Book Review – The Long Earth

Book: The Long Earth – Author: Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi

Description from Goodreads:

From the back jacket:

NORMALLY, WHEN THERE WAS NOTHING TO DO, HE LISTENED TO THE SILENCE.

The Silence was very faint here. Almost drowned out by the sounds of the mundane world. Did people in this polished building understand how noisy it was? The roar of air conditioners and computer fans, the susurration of many voices heard but not decipherable…. This was the office of the transEarth Institute, an arm of the Black Corporation. The faceless office, all plasterboard and chrome, was dominated by a huge logo, a chesspiece knight. This wasn’t Joshua’s world. None of it was his world. In fact, when you got right down to it, he didn’t have a world; he had all of them.

ALL OF THE LONG EARTH.

From the inside jacket:

The possibilities are endless. Just be careful what you wish for….

1916: The Western Front. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves. Where has the mud, blood and blasted landscape of no-man’s-land gone? For that matter, where has Percy gone?

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Police officer Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive–some said mad, others allege dangerous–scientist who seems to have vanished. Sifting through the wreckage, Jansson finds a curious gadget: a box containing some rudimentary wiring, a three-way switch, and…a potato. It is the prototype of an invention that will change the way humankind views the world forever.

My Review:

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this one. I’ve never read anything by Stephen Baxter and have only liked a couple of the books I’ve read so far by Terry Pratchett. The description intrigued me, however, so I decided to give it a go.

I’ll start by saying, I really like the main character, Joshua. He’s a bit of an oddball, but he seems so normal in comparison to the type of characters you usually get who are tasked with “saving the world”. No real brooding or whining about how his life has turned out, Joshua is more of a live-in-the-moment kind of person. But he’s also not the type to throw that in your face or act recklessly. Joshua is subdued, almost to the point of stoicism, but without being all holier-than-thou about it. And I really connected with his desire to be alone, while still needed to connect to people. It’s one of those “I like being alone, but I don’t fancy being lonely” type things that quite a lot of us introverts have to deal with.

I also really like the character of Lobsang. A sentient digital being, he’s always insisting that he’s human, but you can tell he’s still trying to figure out exactly what “being human” means. He’s almost like Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, though a bit more condescending and a lot more physically versatile. 😉 I loved that Lobsang and Joshua seem to hit it off rather than being at odds with each other all the time. The differences between the two are definitely acknowledged, but the writers don’t resort to the usual unnecessary tension that comes with having two such unique characters.

One of the things I ended up enjoying the most about the book, though, is actually something I think might put a lot of people off — the pacing. This book is SLOW. It makes sense in context; exploring hundreds of thousands of alternate Earths would take quite some time. And since this book is the lead in to a full series, the authors have the space to take as long as they want. The book also meanders a bit, throwing in seemingly random chapters that introduce new characters and explain how stepping has changed their lives. But none of the information we are given is completely useless; everything has a purpose.

I like books that allow themselves to tell the story at their own pace. Some jump into the action right off the bat, and those stories can be great too. But there is no need to rush anything in a series like this. Explain to us how stepping started. Describe as many of the “new” Earths as you can. Talk to us about how evolution might have gone differently to create these “new” creatures. Sci-fi lovers revel in the details. And as much as I like super-exciting, in-your-face stories sometimes, it’s the novels that take their time to introduce me to their new worlds fully and completely that really stick with me.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to…well, everyone. But mainly people who love sci-fi, books with incredible world-building, or anyone with the exploring bug.

And don’t worry, action lovers, things really start to pick up towards the end…

Similar Book(s):

In feel if not in content…

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

 

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Book Tag – Goodreads

I snagged this book tag from Kate over at Read, Eat, Retreat! 🙂

What was the last book you marked as read?

matchless
Matchless, A Christmas Story (Gregory Maguire) – I’m not usually a fan of Gregory Maguire, but this retelling of The Little Matchgirl was very sweet and not too depressing. 😉 I’d recommend it as a quick Christmas-y read.

What are you currently reading?

thelongearth
The Long Earth (Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter) – This sci-fi is an interesting take on what would happen if humans discovered a way to step between alternate universes. I’m really enjoying it so far!

