Tag: Chris Beckett

Review – Beneath the World, A Sea

Posted September 16, 2020 by Nicky in Reviews / 1 Comment

Beneath the World, A Sea, Chris Beckett

I was fully on board with the premise of this: a British policeman is sent to a mysterious area in South America, tasked with finding a way to stop the killing of duendes. Duendes have been deemed to be sentient and to be protected under the law, but local people hunt them down and kill them because of their ability to bring out people’s suppressed emotions, often rage and shame. To reach the area, you have to go through the Zona, on a boat, and everything you do inside the Zona… you’ll never remember once you leave it again. The book starts as Ben emerges from the Zona, to find that he wrote some mysterious journals… and probably left the boat, as everyone was advised not to do.

It doesn’t really go anywhere from there, unfortunately. There’s plenty of weirdness, some great little thumbnail sketches of people with all their insecurities bared, and it feels like there’s a plot leading toward some kind of climax, a confrontation between Ben and the weirdness. I didn’t necessarily expect answers to the weirdness, or at least not all of it, but it felt for a while like it had a fairly traditional plot trajectory — and then just at the point where you’d expect action to be taken, Ben decides to run away. He just runs away. That’s it. That’s the story.

Sure, he’s learned stuff about himself that he never knew and didn’t want to know; the Zona and the world within its circle have scared him and changed him… but essentially, he just decides to run away, and there’s no real feeling that there’s any kind of resolution.

Now maybe there isn’t intended to be, but it felt weak to me, especially after the inklings that there was more to come. It’s not that it was a bad reading experience, but despite the promise of the setting… I was left cold by this. I don’t mind weird, and I don’t mind non-traditional stories, but the sense that this was going somewhere and didn’t really made the ending limp for me.

Rating: 2/5

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WWW Wednesday

Posted September 16, 2020 by Nicky in General / 1 Comment

It’s Wednesday again! So here’s the usual check-in. You can go to Taking On A World Of Words to chat with everyone else who has posted what they’re reading right now!

What are you currently reading?

Cover of Digging Up Armageddon by Eric H. ClineFiction: I’m neck-deep in Kushiel’s Dart, and just finally getting to the bits which I always struggle to read because aaaaaahhhh nooooo. I forget how long it takes Joscelin to really start being amazing! I haven’t really been taking part in the readalong discussions, because my brain is just tired and I’m probably reading too much at once.

Speaking of which, I’m also reading The Fifth Season, and working on my shelf of abandoned books. I’m closing on finished with my reread of Nine Coaches Waiting, which is still fun but… I don’t know, the melodrama of this one doesn’t work for me as well as (say) Madam, Will You Talk? Perhaps it’s also because it’s longer.

Non-fiction: I’m finally back to reading Eric H. Cline’s Digging Up Armageddon, which I stalled on because I wasn’t in the right mood before. I’m enjoying the details of the digs and the team a bit more this time, and closing on the end… despite feeling that the team had so many questions left to answer. Gah.

What have you recently finished reading?

The last thing I finished was Beneath the World, A Sea, by Chris Beckett. It was… okay. I actually originally said it’d be something my wife was likely to love, but I think it floundered around a bit and then petered out, despite the original promise. It lacks any kind of resolution — I didn’t necessarily need an explanation, but something better than the sense the characters are running away.

Cover of The Lost Plot by Genevieve CogmanWhat will you be reading next?

I’m planning to work more on the shelf of abandoned books, but there’s still quite a bit of scope there. I could get back to my reread of The Lost Plot, by Genevieve Cogman, or of Feed by Mira Grant. Or I could finish a book that’s new to me, like Susanna Kearsley’s The Firebird.

Probably I’ll pick two and chip away at them by setting myself a goal of reading a minimum of five pages a day. It seems to be the key to unlocking a book I’m struggling with — with all of them I’ve suddenly had a moment of getting back into it and finishing it all in one go.

So what’re you reading? 

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WWW Wednesday

Posted September 9, 2020 by Nicky in General / 0 Comments

It’s Wednesday again! So here’s the usual check-in. You can go to Taking On A World Of Words to chat with everyone else who has posted what they’re reading right now!

Cover of Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline CareyWhat are you currently reading?

I’ve started rereading Kushiel’s Dart, to join in with the Wyrd & Wonder readalong. I’ve just realised my careful planning out actually has me a week behind, so I need to rejig that. Argh. Anyway, I’m enjoying revisiting this world — the writing always takes me just a little bit to sink back into, given how flowery it is… but it always sucks me in eventually. Damn, Phèdre is a brat at first.

Other than that, I’m reading The Fifth Season (finally), also as a readalong with one of my fellow Beeminder workerbees. I’m ahead on this one, though. From everything I’ve heard about it, I wonder if I’m putting two and two together correctly… but I hate being wrong, so I’m not going to admit to what I guess!

Cover of The Grace of Kings by Ken LiuWhat have you recently finished reading?

I just finished reading Marie Brennan’s Driftwood last night, and still need to ponder how to review it. It’s still settling in my brain at the moment.

I also finally finished Ken Liu’s The Grace of Kings, and I’m just done settling my thoughts about that down. I don’t think I’m going to read the next book… unless it weighs on my mind, which it might. I just didn’t care enough, despite finding it compelling enough in and of itself.

What will you be reading next?

Probably I’ll return to Beneath the World, A Sea, by Chris Beckett, and try to finish it; I only got about 60 pages in, if I recall correctly, and I’m doing my best to go back to my half-read books and dig in.

I’m also curious about Utopia for Realists, by Rutger Brenman, and In Black and White, by Alexandra Wilson. So I’m not sure what will be next… and besides, I’m spending half my time beating my head against the basics of statistics and probability, because I let myself get complacent and I’ve forgotten half of what I ever drummed into my brain (with great difficulty). If anyone has good suggestions for books on the basics of biostatistics, let me know…

Anyway, being busy with that makes me inclined to read some fluffy fiction instead, but what I don’t know.

What’re you folks reading?

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