Book Reviews: Snow Crash, Ender's Game, & Bluebeard's Children

I've just finished three books, and all of them were great. I have been quite a bookworm lately, because I couldn't put any of them down.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

There's much ado about Ender's Game lately, because the movie just came out. I haven't seen it, though I would like to. The three best things about the book were:

1. The friendships and feelings between the characters were so real.
2. The ending just made absolute perfect sense to me, like no other book I've read. It was quite satisfying.
3. It was so exciting.

One thing that bugged me:

The children were written like adults.

The most amazing thing:

How many true things he predicted, namely the internet, which is actually called "the net". In the front of the book, the first copyright date is 1977. Everyone in the book does their homework on computer tablets.

I read this as part of my book club. Almost everyone loved it, except for one person who couldn't get over Orson Scot Card's personal views about homosexuality, which, incidentally, are not alluded to in any way in this book. I think if you disagree with his views, just don't buy the book- check it out from the library. It's completely worth reading.

Bluebeard's Children (The Eyes of the Sun Book #2)

Bluebeard's Children is the second book in the series. The first is The Eyes of the Sun. Nevertheless, Bluebeard's Children stands alone pretty well. I don't think you would necessarily have to read the first book to understand it. Just keep in mind that the vampires aren't really like vampires so much as superheroes. The bad guys are generally created through science, and the good ones are natural. The three best things about Bluebeard's Children were:

1. The main character was a kick-ass girl.
2. The emotions were really messy and real. Traumatic events were followed by serious mental trauma for the main characters.
3. It was a real page-turner (although I use the expression metaphorically- it's only available as an ebook).

One thing that bugged me:

There were too many descriptions of making and drinking coffee.

The most amazing thing:

McMullen's writing has progressed so far from the first book to the second. The first book was good, but something about it seemed to lack confidence. The second book is just a roller coaster ride, straight out of the gate, constant action and plot twists and intrigue. It's one of those thrillers where you're never quite sure if the main character, Lucy Soriano, is going to be okay, or if there's something you're overlooking. Spoiler: there's always something. Poor Lucy. Her whole life is just one damned thing after another! The second book has more depth, too: xenophobia against vampires running rampant in the government is clearly a comment on current situations in our own, real government. And certain scenes are actually comical, like when Lucy poses as a man to face the enemy undetected.

Christina McMullen is one of the twenty-odd people who have been reading this blog almost since it began, back in 2004 or so. I'm pretty excited to see her succeed as a writer. Full disclosure: she has approached me about designing her next book jacket, because apparently the plot she is working on centers around a psychopath painter who paints clues into his paintings about how people are killed. (It sounds exciting, doesn't it?) But I don't get anything for writing her a nice review. I just liked her book.

Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson

Snow Crash is a book that BAH picked up at a used book store one day, and I just happened to pick it up and start reading it. I couldn't put it down. The three best things about Snow Crash:

1. The writing style is funny. I just love Stephenson's biting sense of humor, the way he turns a phrase, and his general quirkiness. Love it.
2. The main characters, "Hiro Protagonist" and "Yours Truly" (yes, take a minute and contemplate those names), were completely unique in the world of literature. I was truly fascinated by them.
3. Although the book portrays an outlandishly lawless future where the craziest things imaginable happen, it's all connected to a past that really did happen, and connected so beautifully that, even though crazy crazy things happen in Snow Crash, he convinces the reader that, yeah, that could happen. Totally. In short: it's so crazy I just might believe it could happen.

One thing that bugged me:

The huge, long passages about mythology and religion and linguistics and ancient gods and goddesses were a bit much.

The most amazing thing:

The concept behind the plot is so amazingly complex, I just don't know how he thought it up. And then to put it all into this future that had not yet happened, well, honestly, I'm just impressed. I couldn't even begin to explain the plot to you, but it has to do with linguistics, speaking in tongues, drug addiction, capitalism gone wild, and the beginnings of Christianity. Also, it has to do with hackers and the internet, which did not really exist when he wrote the book. Stephenson's conception of the internet is not as close as Card's in Ender's Game, but it's still pretty close: the internet in Snow Crash is a vast role playing game where everyone has to have an avatar, and they walk around in a virtual city. There's a librarian avatar who is really the internet, and you can ask him any question you have, so it's sort of like googling something. The plot has to do with "hacking" religion and "hacking" language. The plot of this book is a sort of visual representation in the real world of many abstract thoughts I have had over the years, in my life as an armchair linguist, questioning religion. And Yours Truly is the most loveable teenaged skater chick ever. Hiro Protagonist is not only the best sword fighter in the world, he designed the internet- but he designed it with a friend who he wants to be his girlfriend. And, in the end, it would seem that he did it all for love. Sort of.

So, basically, Snow Crash is the best book ever if you are a language geek who loves programmers and cheeky teenagers. So, yeah, I loved it.


  1. Thank you, I'm blushing. I'm also drinking coffee and thought you should know.
    Snow Crash sounds like something I need to check out.

  2. Snow Crash is good but primitive in Stephenson's oeuvre. Check out his Baroque Cycle a trilogy (Baroque Cycle) and Cryptonomicon which is a prequel set in WWII with descendants of some of the characters in the Baroque Cycle.

    Utterly amazing, historical fiction that teaches you a lot about the early development of science beginning in Isaac Newton's time. A huge undertaking (2500 pages just in the Baroque Cycle) but every page was thrilling in my opinion. Stephenson's a genius. Everything he's written is unique and unforgettable, including his most recent stuff.

  3. I will definitely be reading more Stephenson!