What was the last book you marked as ‘to read’?

dearfahrenheit451

Dear Fahrenheit 451: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Break Up Notes to the Books in Her Life (Annie Spence) – As a bibliophile, I guess it’s completely natural for me to love books about books. 🙂 This one is a collection of love letters and break up notes from the author to books she either can’t live without or can’t wait to get rid of. Sounds fun!

Do you use the star rating system?
Yep! I know some people don’t like it, but I find it very useful.

Are you doing the 2017 Reading Challenge?
Yep! I’ve decided to run the Goodreads Challenge and the 2017 PopSugar Reading Challenge simultaneously. I’m attempting to read at least 60 books, while completing as many of the categories from PopSugar as I can. I’m not doing too badly either. 49 books down so far and 30 categories completed!

Do you have a wishlist?
No, my To-Read list is wishlist enough. 😉

Who are your favourite authors?
Hm…I’m always bad at this question. Currently I love Laini Taylor (Strange the Dreamer is probably my favorite book of the year so far). I also love Neil Gaiman and John Green. Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor from Welcome to Night Vale are also great!

Have you joined any groups?
I’ve meandered my way through a few groups. My current ones are:

Top 5 Wednesday
Cozy Mysteries
Friends of the Apparating Library Book Club
EVERYONE Has Read This But Me
Ultimate Popsugar Reading Challenge

How many Goodreads shelves do you have?
36 outside of the regular ‘Read’, ‘Currently Reading’, ‘To Read’, and ‘Did Not Finish’ shelves.

I tag…
Kristen from The Brunette Bookworm Blog!


I also tag anyone else who wants to do this one! Please link your post in the comments so I can check it out! 😀

Library Haul – I Never Just Stick to the List!

Well, I’m out of projects at work, so I was taking a break from my back-up editing and perusing Goodreads when I stumbled upon a book called ‘The Long Earth’. Sounded intriguing, so I decided to make a trip up the street to the local library to grab it and one other book that I’d been looking at a few days ago. Then this happened…

The Long Earth (Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter)

thelongearthNORMALLY, WHEN THERE WAS NOTHING TO DO, HE LISTENED TO THE SILENCE. The Silence was very faint here. Almost drowned out by the sounds of the mundane world. Did people in this polished building understand how noisy it was? The roar of air conditioners and computer fans, the susurration of many voices heard but not decipherable…. This was the office of the transEarth Institute, an arm of the Black Corporation. The faceless office, all plasterboard and chrome, was dominated by a huge logo, a chesspiece knight. This wasn’t Joshua’s world. None of it was his world. In fact, when you got right down to it, he didn’t have a world; he had all of them. I seem to be on a sci-fi kick lately and, though I haven’t been super fond of my attempts at the DiscWorld series, Terry Pratchett’s storylines always sound so intriguing that I thought I’d give him another chance.

Borne (Jeff VanderMeer)

borneIn Borne, a young woman named Rachel survives as a scavenger in a ruined city half destroyed by drought and conflict. The city is dangerous, littered with discarded experiments from the Company—a biotech firm now derelict—and punished by the unpredictable predations of a giant bear. Rachel ekes out an existence in the shelter of a run-down sanctuary she shares with her partner, Wick, who deals his own homegrown psychoactive biotech. One day, Rachel finds Borne during a scavenging mission and takes him home. Borne as salvage is little more than a green lump—plant or animal?—but exudes a strange charisma. Borne, learning to speak, learning about the world, is fun to be with, and in a world so broken that innocence is a precious thing. But as Borne grows, he begins to threaten the balance of power in the city and to put the security of her sanctuary with Wick at risk. For the Company, it seems, may not be truly dead, and new enemies are creeping in. I don’t normally enjoy dystopians, but I keep coming back to this one on Goodreads. I’m not sure why, but I figure I’ll go with my gut and try it out.

