Review – The Defenders

The Defenders have finally arrived to Netflix and thanks to being sick I was able to stay home and binge watch the whole show in one day and as such I am ready to bring to you my review of the season and I will keep the spoilers to a minimum. The Defenders are basically the street level Avengers and its members are Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Daredevil. All of this characters have had their own series and most of them, except perhaps Iron Fist, to critical acclaim. This series was the unification of all the Netflix Marvel characters and the culmination of many plots and sub plots that have started in the other individual series.

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The Hand are the antagonists in this show and we have seen them prepare their plan since Daredevil Season One. They seek power, influence and to obliterate New York. However to complete their plan and to return to K’un-Lun they need one more thing, The Iron Fist. In the show we are introduced to the Five Fingers of The Hand, amongst which we see some familiar faces such as Madame Gao, and their leader, Alexandria (Sigourney Weaver), a woman who has lived lives upon lives. It is she who resurrects the dead Elektra Natchios with the power of the Black Sky, and the last of the substance that makes the Five Fingers cheat death. Falling in line with the other Netflix shows (save for maybe Iron Fist), we are given a villain worthy of her status. With Elektra as her “muscle” we watch the unlikely heroes struggle to match her, even when they have her outnumbered, making every fight scene that much more compelling.

The show without a doubt delivers and it does a great job in setting up the story. The four titular characters are very different to each other and it takes a long time for them to come together, especially considering Daredevil at the start of the show is attempting to leave that part of his life behind.  However when they finally come together the pace really picks up and the show is incredibly satisfying, especially the interactions between the characters (highlighted by the wonderful Kristen Ritter as Jessica Jones and her snide but hilarious comments). The action scenes are wonderful, especially the one in the hallway (a classic now in the Marvel Netflix Universe) and the one in the last episode.

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The characters are wonderful and everything is anchored in my opinion around Daredevil and his relation with Elektra who is played by Élodie Yung perfectly and is able to steal many of the scenes she is in. Sigourney Weaver is also excellent and joins the excellent list of Marvel Netflix villains, as she portrays a ruthless, timeless, powerful villain. The main cast does a great job as well, the chemistry between the Defenders is great and the rapport between the heroes is entertaining. Iron Fist, played by Finn Jones, who was the weak link coming into this show is much improved in this series. Both the actor and the writers seem to have found a more appropriate tone for him and his interactions with Luke Cage are a great throwback to their comics. The main cast is well complimented by all of the side characters we have come to know in the other series but Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing and Rosario Dawson as Claire Templeton (and the character who has been in every show) stand out particularly.

I enjoyed the story that was presented although I will admit that at some parts it dragged a little, however this was a minor issue that was offset by the great interactions between the characters that form the heart of this series. Another excellent point is the use of different colours to present each character, which gives us that comic book tone that is just great to see. The colour schemes change from character to character. Jessica Jones’ scenes are blue and dark, with Luke we are shown yellow lighting and a hip hop theme, while Iron Fist’s scenes are green, and lastly the scenes with Daredevil are often red. When they are all together we get a different tone to show us that it is no longer about the individual but about the team.

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I have really enjoyed this show and its ending is spectacular, heart-breaking and ideal to set up the next of the series with the Defenders, Daredevil Season 3, in which we seem to be heading towards one of the most classic Daredevil comic book stories. The ending had me feeling a myriad of sensations but most of all it left me feeling satisfied with the show as a whole. This first season of The Defenders has in my opinion lived up to the hype. It is entertaining, fun, gritty, dark and captures perfectly the tone of the different shows. We are perfectly primed to see now the next seasons of the individual shows of this characters and I can’t wait for the Defenders to come back. Meanwhile we can get ready for the arrival of The Punisher.

The Defenders: 8.5/10

Book Review – The Fifth Season

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I am finally back writing on this blog and it has been quite a while but between vacation and work life has been quite hectic lately! That said, I am now back and ready to bring you more good nerdy reviews and hopefully soon new sections to the blog. Today we are going to talk about a delightful book I just finished and that is The Fifth Season written by N.K Jemsin. I had wanted to read for quite some time this series since it was awarded the Hugo Award for Best Novel at the 74th World Science Fiction Convention on August 20, 2016. It was also nominated for the Nebula Award and World Fantasy Award for Best Novel and as such I was incredibly excited to read this book. Before we get into the review let me warn you that there might be some minimal spoilers although I will attempt to keep it at a minimum.

