Saturday, December 15, 2012

Recently read

The Twelve by Justin Cronin - The eagerly-anticipated sequel to the wonderful The Passage, The Twelve didn't quite live up to expectations for me.  The first third of the book follows new characters, giving some history into the first few days and decades after the virals were let loose upon the world.  The rest returns to Peter, Amy, Alicia and the rest, as they continue to fight the virals after their successful defeating of Babcock at the end of the first book.  There's some fairly unsubtle us vs. them, a la The Stand or, more recently, The Walking Dead, which made it feel like Cronin wasn't trying too hard.  Still, there are some heart-rending moments, and the big climactic battle is pretty exciting.  The Twelve ends clearly setting up book 3 ... wonder how long we'll have to wait for that one.

Immobility by Brian Evenson - This is a post-apocalyptic novel, bleak, spare, well-written, that pretty much leaves you in the dark the whole way through.  Set in Utah (the main character goes  almost right by my house on his way up to the LDS vault in Little Cottonwood Canyon) after what I assume is a nuclear holocaust, Josef Horkai, crippled and amnesiac but unfazed by the extant radiation, is set on a quest.  The reader is as clueless as Horkai: something happened to the world and almost all the people, but we never really learn what; there are some survivors whose bodies adapted strangely to whatever happened, but we don't know why; a long time has passed since whatever happened, but we don't learn how long; we don't really ever understand who, what, why or how.  I get that Evenson wants his readers to share in the protagonist's discomfort and unease, but generally I like to understand what's going on a little better.

The Secret Race - Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups and Winning at all Costs - Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle - Quite some time ago, Mr. Mouse asked me to get The Secret Race from the library; he wanted to read the book but he didn't want to give Tyler Hamilton any money because he didn't like him attacking Lance.  There was quite a long wait list and then finally, after Armstrong's recent implosion when he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, Mr. Mouse (and I too) got our hands on the book.  After reading it, Mr. Mouse remarked, "If even a quarter of what Tyler says is true, then Lance is a real asshole."  True that.  This book is a scathing indictment of the rampant doping going on in professional cycling.  Tyler never singles Lance out - everyone did it, all the time, because that was the only way they were going to win - but Armstrong clearly uses his money, power and connections to his best advantage.  The amazing thing is that none of these bike racers, Hamilton included, thought what they were doing was wrong.  Sure, they knew it was against the rules but if everyone's doing it, what's the difference?  Hamilton is pretty unflinching and doesn't shy away from his own malfeasance.  I found this book fascinating and terribly sad.

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