So I just finished watching a Vlogbrothers video by Hank Green in which he suggested that everyone start a new internet thing called #reviewsdaytuesday, which is kind of a long hashtag but whatever.
I thought, that’s a pretty good idea. I hope I can remember to do that on the next Tuesday after I finish reading a book. And then I realized: today is Tuesday… and I just finished reading a book last night… and I feel like taking a break from work… perfect!
I finished reading Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (which is a great name… Brand Sand, Brandon Sandon, Brandon Sanderson). I’m not going to summarize the plot because Google, and because I hate reviews that just summarize the plot.
I gave it a solid 4/5 on Goodreads. Brief summary: it had tons of potential to be one of the most amazing things I’ve read in a while without ever fully delivering on it, but even with much of that potential left unexplored it was an incredibly fun read, and I WOULD recommend it.
To get the stuff I didn’t like about it out of the way first: there was almost no character development. The only character that developed in a significant way was the main character, and I found her pretty irritating for most of the middle of the book (I felt better about her by the end). There was also tons of mostly unexplored stuff about power, politics, slavery, racism, revolution, and religion. Overall, it wasn’t as thoughtfully written as it could have been. Some of the language used to describe metal-burning was a bit distracting as well.
HOWEVER, these things become less and less annoying as the book goes on. This is partly because it’s super action-packed, pretty much right until the end. The fight scenes are quite well-written; detailed but not so much so that it detracts from the action. Some of my book club friends might argue with me on that point (they wanted more detail) but I thought they were great.
There’s also quite a bit of witty dialogue, and some fun characters. They were a bit stereotypical and I didn’t find myself becoming too attached to any of them because of it, but they interacted with each other well and made the less exciting portions of the book pretty enjoyable.
On the topic of connecting with the characters, my favourite part of Mistborn was definitely the strange, italicized entries at the beginning of each chapter. They start out seeming like only slightly-related, philosophical musings, but become more and more interesting as the book goes on. They were probably one of the reasons I read it so quickly, because I would finish a chapter, and see the little italicized bit at the beginning of the next chapter and want to read it, but once I read the intro I’d keep going and before I knew it, I was at the beginning of the next chapter and facing the same dilemma all over again. Gradually, the bits at the beginning became a character themselves, and that was probably what I connected with the most, and found the most interesting.
Also, the end was, like, WHAAAAAAT! I can’t say anything else without potentially spoiling it, but the end was freakin’ awesome.
All in all, it was a really great read. Although it didn’t fully explore all of the topics it could have, and I would have loved it if it had, that was arguably not the point of the book for the author. I would argue that the author didn’t write the book to explore social issues, but was much more interested in world-building and the overall plot or story, which happened to contain a bunch of social issues. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and am definitely going to read the next two in the series.
As an endnote, I actually bought the last two in the series over the weekend. For anyone who hasn’t read these yet but would like to, do NOT read the back of the books for the second and third (Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages) OR their Wikipedia articles before finishing the first. Here is what the backs of the books say, and I’m not even exaggerating:
Well of Ascension description:
The spoiler has spoiler spoiler. The spoiler – the spoiler spoiler spoiler – has spoiler. But Kelsier, the spoiler spoiler, is spoiler, and now the awesome task spoiler spoiler his young protégé, Vin, the former street urchin who spoiler, and to the spoiler spoiler.
As Kelsier’s protégé and spoiler she is now spoiler spoiler, a distinction that makes her intensely uncomfortable. Even more worrying, the mists have begun behaving strangely since spoiler, and seem to harbor a strange vaporous entity that haunts her.
Stopping assassins may keep Vin’s Mistborn skills sharp, but it’s the least of her problems. Luthadel, the largest city of the spoiler, spoiler, spoiler spoiler, and spoiler. It certainly won’t get easier with three armies – one of them composed of ferocious giants – now vying to conquer the city, and spoiler spoiler atium, the rarest and most powerful allomantic metal.
As the siege of Luthadel tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension or what manner of power it bestows.
The Hero of Ages description:
Who is the Hero of Ages?
To spoiler and spoiler, Vin spoiler. But as a result, spoiler—spoiler spoiler spoiler—is back, along with increasingly heavy ashfalls and ever more powerful earthquakes. Humanity appears to be doomed.
Having spoiler at the spoiler only by spoiler, spoiler Elend Venture hopes to find clues left behind by spoiler that will allow him to save the world. Vin is consumed with guilt at having been spoiler spoiler from spoiler. Ruin wants to end the world, and its near omniscience and ability to warp reality make stopping it seem impossible. She can’t even discuss it with Elend lest Ruin learn their plans!
The conclusion of the Mistborn trilogy fulfills all the promise of the first two books. Revelations abound, connections rooted in early chapters of the series click into place, and surprises, as satisfying as they are stunning, blossom like fireworks to dazzle and delight. It all leads up to a finale unmatched for originality and audacity that will leave readers rubbing their eyes in wonder, as if awaking from an amazing dream.
SERIOUSLY, WHO WROTE THESE?!
A while ago the U of A book store had a crazy sale on used books, and because I’m a used book sale addict I went to check it out. Found myself a bunch of the Chronicle of Narnia books for $1.00 each. They are nice paperback copies with delightful drawings on some of the pages, like this one from the Magician’s Nephew:
Because I’ve been meaning to read them and haven’t been able to find the box set I know I got for Christmas a number of years ago (how do books go missing like this?), I decided to hunt through box after box of assorted books to find the whole set. I was successful… Mostly. I found every single book in this seven book series except for one: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which happens to be #2 in the series. I went back several times to search through the boxes of books for #2, but it just wasn’t there.
So I kept an eye out for a copy of it that matched the ones I already had, checking the children’s section whenever I found myself in a used book store. Things started to get dire, though, after I finally got around to reading The Magician’s Nephew, #1 in the series. I wanted to read more, but didn’t want to skip over the second one to do so. So I began to search in earnest, going out of my way to get to used book stores whenever I had a free moment. Do you want to know what I found whenever I searched? Every single other book in the series, in the version I was looking for, except for the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Seriously?!
My search has been going on for almost four months. Always the other books, and the occasional (rather rare, actually) copy of book #2 that doesn’t match my set, but never what I’m looking for. I began to form a picture in my mind, of some crazed, faceless individual hoarding millions of copies of this book in a large warehouse somewhere, like the people on T.V. who hoard food.
I think to myself, “Why are there so many copies of the other books wherever I go, and never the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?” I also think things like, “Seriously, who buys just #2 of the series and leaves the rest?” Then I realized… I was looking to buy only #2 of the series. Could my long search lead me to perpetuate this vicious cycle of used book series with significant gaps? Could I, myself, end up contributing to the strange phenomenon that has so perplexed me for the past four months? When and where did this bizarre used book cycle begin, and what has happened to the lost copies of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?
Whatever the answer, I cannot wait for the perfect copy of Narnia #2 forever, so I settled for a non-matchy copy. Now my Chronicles of Narnia set looks like this:
At least I can now finish the series, but I shall forever be on the lookout for the copy that matches the rest of my set. Perhaps, some day, I will find it.