I absolutely loved this novel and it is more than deserving of the awards it attained and all the praise it has received. The story combines many elements of classic fantasy and science fiction in a unique manner to give us a rich story with an intriguing setting and plot. The Fifth Season is set on a planet with a single supercontinent called the Stillness were occasionally climatic disasters labelled as the fifth season occur, thus preventing humanity from flourishing. In this world there are a group of people hated and feared known as the oregenes who are capable of controlling energy, particularly that of the earth (directly) and temperature (indirectly) and thus prevent earthquakes and climatic disasters. Although they are hated and not considered human, they are used by society to minimize dangers in a world divided by caste. At the start of this book we learn that a fifth season is starting and we follow different characters in their struggles, especially that of Essun, an orogene mother whose son was killed by the father and who left with their daughter, and her search for them. This setting full of climatic strife, racial conflict and community struggles is captivating and yet also relatable. It is relatable because although it happens in a fictional world that is different to ours, the core of its issues are similar to many of the issues we now face.

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The characters of the book are incredible, with profound development throughout the novel that has a profound impact on the book. The diversity in the characters in this book is refreshing to see as within the genre of fantasy and science fiction this has not always been the case. Throughout the novel we meet characters that despite their differences with our world, reflect quite well in our and thus make you invested in it.

The characters are what drive the story throughout the whole novel, as we are able to witness their evolution, their thought processes and how they face the challenges ahead is a fascinating read and combined with the plot of the story makes for an enthralling read. N.K Jemsin is able to bring to live a fantastical world, full of incredible characters with amazing abilities that at the same time feels very similar and relatable to ours.

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I can’t recommend enough this book, it is wonderful, filled with beautiful characters and in an incredibly setting. After reading the first one, I for one can’t wait to read the next two books, with the third one having come out this month. I encourage you all to read the books as you will fall in love with them, and better do it soon since a TV show based on the novels has just been announced!

Review – Castlevania

So I have just finished watching Castlevania and I think it is appropriate that I review it since I have absolutely enjoyed this series by Netflix. Before we delve into the review let me preface this by saying that I have not played the games before. Whilst I am somewhat familiar with the mythos of Castlevania and have seen friends play it before I have never been actually able to play myself, as such I came into the show without too many prejudices and expecting nothing except having a good time. In this regards all I can say is that Castlevania is a great success. I will attempt my best to keep this review spoiler free but let me warn you that inadvertently I might drop a small spoiler.

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Before we talk about some aspects of the story let me start by commenting on the style of the animation. The style which is in some regards quite realistic yet at the same time slow was, at least for me, perfect for the story and the theme of the series. In many ways the way the characters, the world looked and how the protagonists moved reminded me a lot of the anime Attack on Titan. The other aspect that I wish to comment in regards to the animation and look of the show is the choice of the colour palette throughout the series. It is able to use dark tones and a lot of red, especially in the finale, which I think perfectly captured the tone of the show, the eeriness of the world and the despair faced by the characters in the face of such overwhelming evil.

Now that I have commented on the animation I can tell you that I absolutely loved the story and the characters in the TV show. The first 8 minutes, basically a prologue for the rest of the first season, are incredible and hooked me into the story. It was witty, fun, charming, heart breaking and devastating all within the space of 8 minutes. As I was watching, I could not believe it and was astonished that they were able to set up the story so brilliantly. The look of the antagonist, Dracula, is to put it simply perfect and from that moment you wish to see more of it. The beginning is able to set up the story and hook you into it.

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The characters are beautifully voiced especially Trevor Belmonte whose voice is provided wonderfully by Richard Armitage and does a magnificent job giving a unique voice to the character. I loved the characterization of Trevor Belmonte as this out of luck, downtrodden monster hunter who is full of wit and charm. I found it very easy to enjoy the character and his interactions with the rest of the Castlevania world. All of the characters in the show, secondary or protagonist, feel real and fleshed making a much more compelling world.

