Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Review: The Life of the World to Come, Kage Baker

Big Fat Disclaimer: Spoilers for the entire series, rambling, and one measly persons OPINIONS on a book series. Anyone who has accomplished the feat of becoming a published author deserves mad props, no matter what. One persons opinion isn’t the end of the world; you don’t like what I say – that’s fine. Mine isn’t the word of God, just a lowly reader of fiction who has a lifetime obsession with books.)

This is another book I picked up randomly like a stray cat at the library; it seems my system of going by the book cover isn’t working as well as I had hoped. Let’s do a short summary; er. Actually this is going to be a bit difficult because one of the problems with the book was that it was so goddamned vague that I have a hard time remembering names and events.

Right. Er, Alex? Alec? Alec, is…God, what IS Alec? Alec is the current reincarnation of our Hero with a capital H, born into our far distant future. 2300 thereabouts. Except he isn’t born but is taken as a science experiment?? He’s a human but not, but he’s a cyborg and he’s lived two different times in the distant past and he retains the memories so he’s got schizophrenia but it’s NOT schizophrenia, Yeah. Anyway, the future is a sanitized version of the Here and Now. There’s this super powerful company called…the Company, who has more money than God and is apparently pulling strings with their time machines and…I’m not entirely sure what it is that they do. They’re Evil with a capital E. I guess.

So right. Basically this book is about some random ‘cyborg’ woman who loves Alec and is thousands of years old but mostly about Alec as he bums around on his millionaire yacht being a ‘pirate’ but a really good pirate who only plunders knowledge and is really decent!, and all the chicks dig him, and nothing really happens until towards the end of the book when he steals a time machine and…yeah. There’s this whole woman sacrificing herself for a man thing, and then there was the schizophrenia and that’s the end of this particular tale.

Oooookay. I have a few problems with this book, which I guess is a huge series. Let’s start off with what I actually liked.

There were a lot of fantastic premises; a future where apparently the Republicans have completely taken over – there is no alcohol, no drugs, no goddamned sugar. To ingest any of these things is illegal. Hell, it’s illegal to show anger – it’ll get you locked up in a hospital psych ward. That’s a wonderful take on a future gone wrong.

The whole time pirates thing is a solid idea, its just too bad that it wasn’t explored as well as it could have been. Instead we get rich bum Alec with his Hawaiian print shirts and numerous sexy times with random chicks.

The whole one big corporation ruling the universe as we know it? Awesome idea (even if I kept seeing Dr. Zeus as Dr. Seuss) it just would have been nice to actually, y’know, SEE them in action instead of RANDOM VAGUE ACTION INSERTED HERE, LOOK HOW EVIL THEY ARE!!

Aaand that’s kind of where it ends for me as an enjoyable book.

Problems I had with the book:

One of THE MOST overused tropes in story telling is The Chosen One. If I never saw this trope again I would be ecstatic. Because you KNOW Alec is THE CHOSEN ONE. Therefore he never loses, is super intelligent (though I have yet to see evidence of that) and WINS at everything!

Alec bugs the ever loving shit out of me. I repeatedly wanted to punch him in the face. It was such a shallow character; he’s supposed to be this incredible genius but instead of SHOWING the audience how clever he is we are repeatedly TOLD he is without anything to back it up (actually this describes the entire book - we are being TOLD things instead of having them SHOWN). As a kid he hacked a computer that was nigh unhackable and then…that was it.

He just sort of muddles along with the plot, which I didn’t even get most of the time, and is supposed to be a Hero but I didn’t get that sense at all. Alec is just BORING, all the characters were flat as cardboard.

Another thing that annoyed the crap out of me was the repeated use of ‘babe’ and ‘darlin’ with the women in the story. Maybe it’s a personal thing but I fucking HATE men that use ‘babe’.

And he does NOTHING to earn these relationships, it DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!! He’s ugly as a horses ass, has the intellect and conversation of a brick wall but apparently has this mad ‘charisma’ that makes them wilt with a single glance?!?

The Captain was a good idea in theory but he ended being Alec's cybernetic nursemaid and when he wasn’t available to Alec, Alec becomes bloody fucking USELESS. Mendoza saves his ass, and is imprisoned for her pains.

The other huge, huge HUGE problem I have with this book is the general hating on women. Holy shit, it’s like a guide to women stereotypes:

Mendoza apparently hates other women – she gleefully says she would gladly kill those stupid bitches (his ex wives) for hurting Alec. So we have Hateful Bitch. His ‘mother’ had zero interest in him, in children and was like a block of woman shaped ice so we have (and need I add that the book really shits on women who decide not to have children or who are not interested in them): Frigid Bitch.

One of his ex wives was some rando chick he picked up because she lied and schemed her way into in his money, but once she got settled into the marriage went batshit crazy and starting lobbing insane accusations at him and went screaming into the night so we have: Crazy Bitch

Mendoza is described by Alec’s schizophrenic alter egos as a woman who ‘fucks like a whore and is as wise as Athena’ need I go into how problematic that is? This could also be seen as: Slutty Bitch.

Just…God, so many issues with this book. I didn’t care about any of the characters, I couldn’t follow the plot half the time, I had to make myself pay attention to what was going on and those Three Stooges of the Company? I can’t even remember their names! I had to go back so many times, because I had forgotten who the hell they were.

Dr. Zeus, the supposed great Antagonist of the novel, makes a very short and random entrance and to be truthful there wasn’t any real antagonist. It’s supposed to be about Alec’s great battle against the Company but….no, I wasn’t seeing it at all. It was all just so…boring.

Plus there’s this whole Mendoza is the only worthy female and every other woman written in the narrative is some stupid ‘bitch’ that plays a very short role in Alec’s life. Yea, ‘bitch’ is thrown around way too much in this story. In addition there was this whole, WOMEN ARE THE DOWNFALL OF MANKIND, BUUUURN BITCH BUUURNN, thing going on with the Three Stooges after they learned Mendoza helped Alec survive.

Mendoza was a problematic character as well; she’s supposed to be thousands of years old and I didn’t like that because her personality just didn’t match up. I didn’t like that her entire being was solely dependent on Alec. I didn’t like that she didn’t have ANY agency; her first, last and foremost thoughts were of Alec, NOTHING ELSE. There was no backstory on her, there was no feeling for her character – she was a fucking prop for Alec.

I guess, in short, I’m sorry if you enjoy this series but for me it wasn’t particularly interesting, wasn’t clearly written and was just sort of mediocre.

Back to the library for more random books.

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