Please write faster Mr. Riordan/ The Son of Neptune

As I finished up my degree I promised myself one thing: No matter how much I love libraries, I wasn’t going to step into one until I’d finished reading the very large stacks of books that I had accumulated over the last few years and had not read. You know, those books? Some are gifts and people ask you politely if you’ve read them yet and you always feel like a bad person when you answer “not yet”. Some came from fundraisers or cheap books sales (“5 books for 10 dollars? Sounds like a challenge!”). I have no idea where some of them even came from but I’m sure they are all awesome.

Yeah, that lasted a long time. After finishing The Lost Hero (the second book of my summer) I caved because I HAD to get the next one.

So, The Son of Neptune follows the Lost Hero. The mysterious disappearance of Percy from Camp Half Blood is explained. Of course, by the time I picked it up I guessed most of what Percy had been doing but that didn’t make the story any less exciting.

Unlike The Lost Hero where it was the sidekick characters that quickly pulled me in, in this one it was Percy – Frank and Hazel were good characters with very interesting back stories (insert really exciting spoiler here) but they weren’t quite as lovable as Leo and Piper somehow. I’m starting to think it was a combination of how much funnier Percy’s narrative was and how important it was that they didn’t seem like sidekicks at all. Actually, sidekick isn’t the word I’m looking for. Frank is clearly meant to be a leader who just has to find his leadership style and Hazel feels more like a hero who’s meant to fight on her own but isn’t quite ready for it yet.

Of course, the other highlight was seeing Camp Jupiter. As I may have mentioned, I love the Romans. I mean the Greeks were pretty fabulous but the Romans, man they were just the best! So I really enjoyed the Roman-ness of Camp Jupiter, everything from the incredible number of pretty insignificant but hilarious state gods to the democratic process. I wasn’t always sure about how cold the Roman campers seemed to be towards each other sometimes and the emphasis on how militant they were but I suppose that’s fair. Rome did have a pretty big military.

I’m was thrilled beyond all reason that two excellent characters from the other series appeared – Tyson and Mrs O’Leary. Also, I adore the harpy Ella and Hannibal the camp elephant. The battle scene with them all fighting was probably one of my favourite moments of the whole book.

I also enjoyed that not only did they visit Canada in this book, they visited it twice. And one of the characters is Canadian. Although that was awesome, I didn’t feel like I understood Frank the way I understood say Percy or Piper, or even Hazel. The fact that he was a Chinese Canadian seemed to be in there so we could get an interesting ancestor story and not because Chinese Canadian kids struggle with their identities as much as kids with ADHD and dyslexia or children of Aboriginal decent. it didn’t ruin the story or anything for me, but I was a little disappointed.

Unfortunately, I’m really, really excited to see the seven heroes (Annabeth, Leo, Piper, Jason, Percy, Hazel and Frank?) go to Rome and then Greece in their flying ship made of recycled dragon but the book doesn’t come out until the fall sometime and then I either have to wait for it to come out in softcover, get behind  forty much more deserving children on a library waiting list or get a job so I can afford the hardcover. It that could be a while before I read the next one but I am looking forward to it.

Last movie I watched: Sharpe’s Mission. Yeah, not exactly stimulating movie watching but I kind of adore Sean Bean and in Sharpe he 1) isn’t evil 2) doesn’t die. I do wonder why on earth Sharpe married this woman since he obviously trusts her about as far as he can throw her.

Last TV episode I watched: A Supernatural I think – the one where the boys get trapped in TV. Man, when you type that out it sounds even lamer. It was a funny episode but of course you don’t watch Supernatural for the plot – you watch it for the very attractive actors and the brotherly bonding.

The Lost Hero or a really excellent book that kept me motivated for the last few days

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

I can’t remember when exactly I started reading the Percy Jackson books but I loved them. I’m a huge nerd and really love ancient Greece (almost as  much as I love ancient Rome), I loved the first person narrative and all the excellent creatures and characters. I’ve never been a twelve year old boy with dyslexia but I imagine Percy Jackson is exactly right. I loved that he was dyslexic too – it’s a pretty big issue right now and kids should have literature that reflects their experience.

So I was actually kind of hesitant to pick up the Lost Hero because sequel series are almost never as good as the first one. But I did and it was awesome. Probably not quite as good as Percy Jackson but close.

When I started it the thing I missed the most was the first person. I missed the immediacy and humour of Percy Jackson’s internal narrative. By the end of the first page of The Lightening Thief I already loved Percy. But with the third person narrative it took a lot longer for me to really warm to the characters. I suppose it’s worth noting that a lot longer turned out to be the end of the first chapter.

The Lost Hero is for kids a little bit older than the Lightening Thief, presumably because everyone who loved the Lightening Thief is a little older now too. I mean, it’s not Harry Potter, going to an intensely dark place at the end of it all but still the narrative is a bit more complicated. It also makes the third person really necessary or the whole book would just be one character after the other explaining their perspectives. If there’s one thing I learned from Lord of the Rings it’s that while it might seem like a good idea to have all your main characters sitting around a table and talking you through everything that has every happened or ever could happen, no one really likes to read it.