Shadows at the Fair (Lea Wait)

shadowsatthefairIgnorance is truly bliss for recently widowed Maggie Summer, owner of Shadows Antiques, when she arrives at the prestigious Rensselaer County Spring Antiques Fair. Sadly, she won’t remain ignorant of the suspiciously high mortality rate among her fellow antiques dealers for long. Rumors are everywhere. The most recent victim, John Smithson, died of poison at a show just last week, and many of the same dealers are here at Rensselaer. They make the identical circuit year after year, so they know each other well. Or do they? The opening night wine has hardly stopped flowing when death claims another victim. Maggie will still sell a few antique prints, but she’ll spend most of her time looking for a killer and trying to save a vulnerable young friend. Will Maggie herself become a potential victim? The answer may be in one of Maggie’s prints, but she has hundreds in her booth. Where should she begin? I do so love my guilty pleasure cozy mysteries. I passed by this one three times while looking for my other books and decided to just go for it. 🙂

Matchless (Gregory Maguire)

matchlessWith ‘Matchless’, Gregory Maguire has reinvented the Hans Christian Andersen classic ‘The Little Match Girl’ for a new time and new audiences. Originally asked by National Public Radio to write an original story with a Christmas theme, the New York Times bestselling author of ‘Wicked’ and ‘A Lion Among Men’ was once again inspired by the fairy tales we all loved in childhood—and he composed a poignant and enchanting tale of transcendence. A lovely and beautifully illustrated gift, ‘Matchless’ places Andersen’s pitiful waif in the august company of Maguire’s previously re-imagined Snow White (Mirror, Mirror), Cinderella (Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister), and, of course, the Wicked Witch and other denizens of Oz. I’m not sure what caught my eye about this book, maybe it was the really bright green cover sitting on the end of it’s shelf or maybe it was the author’s name (he always uses that very distinct font). I don’t really like Gregory Maguire; ‘Wicked’ was disappointing and I barely got started on ‘Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister’ before I DNF’d it. But I really, really WANT to like Gregory Maguire, so I keep trying anyway. Sigh.

And from my own shelf…

I’m actually currently in the middle of another book, which has been quite fun so far. Guess it’ll be on hold for a bit now. 😉

Off To Be The Wizard (Scott Meyer)

offtobethewizardMartin Banks is just a normal guy who has made an abnormal discovery: he can manipulate reality, thanks to reality being nothing more than a computer program. With every use of this ability, though, Martin finds his little “tweaks” have not escaped notice. Rather than face prosecution, he decides instead to travel back in time to the Middle Ages and pose as a wizard. An American hacker in King Arthur’s court, Martin must now train to become a full-fledged master of his powers, discover the truth behind the ancient wizard Merlin… and not, y’know, die or anything. I bought this one because it just sounded hilarious. I kind of have a thing about modern people getting stuck in the past (and vice versa); when done right, they can be really entertaining stories. I’m about halfway on this one and it has been a blast so far. I’ll be honest, the main character is a little annoying, but he’s growing on me. And I think there might be a “wizard” battle on the horizon!


So what’s on your To-Read List?

Book Tag – Unpopular Opinions

So, I wasn’t actually tagged to do this, but I LOVE the concept behind it, so I’m totally stealing it. 😉 (Thanks Kristen!) You can view the original video for the tag here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYfgq8HgDc0&t=367s

QUESTIONS:

1. A popular book or series that you didn’t like:

18490I actually have quite a few options for this category, but we’ll go with a classic: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. (*SPOILERS*) This is a story about a man who decides to play God and create life, only to completely panic when he actually succeeds. His creation, understandably upset by his Father thinking he’s a freak, runs away and hides in some random people’s house. When THEY get understandably upset that a stranger has been living in their house spying on them, he decides that all people are evil and he’s just going to kill everybody. Pappa Frankenstein proceeds to blame every problem in his life on someone else and refuses to acknowledge what’s really happening, leading to the deaths of most of the people he cares about. — I really couldn’t stand this book. Dr. Frankenstein is one of the most self-centered, whiny, egotistical, and obtuse characters I’ve ever had to read about. By the end, I was rooting for the Monster. I have no idea why this story is so beloved.

2. A popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but you love:

Oh, this one is way harder. It has to be POPULAR? Hmm…I’m going to go with the Weird West Tales series by Mike Resnick. The overall Goodreads scores for the books are solidly in the mid-3 range, but there are a ton of individual reviews that are terrible. I personally love the series, but then I also like the movie Wild Wild West. 😉

8253037

3. A love triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with OR an OTP that you don’t like:

harrylunaOk, I blame the Harry Potter fanfic for this one, but I’m totally a Harry/Luna (or Harry/Draco, but that’s a bit more farfetched considering that they were super-crazy antagonists in the original stories). Ginny (from the books) was pretty great, but I just love Luna and I think they would have made a great couple. Plus, falling for his sister’s best friend, a girl who’s had a crush on him forever…it’s a tiny bit cliched, don’t you think?

