“Injection, Vol. 2” by Warren Ellis

Injection, Vol. 2 (Injection, #2)(Author: Warren Ellis) + (Year: 2016) + (Goodreads)

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Review:

I was pretty excited to read the second volume of Injection, but I must admit it was a disappointment.

Everything that I found interesting and worthwhile in the first volume was gone here. The new main character, Vivek Headland, was rather boring and overrated and the rest of the characters had basically no space to develop.

The story itself started out from something interesting, the Injection, and morphed into a dull saga of Headland’s peculiarities and strange sexual tastes. Add to that several long and boring monologues and a few random shooting sprees, and you are as far away from what was originally interesting in this story, as you can be.

The art was not as impressive either, mainly because it changed focus from interesting manifestations of the Injection to sex scenes and thugs.

I see how to some the mix of a world-changing virus, ghosts and cannibalism might be interesting, but for me it was over the top while actually not giving anything of value to the reader.

I might have completely lost interest in the series, unfortunately.

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“Bir Siyah Saçlı Kadının Gezi Notları” by Buket Uzuner

Bir Siyah Saçlı Kadının Gezi Notları (Author: Buket Uzuner) + (Year: 1989) + (Goodreads)

(Around the World: Turkey)


Review:

* 3.5 stars *

This is one of the books we read excerpts from in translation class while I was studying Turkology. The chapter that we read immediately caught my attention and I spent a really long time looking for the book itself, until finally a friend of mine (to whom I am very thankful) went on a trip to Turkey and bought it for me.

The book (the title is translated as The Travel Notes of a Brunette in Wikipedia) was just as entertaining as I hoped. It was rather short so it didn’t allow for an actual story to develop, but each small episode was interesting on its own.

Having the dream to travel as much as possible, I was a big fan of the idea that this is not only a travelogue, but also has the personal twist of the author’s origin, as well as the period she was traveling in, which is 70’s and 80’s from what I managed to gather.

It was fun to see her viewpoint of the time period, as well as to learn small facts about her experiences which are certainly very different than what an American, for example, would have to say about the same countries and events.

What I didn’t like as much was the writing style overall. Uzuner would often repeat herself, especially when it comes to descriptions, most notably how she describes all darker skinned people as hearty Mediterraneans, and all fair-skinned Westerners as lacking warmth. That might be her view in general, however, her own story proves her wrong as she has many nice and warm Western friends. Also, since the stories were taken from different times in her life, we couldn’t even properly follow her own life’s story, the friends and boyfriends and all that, which kind of seemed part of the essence of the book, as they kept turning up from time to time, like her Norwegian boyfriend. It made the novel feel a bit choppy and out of context.

Despite all that, I really liked the short stories, the bits of travel information and the interesting point of view. As I saw that she has other travel books, I think I will be looking for them now.

“The Wicked + The Divine: Imperial Phase I” by Kieron Gillen

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 5: Imperial Phase I(Author: Kieron Gillen) + (Year: 2017) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Well… this was not good. Considering that WicDiv has had ups and downs before, I hope that it will still get better. However, what I see is that the story is getting closer to its end and I feel that the writers are getting tired. Even the characters seem to have exhausted their fun potential and are becoming more and more unpleasant.

The Great Darkness plot is generally worthy of a main story-line, but unfortunately, it seems to be relying entirely too much on the characters, rather than the actual force of evil that’s threatening them. This entire issue was about the characters reacting to their impending doom and them growing, or not, in the face of danger.

I can say that I honestly don’t like Laura. She was kind of annoying at the beginning of the series, but now she’s openly a pain in the ass. All of her shenanigans seem kind of pointless because the only person she ever hurts is herself. Yet, she seems driven to be a bad person every single time.

On the contrary, I used to dislike Baal and to often see him as an useless accessory to the story, but in this volume I found him a lot more likeable. Same goes to Cassandra who was basically the only person making any kind of sense in Imperial Phase.

I’m pretty sure I will continue reading, as I want to finish the series, but I will keep my hopes up that it will get better, because the current situation is not good.

* As always, the art was amazing.

“Underground” by Antanas Sileika

Underground: A Novel

(Author: Antanas Sileika) + (Year: 2011) + (Goodreads)

(Around the World: Lithuania)


Review:

I found this book quite interesting and informative. My knowledge about the Baltic countries is rather limited, so I was eager to read a book from the region and Underground was the right thing for me.

The reason why it interested me as much as it did is because it gave a historical view of the country, as is the purpose of my Reading around the world challenge, and it told a rather engaging story at the same time.

