Tag Archives: contemporary authors

Twilight Watch; a Review

Twilight Watch, book 3 of Sergei Lukyanenko’s Watch series. For those unfamiliar, the Watch series is about supernaturals living among us called Others, mainly consisting of vampires and magicians and witches and werewolves, etc., who are either on the light or the dark side. The watches, divided into a day and night watch are, respectively, supernatural police forces who keep watch on its counterpart to maintain order. Supernaturals in disguise, as it were.

Twilight Watch, by Sergei Lukyanenko

Twilight Watch, by Sergei Lukyanenko

Overall, I was very satisfied with this one. Day Watch (#2), not so much. I guess the night watchers are more appealing to me as a reader.

We come back to Anton from Night Watch. He’s dragged back into duty during vacation with the news that an Other is planning on transforming humans into Others via a spell that supposedly doesn’t exist. Well of course it exists, and Anton must find this schemer before he does such a thing and permanently erases the human race. We wouldn’t want a world full of enchanters and werewolves and vampires now would we.

Pros:

  1. Lukyanenko delves into the morality and politics of being an Other. I must say, any supernatural novel or series is incomplete without this personal question becoming an issue for the character. I was very glad to see this.
  2. The book was written in three parts. Anton is unsuccessful in part 1. When I began part 2, I was thrown because the setting and characters took a 90 degree turn. But by the third part, parts 1 and 2 are wonderfully woven together. Lukyanenko delivers.
  3. I still get a kick out of the fact that Lukyanenko’s vampires cannot consume from a drunk. In Russia. Where vodka abounds. Garlic? Vampires scoff. Whiskey? You’re done. Stinks to be a vampire in Russia.

Cons:

  1. By the time the plot thickened, I had already predicted who the schemer was. The blurb on the back cover gave it away, too. Why would they do that? I wanted to think there would be a twist about the whodunnit, but alas, there was none. This may be a big no-no to some readers, and maybe it’s just because I’m a fan of Lukyanenko, but his story-telling is very entertaining despite the main plot being easy to predict.
  2. Okay. The lyrics thing is getting dull. I love music, don’t get me wrong, but when I read lyrics to a tune I don’t know, it … falls flat. And the lyrics aren’t even that fantastic. But its his book so he can do what he likes with it. But this is the main reason why I would never put lyrics in a piece of literary work, no matter how brilliant I think the words to a song are.
  3. Again, lots and lots of dialogue. Like, 80+% of the story was dialogue. But in this book, it didn’t bother me as much, but still rather noticeable.

I’m a nice reader. 8 out of 10, the minus two mainly for the predictability of the story. But he’s laid some serious foundations for the next book in the series so hopefully I can find the next one, The Last Watch, somewhere on half dot com where I buy most of my books. I much prefer a nappy used book than a crispy stiff new one.


Day Watch: A Review

Day Watch, by Sergei Lukyanenko

 

Just recently finished the second book of the Watch series by Lukyanenko. I read the first one about 4-5 years ago and finally got around to the second book of his tetralogy. When I first picked it up, I couldn’t quite understand why I was so fond of the first one. But after adjusting my reading mode, I recalled why I liked the first book, Night Watch, so much. No, really, I’m inclined to believe that Night Watch played a decent role in inspiring me to write The Red Forest.

The plot in this story is a little screwy at times, but the atmosphere is phenomenal. One reviewer over at Goodread’s was extremely disturbed and turned off by how dark and dismal the book is. But to me, that is what makes it so outstanding and rises above the rest of these ridiculous Hollywood urban fantasy books that are basically written to be bought and tossed in the fire pit. Isn’t that what they do to them? I’m sorry, but anyone who is an immortal is not going to be a happy-go-lucky fool, and I despise any romanticism of the idea, as well as this nonsense where all-is-right-in-the-end. And this is why I love Lukyanenko.

Unfortunately, Day Watch was, in my opinion, not up to par as Night Watch (#1) was.

Pros:

  1. We get a look into the Dark Side (the “bad guys”). Who doesn’t like to see what it’s like over there?
  2. As always, Lukyanenko does a masterful job at capturing the tone, environment, emotions, and descriptions. When you read his books, you really feel that you are there, that you can smell the cigarette smoke, that you’re really sinking into the Twilight with them. Very raw, and very good.
  3. Everything that happens is key to the plot. Like the first book, it all makes sense in a huge ka-pow at the very end of the book.

Cons:

  1. The first plot felt rather contrived. I felt as if he just needed this to happen, but didn’t spend that mind-numbing amount of time of making it plausible. It was hard for me to believe the depth of the emotions in the first plot — love at first sight is, for me, a hard concept to digest.
  2. The last fifty pages contained way too much explaining and conversational brainstorming. The twist at the end was good, but the journey to it felt long-winded and would have been more exciting if done differently. Personally, monologues and discussions don’t bother me, but for a story like this, I would have done things a little differently. Expect a lot of questions to arise during the read, but don’t expect to be teetering on the edge of your seat.

