Sunday, October 28, 2012

11.22.63, by Stephen King

11.22.63: A Novel, by Stephen King

It has been a long while since I've read a Stephen King novel; I loved his early works, but after a string of disappointments with It, Needful Things, and The Dark Half I'd largely stopped reading him. I came across this just before one of my trips to the UK, and the tag on the cover caught my imagination: "The day that changed the world—11.22.63—what if you could change it back?" With the date of JFK's assassination as the title there isn't much surprise as to what the topic of the book is, and this event is one of the hotspots of alternate history so many authors have taken a run at this before. King takes a very fresh look at the time though, both in what the effects of changing the past would be and in how time travel itself might work. I quite liked the idea that the timeline would push back, resisting changes to the "natural" timeline. As readers we know how the assassination came about, so having history itself as the antagonist made for a more suspenseful read than a traditional villain.

King has his normal nods to his other books here, most visibly the town of Derry (where It took place) paying a large role and a cameo by a certain white-over-red Plymouth Fury. While he clearly deeply researched Kennedy and Dallas in the early 1960's, one notable error was the appearance of bumper stickers reading "Don't Mess With Texas" in that era; as far as I know that phrase was made famous in the mid 1980's. Overall, though, this is a very entertaining read and a welcome return to greatness for King.

First Sentence:
I have never been what you'd call a crying man.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Seven Wonders, by Adam Christopher

Seven Wonders, by Adam Christopher

Novels following superheroes are becoming more common; some are great, and some aren't. Seven Wonders falls somewhere in the middle, but leaning very heavily toward the "great" side of the equation.

The Seven Wonders is the bastion of justice, a group of the best heroes that has nearly eradicated crime. The last remaining supervillain, the Cowl, opposes them. The battle between these two has raged for years, but despite a seven-to-one manpower advantage for the forces of good a stalemate reigns. Into this world an average man develops amazing powers, and decides to join the battle. Interestingly, neither side is thrilled with this...

This is a strong book, with characters that are unique enough for the reader not to simply sub in "Superman," "Batman," or "The Joker" when encountering a new hero or villain. The plot starts off with a superpowered bank robbery, and then grows from a earthbound fantasy to an interstellar one. As we reach the climax things get weird enough that it nearly lost me, but the ending is satisfying enough. There is just enough adult language throughout that I would hesitate recommending this to a young reader, but overall a great escapist read.

First Sentence:
It wasn't until the following week that Tony realized he could fly.

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