, unfortunately, are less interesting than the story ideas. There is little to differentiate them, so I kept getting characters confused (mostly the male characters, since there were only three real female characters, with two being mother and daughter, and the third having a very minor role). The author really needed to more clearly define them as individuals. All in all, the characters seemed to take a back seat to the ideas.
While I enjoyed the story, there were a few things that threw me out rather solidly. The biggest one was a massive anachronism that had me stop reading so that I could do some research (okay, I googled it). A female student is sent back in time to the late sixties (why so recent a past time? no one ever mentions), and she makes a comment about at least not having to worry about AIDS in the summer of love. Since she was sent back from 1978 or 79, that struck me as completely wrong. First of all, I didn’t hear about AIDS until the eighties, and it was still considered ‘the gay disease’. According to Wikipedia, the disease was not identified in a lab until 1981, and it wasn’t until late 1982 that it was actually referred to as AIDS (initially it was called GRID – ‘gay-related immune deficiency’). I tried to tell myself that a world with time travel would potentially have different timelines for things like diseases, but really, it felt like the author just goofed.
Also, when they identified the disaster that caused so much destruction in the next century, I was a little surprised that they were debating whether or not to try and stop it from happening? I would have thought that it would be a no-brainer, since they are not doing something that would wipe themselves out of existence. And they never really seem to come to a decision, other than sending people to the future to do more investigation.
And in the end, I felt like I was missing sections of the book, since there were definitely plot gaps, and a lack of a full resolution. Hopefully it’s only the first of a series, since it does need some more expansion.
Oh Lord. The weather changed overnight, and I now have a massive sinus headache. As a result, I slept late. I doubt I will get to 24 hours, but it’s my first try.
9am – I read some morning fan fiction, and I am now listening to The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn, at 5:28 done. I’ve got less than 2 hours left to listen to. 11:53:47
10am – the audiobook is finished. I’ll start a new one, at least until the headache eased. Time elapsed 12:41:52
1pm – Ah, the rain. Reading on a rainy day is nice, and we’ve been in drought conditions for so long that the rain is welcome. In the last few hours, I went out for a breakfast, listened to an hour of the book Darkest Hour (about Winston Churchill, and basis of the movie of the same title. I also read the novella The Barrow Will Send What It May by Margaret Killjoy, sequel to a novella that I read during the spring Dewey 24 hour Readathon. Total time so far: 14:41:338
2pm – Back to the poetry book, War Songs. I read 87 pages, with 77 left to go. Definitely, I’ll finish it today (which makes 3 NetGalley books finished out of my backlog). Total time: 15:19:309
Time to take a nap to sleep off the sinus meds. I won’t be making it to 24 ho urs, but hey, I’ll get a good chunk of the way there.
6pm – the nap helped a lot, and the headache is now a dull ache, possibly due to the weather breaking. I’m now up to 2:45 in Darkest Hour. I might be further if I didn’t relisten to interesting segments. My total right now is 16:42:40. At this pace, I’ll probably reach 20 hours before bed.
7pm – Time to finish off some books, since the iPod needed to be recharged. I finished Stories for Nighttime by Ben Loory. These are some eerie little fables that leave the reader slightly creeped out, without descending into pure horror. Now I’m back to War Songs. Total time read: 17:21:57
9pm – I have finished War Songs (yay!), and started One Way, an SF novel that will take me into the week. Total reading time to date: 18:52:49
9:45pm – I’m calling it done. I finished off the last of the book I was reading last week, and 6 entire nooks (one of them an audiobook), and have two ongoing. Total reading time: 19:30:41
Books read/listened to
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse (37 pages to finish)
Death Chase by Lizella Prescott
Mack Bolan The Executioner 449: Combat Machines by Travis Morgan
The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky (audio)
Stories for Nighttime and Some For The Day by Ben Loory
War Songs by ‘Antarah ibn Shaddad
The Barrow Will Send What It May by Margaret Killjoy (novella)
One Way by S.J. Morden (23 pages in)
Darkest Hour by Anthony McCarten (3:08 in)
19:30:41 time elapsed
1,041 pages read
10:30 hours of audiobooks listened to
For information on the Readathon go to 24in48.com
I’m a glutton for punishment. Still I’ve got a list of books, including audio, to keep me going. The audio books are for when the eyes are tired.
