[Review] Barracuda – Christos Tsiolkas

Book Title:                         Barracuda (Standalone)
Author:
                               Christos Tsiolkas
Number of pages:         528

Synopsis:christos tsiolkas - barracuda (cover)

“He asked the water to lift him, to carry him, to avenge him. He made his muscles shape his fury, made every stroke declare his hate. And the water obeyed; the water would give him his revenge. No one could beat him, no one came close.”

His whole life Danny Kelly’s only wanted one thing: to win Olympic gold. Everything he’s ever done – every thought, every dream, every action – takes him closer to that moment of glory, of vindication, when the world will see him for what he is: the fastest, the strongest and the best. His life has been a preparation for that moment.

His parents struggle to send him to the most prestigious private school with the finest swimming program; Danny loathes it there and is bullied and shunned as an outsider, but his coach is the best and knows Danny is, too, better than all those rich boys, those pretenders. Danny’s win-at-all-cost ferocity gradually wins favour with the coolest boys – he’s Barracuda, he’s the psycho, he’s everything they want to be but don’t have the guts to get there. He’s going to show them all.

“He would be first, everything would be alright when he came first, all would be put back in place. When he thought of being the best, only then did he feel calm.”

(an excerpt re: Goodreads @ Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas)

Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr spoiler-less review:
  • A coming of age story with converging perspectives to recount the then and now of Daniel Kelly’s life.
  • Prose is expertly versed, imaginative and evocative, even if long-winded.
  • Characters are brutally honest, real, and provoke both negative/positive emotions.
  • The plotting is seemingly basic but manages to capture a variety of genres.
Initial Thoughts:

I am perplexed.

But what I am sure of is that I’m a bit disappointed that the book cover (and its title by proxy) could have made me believe that this kid had some pseudo-merman powers or the like. Seriously.

However, the synopsis is certainly poignant. And if the blurb is of indication of the writing in this book then you’re certainly a winner for picking this book up because everything is meticulously described. To expand upon this point: you just didn’t somehow load up this blog (although that is cool beans as well)—no, that would be too easy… through the reflection of the backlit screen your eyes graze a query into the deepest desires for knowledge. A white manifestation of your soul skeptically hovers, looming, unsure, and you begin to wonder what the heck I’m talking about now…) Yeah, that’s my take on how overbearing and fluffy some descriptions tended to be. But I guess there’s substance in that so I can’t complain that much.

I will admit: I don’t usually gravitate towards novels fixated on a cultural-contemporary nature. Actually, I don’t remember how I came across Barracuda in the first place. But with Sochi (and Olympic feels) rapidly approaching, I felt this to be a great fit to explore the battle of an athlete’s mentality; and all of the inherent struggles and fix-ins that came with it.

Let’s dive right in.

Disclaimer: Potential spoilers inherent to this review have been minimized with exceptions to quotes.

 

Continue reading [Review] Barracuda – Christos Tsiolkas

[Review] Backward Glass – David Lomax

Book Title:                       Backward Glass (Standalone)
Author:                              David Lomax
Number of pages:      
315

Synopsis:david lomax - backward glass (cover)

Crack your head, knock you dead, then Prince Harming’s hunger’s fed.

It’s 1977, and Kenny Maxwell is dreading the move away from his friends. But then, behind the walls of his family’s new falling-apart Victorian home, he finds something incredible–a mummified baby and a note: “Help me make it not happen, Kenny. Help me stop him.”

Shortly afterwards, a beautiful girl named Luka shows up. She introduces Kenny to the backward glass, a mirror that allows them to travel through time. Meeting other “mirror kids” in the past and future is exciting, but there’s also danger. The urban legend of Prince Harming, who kidnaps and kills children, is true–and he’s hunting them. When Kenny gets stranded in the past, he must find the courage to answer a call for help, change the fate of a baby–and confront his own destiny.

(re: Goodreads @ Backward Glass by David Lomax)

Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr spoiler-less review:
  • If time-travelling is your niche, this is a pretty stellar read.
  • A suspenseful, thought-provoking literary piece that will have you trying to fit the pieces of a puzzle.
  • Characters are generally relatable and can be rooted for.
  • Definite information overload (and voids) at times that with persistence will come full circle; hard work pays off.
Initial Thoughts:

What the (expletive goes here) am I reading?

That was me with this book. And by no means is this a bad thing. Nah. I was totally reeling in how intricate all the pieces ended up fitting together in this narrative. Everything was definitely thought through: from the nuances in dialogue to the historical inclusions (c’mon, this dude referenced Star Wars and Nintendo—so many feels, and yes I classify these as historical. Problem?). So for his debut novel (at least I think so) Backward Glass is great for all the right reasons.

Honestly though, I felt like I was reading some sci-fi mystery with tinges of Criminal Minds going on: having to profile the shit out of everyone and everything all for a long deceased baby. But wait, time traveling, changing history; all that good stuff to start the whirlwind of Kenny’s mission and by proxy the plot. So despite many aspects being cryptic and seemingly confusing at times, the journey was quite thought-provoking. But I’d like to think that it was value-added to the story telling so all my grief in note taking was well worth it.

Enough about the overall, let’s start with the basics:

The opening line in the synopsis is so eerie to me; it’s (another expletive goes here) children’s rhyme. That is just dandy. Imagine if you heard that while walking through a porcelain doll shop (in a child’s voice no less). I’d shit myself. The rest of the synopsis presented itself to me like the childhood television show: ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?” which is awesome in its own right. The spook and thrilling factor was enough to get me to pick this book up. And then it begins with a page of (time-travel) rules that provided no context but hit all the marks of intrigue and confusion that essentially pulls you right into this story.

It’s pretty difficult to review this novel without giving away too many spoilers, but I’ll try my best despite not having too many issues with this well crafted novel.

Let me elaborate on all of this:

Disclaimer: Potential spoilers inherent to this review from here onward.

Continue reading [Review] Backward Glass – David Lomax

[Review] The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey

Book Title:                    The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave Series #01)
Author:                            Rick Yancey
Number of pages:    457

Synopsis:

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

(re: Goodreads @ The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey)

Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr spoiler-less review:
  • The world and plot is quite familiar – aliens, post-apocalypse, aliens, world domination, romance. Cool beans.
  • Story-telling through varying perspectives; a mix of characterisations (fresh and prototypical).
  • The writing is purposeful, connected, and tension-seeking even in downtime.
  • Formulaic YA romance; which ship to sail on?
Initial Thoughts:

I know what you’re thinking: a narrative similar to Meyer’s ‘The Host’. And you’re absolutely right. And wrong. At the same time. Page turn. But it takes the alien invasion we know so well—sort of well, and integrates it’s own spin on things.

Oh. The feeling of staccatos above is just how many sections read. You can love or hate it, but I wasn’t too bothered by it.

With trending YA post-apocalyptic dystopian literature, it is relevance that makes this genre of narratives all the more compelling and frightening. Relevance to world-building (especially if it’s of a contemporary nature); relevance to human dynamics; and relevance depicted through multifaceted storytelling. My superficial expectations.

So does the 5th Wave’s initial instalment hit most of the marks? Yes and no.

I’ll tell you why.

Disclaimer: Potential spoilers inherent to this review from here onward.

Continue reading [Review] The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey

book reviews and nonsense

%d bloggers like this: