I’m back today with some mini-reviews. I have to say, writing a mini-review of an entire series probably isn’t the best idea, is it? Good news: I’m not mini-reviewing a series. I’m mini-reviewing THREE SERIES.
This is a great idea.
This has nothing to do with the post, but NF’s Clouds the Mixtape dropped yesterday and I have FEELINGS. Drifting is SO GOOD. And Story?? WHAT. It’s a really intense short story…but in rap form?? WHO DOES THAT.
A-hem. But let’s get on to the post!
The Murderbot Diaries* by Martha Wells
My Very Informative Summary: Murderbot is a construct (part human, part robot) whose job is to stop stupid humans from doing stupid things. Or to save the stupid humans after they’ve done the stupid things. It has to do both frequently throughout the series, but it would really rather be watching serials and definitely not talking about its Feelings.
If you like high-tech sci-fi worlds and space travel, this is the series for you!
If you find those things ho-hum, but love complex, snarky, mistreated, avoid-emotions-and-humans-at-all-costs-characters, this is also the series for you!
You will have Feelings.
I keep accidentally calling Murderbot “he” (and “MY BOY” and “MY SON”)…even though I should technically be calling it “it”? So…I guess you can be mad about that if you want. (But Murderbot is my son.)
I am here for:
- Seriously. Murderbot is my favorite. How do I have this many feelings.
- “Person who has been horribly mistreated meets actually nice people and whAT ARe ThEY suPpOSED to dO” is one of my favorite tropes *cries*
- Murderbot being so snarky
- Murderbot being like, “I don’t care about stupid humans” and then immediately risking its life to help them
- Murderbot watching people through security cameras instead of through his eyes during conversations because this is very Uncomfortable and OKAY let’s put some DISTANCE between us–
- …I think you get the gist of it by now. I’m here for Murderbot.
- Also some of the world-building was pretty cool. I liked that there are things that are never actually explained (like the feed, hoppers, etc.), but you understand what they are through the context. It’s like it was written for someone who lives in the story world, so it only explains the things that the average person in that world would need explained to them (or that’s how I thought of it anyway)
Not so here for:
- So yes, I’m here for the world-building some of the time…but other times I was Confused. (My fault, not the books’. I would probably follow it better if I read more sci-fi)
- Also, I found the world itself weirdly depressing. The constant surveillance and data-mining? The fact that every single time a marriage was mentioned it was…a 3 or more way marriage? Fine in small doses, but if all I read was books set in worlds like this one it would get pretty depressing.
*Note: I read the first four book. Book four had one of those THE CONCLUSION OF THE SERIES! deals on the cover flap…but there are actually more? I might get to them at some point, but the end of book four did feel like the end of a series, so I’m stopping there for now.
The Queen’s Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner
My Very Informative Summary (of the first book): The Magus of Sounis is setting out on a road-trip with a bit of stealing-a-legendary-artifact at the end of it. Which means, he needs a thief. Good news: there’s a thief in the dungeon who can be dragged along. Even better news: that thief is our protagonist Gen and he will loudly complain about being hungry for the entire length of the journey.
*realizes this is a terrible series to do a whole-series review of because talking about any one book can give huge spoilers for the preceding book(s)*
*resolves to dodge spoilers with poise and grace*
Just a series about a clever, skilled, overly dramatic, can’t-stop-sassing-people-to-save-his-life, whiny, perhaps a tad bit self-destructive, way too endearing thief. And all the politics of the world around him.
(Ok, but look at this other cover I found:
I am here for:
- Eugenides. This kid.
- And Eddis. And Sophos. And the Magus and– *stops before it turns into an exhaustive list of characters*
- The WORLD-BUILDING. Greek-inspired fantasy world? Multiple kingdoms with complex politics? Original myths artfully woven into every single book?