7am – the Readathon started at midnight, but I’m not a night owl. I didn’t want to be staring at screen (or paper) when I woke up, so I started listening to The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn, by the Strugatsky brothers. I listened to just over an hour and a quarter. Total reading time: 52:44
8am – I finished off the last 40 pages of Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse (fantastic book, and I want book 2 now!), then a bit of fan fiction to round out the hour. Total reading time; 1:41:08
9am – On to a NetGalley read. I’m on page 68 of 189 of Death Chase, by Lizella Prescott, and I’m really enjoying it. Three friends, trying to repair their relationship (and their personal lives) are running an intense 50 km cross country race in the wilderness, but bizarre events make Mira (who just got out of rehab) thinking that they might be being stalked. Oh, and I’ve indulged in some peanut butter cookies. Total reading time: 2:24:57
10am – I am on page 132 of Death Chase (another 64 pages down, 57 to go). It’s still a great read, although at this point I’m ot sure why Mira’s friends are bothering, considering how badly she fucked up their lives. I’m guessing we’ll finds put in the last third of the book. Total reading time: 3:13:04
10:45 – I took a bath, while reading Stories for Nighttime and Some For The Day by Ben Loory. Bizarre little fables, but enjoyable. However, air pressure is causing a headache, so I’m going take some Advil Sinus meds, and crawl into bed for a while to listen to The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn for an hour or so. I’m also deciding where to go for a late lunch or early dinner. Get out of the house and read somewhere else for a while. Total reading time: 3:39:15
1:15pm – The headache took more out of me than I thought. I listened to about an hour of the audiobook, then crashed for an hour and a half. Now I will finish Death Chase before going to find food that I don’t have to cook myself in this heat. Total reading time: 4:47:36
2:10pm – I finished Death Chase, and wow, I did not see that coming. I mean, I was starting to see the twist, but how far it twisted was a surprise. Total reading time: 5:29:18
3pm – I’ve started into another NetGalley book. This time it’s translated poetry; War Songs by ‘Antarah Ibn Shaddad. I’m still in the introduction or history lesson, but it makes me want to read up on the history of the region. I’m on page 51 of 317. Time to go get some lunch/dinner. Total reading time: 6:04:35 (or a quarter of the way to the goal)
5pm – Ahhh, I am full of enchiladas and an apple sizzler. Lone Star is not high cuisine, but it fills the hole. I listened to The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn on the drive (I’m at 3:03) and I indulged in some fluff while I ate, namely Mac Bolan The Executioner 449: Combat Machines. I’m 55% of the way through. Total reading time is now 7:35:11
6pm – I’m now into the poetry in War Songs. Some of the more modern turns of phrase catches me off guard, and the attitudes of the poet are worth an eyeroll or two. Still, I’m up th pg 153 of 317. Total reading time: 8:15:58
7pm – I went light this hour. Another 24 pages in the Executioner, and some fan fiction. Total reading time: 8:52:59
8pm – I finished reading the Executioner 449, and then pulled out my knitting, along with the audiobook. I’m up to 3:47 in The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn with 3:34 left to go. Total reading time: 9:50:14
9pm – okay, my brain is shutting down. I listened to anothe 1:16 of The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn. The reading time is now 10:41:39
9:35pm – yep. Limit reached. I read another 45 pages of Stories for Nighttime. The fables are even stranger on a tired brain.
Totals for Day One – 667 pages + 5:03 hours of audiobook. 3 books (including one near the end) completed. The three books I am currently on are at the halfway mark or later, and will definitely be finished tomorrow.
To be honest, I requested Egyptian Enigma from NetGalley on a whim. I like mysteries and I like Ancient Egypt, so this sounded interesting, and the cover was cool. I guess I was thinking I’d be getting something like the Amelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Peters (who is much missed).
I did not get what I was expecting, although that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Instead of a historical setting, like Amelia Peabody, it’s actually set in the now, with all the technology that goes with a contemporary setting. I also didn’t realize that this was the third book in a series, but while it clearly builds on previous books in the evolving relationships between characters, it does a good job of establishing the people in the story and their backgrounds.
The book starts off with Elizabeth Pimms and her net friend (but not lover, despite my expectations when he was introduced) Henry vacationing in Egypt. Elizabeth is an archaeologist and librarian whose career got side-tracked by her father’s death (presumably in book one), pulling her back to Australia to help support her family. They’re having a great trip, other than an incident with a thief breaking into Elizabeth’s hotel room to steal… a journal?
From that opening, Elizabeth returns home to Australia where she works in a library, is revising academic papers based on her first two mysteries, and is running her first tutoring session at the university. She’s dealing with getting her archaeology career back on track, and dealing with a crazy family that includes a Welsh grandfather, a French grandmere, and a Chinese grandmother, as well as a recently discovered illegitimate half-sister who is still adjusting to the family.