4. A popular book Genre that you hardly reach for

Romance – I’m really not a romance fan. I do occasionally still read them, but more the cozy or fun love stories, like The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George or The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. The ones that are completely focused on the relationship or full of flowery passion…not my cup of tea.

5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like:

I know I’m supposed to support the ladies, but: Katniss, Tris, & Bella. I can’t stand ANY of them. Bella is kind of understandable, since her story is a romance (see above 😉 ) and she seems to spend most of it needing rescue (at least during what I got myself to watch). And I know Tris & Katniss are SUPPOSED to be flawed. “That’s what makes them such great characters. They are REAL!” Whatever. I don’t like reading about unlikable people and these girls just seem to irritate me more than inspire me.

Heroine

6. A popular author that you can’t seem to get into:

terrypratchettTerry Pratchett – Sorry Pratchett fans, I know I’m supposed to love this author, but ::shrugs:: I did like Going Postal ok and Good Omens, his match-up with Neil Gaiman, was kind of fun, but I just have no interest in trying to read more if his work.

7. A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing. (examples “lost princess”, corrupt ruler, love triangles, etc.):

The “distracted by love” trope. Does this count as a trope? It seems to be in virtually every single book I read with a female protagonist. Why do the guys get to be completely die hard about saving the world, but the girls all end up getting distracted by a man? Seriously, EVERYONE IS ABOUT TO DIE…maybe focus on that instead of whether or not that dude you just met thinks you’re pretty.

8. A popular series that you have no interest in reading:

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I like watching epic fantasies, but reading them has always been hard for me. Too many twists and turns, too many complex connections between the characters. I have trouble keeping everything straight.

gameofthrones

9. The saying goes: “The book is always better than the movie,” but what movie or TV show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?

lotrbookAnd speaking of epic fantasies…Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein. Oh man, have you tried to actually read these books? I was doing ok, even with the really verbose dialogue and never-ending descriptions, until they all decided to stop FOR A MONTH to party with a guy who lives in a tree when they were SUPPOSED to be ridding the world of the Ultimate Evil. I got so angry with all of them that I couldn’t read anymore. I know the fans of the books love Tom Bombadil and were really cranky that he wasn’t in the movies, but seriously, what was up with that part?!?


How about you guys? What are some of your Unpopular Opinions?

Book Review – Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

Book: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch – Authors: Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

Genre: Fiction, Supernatural, Humorous

Description from Amazon:

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completelyaccurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

My Review:

As a longtime admirer of Neil Gaiman (and a newbie to Terry Pratchett), I was happy that I ended up really liking this one. The authors’ storytelling techniques meshed very well and the end result was a very humorous, yet thoughtful book. I really liked the way they went about the apocalypse. It was hilarious while still being horrifying. The Antichrist had an interesting take as well. No spoilers, promise, but the individual they used for the character was very well done and, though it normally would seem like an absurd individual to use, the way they are used is done so well that it all comes across as very believable.

Fans of the show Supernatural will be surprised to find a character named Crowley (though after I looked up the true reference, it totally made sense for him to be in the story) who’s attitude greatly resembles the tv persona. Instead of putting me off like it normally would, this coincidence actually made me enjoy the book even more. I love the character of Crowley in both instances, it seems.

My favorites, however, would have to be the Four Horsemen. I loved the re-imagining of these characters. Modern and eternal all at the same time.

My only con for this book was that it was long. Not really in physical length, but in time. There were several places where the story seemed to drag and I was pushing myself to keep going because “things will start to pull together soon”. I’m hoping that this isn’t reminiscent of all of Terry Pratchett’s work for me, since I had the same reaction afterwards to “The Color of Magic”; the story seemed to kind of hop around more than necessary and you weren’t always sure how things tied together.

All in all, though, I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.

Similar Books:

Hitchikker’s Guide to the Galaxy – by Douglas Adams