Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday ( 08.31.2016 )

A recurring meme, every wednesday in the blogosphere (Hosted by Breaking the Spine) , here is where I list down some of the most anticipated titles I am waiting to my  hands on and read! 2016 till now has been a stellar year in some of the best titles coming out in this genre.

This week, my pick would be, The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu, the celebrated writer whose 'novel' debut last year rocked the genre fans worldwide ( Grace of Kings, by Saga Press) releasing on Oct 4, 2016.

"In the much-anticipated sequel to the “magnificent fantasy epic” Grace of Kings, Emperor Kuni Garu is faced with the invasion of an invincible army in his kingdom and must quickly find a way to defeat the intruders.
Kuni Garu, now known as Emperor Ragin, runs the archipelago kingdom of Dara, but struggles to maintain progress while serving the demands of the people and his vision. Then an unexpected invading force from the Lyucu empire in the far distant west comes to the shores of Dara—and chaos results.
But Emperor Kuni cannot go and lead his kingdom against the threat himself with his recently healed empire fraying at the seams, so he sends the only people he trusts to be Dara’s savvy and cunning hopes against the invincible invaders: his children, now grown and ready to make their mark on history.”

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cold Forged Flame by Marie Brennan ( publishing schedule has this frequent habit of derailing me from my reading schedule. And they did it yet again – forcing me to pick up Cold Forged Flame by Marie Brennan. Marie Brennan is a name that should be familiar to me, but sadly I haven’t jumped onto the bandwagon of readers, who are enamored by her series, A Natural History of Dragons and the subsequent sequels, detailing the adventures of Lady Trent and co.

So Cold Forged Flame was a book I went in, without any preconceived biases – and damn, it helped. The book is a relatively straightforward, fast-paced scorching tale of self-discovery and also, survival. Written in first person, with an unreliable narrator who suffers from amnesia, thus setting up the intrigue and mystery right from get go. Old trick in the book, executed so well by a writer of master-class. Marie really hooks us into this tricky and dangerous quest of the un-named narrator who wakes up to the clarion call of a war-horn summoned against her will by a tribal chief to do his bidding.

As we proceed, Marie does a bang up job of transporting us into this highly imaginative atmospheric world that the narrator has woken up into, a harsh, treacherous landscape that may not be what it seems at first sight. Despite the length, I was fully absorbed into this mission and had my heart in my mouth for pretty much throughout the story – action and conflict peppers the narrative, the prose is never clunky and the flow is maintained throughout. And yet, even after I read the story, I had tonnes of questions about the world. About the people, the races and everything. Which is always a good thing. While yes, this one does tie up all the conflicts presented from the start, there is definitely room for a lot more flexing, in possibly a series where we will see our amnesiac narrator back in ripping form. There is suppressed violence, juxtaposed with the never-ending search for answers, within her mind. It’s a strange combination that seems to work very well with this form. I absolutely loved it.

The revelations when it comes, are very well timed. I am sorry – but speaking anything further about such, might just give away the essence of the story. So suffice to say that, despite its length, this novella packs a wallop, with its highly imaginative storyline, the conflicted emotions of a narrator you will find mysterious and intriguing enough to follow to the ends of this wonderfully engrossing world. Go ahead. Read it.

It comes out Sept 13th from (I received a Netgalley ARC in return for my honest review)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Cheesy as it sounds, love is the central premise that makes up the core of Dark Matter, the latest by Blake Crouch. Blake shot up to be one of my most-awaited authors, after I had blown through the first two books of the Wayward Pines trilogy, and even pre-ordered The Last Town. The series was the fastest ever that I had read through – the same holds good for his latest, Dark Matter. I blasted through the book in one day!

It’s a propulsive definitive thriller with a solid science-fictional conceit at its center, that of multi-dimensional realities and identity crisis. But hark, am getting ahead of myself. So here's the byte-sized version: 

Jason Dessen is a mild-mannered local college professor in Chicago who gave up on what could have been a grandiose scientific career with breakthrough research and inventions, all for a happy marriage with his middling successful artist wife, Daniella and has a fifteen year old kid, Charlie. We peek into his almost ‘boring’ life as a chill evening, Jason gets called out to meet up an old Harvard room-mate of his, now a successful scientist who was holding an evening meet up to celebrate his latest achievement, winning the Pavia Prize. However, things take a sinister turn as he’s coming back – a masked intruder (in a white geisha mask) kidnaps Jason and then injects him with something unknown, and just before he passes out, Jason hears the words, are you truly happy. He wakes up to find his world upside down, in a top secret scientific facility, people celebrating his return from a ‘coma’ and that he’s engineered/invented one of the most mind-boggling breakthroughs of his century for the human-kind. The rest of the breakneck narrative focuses on Jason trying to unravel this ‘reality’ as his life gets yanked out from beneath his feet. It gets murkier and finally lends itself to a nail-biting show-down as we sift through the heavy mounds of silt – of ‘alternate dimension realities’ – but never losing steam, as Jason, our protagonists believes in only one thing. To get back to the love of his life – his wife and son.

The plotting is phantasmagorical as we, along with Jason try to break down this into a science problem, sifting through hypotheses with proofs or reject the same. We deal with the problem of ‘identity’ as we as the reader are taken in for a wild ride. A multi-verse concept isn’t novel, almost being a science fiction trope but the way Crouch breaks it down – not treating us to a ‘word-salad’ on quantum mechanics ( The explanation of that fish in a small pool being taken out and confronted with the reality that there are other pools, smaller and bigger!) but respecting the reader’s intelligence, worked for me. Revelations hit us from far left, twists and turns galore. It works at different levels as a thriller as Jason races back to his ‘own’ world to confront his reality. However, apart from Jason – I would have loved to see more of ‘Daniella’ as a character, the core of his existence that drives him. Other characters like Amanda, the psychiatrist at the Velocity laboratories, would have formed interesting side characters but were ultimately sacrificed along the way as Jason’s hunt becomes feverish. The ‘hunt’ sags a bit a bit after the mid-way point and it does become predictable but ultimately, the resolution sit squarely with our perceptions for ‘love triumphs all’, that is a heartfelt and resonant conclusion to this thriller.

A fleet-footed thriller with the liberal sprinkling of science-fiction ‘masala’, this new offering from the Blake factory definitely is a juicy candidate for the big screen. Almost pitch-perfect for it to unfold on large-screen. I absolutely loved it and Blake Crouch retains the top spot for my favourite go-to thriller writers. Full five stars for the top class flighty entertainment fare dished out. This isn't going to be a brainy literal super-book, no. This is just pure fun, a thriller crafted so right with elements of different genres mashed up, that I bet you cannot stop reading this, once you get started. Go ahead, I dare you.