Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Civility Code by Michael W. Anderson Review

I won this near future, dystopian fiction through First Reads on Goodreads, as I do so many of the books I review here. The Civility Code by Michael W. Anderson is the first book of a trilogy.

The premise of the series is that offensive language has become a criminal offense, they added an amendment to the Constitution to this affect (Basically you are legally bound to be politically correct). To enforce this new law, a Civility Commission has been created. The commission investigates incidents of offensive language, prosecutes violators civilly and criminally, and determines what words are to be added to the prohibited word list each year. In the 20 years, since the law was enacted, 14,014 words have be added to the prohibited list. The list includes such words and phrases as: drunk driver, he, she, Mr., Miss, Mrs., clueless, fat, go on a diet, and not right.

The story follows the struggle between a group of hacktivists known as X and the Civility Commission over the law and the prohibited words. The hacktivists have been offered a window to take amnesty for their past crimes in order to escape prosecution, while the commissioner actively and passionately hunts them down.

The premise behind the book is what drew me to enter to win it, I think that the political correct/trigger warning movement has gotten out of control already and interferes with real discussions on serious issues. When I started the book, I had a hard time getting into it. The first chapter are so were difficult, I'm not sure if it was because of the new pronouns, the net shorthand used at the beginning, that I wasn't sure I was in the mood for the story, or the writing itself. After a couple of chapters, the story started to flow more smoothly for me. It seems the writing flowed better after that.

Anderson gives you insight into the personal lives and motivations of not only the hackers, but the commissioner of the Civility Commission. I look forward to to next volume to see how the stories and the characters progress.

Happy reading!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Shadows of the Dark Crystal by J. M. Lee Review

I have eagerly been awaiting this book since Jim Hensen Productions announced the Author Quest contest about two years ago. "The Dark Crystal" was one of my favorite movies as a kid, still is. I love Jim Hensen's and Brian Froud's artistry. I will forever be grateful to Jim Hensen for introducing me to Brian Froud.

So when I won the ARC from Goodreads I was overjoyed, especially since the winner of the contest was local author J.M. Lee and a local bookstore, Red Balloon Books, would be having a book launch party. I'm always happy to support local artists and independent stores. I'm also a giant book nerd and love meeting authors I've read.

I was very excited that the cover was done by Froud, and I was briefly disappointed that he didn't do the interior illustrations as well. Until Friday, I had only seen the placeholder art for the book. In fact, the first thing I did when I bought my official copy was to compare the art in the ARC with the polished art in the finished edition. The placeholder art showed me that I wouldn't be disappointed in Cory Godbey's artwork, it definitely captures the spirit and whimsy of the world originally created by Froud and Hensen.

This is J.M. Lee's first novel. (I think it was his first public reading of his work as well. He did a great job, but you could tell he was very excited and nervous. I hope his parents being there didn't make him more nervous.) It's always a bit nerve racking as a reader - probably as an author too - to enter into a much loved universe when there has been a change in management, particularly when that management doesn't have any prior documented experience. I have to say that I wasn't let down by the book. It definitely had all the heart of the original film.

Our protagonist is a young, strong-willed Gelfling girl, Naia, of the Sog tribe. Her people live in the swamp and she is desperate to see more of the world, like her twin brother, Gurjin. However, this isn't possible as she must train to replace her mother as the leader of the tribe. Her adventure begins when she spots a stranger while she is out hunting. She then has the opportunity to leave the swamp to find out what happened to her brother, who has gone missing from his duties as a guard at the Crystal Castle.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I hope that if finds an audience with to today's young adult readers and helps them discover Jim Hensen's lesser known works (which I think were some of his best). I am eagerly awaiting the next installment of the series.

J.M thanks for being so gracious in sharing with us a peek inside Froud's design notes and for signing both my copies of the book.

Happy reading!