- COUSINS (the scene in ACoK when he comes up behind her and puts his chin on her head so they’re both inside the hood and wraps the cloak around her might have been the most wholesome, accurate cousin interaction I’ve ever read)
- Even though I enjoyed the whole series, I love that the first book CAN stand on its own. Because it’s Practically Perfect in Every Way.
- The sheer SCALE of it all. I feel like the series starts with a really tight focus on this one thief on this road-trip, and then slowly zooms out until we’re dealing with international conflict and??
- Information being withheld…until it’s not.
- PHERIS. Get to book 6 so you can meet Pheris, because he is My Son.
- “Like riding a slowly moving sofa.” <<-THIS
Not so here for:
- Most of the time I was a fan of the politics, but sometimes…I was confused. (Again, like with The Murderbot Diaries, I think this was more my fault than the books’.) And sometimes I wanted less politics, more characters-talking-about-stuff-besides-politics.
- …I’m honestly not sure what I think of the romance. When it was first introduced my reaction was NOPE. In the next book, I sort of got used to it and even enjoyed parts of it, but was still slightly bothered. At this point…I think I’m okay with it? (If nothing else, I’m putting it in this section just because of how upset I was at first)
Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
My Very Informative Summary: Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric tried to bring their mother back to life using alchemy and…it did not turn out well. (There’s probably a reason why there’s a rule against using alchemy for such purposes.) Minus a few limbs and a body, they have spent the last four years searching for a way to recover aforementioned limbs and body. But their search might just lead them to discovering a sinister plot much bigger than their quest… Or maybe it will just lead them to rural villages with sheep.
I have…many feelings.
This is the first manga series I have ever read in its entirety. (*screams because HOW LONG do I have to wait for the last two volumes of the Promised Neverland to come out??*) And…I was not expecting to be so invested.
If you’ve never read manga before, and don’t have any particular interest in it, DON’T LET THAT STOP YOU. I was in the same boat just a few months ago.
I am here for:
- BROTHERS. Ed and Al care about each other so much, and Ed feels responsible for what happened to his little brother and I have Feelings.
- WINRY. My favorite auto-mail mechanic.
- Once again, the world-building is excellent. (I’ve recently gotten more interested in world-building, and now I’m noticing it EVERYWHERE.) The rules of Alchemy as well as the politics and history and??
- The way it starts out so focused on Ed and Al and their personal journey, and by the end the scope of it has widened SO MUCH, with so much going on and so much at stake *screams*
- The ARTWORK. I mean…it’s kind of a big part of a graphic novel. And it’s WONDERFUL.
- In so many books with kid/teen main characters, the adults are either useless or evil. Not so here. There are so many excellent adult characters who are as much a part of the story as the kids.
- Speaking of excellent adults: MUSTANG AND HAWKEYE. As individuals. As best friends. As a couple. I just love them.
- Wholesome marriages *cough cough Sig and Izumi Curtis cough*
- Half the adults lowkey adopting Ed and Al
- You know when you’re reading (or watching) a series and something really awful happens and then…it’s never really talked about again because it’s not important to the plot? There’s something really upsetting that happens in volume 2, and throughout the entire rest of the series, Ed keeps being reminded of it and grappling with it. I appreciate this so much.
- The ENDING. Many Feelings.
- Baaaackstory. We get almost an entire volume devoted to backstory–not once, but TWICE
- All the running jokes, including, but not limited to, Ed being short, milk, and Al adopting cats.
- Ok, I really need to stop now.
Not so here for:
NOTHING. IT IS PERFECT.
- There’s some of that “We believe in science, not God”/ “Only fools believe in God” attitude, which bugged me a little. But, aside from a line here and there, it was mostly just in the first volume (I think?)
- There were parts where I could have done without quite so much blood. But what can you do, eh?
Have you read any of these (tell me your THOUGHTS)? What’s a series you’ve read that has a satisfying ending? Do you think you’ll ever try manga? Isn’t fan-art great?? What are you reading right now? Do tell!