Having been fascinated by an exhibit on The Golden Tomb in Egypt, she gets together with friends (Rhoz, Nathan, Llew, and Henry via Skype) to see if they can’t figure out whose tomb it is. The surprising method used involves 3D printing of the scans of skeletons for all of the mummies found in the tomb, and using physical commonalities to try to pin the relationship between the mummies, and to other known mummies, looking for familial traits, as well as to figure out who was the right size to be in the sarcophagus.
Between scientific investigations and family drama, there is also historical chapters, actually detailing who the people in the tomb are, and how they ended up there.
My only big objection to the book was that it ended on a cliffhanger that was so abrupt that I thought maybe my copy was missing a couple of chapters, but a quick check found other people commenting on the cliffhanger as well.
Still, it was good enough that I have bought the first two books in the series, and I definitely plan to buy the fourth book when it comes out to find out why a body was found in the library with the journal that was stolen in Egypt. A solid, and fun, read.
Ah, Sherlock Holmes. The little black dress of mystery books.
For those who are unfamiliar with fanfiction, ‘little black dress’ is a term that refers to a fandom where either the characters can be translated into a variety of scenarios, or a scenario that can be applied to any number of fandoms (the scenario of the television show The Sentinel from the 90s continues to be applied to all sorts of fandoms and characters from other shows, and the next round of Rough Trade next month is going to be a Sentinel one. It’s being applied to everything from Harry Potter to The Avengers to Star Trek, and a lot of weird choices in between).
Sherlock Holmes is a concept that has been translated in all sorts of ways, mainly by moving the characters to different environments. The most recent examples are the BBC Sherlock, and CBS’s Elementary. Both take the characters and move them to contemporary times, one of them also doing a gender switch on Dr Watson. I did find it ironic that for the show Sherlock, they didn’t even have to change Watson’s background; he is still a military doctor injured in Afghanistan.
And here comes Baker Street Irregulars: The Game is Afoot, a collection that makes me want to run out and buy the first one.
This collection delightfully takes Holmes and Watson into all sorts of directions. There’s the SF stories, the fantasy stories, the contemporary stories, and the historical stories. Want to see Holmes go to the other side as a killer? You’re covered. Want to see them as coffee shop owners in Australia (yes, rather specific)? It’s there. Want a Sherlock who *knows* he’s a fictional character? You’ve got it. Female versions of both characters are there. Or Sherlock and Watson as home AIs? Yep.
There’s even a story where they are married, as members of an alien race that have no gender until they want to procreate, and are fighting a Moriarty who is from a shape-shifting race.
When I look back, I can’t think of a single story that disappointed me. I highly recommend this collection to any Holmes fans.
I’ve been reading more and more non-fiction lately, and current affairs is an area where I am trying to expand my knowledge, so when I saw this book on NetGalley, I put in my request immediately, and was happy to get a change to read it.
Still, The Return of Marco Polo’s World was a book I felt a little conflicted by.
First off, the essays that made up the middle of the book, originally published in The Atlantic, are based around a number of subjects. There are articles about various thinkers and advisers who tried to guide US foreign policy in a very pragmatic direction. Following high morals just does not work, since what works in North America and Europe isn’t necessarily going to work in other parts of the work, and trying to force Western-style democracy on the middle east or Asia is likely to cause even more chaos than is already there. The author, and the subjects of his essays, push a more pragmatic stance of looking at possible interventions and making choices based on whether it will be good for the security of the US, not whether it is the ‘moral’ thing to do.
The essays on the morass of the middle-east follow similar thought paths — only step in if it will, in some way, make things better for the US. And I am not foolish enough to claim that what is good for the US is not good for Canada.
It’s a somewhat cynical, and very pragmatic, look at foreign policy, and where its focus should be. As someone who is pretty left-wing (in a country that is also very left-wing), I found myself heavily agreeing with him there. I’m left-wing at home, but feel that we should let other countries work out their problems. Provide aid where they need it, but not try to police them. Iraq under Hussein was not good, but is it really any better now? Or further back, the US interfered in Afghanistan in the cold war days, and while they knocked the USSR out of the country, the result was the Taliban, and later Al-Qaeda, filling the power vacuum when the US declared job done and walked away.