Along with a fast plot and laugh out loud moments that confused the people around me I think I loved the characters the most. Jason, probably a little less then Leo and Piper just because he’s the hero and most of his hero traits are things like bravery, honesty, loyalty, things like that. I am super excited to learn his story though. As usual it is the semi-sidekicks that really won my heart. I loved Leo – probably because I related to him the most. Characters that use sarcasm and jokes to hide their insecurities? Sounds like nobody I know. I also really liked Piper. At first I wasn’t sure about her. Being described as beautiful, even if it’s a plot point because you’re a daughter of goddess, doesn’t usually attract me to a female character, particularly if that’s the only real detail we get. Then everything she thinks, says or does for the next little while seems to be about her boyfriend somehow. But she really grew  into her identity and that was awesome. I loved that she had a fairly feminine power but she was still able to kick… butt when necessary. Her development was really genuine. Even the parts with her deity parent. As a side note, the English major with an interest in post colonial theory side of me also really liked that she was Native American and it was  a big part of her, instead of being her entire identity.

Other highlights include every mention of Canada (but I’m Canadian, we usually get excited when someone remembers we’re up here), the Quebecois Boreads, Festus the dragon and the Earthborn getting confused.

Gee it’s hard to write about this without using all caps so I can shout about how excited I am about the ending but I think I can manage. Still, I’d better end this post soon before something slips out.

Last movie I watched: Big Fish. I remember watching this movie as a kid and leaving with the impression that it didn’t make sense. It totally does now and it’s kind of awesome.

Last TV show I watched: Game of Thrones. Tyrion Lannister was epically fantastic as usual. Jon Snow made plot happen by being an idiot, again. Arya Stark seems to have more brains than her brother and Theon Greyjoy seems to be super annoying. Great episode all around!

Dune! (or the very second post of this blog)

Dune by Frank Herbert

A brief history of my experience with Dune: I saw one of the Dune miniseries last summer, which was my first introduction into the monumentally important science fiction series. I rather enjoyed it so I watched another one and the (much older) film. This did mean that I knew how the story was going to go when I started reading but I heard, from a guy working at Chapters, that “Dune is to science fiction what Lord of the Rings is to fantasy” so I figured I’d give it a shot.

I also started reading it in January after my father said exasperatedly “don’t you ever read adult books?” but while I was in school I just never got around to recreational reading somehow.

Dune is a science fiction novel, the science fiction novel according to the guy in Chapters that combines some truly spectacular world building with something like a coming of age story. Sort of. The protagonist, Paul Atreides starts out as a boy but by the end of the novel is a kind of superhuman, almost god like, ruler of the galaxy man.

Frank Herbert clearly devoted a great deal of his time (making him some kind of supreme nerd) to creating a fantastically complex universe filled with different groups, each one with a different agenda and motivation that almost makes the book a political thriller as well as a science fiction. Of course, there is always the danger with incredible complex world creation of letting the prose get a little slow and bogged down in details (see J.R.R. Tolkien, who I adore) but for the most part, Herbert avoids this.

I suppose its a little bit late to reveal that I’m a huge nerd (or is it a geek?), since I just finished Dune but I enjoyed the politics of the story probably more than the fight scenes. The motivations of each character are made incredible clear, partly because the reader switches perspectives almost constantly and that makes most of the characters sympathetic, at least for a moment.

Overall its a pretty epic story, with many, many characters (writing a list might have helped me out a little) in a fantastically complicated world where power is always held by whoever controls the spice. Maybe I just think to much about this kind of thing, but that was really interesting to me, how resources can be controlled for political means. I’m not saying that any countries or politicians are doing it right now, I’m just saying, I don’t know, maybe they could. Maybe.

Okay, so this isn’t coming along as coherently as I’d have liked it to ’cause it’s been years since I wrote a book report. The thing I remember most clearly looks something like this:

My favourite characters: Jessica, Chani and Irulan (although she’s hardly in it at all). The reason? Probably because these three women are all motivated by love (for their children, their lovers, their family, in Irulan’s case possibly power) to do incredibly difficult, but also uniquely feminine things. Chani in particular fights with the other Fremen but in the end her greatest sacrifice is not killing or fighting but ….SPOILER. Jessica and Irulan are both driven by politics, but make decisions that will cost them their personal happiness to ensure that what they love is safe.

Okay, so I’m going to have to work on getting my thoughts a little more ordered the next time I try this.

Most recent movie I watched: Avatar I think? But only part of it. I saw it in theatres though so I knew how it ended. That was also when I discovered 3D makes me motion sick. Anyway, pretty movie, that’s probably my only real thought.

Most recent show: Vampire Diaries. Which is a little embarrassing. Good episode though, lots of Damon and Stefan bonding (makes me wish my sister liked me that much). Once again, the big bad evil turns out to be kind of an ally against the newer, even bigger bad evil.

Okay then. Time to go outside or something.

It has been brought to my attention that when I’m unemployed I spent a huge amount of time watching nerdy movies and TV shows, reading books and thinking about the world in general. Someone once suggested that if these things were going to take up the majority of my time, I should do something with all my thoughts – say blog about them.

Well as it turns out, I am unemployed again and settling into a pattern that consists mainly of watching nerdy movies and TV shows, reading and thinking about the world in general so here I am, starting a blog.

Hopefully it won’t take me too long to master the art of blogging and I’ll be able to think of really, profoundly intelligent things to say most of the time.

At the moment though I haven’t mastered blogging and I can’t think of anything profoundly intelligent to say so I will just leave the following information:

Last movie I watched: Idiocracy (very smart, very funny and has a lot of fart jokes for anyone who enjoys those)

Last TV episode I watched : Torchwood (Doctor Who spin off, but much darker, grittier and not as fun. Having said that, it does have its moments)

Book: Dune (when I finish it I’ll blog about it. I hope)

The first post of this blog