Monday, September 21, 2015

Raptor Red

Robert T. Bakker's Raptor Red is, as far as I know, the first book of its kind, by a long shot. It is not a book about people who bring dinosaurs to life. It is not a book about people with a time machine that travel to the time of the dinosaurs. It's not a book about a hidden land of dinosaurs, protected from time. It's not about cartoonish dinosaurs that generally act like humans. It's not even an informational book about dinosaurs. Nope. Raptor Red is just about dinosaurs.

Red is a Utahraptor lady, and lives during the early Cretaceous period. A land bridge has opened up from Asia to North America, and Red is one of the first Utahraptors to enter this strange land. Red's mate, Doomed-for-death,* dies in the first chapter, leaving Red to fend for herself. For weeks, Red is barely able to scrape by.

Luckily for Red, just when she is on the brink of death, she finds her sister, Run. While they have been separated, Run has managed to get three little raptor chicks: Chuck, Duck, and Hide. Red and Run now have to brave this new land, while protecting the three chicks and facing many perilous perils.

I really like the story, and the characters were all, surprisingly, very memorable. Bakker does a cool thing (like in The Once and Future King) where the animals' speech, mannerisms, and societies are all completely different for different species. You get to see into the minds of crocodiles, turtles, pterosaurs, little mammals, Gastonians, the whole lot of 'em. My only problem is that I think Bakker brings science in a little too much. Every chapter or so, he takes a few paragraphs to describe things scientifically, and it's not really needed.

Raptor Red is still a good book, though. If you like dinosaurs, you basically have to read it, because it's the first true dinosaur book. Actually, if you just like animals in general, you should read it as well, because not even many animal books can pull this off. If you don't like science that much, you can just skim the sciency bits, and it won't take away from the experience at all. This is definitely a book you should read, even just for its premise.

*None of the characters in the book are named except for Red, which makes sense, because she is the point-of-view character, and Utahraptors haven't invented language yet. As such, all the other names I use are ones that I've made up. You are welcome to use them if you want. Also, the guy's name is Sky.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Good Omens

Good Omens, written by both Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, has like a million covers. It has way too many covers. I couldn't find a good photo of the one I read it inside (mostly white with a demon on the front), so I just picked the coolest-looking fan cover. Can't be bothered to sort through all those canonical covers. Just google it.

Anyways, Good Omens is supposed to have the subtitle: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. That is the title of a book of prophecies, all of which have come true so far. It also Prophecies the end of the world. Next Saturday.*

Generally, people think this is just hunky-dory. Does anyone say that anymore? Whatever. Two celestial individuals, Crowley the demon and Aziraphale the angel, have taken a liking to the world, and decide that they will try their best to stop it. To do this, they agree to both tutor the Antichrist equally, so that he cannot take a side and the world does not end. This works perfectly, and disaster is averted.

Not really. Things don't exactly go as planned, and now the duo has to find the Antichrist, who has grown up to be Adam, a simple boy from a small town. In that town there lives Anathema Device, a descendant of Agnes Nutter. She is being tracked down by Newton Pulsifer, who works under... you know, there's quite a few characters, actually. The four horsemen show up, too. It's great fun. In fact, I think my only complaint is that Pratchett and Gaiman didn't do more with the characters, towards the end. Then again, that's just about the best complaint to have about a book. I'd give it a read if I were you.

*Off the record, I wouldn't worry too much, because it's implied to have happened in 2004.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

John Dies at the End

John Dies at the End is a book in which, in the final act, a man named John is killed. Seriously, just look at that title, and imagine an entire book written in that tone. That's reasonably close to the truth.

As for the plot, John Dies at the End is about David Wong and his best friend, John. They live in the smallish town of [Undisclosed], and spend their time being obnoxious and sometimes drunk. One day, John takes a drug called Soy Sauce, which makes everything terrible forever, because it exposes him to a dark alternate universe of doom. Dave gets infected as well, and they go on an epic journey to save the world.

There are, like, millions of quotes where people talk about how this book successfully uses humor and horror at the same time. And, yeah, they're pretty much right. I laughed out loud at many parts of the book, and at other parts I was deeply horrified. Very deeply. As such, I think the easiest way to see if you will like it is this:

If any of the following subjects are complete deal-breakers for you, and you would never read a book with them, do not read this book:
Alternate universes
Severed limbs
Painful transformation
Untied plot threads
If none of these things immediately make you want to flee from this review, you will probably like the book. If you aren't even bothered by any of these things, you may have found your new favorite book. I, personally, thoroughly enjoyed it, despite feeling very uncomfortable at parts. I'll leave it at that.