I’d give Day Watch a 7 out of 10. The story itself was grand and unpredictable. Lukyanenko’s a very talented writer and does not unnecessarily flower things up or add inane subplots just to make things more exciting. Everything presented is pertinent and vital to the entire story. Unfortunately, the way some of the plot points are performed, I feel, could have been better approached. Execution is superb, but the credibility of some of the means getting to the end could have been better set up.

But for a fan of the Watch, I loved it. As raw and melancholy as ever, and I’m looking forward to Twilight Watch. Hopefully I can get to that within, shall we say, 2 years?


Misleading Quotes

# Writing fiction isn’t expressing yourself, it’s creating an experience for your reader.

And yet we all write because we love it. Right? I’m not sitting here at my desk thinking about you. I’m actually sitting here thinking about me, about the fact that I know something important and I want you to get a kick out of learning it from me.

Which leads me inevitably to admit that the reader is the only one in this relationship who counts. I might very well have something you need, but if you don’t want it I’ve done all this work for nothing. Not only that, but you’re not here just for what I know, you’re here for the experience of learning it, and even more than that you’re here for the indescribable magic that happens when you find yourself sandwiched between what you’re learning and how you feel about learning it.

That’s the magic that changes a reader’s life. And the writer’s job is working that magic.

I discovered this insightful paragraph during my weekly blog perusing, and a quote that many writers like to express is – I know you know which quote I’m going to say here – “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” — Toni Morrison

Now it’s a very encouraging quote, and maybe I missed the whole gist of it, but may I just say two things: it hasn’t been written because no one is interested. The idea is not good. Just forget it. And two, the majority of people who love this quote (for all those yummy feel-good vibes) don’t have the execution skills to write that story. Bad penmanship that is published today, especially the more popular contemporary novels of today, has only the publishers to blame. Grammar is hardly heeded today, as long as a dollar is involved. The story doesn’t even have to be great. Bad writing inspires bad writers, and writers that should not be writing at all. Perhaps I’m too picky, or perhaps I adhere to the rules of grammar and good storytelling too much, but I generally have no respect or admiration for contemporary authors. Especially the sellouts. There is a certain structure to good books that should always be adhered to. Straying from that architecture and insisting upon writing “in your own style/format” is ridiculous. Unless you are a clone of Dumas or Fitzgerald, then take your hands away from the keyboard and read your classics that have been time-tested and approved. Now I’m not saying that no one should write until they’ve read x amount of classics, just don’t expect to have a good grasp on real fiction from today’s best-sellers.

Also, I’m becoming more and more convinced that there are millions of great unspoken stories yet to come, but being the youthful age that I am, they will not all come in my lifetime. Sometimes, nay, oftentimes when I write, I have that dark spirit whispering in my ear: “That story’s been told before! It’s nothing new, so just toss it!” but being a writer, I push that aside. There’s no choice!

So there’s nothing wrong with writing for your entertainment. Hell, write a sequel your favorite book if it makes you happy. But readers are fickle, typically unenlightened, and from what I’ve seen and read statistics of, like to stick to the same old shmoozy authors that write the same crap over and over, just with different characters. So to heck with trying to write a bestseller, because those big publishing companies would rather get the money-making books than select something of real talent. Real talent is found in indie authors, but not all indie authors. Which is why I really dig the self-published and e-book business. Of course, it’s a double-edged sword. Now anyone can get a book out there (myself included). Doesn’t matter if they still write like a second grader, or if they’ve got the talent of Ernest Hemingway. Finding a good self-published book, and I mean a good one, not a remake of what’s hip, is next to impossible.

One of my favorite writing quotes is by Anton Chekhov, which I found while perusing in the shelves of this trashy place called B & N. I had not even a checkbook to write in, nor the money to buy the book, so it has become a paraphrased jot in my mind that I am loving more and more every day. It goes something like this: When you have finally completed your manuscript, bind it nicely and place it in a chest for a year. After a year, take it out of the chest and burn it.

But anyway, it irks me the amount of people who proclaim themselves as authors and writers, that they have talent and original ideas. And these are the same people who have no clue who Dostoevsky or Thoreau are, or have never read Thackeray and despise Shakespeare. And yet, the illiterate follow the illiterate. And as long as the publishers foresee the dollar sign because they know that many readers are just puppets, the literature illiterate and gross users of the English language may one day be considered acceptable in the Chicago Manual of Style. And what a sad day it would be for humanity.

May I leave with you with some quotes that I do find relevant to a writer.

Write down the thoughts of the moment.  Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.
-Francis Bacon

What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he’s staring out of the window.
-Burton Rascoe

Sit down, and put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer.  But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.
-Colette, Casual Chance, 1964

Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.
-George Bernard Shaw

How vain it is to sit down to write if you have not stood up to live.
-Henry David Thoreau