Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

The Light Fantastic
by Terry Pratchett

I love Pratchett. I have read many of his books by now (all in the Discworld series, I think), and I never cease to be amazed by his ability to write something completely and utterly silly, and, at the same time, that can carry so much satire and commentary on today's world. Seriously.

This is one of the earliest books in the Discworld series—the second book, perhaps?—with the marvelous characters of the inept wizard Rincewind and the irrepressible tourist Twoflower (who teaches Death to play bridge), and of course, Cohen the Aged Barbarian.

I will be reading Pratchett forever. I love this guy.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

by Neil Gaiman

This is not the first book I've read by this author. I tried Coraline a few years ago and really didn't care for it. (My main complaint was although the story was very imaginative, the characterization was...I can't quite remember if I could call it "weak," all I remember is that I could've cared less what happened to the characters. A huge flaw for a reader like me, who primarily reads for the characterization.) I've also read Good Omens (written by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett), and I liked that book a great deal, but I attributed that to Pratchett.

But I'll take it back. I really liked this book. It may have something to do with my penchant for fairy tales and how I'm always searching for authors to write new fairy tales for me. And the fact that this was a brilliant fairy tale, very imaginative and beautiful. I loved the three old witches in the wood; the brothers killing each other off for the crown; the woman enchanted to be a bird; the fallen star. And even the bits of humor and wisdom that got thrown in...very nice read.

The ending, however, was a little anti-climatic. When the witch finally meets the star, I was expecting some kind of a showdown, not just a conversation. It works with the story, of course, and it is a nice ending, but it didn't end with a bang. Not that all books have to, of course, but it left me feeling like I had just watched another Hayao Miyazaki film where so much could have been built up to some incredible climax, but he always sidesteps the big boom, and everyone ends up friends at the end, warm fuzzies all around...

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
by J. K. Rowling

This was a re-read, of course, as I was warming up for Book 7. This has been one of my favorites of the series (so far; and I have to say I enjoyed Book 3 just as well). As I finished it this time, I was mostly left with questions and anticipations about Book the Last. Snape is definitely playing a double game—but for which side, and what is he aiming for? How will it end? Who will die? Will Draco experience a change of heart and help Harry by the end? How will the book go with no Hogwarts as a backdrop? Then there are the general romantic questions—like who will Luna end up with? Gwarp?

And is it really going to end? What if I don't want it to?

One thing about this book that I was very glad to see: Dumbledore is dead. Now, don't get me wrong; it's not that I don't love Dumbledore, and I am the type to cry over a book, so I definitely did at the end; it's just that I was getting tired of him rescuing Harry. He made exceptions, broke rules, explained away problems...and I like Harry, too, but for heaven's sake, I want to see him stand on his own! (Another reason to look forward to Book 7 to see what Rowling does...)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
by J. K. Rowling

I can't believe it's over.

But there it is: it's over. Now what? Oh yeah, time to go read Eclipse with the rest of the Edward/Jacob junkies.

The nice thing about this book was that Harry really comes into his own. By the end, he's really...well, matured. He's come a ways from the nasty bitter snot that I hated in book 5 who attempted Unforgiveable Curses...

And sure, there are holes in the plot and in the overall structure of the seven books, but really, who cares? Rowling put 17 years of sweat and tears into this, and I'm grateful to her for it. I thought it was a great ending. It worked for me.

And I don't want to put any spoilers in, so I'll just say that the last bit of the book was a pretty suspenseful read. Hard to put the book down to eat or sleep or take care of my poor kid. (Lucky for him, I finished the book in...two days? Or was it three?)