Friday, August 31, 2012


I liked Clean.  On its surface it is a detective novel with telepathy added as a twist.  In fact, the first several chapters unfold in typical crime drama fashion.  A murder, some inter-departmental drama, and the hint of a love interest.  It is quickly apparent, however, that the world this book takes place in was carefully crafted.

The book unfolds from the first person perspective of our protagonist.  The title, Clean, hints at his past, as we learn right away that his past is checkered and filled with abuse and relapse.  He is a telepath in a world where telepathy and other Abilities are accepted and regulated.  The actual history of this unfolds in dribs and drabs as the story unfolds.  Rather than an infodump in the first chapter, the author wisely builds his world and it's backstory brick by brick, and reveals the past of our unnamed protagonist at the same time.  It is effective.  The case progresses, we delve deeper into the past of the main characters, and we learn more of the world that shaped them.

I give the book 3 out of 5 stars.  Remembering that 3 star books are still great in my book, I'd recommend it if you're into crime dramas, if you like post-apocalyptic stories that don't get too gritty, or if you are a fan of character driven sci fi.  This is not hard sci fi by any means.  I stop short of giving it 4 stars simply because the story didn't *grab* me.  Also, I got an advance copy through Goodreads First Reads, so I didn't need to decide if it was worth the 8 dollars for a paperback or e-book.

 - Complex characters
 - Interesting setting

 - Cliche in places

Bottom line:
Well written, exciting, first book from Alex Hughes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Let's try this blog thing again...

Tabletop gaming has been sadly lacking since I posted last.  My work schedule has eliminated pretty much all opportunity to game.  I think it's time to evolve this blog.

One thing I've been contemplating is a review blog.  I've been reading a lot more lately.  I've also joined a cool little site that sends review copies of books out to be read and reviewed.  I certainly don't fancy myself any kind of real journalist, but if a review is being solicited, then a review I will deliver.

As such, I think I'll establish a rating system here:

***** - Worth re-reading.  Thought provoking, entertaining, or intriguing in different measures.
**** - Engaging.  Something that stays with you and makes you wish for more.
*** - Average.  Forgettable, but enjoyable while it lasts.
** - Difficult.  Not so bad that it wasn't worth finishing, but unfulfilling in the end.
* - Impossible. Too thick or boring or vile to finish.  Not worth anybody's time.

Bearing in mind, of course, that these are *my* ratings, and entirely subjective.  Here's an example of books by rating:

***** - Ender's Game
**** - Honor Harrington series
*** - Dragonlance series
** - Linear Algebra: A Modern Introduction
* - 50 Shades of Grey

The thing is, I like three star books.  Most books I read will be three star books.  I *own* some of the Dragonlance novels.  But that doesn't mean they are something special, like Ender's Game is to me.  I think I've read that book a dozen times.  I've bought it 3 or 4 times, and loaned it away each time and never had it returned.  I assume that means others like it as much as I do, and refuse to return it.  With the Honorverse, I couldn't tell you where one book stops and the other begins, all I can tell you is it is a wonderful setting to lose your imagination in.  I could read books set there, with or without Stephanie Harrington, all day long.

In any case, I am going to attempt to review some books in the future.  I'm hardly what you'd call a hard nosed book critic.  We shall see where this takes us.