The decision to not feature Dracula as much in this four episodes was the correct one as by virtue of not appearing beyond the first episode but feeling his presence makes him a more intriguing and powerful antagonist and provides the viewer with much anticipation to see next season.

On a side note, the finale of the show was great. It delivered great, fast paced action and advanced the story line whilst at the same time leaving wanting more and creating expectation for an already confirmed second season. The first four episodes are clearly a prologue to the overarching story which will start next season and as such it did a great job in placing all the set pieces where they need to be.

As I close this review all I can say is that I have loved watching Castlevania. It does have its flaws as do all shows, for example some of the pacing of the episodes is wrong and some character relationships develop too fast without a correct explanation, but without a doubt its brilliant moments, great characterization and story far outshine the flaws. Castlevania has to be considered one of the best, if not best, adaptations of a video game and I will eagerly await the second season.

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Review – Wonder Woman Film

Finally, after a long wait, “Wonder Woman” hit theatres in Spain and I quickly went to see it. I have already seen this movie twice and have had time to digest my thoughts and find myself ready to write about them. First of all let me start of all this by commenting on the fact that I was not a big fan of previous entries into the DCEU world. Yet despite my lack of enthusiasm for this film universe I was cautiously optimistic with this one, the trailer had impressed me and everything I had read, heard or seen about this movie was good. I was hoping this would be the film to finally have widespread critical and fan acceptance and to see a film that I would love. So after seeing it twice I can gladly say that I LOVED this film. Before I delve into an in-depth review of the film let me just warn you that there will be plenty of SPOILERS.

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Wonder Woman had everything I wanted on a comic book movie. It was bright and colourful (something with which I have struggled in past DCEU films), it had great action scenes, it was fun, the titular character was amazing and it had a great hopeful message. One of my biggest issues with movies like “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman”, was the dark tone bereft of hope. It is a tone that fits Batman but doesn’t fit Superman. Comic book characters, especially heroes and heroines are meant to inspire us, to show us that despite how hard things get to be, how awful things can get, we can still raise above it. This movie perfectly portrayed this message and I was happy to see it.

Themyscira was beautiful and everything I hoped to see in an adaptation of the comic books. I loved the setting, showing us a paradisiac location where the amazons are able to prepare for their goal. The amazons themselves were amazing portrayed as fair, intelligent women who are also incredible warriors. The battle scene at the beach with the German soldiers was incredible and inspiring, full of amazing set pieces and stunts. Watching that and thinking about the trailer we have seen for Justice League, I for one can’t wait to see the amazons fighting against the parademons.

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The acting was great throughout the movie. I was surprised at seeing Robin Wright play such a physical role but she was splendid in it. She portrayed the toughness and physicality of the character beautifully and added great gravitas to the cast. The supporting characters were great in general and I loved the portrayal of Ares done. However there has to be a special mention for Chris Pine and Gal Gadot who had an amazing chemistry throughout the movie. Chris Pine was great in his role, playing perfectly his character and giving us great moment and Gal Gadot in my opinion owned the character. She was able to perfectly show both the toughness and vulnerability as well as the naiveté and idealism of the character. She has given us a perfect Diana Prince and a perfect Wonder Woman and I can’t wait to see more of it.

Patty Jenkins did an amazing job in shooting this film. Many of the scenes are beautiful and the action is shot perfectly, allowing you to feel the intensity of the moment without missing a beat. I also loved all the nods to the first Superman film (the glasses, the revolving door and the bullet scene in the alleyway) and how she was able to subtlety introduce them. She has done a great film and I hope that this opens the door for more female directors filming comic book movies.

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However the greatest thing about this film was the titular character.The character was amazing and inspiring and very similar to the essence of the character in the comics. She was shown to be as this idealistic warrior who is naïve but full of love and willing to fight for her ideals to the utmost. The message she gives is cheesy, but comic book are and will always be cheesy. I loved that she was fighting to end a war, to stop the violence, and doing so in the name love. I fell in love with the character throughout the film as she fought in a war, but also against gender roles and against an internal struggle. Throughout the film we see the character develop and grow but still remain true to herself. In my humble opinion she is one of the best character adaptations from the comics seen in film.

The already iconic scene in No Man’s Land was great. Seeing a female superhero charge the lines and have this amazing action moments was incredible and inspiring. Both times I have seen that scene I have become emotional and have seen it with a huge grin on my face. This film has finally given us the female superhero we deserved, a strong, feminist women who is able to change the course of history. Scenes like this are awe-inspiring and will be remembered for a long time.

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“Wonder Woman” was a beautiful film. It is not perfect, no film really is, and does have some flaws (the third act is a bit weaker than the rest of the film) but it was a great movie, with an amazing protagonist who I hope becomes the inspiration for many. “Wonder Woman” has certainly inspired me and the message of love in the movie is beautiful. Hopefully this movie, which is killing it at the box office, will be the first of many films with heroine protagonist and action films starring women in active roles. After watching this movie I am a bit more hopeful for the DCEU and I will with a bit of luck be able to see a sequel of this movie as it is more than deserving. “Wonder Woman” stands now in my top 10 comic book movies of all time and I can’t wait to see Justice League so I can see more of this wonderful character.

Wonder Woman: 9/10

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Review – Saga

It has been sometime on this blog since I have talked about anything relating to comics, that is probably due to the fact that I have been lately binge reading fantasy and science fiction. Yet whilst I have not been reading as many comics as I tend to do, I have been reading some of them, kept myself updated with Marvel and DC and have been enjoying a comic that over the past few years has become one of my favourites of all time, Saga. Saga is an epic space opera/fantasy comic book series written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples. It depicts a husband and wife, Alana and Marko, from long-warring extra-terrestrial races, fleeing authorities from both sides of a galactic war as they struggle to care for their daughter, Hazel, who is born in the beginning of the series and who occasionally narrates the series as an unseen adult.

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Ever since I first picked up the first Saga issue, almost by accident, I have been enthralled by it. The art, because make no mistake the work done by Fiona Staples is art, is sublime. It is able to reflect the world the story is set in perfectly and able to portray the emotions of the characters perfectly. Some of the art seen in the numerous issues of Saga counts amongst my favourite seen in the media and every time a new issue comes out I like to take a moment to just take in the amazing art drawn.

The characters of Saga are complex and draw you in every issue. Despite their alien nature you are able to relate to them and whilst they are in some ways they are similar to other characters seen in both comics and science fiction they are also able to remain in many ways distinctive and unique which I believe is one of the reasons this works so well. They are relatable because in many ways they are familiar but they are also different enough to be intriguing and to grab your attention. All of the characters involved from Prince Robot, to Alana and Hazel, to the multitude of side characters that enrichen the story and make it incredibly fun to read are memorable and important.

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The greatest thing about Saga is without a doubt its storytelling. If I had to describe it, and I must say it is difficult to fully do so, I would say it is a mixture of Star Wars mixed with fantasy epics such as Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire. Throughout the 42 issues we have experienced great emotional moments, fun moments, heart breaking issues and all in all an incredible comprehensive story. It is a story that touches on many issues that are relevant today in our culture such as gender, sexuality or ethnicity and it does so in an incredibly beautiful and respectful manner. It is also a great war comic book, showing us the dark side of wars, all of this based in a science fiction setting. The story has evolved and matured as the comic goes along yet it has not lost that essential aspect of fun and adventure that is so important in a space opera. Brian K. Vaughan has done a wonderful job in combining all of those aspects into a riveting story which is accentuated by the subtle yet delightful dialogue with which he gifts his characters.

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All said if you are not reading Saga you are definitely missing out on a great comic, a comic that I believe is redefining the comic book landscape especially in that genre. It is a smart, funny comic that captures with great characters and a comic with an amazing art that will stun you. Reading Saga is always a thrill and I am always excited when a new issue comes out. I 100% recommend this comic, even if you are not a fan of comics in general, you will probably enjoy Saga.

Whilst I eagerly wait for new issues I will be right here falling more and more in love every day with this comic.

 

Reseña – 36 de Nieves Delgado

El otro día cuando me preparaba para irme de viaje a Mallorca un fin de semana decidí leer un relato corto de ciencia ficción y entre los muchos que he comprado últimamente tome la decisión de leerme 36, escrito por Nieves Delgado. Tal fue la impresión que me causó este relato que me llevó a tomar la decisión de por primera vez escribir en español en mi blog. La ciencia ficción es uno de mis géneros preferidos junto a la fantasía y disfruto mucho leyéndola. Seguramente no hay forma más pura y más entretenida en la ciencia ficción que un buen relato corto. Leer 36 ha sido todo un placer y un viaje a la ciencia ficción clásica.

Este relato nos lleva adentra en la vida de una Inteligencia Artificial, una IA inusual y que ira creciendo y madurando a lo largo del relato. La historia nos enseñara las dificultades a las que se enfrentara la IA para integrarse en una sociedad no acostumbrada. Durante el transcurso del relato la autora trata temas diversos y tradicionales del género como la definición de lo humano, reflexiones sobre la naturaleza humana, reflexiones sobre la mortalidad y la diferencia entre un humano electrónico y un humano orgánico pero desde una perspectiva brillante y diferente.

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36 es un gran relato que te hace pensar, que te hace cuestionar muchas de las ideas ya concebidas y verlas desde un nuevo prisma. El final es sorprendente a la par que emotivo y cuando acabe el relato (que se puede leer en una hora fácilmente) como un buen libro de ciencia ficción debe hacer, te deja reflexivo y soñando con un mundo futuro diferente. Una de las cuestiones que me plantea que me gustaría compartir con vosotros es: ¿Si creamos inteligencia artificial, capaz de sentir y experimentar las mismas cosas que nosotros, debemos darle reconocimiento humano a pesar de no haber sido creada de forma similar?

Este relato ha sido mi primer contacto con Nieves Delgado y me ha dejado una gran impresión que sin duda voy a querer repetir. Si os gusta la Ciencia Ficción clásica 36 es sin duda alguna una historia para vosotros y que encarecidamente recomiendo. ¡No os defraudara!

Book Review – Leviathan Wakes

Another book gone and time for another review. Recently I have been reading more science fiction than fantasy and as such when the time came to choose a new book and after asking over social media, I decided to read Leviathan Wakes by James S.A Corey. This book series has gained a tremendous popularity in no small part due to the TV show based on this books, The Expanse. Coming into the book I had great expectations, I had been given great feedback on it, I enjoyed immensely the first season of the TV show and I enjoyed previous works by one of the authors. I was shocked to discover that James S.A Corey is a pen name used by collaborators Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck yet also elated since I have enjoyed immensely other works from Daniel Abraham, especially The Dagger and the Coin fantasy series. As such, I prepared myself for a great, entertaining book.

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I was not disappointed. The book is a great read that creates a magnificent world full of intrigue, mystery and conflict. Reading the world the authors created, the conflict between Mars, Earth and the Belters creates a great backdrop for the story, full of racist overtones. It is quite interesting to see a world in where racism is due to where you come from, what planet you live in. The organization of this world is fascinating something that is very common of all novels by Daniel Abraham. His series are full of complex political relationships, political struggles, which the characters have to face and navigate through. As a political scientist, I have a soft spot for political intrigue in my fantasy/sci-fi books and this book has plenty of them.

The mystery of the threat that the protagonists are facing really pulls the book forward and in my opinion it was a great choice to not explain the nature of the antagonist until almost the end of the book. It helped create intrigue and the mystique of a powerful rival that was always a step ahead of the heroes. The story is also an mystery novel, a detective story, as we follow characters who are determined to discover the truth and throughout much of the novel are investigating and trying to find out the truth.

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The best aspect of the novel is without a doubt the characters. The characters are well fleshed out, with flaws and are very relatable. All their decisions are logical and make sense. In many books, decisions taken by the characters make no sense and take away from the internal logic of the story but in this novel we do not see this. The contrast between the two main characters, James Holden and Detective Miller is fascinating and especially the latter is a great character who is able to captivate you as a reader and in my humble opinion steals the show.

