Book Review: ‘Them’ by Jon Ronson

Them: Adventures with ExtremistsThem: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t like conspiracy theories. I think the notion that even a powerful group of individuals can control world events is absurd, given how inherently unpredictable people are.

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Anthology Review: ‘Singapore Noir’ edited by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Singapore NoirSingapore Noir by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review from ARC. Expected publication June 3, 2014.

Given that this book is being published in America by a US-based company, I’m going to go ahead and assume that it is primarily geared towards people who aren’t intimately familiar with Singapore. The fact that it’s in English particularly doesn’t mean much; English is prevalent over there. Or should I say Singlish? I had a Singaporean roommate first year of university and the cadence of speech is quite different-lah. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Up Jumps the Devil’ by Michael Poore

Up Jumps the DevilUp Jumps the Devil by Michael Poore

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The premise is straightforward: Mr. Scratch—better, and more frequently, known as the Devil—has just been shot up a bunch during a filming of his hit reality show, soooo how did he get there? Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ by Jared Diamond

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human SocietiesGuns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Diamond’s approach to history: look for patterns, and apply the scientific method as much as possible, achieved here to its fullest degree with linguistics and archeological findings, and a robust side dish of evolutionary biology.

That said, I’m so biased in favor of this approach, because it’s exactly the one I like. I happen to hold a degree in biology, with a minor in Classical Civilizations and a second almost-minor in Political Science (it would have been a full minor if my school allowed classes to be counted twice for minors).

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Comic Book Review: ‘Pretty Deadly’ #1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios

Pretty Deadly #1Pretty Deadly #1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This rating is for the digital edition, although I don’t think it’d be any different for the print, much as I love glossy pages in my hands. ComiXology is decent at formatting, and I read this on my computer so I had the option of full spreads, single pages, and Guided View. The HTML5 reader is decent, if you haven’t tried it yet. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’ by Sherman Alexie, with Ellen Forney

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been looking for something like this: a book that touches on real contemporary issues (poverty, racism, the insanely high mortality rate on reservations—could just be the book, but I doubt that) without feeling the need to set up a black-and-white dichotomy where the good guys, and especially the narrator, can do no wrong, and all the evils are tidily summed up in some ‘other’ who isn’t everyone the narrator grew up with. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Dune’ by Frank Herbert

Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1)Dune by Frank Herbert

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

‘Dune’ is a classic, which—reading this a while after it was published—can mess with the reading. A lot of the tropes explored in this book, fresh when Herbert got into them, have become pretty familiar. There is this potential layer of subversion where you have to ask, given a close reading, whether he’s really approving of the system, but it’s my firm belief that a book has to be judged on its surface as well as everything else.

So I’m not going to get into the things that were like ‘I live in 2013 and what is this’ because that’s weird and unnecessary. I mean, yeah, the whole ‘magic foreigner rescues a civilization threatened by his own fellows’ bothers me, but it is partially subverted by Paul’s constant reliance on the Fremen, not to mention that, technically, they’re not natives, either. But, you know. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Parasite’ by Mira Grant

Parasite (Parasitology, #1)Parasite by Mira Grant

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Review is from the ARC version. Yes, I’m aware this book is released now. u:

I always feel obligated to qualify my opinion about biology in books where there’s lots of it, so here goes: after taking every single available neuroscience course (except the 9-hour-a-week graduate one), I did two quarters of immunology at the University of Chicago. The second one, “Immunopathology,” was basically an entire quarter of tearing apart journal articles for the slightest hint of inaccuracy, and analysing the two major theories around how the immune system operates.

So what does this do when I run into fiction that extrapolates a world where the hygiene hypothesis (it’s explained in the book) has led to people having parasites surgically implanted for health reasons? Continue reading

Comic Book Review: ‘Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life As A Weapon’ by Matt Fraction & David Aja/Javier Pulido/Alan Davis

Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a WeaponHawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I’ve never been into superhero comics, and I think this is more for people who both love the genre and would like to see diversity within it. Of course, the art is nothing like the usual DC/Marvel fare (excepting the ‘Young Avengers’ issue 6 at the end): the style reminds me of newspaper comics more than anything, if I’m going to make a comparison. The lines are pretty thick, you don’t have the constant inundation of detailed musculature/hair/etc. Which gives the story some extra space to breathe, I think. The color palette is more limited, too (flatter tones, namely). Not quite the strict four colors throughout that I’d expected, but when that does happen, it looks great. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘The Ocean of Life’ by Callum Roberts

The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the SeaThe Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea by Callum Roberts

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Many people think of the oceans as a remote and incidental feature of our world. Their importance is felt in a physical sense, but people don’t realize how much we all owe to life in the sea…. Humanity is in retreat all over the world.” Continue reading