One Sentence Book Reviews, 2011, pt. 3

This is the third part of a three-part series. Part one, part two are available for perusing. I finished up the last book of the year at 10:20 PM on 12/31/2011, just barely meeting my self-imposed goal of sixty books for the year. I did National Novel Writing Month for November, which slowed me down a bit, so I’ve read another five books in the last week to make up for the deficit. Thankfully, I made it. This post will give a brief one-sentence review of books 41 to 60. Look for a number-crunching post in a couple of days.

A Matter of Time by Glen Cook – This book is rooted a little too much in its time (Vietnam), and the plot doesn’t wrap up as nicely as it could have. It’s basically a police story with a little bit of time travel thrown in.
If I Did It by O.J. Simpson – Despite the awful prose and the fact that much of the book is taken up by pointless details, I loved this book for how incredibly meta it was.
“Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman!” by Richard Feynman – A well-written series of vignettes that manages to capture some of the wild energy and intelligence that Feynman projects.
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman – This is a science fiction classic for good reason – though it was written in response to the author’s experiences in Vietman, everything in it still holds true.
The Magician King by Lev Grossman – This enhanced everything that I liked about The Magicians but it either has an incredible downer ending or is an obvious setup for a completion of the trilogy, depending on how sadistic I think Grossman is.
For The Win by Cory Doctorow – Infused with Doctorow’s unique brand of techno-optimism, but it’s a little bit too much like he was just adding in things that he saw on his RSS feeds. I also don’t really like it when rich white guys write about third world problems.
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow – A much, much better book than I For The Win, and one that seems much more timeless, or at least will age as a reflection of the period rather than a reflection of the moment.
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville – Nicely textured, and a good introduction to “weird” fantasy.
Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks – My last Culture novel of the year, and probably one of my favorites, though the War in Heaven is much more interesting than the other plots.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – A full burst of geek culture that manages to try very hard at saying nothing. Only read it if you’re not a cynic.
Machine Man by Max Barry – Read this book if you’re a cynic. It’s bizarre and sometimes frightening, and you can only sort of tell that it was a serial.
The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry – I got suckered into reading this book because I thought that it was a full auto-biography, when in fact it only covers about six years. Fry is long-winded, in a good way.
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks – This is the best piece of non-fiction that I read this year, though the title essay is much better than most of the others.
Reamde by Neal Stephenson – This is much lighter fare than Stephenson usually writes, which is to say that it has all of his trademark digressions with none of the meaty ideas in it.
The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge – An entertaining book, but very obviously needs a sequel to round out the trilogy that this and A Fire Upon the Deep will form, so much so that the whole book is pretty much worthless because it lacks a proper conclusion.
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson – This was my first taste of Sanderson, and I liked it. Tightly knit, with interesting ideas and a formalized rule set that is sometimes sorely lacking in fantasy.
The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson – Some of the characterization seems a bit off when this book is placed in context of the previous book, though it avoids the plague of being a “middle book” in a trilogy.
The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson – This is the conclusion to the Mistborn trilogy, and the ending – where many, many things are wrapped up – is very good.
The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson – A continuation of the Mistborn world, which is entertaining but needs a sequel so as to wrap up some loose plot threads. It also fails to answer some questions that I have, but that’s more due to the author not wanting to have page upon page of exposition.
Toward a Truly Free Market by John Medaille – This was an “alternative economics” book, which suffered from the classic flaw of correctly describing the problem but giving a poor solution. It also runs into some worldview problems that make it seem like it would be more at home in the 1950s than present day.

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One Sentence Book Reviews, 2011, pt. 3

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