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Lastly, I can’t end this review without mentioning the pace of the book. The book has generally a fast pace that is very entertaining but the authors are also very able to slow it down when needed to give the reader time to really understand what is happening in the book. This technique is very much appreciate it as it allows you as a reader to take time and breath, to have time to comprehend the implications of what is happening in the novel.

Leviathan Wakes is a great start to this series and a fantastic science fiction novel. If you enjoy science fiction it is a must read book (and a must see TV show) and I strongly urge you to pick it up and read it. I have been so enthralled by this book that I immediately have started reading the second book, which so far keeps the excellent level.

Book Review – The Night Angel Trilogy

Recently as part of my binge reading in the past few months I started reading the Night Angel series written by Brent Weeks. The Night Angel trilogy is set in the fictional world of Midcyry and in it we follow the adventures and life of Azoth/Kylar Stern as he struggles to leave behind the difficulties of his life on the streets and become a great wetboy (something akin to an assassin). On his path to greatness he will face harsh training, legends coming to life and a war and struggle for the fate of all the continent in which he will become a key player.

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The world of this trilogy is a gritty dark world. The city of the main characters is run both a king and also by a “shadow king” a figure head that dominates all criminal activities with a tight fist. This makes for a fascinating setting in which the story takes place as Kylar struggles to be part of both world. He struggles with the luxurious, advantageous but ultimately deceitful world of nobles and also struggles with the harsh, cruel and brutal world of criminals where he comes from and of which as a wetboy he is an integral part of. This duality, this struggle, is present throughout the whole trilogy as Kylar struggles to leave behind that in which he was raised. Kylar grows in our eyes and we see him fight an inner conflict in his path to realizing who he truly is and what his role in the world is.

 In this world there is a magic that some users are able to use, however depending on which side of the world you come from, magic is taught differently. In the case of Kylar and his master Durzo, as wetboys, they use magic to primarily enhance their physical skills as well as for stealth reasons. Other are able to use magic in more traditional fantasy ways, such as fire balls. This combination of different magic skills makes for a very intriguing world where most characters are able to fight in an equal footing and in many interesting ways with high stakes.

Durzo, the master of Kylar, is perhaps the most interesting and refreshing character. A character that seems to be the stereotypical hard-ass, mysterious mentor, as the story develops you learn more about him, his motivation, his past and you understand the character. By the end of the saga Durzo has become your favourite character and every scene with him is handled beautifully.

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However whilst the characters and the settings are fascinating without a doubt the best part of this series have to do with some of the themes that this book deals with, especially those of fate, duty and the sacrifices that have to be made in the name of the greater good. The books study this issues in a profound way and allows the reader to reach their own conclusions before we get the resolution and the choices of the characters. Especially in regards to the theme of seeking the greater good the book is able to give us a great study of this theme, with difficult choices, no straight answer and a story that explores new ideas such as having a necessary evil in order to reach an ultimate greater good.

All in all the trilogy is very enjoyable and fun to read. It is a classic fantasy story with some twists on the old tropes that keeps it fresh. The pacing of the story is fast and action-packed, the battle scenes are awe inspiring and it is able to make the reader think carefully about issues in the novels. Brent Weeks hits a homerun in this series and I am looking forward to reading more from him.

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Book Review – United States of Japan

Lately I have been reading a lot and finishing many books and thus find myself having to write several reviews for them. This is a wonderful although stressful “problem” because honestly I am enjoying the books so much that it is hard to take some time off from reading. That said, I recently finished reading United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas, and I loved the book so much that I feel like I needed to write about it. In USJ we have an alternate history science fiction where Japan and Germany won World War II and the West Coast of the USA is now controlled by the Japanese Empire.

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This story has a very interesting concept and right from the get go you are invested in the book as you try to understand how different the world has become to ours. I quickly found myself become fascinated by the world the author has created, a world where honour seems to be the most important aspect of society alongside devotion to the Emperor, yet we slowly discover that not everything is what it seems and the Japanese society is more corrupt than first presented.

