50 Book Challenge — Books 1 and 2

17 Jan

For the past several years I’ve participated in an online challenge to read 50 books in a calendar year. So far I’ve not been able to do it, but I’m giving it another try in 2010.

So, to help meet my goal of posting in this blog more often, I’ve decided to post Amazon.com descriptions followed by my review of the books I read this year. My list right now of ones I want to read is pretty short, so if you have any to recommend to me, please comment!

Okay, here we go with books No. 1 and No. 2, Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (one of my favorite authors) and The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown.

Shades of Grey, Jasper Fforde

Amazon.com Description:
Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds. In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing, Eddie Russet belongs to the low-level House of Red and can see his own color — but no other. The sky, the grass, and everything in between are all just shades of grey, and must be colorized by artificial means.

Eddie’s world wasn’t always like this. There’s evidence of a never-discussed disaster and now, many years later, technology is poor, news sporadic, the notion of change abhorrent, and nighttime is terrifying: no one can see in the dark. Everyone abides by a bizarre regime of rules and regulations, a system of merits and demerits, where punishment can result in permanent expulsion.

Eddie, who works for the Color Control Agency, might well have lived out his rose-tinted life without a hitch. But that changes when he becomes smitten with Jane, a Grey Nightseer from the dark, unlit side of the village. She shows Eddie that all is not well with the world he thinks is just and good. Together, they engage in dangerous revolutionary talk.

Stunningly imaginative, very funny, tightly plotted, and with sly satirical digs at our own society, this novel is for those who loved Thursday Next but want to be transported somewhere equally wild, only darker; a world where the black and white of moral standpoints have been reduced to shades of grey.

My review:
It took me awhile, but I grew to love this world and the characters. If you’re a fan of the Thursday Next and Nursery Crime series of books, the last sentence of the Amazon.com description rings true. You won’t find talking bears here, but you will find a darker, more biting version of the alternate realities Fforde has become known for, and I’m looking forward to the continuation of this series.

The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown

Amazon.com Description:
Let’s start with the question every Dan Brown fan wants answered: Is The Lost Symbol as good as The Davinci Code? Simply put, yes. Brown has mastered the art of blending nail-biting suspense with random arcana (from pop science to religion), and The Lost Symbol is an enthralling mix. And what a dazzling accomplishment that is, considering that rabid fans and skeptics alike are scrutinizing every word.

The Lost Symbol begins with an ancient ritual, a shadowy enclave, and of course, a secret. Readers know they are in Dan Brown territory when, by the end of the first chapter, a secret within a secret is revealed. To tell too much would ruin the fun of reading this delicious thriller, so you will find no spoilers here. Suffice to say that as with many series featuring a recurring character, there is a bit of formula at work (one that fans will love). Again, brilliant Harvard professor Robert Langdon finds himself in a predicament that requires his vast knowledge of symbology and superior problem-solving skills to save the day. This setting, unlike other Robert Langdon novels, is stateside, and in Brown’s hands Washington, D.C. is as fascinating as Paris or Vatican City (note to the D.C. Tourism Board: get your “Lost Symbol” tour in order). And, as with other Dan Brown books, the pace is relentless, the revelations many, and there is an endless parade of intriguing factoids that will make you feel like you are spending the afternoon with Robert Langdon and the guys from Mythbusters.

Nothing is as it seems in a Robert Langdon novel, and The Lost Symbol itself is no exception — a page-turner to be sure, but Brown also challenges his fans to open their minds to new information. Skeptical? Imagine how many other thrillers would spawn millions of Google searches for noetic science, superstring theory, and Apotheosis of Washington.The Lost Symbol is brain candy of the best sort — just make sure to set aside time to enjoy your meal.

My review:
Is The Lost Symbol as good as The DaVinci Code? In a word, NO.

Maybe I’m tiring of the “Dan Brown Formula,” or maybe the secrets of Catholicism are more interesting to me than the masons, but I was underwhelmed with this book. Parts of it were good (one twist in particular I didn’t see coming, though maybe I was mentally through with the book by then), but the majority just seemed like Dan Brown’s formula with different locales and characters thrown in. One “twist” in particular didn’t even shock me, because I knew there was no way it was true. I was really looking forward to this book, especially since it took him so long to write it, but it turned out to be more of the same from Dan Brown, and I guess I was looking for more of something else.

2 / 50 books. 4% done!

928 / 15000 words. 6% done!

2 Responses to “50 Book Challenge — Books 1 and 2”

  1. butterflydreams24 15 February 2010 at 7:33 am #

    I just started my own 50 books challenge as well. Good luck with yours! I’ll check back every once in a while to see if you’ve read anything new and interesting 🙂

    • Lisa 18 February 2010 at 3:08 pm #

      Thanks, good luck to you too! I’m on book number 7 right now, so I’m not thinking I’ll make it to 50, but you never know!

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