‘Still Miss Iain Banks’

Score: 5/5

After two not-so-great books, this one was wonderful.

I miss the scope, the imagination he brought when he created The Culture, and I miss how it grew with him at the helm.

If you wondered what would happen if he turned his attention to hell, wonder no more. Would a culture as advanced as The Culture tolerate hells? It is, as ever, complicated...

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‘Didn’t Like This Either’

Score: 2/5

I didn’t enjoy the book I read before this, and I didn’t enjoy this one either.

I don’t think I’m more curmudgeonly than usual, and I wanted to enjoy both books. Guess I was just unlucky.

With this book, it feels like there’s a fun techno-thriller struggling to get out, but it never quite makes it. I really didn’t enjoy all the contorted prose in parts of it, but even without that I wouldn’t have enjoyed the story.

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‘Just Didn’t Like This’

Score: 2/5

I just didn’t like this. Not much point going into details of why, I just found it kinda dull.

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‘Ahead Of Its Time’

Score: 4/5

This book - written in the 90s - was well ahead of its time in many ways. It describes a technology we don’t have yet - ‘uploads’, or uploading personas so your thinking runs on a computer instead of a brain - but so many of the incidental bits are nearly spot on. Mobile phones, the web, virtual reality... All technologies in their infancy when the book was written but they appear fully-realised here, and not far away from what has actually happened.

It’s certainly not as easy to read as the Frontline series I’ve been rapidly going through, but I enjoyed it and the change of pace it brought to my reading.

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‘That’s More Like It’

Score: 4/5

There’s more action in this book - I thought the previous book dull in comparison. And it’s better action too, driving the overall story arc further along.

Sometimes some of the elite crew really do seem dumb though. No spoilers though, even though I’d really like to rant about it.

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‘Not Much Happens Here’

Score: 3/5

I’m still enjoying these books but... well, there’s not a lot going on in this one. In the others there are big battles, crescendos, and steps towards resolving a bigger goal. This has less of that.

It was still fun, just a bit of a placeholder.

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‘More Alien Infantry Battles’

Score: 4/5

More infantry battles. More aliens. If you liked the previous books you’ll like this. If you didn’t like the previous books you won’t like this.

I am liking this series, even if I do keep quibbling about the plausibility of bits of it all.

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‘Reacher Gets To England’

Score: 3/5

Yeah, another Reacher novel. They’re still fun - fast-paced, easy to read, not too deep for my tiny mind.

This one is... not the best Reacher novel. At least part of that is the alien feeling of reading Reacher’s take on things that are common in England but weird, rare or unknown to US folk like Reacher. Is this capturing the alien feeling the author felt when he first arrived in England and saw his first roundabout?

And a niggle: the books make a point of noting how light Reacher travels. He has no clothes other than what he wears (and he bins them rather than launder them), and he even keeps his toothbrush in his pocket so he doesn’t have to go back to his room if he decides to leave town. Sometimes you even get a full inventory of everything he carries in his pockets.

So where was his passport all this time? He’ll have needed the passport to fly internationally (the book is set in 2005). I don’t remember it being mentioned before this book. (Then again, I haven’t read them all.)

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‘A Good, Solid Introduction’

Score: 4/5

This was nice. Learning another language is always time-consuming, and the best you can hope for sometimes is a book that tells you how to do things and anticipates your questions. This book did well with anticipating my questions - I’d read the explanation, read the code, then think ‘Why did they...?’ only to find they tackle that very question a paragraph or two later.

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‘More Futuristic Infantry Action’

Score: 4/5

I am quite enjoying this series of books. They’re very easy to read, and not too taxing on my brain.

No, I still don’t think future infantry will work like that, but so what?

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