Books 109-112 for 2013
Fourth in the Amelia Peabody series.
I enjoyed this one rather less than the first three - Amelia seemed to be being uncharacteristically dense about certain things and there was a great deal too much of her son Ramses, who is as irritating to me as he is to many of the characters. The plot also seemed much thinner than in previous books and involved a hackneyed and unlikely plot device, which I also found annoying.
Possibly I was just in the wrong frame of mind altogether for this book. I hope I'll enjoy the next one more when I get round to it.
110. The Eight Doctors by Terrance Dicks. 192 pages.
Good old Terrance Dicks. He wrote an absolute shedload of Doctor Who novelisations back in the day and while his prose would never set the world on fire, it was always workmanlike and got the story across. I suspect that was why he was chosen to pen this, the first of a series of BBC novels about the eighth Doctor.
Particularly so as the plot basically consists of Eight losing his memory and having to visit all his past incarnations to get them back bit by bit. Why, you may ask, could he not have got them all back from the Seventh Doctor? I wondered this too, but since the book never addresses it, I can only conclude that it's because it would have been a very short book that way....
So, this book is pretty much what you might expect from Terrance Dicks - nothing particularly special, but a decent read with a good grasp of the personalities of the first seven doctors. It irked me somewhat that each of them had to be rescued and/or guided by the Eighth Doctor in some way - I suppose the point was that he has all their accumulated wisdom and knowledge and thus is better placed to advise them on things, but since he couldn't remember most of that for the majority of the book, I just found it annoying.
In fairness, I seem to be unusually irritable at the moment and not enjoying books as much as I usually do, so this review should probably be taken with a sizeable pinch of salt.
111. Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood. 155 pages.
First in a series of detective novels, set in the 1920s, about the Honourable Phryne Fisher. Asked by a friend of her family to check up on their daughter, who they fear is being poisoned by her husband, Phryne sets off for Australia and embarks on an adventure involving drug-dealing, illegal abortions and high finance.
This seems to be about my level at the moment - a good solid detective story with a strong cast of sympathetic characters and a heroine who kicks arse and takes names. Will definitely be reading more of these.
112. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. 151 pages.
After reading Orwell's 1984, Rob expressed a wish to read more classic novels, and I suggested this one, as it's often compared to 1984.
We didn't find it as gripping - there seemed to be something lacking in the writing and the plot contrivance by which Huxley acquires an outside observer for his dystopian society is unconvincing.
I suspect that like Well's The Invisible man, this novel has been remembered for the originality of the ideas in it rather than the quality of the writing.
The Wiki article on this books says "What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.". Sadly, they seem to have both been right to some degree....