Unfortunately, the opening and closing pieces, written (or heavily revised) for the book are less successful. The opening attempts to tie Marco Polo’s era into the present, travelling along the corridor that China wants to develop with high-speed travel as a modern version of the Silk Road. To be honest, that piece dragged, and the sentence structure was so tortured that I had to keep rereading paragraphs to make sure of what he was saying. As well, he periodically threw in words that I had to look up. I consider myself well-read with a large vocabulary, but in several places I came across words that I couldn’t even figure out from the context. Thankfully, my Kobo has a word lookup dictionary.
The closing piece, on China, was shorter, but again went for the overdone language. It made me wish that those two pieces had the same editor(s) as the magazine essays.
In the end, the book’s contents had little to do with the title, although the subtitle was a more clear description of the contents. I just wished that it had been billed more as an essay collection than trying to force in a theme that only really showed up in the opening that was, to me, superfluous.
But looking at only the magazine essays, this is a book well worth reading.
Back when I was in grade school I started to focus on Science Fiction and Fantasy as my main reading. Don’t get me wrong, I read a lot of other things (back in the days when I was easily reading 100 pages a day), but those were the books I went to first. One of the books that got me hooked back then was Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert Heinlein. I found his adult novels to be trying too hard to prove how sexually liberated he was (lots of incest, but when a man wanted a relationship with another man, the only thing to do was have gender change, which still annoys me).
But his juveniles were wonderful. People get in trouble, and use science to get out of it. This gave me a taste for hard science fiction books.
Zero Limit, by Jeremy K Brown, while not hugely innovative, scratched that itch. It has a touch of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, crossed with the movie Armageddon, and a dash of modern politics.
The set up is a time where there is a moon colony. The current president of the US got voted in on a wave of anti-Moon sentiment (they come and take your jobs!!!). After election, he deports all moon-born people back to the moon, and refuses to let anyone leave the moon (which seems to imply the only people on the moon came from the US, and all travel to and from the moon goes through the US, otherwise how can he do that? It’s never quite fully explained).
Caitlin Taggart is caught in the middle. She’s moon-born, but her family returned to Earth when she was young. She was a war hero from time in the military, fighting in the Middle East, and she married (then divorced) and has a young daughter. She returned to the moon briefly to deal with her mother’s estate, and ends up trapped there by the presidential orders, with her daughter back on Earth with her no-good father. Caitlin makes ends meet as a miner, while trying to get back to Earth. She’s approached by the son of a Senator for a risky, not to mention illegal, plan to mine an asteroid with a platinum core. He even claims that he can get her back to Earth legally if she does this. She turns him down initially, but her ex gets tossed in jail, and with the threat of her daughter going into the foster system, she says yes, and her team goes with her.
Of course the equipment is rickety, and pretty much as soon as they reach the asteroid, things go horribly wrong, and not only are they stranded, the asteroid is now headed straight towards Earth, and the president wants to use a super-duper giant nuke to destroy it. And them.
Other than Caitlin, the rest of the characters are only just barely sketched out. The way one behaves at the end just didn’t entirely make sense to me. But still, the whole ‘how can we deflect the asteroid just enough to save the planet and everyone on it’ element made it a fun read. I actually have one of his other books in my Kindle account, so I look forward to seeing what else he can do.
Basically, a fun, but mostly fluff, read.
The Dewey 24 hour Readathon is starting in a minute. This time, I have less time, since my family is having a brunch get together today, so that’s a several hours break in the middle.
Outside of that, I plan on binging on Tor.com novellas, an essay collection, and an audio book. First up, Dusk of Dark or Dawn or Day, by Seanan Mcguire. The lives of ghosts in New York City.
Time to head over to Dad’s. Since I will be driving, I am switching to River of Teeth, bu Sarah Bailey. Hippos in the American South, and a cowboy historical. Can you get sillier than that?
Home from a delicious brunch, and resisting the urge to take a nap. I’m 25% of the way through River of Teeth, but now I’m switching back to the McGuire.
I’m now 90% through the McGuire (and it’s a fantastic read), but brunch is weighing down my eyelids, so I’m going to crawl into bed for a couple of hours. I’ll see how much of the Gailey I can listen to without losing track of the story.
The nap helped. I am now halfway through River of Teeth. Time to finish Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, then into the next novella.
Seanan McGuire made me cry. Not for the first time, and I doubt for the last. I then moved on to Cry Murder! in a Small Voice, by Greer Gilman. It’s a short chapbook mystery with William Shakespeare, but Gilman’s beautiful prose makes it a leisurely read. I’m only 25% into it so far.
I’m at 55% in Cry Murder. The book is only 62 pages, but the language deserves to be read slowly and with great attention.
