It takes a really interesting look at our civilization, technology, and language through outside-eyes. Smith has built an excellent world that just feels right. Real. Reminds me of the first Jean Auel "Cave Bear" novel, but with a lot less tedious exposition.
A Mongolian horde has crossed the frozen Bering strait and is overrunning North America. A small army from northern Mexico and the powerful but rigid Middle Kingdom must unite to stop them. Meanwhile, New England has achieved disturbing results in genetic engineering despite the rest of the world's technological decay.
Smith's world is brutal, a point he drives home again and again. What we would consider to be good, socially conscious people either compromise their principles repeatedly--at great personal cost--or else are destroyed.
Wonderfully written. Don't get attached to any of the characters in this series...Smith is almost George R R Martinesque in his willingness to dispose of them.
The first half of the book is about a good man and his relationships with his best friend and his younger brother. Then it abruptly changes into a gory superman-run-amok story.
It's kind of a downer, and very unpredictable. Every time I thought I knew where it was heading, everything changed. I found the ending to be vaguely unsatisfying but overall it was very thought-provoking, very well-written.
Nope. The vamp design is moderately interesting but the alternate history and steampunk are painted on so thin you can see right through. The characters, plot, narrative--pretty much everything--are simple, unsophisticated--and what's worse, they don't know they're unsophisticated. The characters all read like teenagers pretending to be grown up. Not a good book.
How do you take a story about an actual serial killer who constructed an actual murder castle--complete with secret passages and rooms and chutes--and make it BORING?
The Chicago World's Fair stuff was more interesting by far than the H.H. Holmes chapters. But the lists and menus he included made it feel like he was stuffing a term paper to get it up to the minimum required page count.
Larson apparently tried to take a historical narrative and spice it up by talking about how people felt or what they thought, and to me it often didn't ring true. I think I'd have enjoyed this immensely if the author had picked a style--biography/historical account or novelization--and stuck with it.