The book explores concepts of honour, duty, sacrifice, religion and morality in such a way that despite this concepts being complex we are able to dive into them and question many things. Despite the setting of the story being very different to the one we live in right now, at least in the surface, the issues are similar to those we face today in many ways and this made it very easy for the reader to become fascinated by this world.

The characters in this book, especially the two main characters Benjamin Ishimura and Akiko, are fascinating and every chapter of the book is masterfully written so that the first impressions you had of the characters fade away and you are able to see beneath the façade that they put on towards society. As you read the book you feel like you are peeling an onion as you discover more and more layers to this characters and by the time you have finished the book, there is a great sense of empathy that has developed towards this characters, even to Akiko who at the beginning of the book seems like a stone cold government official. This is without a doubt praise worthy as the author manages to create a compelling world with complex but relatable characters.

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Another aspect that I enjoyed of the book was the rhythm. The book is very easy to read as it has a great pace that never drags and allows you to quickly devour this great book. The pace slowly builds up to an incredible, action packed finale with many surprising twists that will leave you breathless, shocked and with a deep appreciation to the book.

Lastly I have to mention the science fiction aspects of this book. I am a huge science fiction nerd and constantly read books in this genre. In USJ we are given a world with many classical science fiction tropes yet they are not fully developed despite some mentions towards the amazing technology (portical and mechas to name a few). It does follow many of the themes that are classical in science fiction and that makes for a great read. However, despite the fact that it does not delve too deep into sci-fi terrain this does not really hurt the book, if anything the hints the author gives at a larger world makes you want to know more. Another thing I would like to point out is that as someone who really enjoys Japanese culture and someone who has lately been reading a very famous manga, Vagabond, and I loved the nods to Musashi Miyamoto.

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In conclusion United States of Japan is a great fun book. The ending was great, shocking the reader to the core and changing your perspective towards many colours. I finished the book wanting to know more about this world, wanting to learn how Europe is (there are some small hints but nothing definitive) and most importantly, really wanting to see those awesome mechas have more action. I 100% recommend this book and can’t wait for the second one to come out.

Review Armada – A Nerd Dream

Over the past week I have spent around 14 hours riding on a train. As I prepared for my last train ride I was facing 7 hours on my way home and so I decided to read a book I have been meaning to read for a long time, “Armada” by Ernest Cline. Two years ago I read his first novel “Ready Player One” and I absolutely loved it. It was book for nerds like me, full of amazing references and a very fun concept. In “Armada”, I had heard before reading the book that it was not as good as the previous one, t going into this book I was just expecting to have a good read, have some fun and enjoy all the nerdy references.

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“Armada” did not disappoint. I loved the concept as it was basically the dream of all nerds, a world facing an alien threat that can only be saved by gamers who have unknowingly been training for this event through videogames. This of course is not an original concept, it can be seeing in a similar fashion in “Ender’s Game”, but the way it is told was beautiful. I loved the fun the author has throughout the book, the exciting dialogues full of references to Star Wars, Star Trek and other movies and comics, and most of all I loved the characters.

The main character in this book is a kid about to finish high school who loves pop-culture, videogames and a character that I could relate to very much. There is a quote at the beginning of the film that I wish to share with all of you since I felt that it described my school years perfectly: “I had been hoping and waiting for some mind-blowingly fantastic, world-altering event to finally shatter the endless monotony of my public education.” This thought by the main character made me relate to him throughout the whole story and feel identified in his reactions to the challenges he faced. His characters, those of his friends, and other around him gave this whole story a fun vibe that I fell in love with.

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This book is by no means a great book, but if you go to read it with an open mind, expecting to be entertained, to laugh and to be invested in the story you will enjoy it immensely. After all as part of this nerd world, it is incredibly easy to relate to the characters, and their fun vibrant dialogues. The story also has moments full of heart that are great to read and that give an important depth to the story.

Overall, in “Armada”, Ernest Cline delivers a fun, epic, nerdy story that is an easy read and by no means boring. Reading this book on the train ride was great and it helped make the long trip easier. “Armada” gave thought to many of my nerdy dreams and is a book that has somehow encouraged me to continue dreaming of a world where my nerd skills are actually useful. I for one, can’t wait to see the film that is being prepared for this book.

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