Neal Stephenson's "Anathem" is terrific. Anathem is basically Harry Potter, as written for adults, with "Erasmus" and string theory standing in for "Harry Potter" and magic. It's a little slow in the middle, but struggle through and you will be rewarded. I read the last 250 pages or so in one night. Perhaps because the string theory discussion is so dense, Stephenson dramatically simplified everything else about his writing - - unlike his last few books, the entire story is told from the point of view of a single narrator in a single consistent voice. You'll never start a chapter wondering what the heck's going on. There's also some remarkable similarities to Dan Simmons "Olympos," but I don't want to say more for fear of revealing spoilers. Anathem is 34% off at Amazon.
Here's some more quick reviews:
Mighty Avengers Vol. 1 was terrible. This confirms it. I hate Brian Bendis and his cute little thought bubbles. I didn't care for the art, either. Frank Cho's pencils actually looked much better before they were colored. (There's some Frank Cho desktop wallpapers here.)
Runaways: Dead End Kids was also disappointing. Was Joss Whedon's success in Astonishing X-Men dependent on John Cassaday's art?
Speaking of, I keep seeing mention of a rerelease of Cassaday's comic I Am Legion: The Dancing Faun. I read the first issue when it came out years ago. It was boring. Impossible to keep track of which character was which because they all looked alike.
Huge thumbs down to Alan Levy's Nazi Hunter: The Wiesenthal File, which I read for my book club. It should have been fascinating - - the real life story of a man who survived the concentration camps and devoted the rest of his life to hunting down Nazis. But everything about the book, from structure, to word choice, and everything in between was bad.
On the plus side, thanks to the book, I did learn about the incredible heroism of a man named Raoul Wallenberg. Wikipedia summarizes:
With the money raised by the board, Wallenberg rented thirty-two buildings in Budapest, and declared them to be extraterritorial, protected by diplomatic immunity. He put up signs such as "The Swedish Library" and "The Swedish Research Institute" on their doors and hung oversize Swedish flags on the front of the buildings to bolster the deception. The buildings eventually housed almost 10,000 people. Sandor Ardai, one of the drivers working for Wallenberg, recounted what Wallenberg did when he intercepted a trainload of Jews about to leave for Auschwitz:
... he climbed up on the roof of the train and began handing in protective passes through the doors which were not yet sealed. He ignored orders from the Germans for him to get down, then the Arrow Cross men began shooting and shouting at him to go away. He ignored them and calmly continued handing out passports to the hands that were reaching out for them. I believe the Arrow Cross men deliberately aimed over his head, as not one shot hit him, which would have been impossible otherwise. I think this is what they did because they were so impressed by his courage. After Wallenberg had handed over the last of the passports he ordered all those who had one to leave the train and walk to the caravan of cars parked nearby, all marked in Swedish colours. I don't remember exactly how many, but he saved dozens off that train, and the Germans and Arrow Cross were so dumbfounded they let him get away with it.
Incredible stuff, and I'd never even heard of him before.
Finally, if you haven't been watching the new Clone Wars cartoons, you're in for a treat. I have three words for you: Ninja Battle Droids.
*See more of my reviews here.
*Buy Star Wars sketch cards at eBay.