85% done. I’m almost to the end of Cry Murder. Then I’ll go back to River of Teeth. I want to finish it before tackling the next book.
I finished Cry Murder! In a Small Voice, and am now 67% through River of Teeth. I will finish it before I consider bed.
I finished River of Teeth, and was tempted to jump straight into the sequel, but instead I decided that after dark fantasy, historical mystery, and alternative history it is time for an SF book, so I am now 12% into Binti by Nnedi Okorafor.
I am 58% of the way through Binti, and my Kobo has 11% battery left. My eyes are getting tired, so I figure I’ll go to bed either when I finish the book, or when I have to p,ug in to recharge.
I just finished Binti as my Kobo started complaining about low battery. That, plus the burning eyes, are my cue to go to bed. Ill set the alarm early enough to get up and read some more before time runs out at 8 am. I had that long break for the family outing, but still I’ve read 405 pages in the Readathon so far.
Time for the last push. I’m going to try to finish one last Tor.com novella, Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal. The length is one I should be able to finish in two hours.
One hour left to go, and I’m 62% through, so I will definitely finish this last novella. It’s an interesting little mystery story set in the future, one where everyone is connected to something like the internet, but there are (mostly) wild spaces. While the narrator is in danger, the world she lives in seems quite hopefull.
8 am (well not quite)
I finished Forest of Memory, and now I want to go to Audible and buy all the METAtropolis shared world anthologies that it’s a part of. I didn’t realize what it was a part of going into the novella.
Now I’m going to end off the 24 hour period with a little fan fiction reading, then go back to bed for a few hours.
Everyone has their guilty pleasures. Romances, westerns, and the like. For me, it’s disaster novels. The type that get turned into cheesy movies, like Armageddon, San Andreas (which combined a movie I loved, a movie I liked, and a movie I hated. Seriously, I would have loved the movie if it was all about the scientist and the reporter, trying to warn people in time to save themselves, with a touch of the girl and the two brothers. Drop Dwayne Johnson’s plot out the window, please).
So based on that love, I had high hopes for Wave of Terror when I saw it on NetGalley. I’ve heard of the La Palma earthquake danger before going in, and the idea of terrorists trying to cause a tsunami-causing earthquake had a lot of potential.
But the characters, and the story were very disappointing. The astronomer who figures it out jumps to conclusions and runs to the CIA way too fast to be believable. And towards the end, she magically gains a lot of geology knowledge that made no sense. And the romantic interest/government agent was ridiculously fast to run out on his FBI job without permission to find her after reading her packet of information that everyone dismisses because they say she is an ‘astrologer’.
By the time I reached the 1/3 mark, I was skim reading, waiting for the disaster promised by the title/cover/description. By the time I reached the 2/3 mark, I realized that there was going to be no disaster (other than the book itself). Still, I was far enough that I felt committed to finishing the book.
In the end, I felt that the story idea had a lot of potential, but the characters killed it. And the cover, with the giant wave dwarfing the Statue of Liberty made promises that were never fulfilled. It left me disinclined to reading any of the other books by the author.
For a disaster novel that follows through better on its promise, I would recommend Rogue Wave, by Boyd Morrison instead.
After that, to indulge my love of disaster stories, I switched over to reading The Great Quake: How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet by Henry Fountain, about the 1964 Good Friday quake in Alaska that caused massive destruction, and brought the science world into (mostly) full acceptance of the idea of plate tectonics and continental drift.
Did you know that well into the twentieth century, the prevailing theory of earthquakes and mountain formation was that the Earth was cooling and as it did, the surface cracked and pushed up, forming mountains? It sounds crazy now, but at the end of the nineteenth century, people said the same thing about the idea that the solid surface of the planet was actual plates moving around.
The 1964 quake caused a tsunami that killed people as far away as California. Nearly all of Alaska’s infrastructure (roads and railways) were destroyed. The only reason that the death-toll was relatively low (just over 100) is because Alaska was so sparsely populated.
The book jumps around a fair bit, covering the people who originally pushed the idea of continental drift, the man who was part of the team surveying the damage caused by the quake and figuring out what happened. There’s a lot of Alaskan history, and the story of the small town that suffered the worst losses, mainly through the eyes of the young teacher in the one-room schoolhouse that was the only structure to survive the wave. The stories of the people who died and who survived were heartbreaking.
The story was fascinating, and the people who appear for only a few pages were better formed than the main characters in Wave of Terror, and not just because they are the stories of real people. If Jefferson had been able to put as much life into his characters, I would have forgiven the lack of actual wave.