Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Alive in Necropolis, Angels & Demons, and me being a slacker

Hello Dear Readers!

I hope you are all doing well, and if you are in Western Mass I hope you are enjoying this latest batch of rain-free days. I'm writing 'cause it has been a while, but I don't have a lot to report, and what there is to report I don't have a lot of time for.

I've been studying more than reading for fun, but I did recently break down and read a couple of silly thriller/mystery things. First was Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, and I have to say I was not impressed. A particle physicist at CERN discovered (along with his beautiful daughter/research partner) a method for making relatively large quantities of antimatter, and portable carrying cases which hold their charge for 24 hrs. When the charge runs out the vacuum fails and the antimatter annihilates everything in its range, but rather than calling the cops the director of CERN calls Langdon, a symbologist at Harvard. The name of an ancient brotherhood of anti-Catholic scientists was branded into the researcher's chest, so of course Langdon is the fellow to deal with it, right? So they go to Rome, elbow their way into full Vatican access during an historic pope selection (the holy conclave?), and race against time along a path of clues laid by Galileo, Bernini, and their contemporaries. It just struck me as unnecessarily flashy in a lot of ways. Sure, an antimatter weapon would be quite impressive, but is so remarkably improbable at this point that I could not successfully suspend my disbelief. The narrative was kind of clunky with a bunch of cheaper bits (there are more delicate ways to express that our main characters are physically attractive), but it was fun enough and I was looking for something light, so it carried me along to the remarkably improbable resolution.

Next up was Alive in Necropolis, by Doug Dorst, which I expected to be about zombies but is actually about ghosts. And cops. I find ghost stories kind of campy, so I mostly stuck with this one because the setting (Colma, East of San Francisco) reminded me of my 'homeland', but it turned out to be a decent read (yes, I know I'm reading light stuff these days). We put this one in mysteries but it would probably do ok with older teans, altho I don't think parents would like the drugs and misbehavior. Our hero is a rookie cop who gets his spot after his predecessor dies in an apparent suicide. Colma is where San Francisco goes to be buried, so a lot of his beat is graveyards, and he starts to hear and see flickery ghost things. Meanwhile Dorst gives us a bit of a window into the ghost world, and it soon becomes clear that a violent miscreant with a band of thugs is on the loose, causing pain for the sake of pain and 'killing' ghosties (and people?) who get in their way. When will some brave soul find the courage to stop them? Rookie bonds with a troubled teen (son of some famous director) after saving him from a graveyard mishap, so we also get a window into a teen's life of poor decisions, ill-advsed crushes, thoughtless drug use and *totally* clueless parents.

Right, that's all I've got time for today. My replacement started last week, and he is going to be fantastic. He's kicking my butt at every task I give him, asking really good questions and getting really good at figuring out the answers we give, and is clearly more organized and professional than I am. Maybe one day he'll even blog...

Anyway, Take Care, All!

1 comment:

The Odyssey Bookshop said...

I forgot to add one thing about Alive in Necropolis. Our rookie friend (known at the station-house as 'boy thirteen') gets hit in the head. Kind of a lot. I think every chapter contained some mention of a headache or blunt-force trauma. He passes out a couple of times, gets in touch with his feelings, and spirals into a depression which was eerily well-written. Right, now that's all I've got!