Review: Double Star

Friends, I’m still trying to read all the Hugo Award Winning winners for best novel, and I will be for the next few years.  Well, I will be forever, since there’s likely to be a new one each year.  But right now, I’m trying to get caught up on past ones.  I’m currently at 11 read, so I have 54 to go… bof.

Anyway, I recently got my hands on Double Star by Robert Heinlein.  Heinlein has won the Hugo for best novel 4 times – I think he’s tied for the most?  Or he technically has the most if you count Retro Hugos?  Anyway… not important to this discussion.  Heinlein has won many times, but Double Star was his first.  Here are my thoughts.

Double Star was pretty classic pulp fiction.  When I think of sci-fi from the late 50’s/early 60’s this type of story is what comes to mind.  It’s a romp, with an unlikely crew of people thrown together in unlikely circumstances.  The plot could have taken place in any society or culture, really, but aliens were thrown in for an extra level of mayhem.

It was a fun, quick read that didn’t require much thought at all.  The end was pretty predictable, and even though I didn’t love any of the characters, I finished Double Star with a pretty good impression.  I’d say my view of Robert Heinlein (which was really high after The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and was lowered by Starship Troopers) was redeemed a bit.  I’m excited to read his other works.

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Review: Lirael

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a review of Sabriel, a YA fantasy novel by Garth Nix that I read as a preteen and re-read recently.

Welp, I just couldn’t stay away.  I just finished Lirael, the sequel to Sabriel, and let me tell you, it was a good one.

The story picks up 14 or so years after the events in Sabriel.  One thing that I remembered from the first time I read this book when I was in junior high was that I was disappointed that it didn’t take place immediately after the first book and that Sabriel wasn’t the main character.

This time, though, that disappointment didn’t last long.  Lirael gives us a different view of the Old Kingdom, exploring places and peoples that we didn’t get much of in the first book.  We get to meet Lirael, who deals with different struggles from Sabriel and has a much different journey.  We get to learn so much more about the Old Kingdom and its history.  We get to spend time exploring a humongous library with Lirael and her awesome friend, the Disreputable Dog.  So good.

Lirael contains much of the real-feeling magic and world-building the Sabriel did, with Garth Nix fleshing much of it out.  Nix has a great knack for dealing with very real issues (depression, suicide, racism, and more) in a fantasy story, and for the most part, he does this flawlessly.

The one negative thing I’ll say about  Lirael and its sequel, Abhorsen (which I’m reading right now), is that they’re a bit long.  I think it’s fine that they’re two books, but each of them could be shorter in themselves or maybe even condensed into one novel.

Other than that, Lirael is a fun yet serious, fantastical yet believable story of a girl who’s trying to find herself and trying to save the world at the same time – something that I think most of us can relate to.  She humorously manages to dodge romantic advances, she gets way in over her head often, and she has to make solutions up as she goes along.  If that’s not a reflection of real life, I don’t know what is.

Overall, I would say I enjoyed Lirael slightly more than Sabriel.  I’ll let you know soon what I think of Abhorsen!

Review: The Vor Game

Remember my quest to eventually read all the Hugo Award winning novels?  Well the next stop on that train was the The Vor Game, the sequel to The Warrior’s Apprentice that I read last summer.

I was much more prepared for this book, unlike The Warrior’s Apprentice which I’d never even heard of before it was gifted to me, which left me skeptical.  But after loving my first Lois McMaster Bujold experience, I was excited so check out more.

The Vor Game delivered.  It was fun, full of adventure and mystery.  The story takes place a few years after The Warrior’s Apprentice, so we get to see a slightly more mature Miles – which I love.  He still has a lot to learn, but he’s grown.  He still makes mistakes, but they’re not the same ones he made when he was younger.

We get to see a few of the same characters from the first book, but we also get to meet new characters.  I personally am a big fan of Gregor and Simon.  Here’s to hoping they’re in the subsequent books in some capacity!

Overall, The Vor Game met my expectations.  It made me laugh and made my heart ache; it easily held my interest and was often hard to put down.  It was believable and imaginative – just great science fiction.

I’m definitely looking forward to the next novel in the series, Cetaganda!  I’ll let you know what I think of that one as well 🙂