Book Review: Before the Storm

After two long years, another World of Warcraft book. Considering that I am an active player (okay, not now exactly, I am on a break for May and June) and interested in the game universe and story for the past almost 20 years (a lot of time…), it’s tough to make a review of this one.

It’s even tougher for the current situation and with the hints for where the story is going.

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Book review: The Path of Flames

So, after several weeks, I finally finished another book. This one took longer than expected, for reasons that were mostly irrelevant to the book. The book itself is good, yet I struggled to really get into it, for reasons I still don’t know.

Anyway, let’s get to the review itself. I’ll try to avoid significant spoilers, though the review will reveal something from the start.

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Book review: Recall by M. Van

So, my first self-published sci-fi read, and seems that my luck for choosing books that will take my attention is not running out, yet. This one is harder to review without spoilers, but I’ll try my best.

The book starts in what seems to be PoV of a robot or cyborg, which was new experience for me. It sets up the story well, describing the situation on Earth nearing its last stand. Humanity tried to find new homes with space travel but in the process hastened Sun’s lifecycle and sent it towards the rad dwarf phase faster than it would be naturally. As result, the life is now limited to a few cities in domes that block the deadly radiation from much stronger sun and one underground city, Subterra.

It also shows that cyborg-like ARs are remotely directed (not directly controlled, only being given instructions over radio) law enforcement units, which includes the PoV character. Things starts to get weird as it seems said cyborg is getting memories and gaining some degree of free will, leading to this line:

Could it be that someone had compromised my programming? But then how would that let me internally debate the issue?

Then the story gets to reveal that there’s much more going on and that the ARs are more than just cyborgs (not saying the details to avoid spoilers). It is revealed that the Subterran rebels are trying to reveal what is behind their missing people, the ARs and in a chain of events, they lead to even worse revelations. Which is probably all I can say without spoilers.


Read date: 25.-30.4.2018
Published: 16.10.2017
Goodreads rating: 4,0 / Amazon link (so far rated only by me)
My rating: 90%
Length: 365 pages (kindle edition)


There are some things I feel like I should mention. First is that despite the quite nasty things that are found in labs by the end don’t go into too nasty details yet show well enough the depravities done by leaders that want to stay in high places at any cost.

Second is that I found this book by quite some chance – I rarely looked at Goodreads giveaways as (by that time) they were limited to paperback only outside of USA (for which kindle giveaways were still in beta). I found out this one and after a quick look, I eventually added it to my potential TBR list, where it waited for just 6 months, which is not that much considering the list’s size.

Third is that I wondered if the name is, in any way, inspired by the movie Total Recall (though I only saw the 2012 version). In conclusion, it is well possible, there is the theme of getting memories back slowly while being thrown into action (again, can’t say much more without spoilers).

In conclusion, the story has potential and I’ll be waiting for the sequel(s).

How do I rate books

Significant part of my blog presence is writing reviews of books I read and at the end of the post, rating them as well. As someone who looks at reviews and to some point ratings when choosing my next read (more about that process some next time), I decided to share a bit how I do that.

First, I understand that the process is subjective for every individual reader and different people will look for different things in books, which will affect the rating and that is discounting the fact that one might choose a books that’s outside of one’s preferences or even out of comfort zone – which will most likely impact the reading experience.

I also have to say that I am quite easily pleased reader. Make me interested in the story and the ending, avoid obvious plot holes and “WTF?!” moments and it’s quite likely I’ll give 4+ of 5 when using Amazon/Goodreads scale. Now, on to some details. Long post incoming.

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Reader’s thoughts: endings

A question I pondered a few times is: what is a good ending? Eventually, I realized that there are several factors, and that is even for the outcome. “…and they lived happily ever after” might sound like a good ending, but it will help none if it’s reached in a way that makes it feel out of place.

Satisfaction

One of the factors is surely satisfaction. I believe that many people stick with a story to see the bad guy defeated and the problems that arose solved. How the story is told is great part and I would say that the more you can hate the antagonist, the more satisfaction you get from finally seeing him meet the deserved end.

Realism

Satisfaction is good, but the bad guy’s defeat is just a part of it. How the story ends is about more than just that. What went on through the story should be reflected by the ending – it would be weird if a land decimated by wars would suddenly turn into “everything is all nice” with his death, forgetting the destruction. Rebuilding takes time and the outcome should probably reflect that if the damage done was massive.

Cost

This goes with what I mentioned above. It’s pretty much inevitable that characters will die on their way to defeating the antagonist, but even those need to have some sense. I believe that death of each characters should have some point to drive the story forward – to make or break someone. The cost of victory should be related to the power of enemy being fought. Too easy victory will make it look like the problem was inflated, but too high cost could be problem as well.

This also opens opportunities for selfless acts of heroes, going as far as the ultimate sacrifice. In a post I made in 11/2017, I mentioned Kyle Reese from Terminator movie as my favorite example. I might even get back to this topic at some point and make a post more about what I think in this regard.

Balance of power

During a struggle, let alone war, factions with different aims will appear and influence those around. When a faction meets its end, they leave an empty spot that someone will, sooner or later, try to fill. Struggles to take hold of this power vacuum can be base for sequels, but leaving obvious loose ends unresolved will only result in disappointment, more so if the end hints that there will be no sequel but leaves unanswered questions.


So, in conclusion, what matters for the ending (and affects my review and rating) is how much sense the ending makes. If the ending is sad but makes complete sense and the story was done really well, the rating will be high.

If the story leaves several loose ends, more so if they are left to be unresolved, even the happiest ending in the world will not save me from taking % off, no matter how much I might wish for the main characters to live happily forever.