From the point of view of the main narrative, I wasn’t sure where things were going, but I wanted to find out and that kept me turning the pages. The part of the story I found kind of scary was that the struggles of the main characters, the Lithuanian partisans, against the Soviet oppression, were set in the late 40’s and yearly 50’s, which meant for me, the reader, that they were likely to be unsuccessful and to disappear under the veil of communism. Despite that, I wanted to read on and see whether there was going to be any salvation for the characters.

What makes me realize that a book has touched upon an interesting topic is when I catch myself reading up on it on the internet once the book is over. Therefore, I would say Underground managed to interest me in the story of the Lithuanian partisans.

It was also intriguing to be able to once again compare someone else’s version of communism to the one that existed in my country. In this case it made me appreciate the positive sides of Bulgaria’s geographical location, and think about the differences in the values of the people. While the partisans in Underground were fighting for national freedom, the Bulgarian partisans (one of the longest standing partisan movements behind the Iron curtain), were small landowners who didn’t want their land to be taken by the communist government. Food for thought, huh?

From the character point of view, I would say that the people in the books were to some extent colliding ways of life and ideas, rather than personal points of view. By this I mean that their main goals in life more or less defined their place in the book and the purpose they had to play in the scheme of the author’s philosophy. I found it harder to connect to them because of this, but I nevertheless appreciate that they were the tool of the author’s beliefs.

“Far from the Madding Crowd” by Thomas Hardy

Far from the Madding Crowd(Author: Thomas Hardy) + (Year: 1874) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I borrowed this book from a friend who is a great admirer of Victorian literature. As we shared a liking for similar books from the period, I assumed that I will also like Far From the Madding Crowd.

Unlike the books from the Victorian era that I do like, however, Far From the Madding Crowd sorely lacked in the field of characters. Generally, for me, at least, in this particular time period, books rely most of all on their characters. The stories are rather similar, with poor and rich falling in and out of love with each other and fighting against their judgmental society for their love, gullible girls getting tricked by wicked men, stubborn, beautiful women refusing to obey to the rules that their family and society enforce on them, young, brave heroes fighting for the love of fair maidens, etc. etc. So, in short, it’s all about love and romance and the tragedy of forbidden or unrequited love.

Right! Therefore, what would differentiate a good book from a bad one? Why, the characters, of course. Everyone has rooted for Lizzie and Mr. Darcy or felt conflicted about Cathy and Heathcliff. And then there were Bathsheba, Gabriel, Mr. Boldwood and Sgt. Troy. Count those again if you want.

To say that I disliked Bathsheba would be a great understatement. I felt that she was quite probably the most overrated female character in Victorian literature ever. She was described as unbelievably beautiful, but also very smart, stubborn, brave and strong. Out of those last four adjectives, only stubborn would apply to her, and I would use it in a negative, rather than positive way (as it is in the book). Bathsheba has next to no reason to do almost anything she does. Every single time she does something and the author offers us a glimpse into her thought-process, she just sits around wondering how to make people like her more, deciding not to be a bitch and then being one anyway. And I would also remark that her mood swings, which Hardy thinks are a way to show us her personality, are really not that. She is extremely inconsistent, selfish and at times, for the lack of a more gentle way to put it, plain dumb. There are about 20 moments that I can think of on the top of my mind in which she makes the most stupid decisions and Hardy somehow makes it seem to the reader and all of the other characters like her decision is actually reasonable. For example: Bathsheba rejects every man who proposes to her and is a normal guy, because… uh, one of them is poor, and the other one is rich, and something something… And then comes along a handsome jerk that everyone tells her to stay away from and boom, she’s ready. In all honesty, it is a thing which happens in real life, however usually the bad guy is really not that open about his promiscuity or his wickedness. Then she decides to break up with him, makes a rash decision to go in the middle of the night to another city altogether, as she is in a hurry to break things off, and comes back married to him. It might seem like there would be a reason for that marriage which would later be revealed, right? Well, there is – because she is a silly little girl and he tells her he already likes other women, so she decides that that is not a reason to dump him, but rather, one to marry him.

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Many make it seem like Bathsheba is a victim in everything that follows in the book, but I would strongly disagree. Her choices put her in a horrible situation and there’s literally no one else to blame, because in this particular case the actions of everyone around her which cause her pain could have been prevented by her.

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Both Sgt. Troy and Mr. Boldwood were terrible people, as well. Troy was vile and greedy and Boldwood was quite possibly a rapist-to-be. In one particular scene at the end of the book I personally felt suffocated by the forcefulness of his desire for Bathsheba.

Gabriel Oak was the one character that I did felt sympathy for, as he was the only person in the entire book who actually possessed common sense. His loyalty, however, was greatly misplaced in the hands of Bathsheba and for that I felt a tad annoyed as well.

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