Tag Archive | technology

Book Review: The Law of Nines

BookNerd

“It is said that a picture can say a thousand words. Well, so can a thousand words. They are the keys by which we can unlock new and amazing worlds, some of which ascend beyond the imagination, and it all begins on the first page.” – BookNerd

There are so many defining elements that one can use to determine whether a book qualifies as being good or bad. Does it have a relatable protagonist? Is the plot of the story unpredictable? Does it abide by rules that make sense? Is it something that no one has ever done before?

Those are all  important elements that can amount to an amazing story, but to me, it doesn’t mean anything if the book doesn’t somehow engage you on an intellectual level. I want a book that makes me think; a book that gets me to question everything I thought I knew about life. I’m basically saying that I want a book that goes out of its way to mess with my mind, forcing me to see the world from perspectives I’d never even considered before.

In The Law of Nines, Terry Goodkind creates a version of our reality in which we truly are not alone, but not in the way you might think. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say that the world Goodkind created in the Sword of Truth series and our world have a lot more in common than you may have thought. In this book, we get the chance to see our world from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know how it works, and is fascinated by things as simple as making tea or using a hair dryer.

Now, how much do I like it and would I recommend it? Let’s take a look!

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Review: The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind

Three stars

Synopsis:

“Turning twenty-seven may be terrifying for some, but for Alex, a struggling artist living in the Midwest, it is cataclysmic. Something about this birthday, his name, and the beautiful woman whose life he has just saved has suddenly made him – and everyone he loves – a target. A target for extreme and uncompromising violence…”

I knew absolutely nothing about this book going into it, except that it was written by one of my favourite authors. From reading the synopsis, I was able to glean that it was a story of a conspiratorial nature, that focused on a guy named Alex. Then there’s the ‘beautiful woman coming into his life and changing everything’ cliché, a rather overused premise, but one that can still hold some intrigue if done right.

I had no idea, until the main character’s last name was revealed, that this book had any connection whatsoever to the Sword of Truth series. It didn’t give that impression at all, what with the lack of seekers, confessors, magic and Gar’s. Granted, it’s been a while since I read any of the Sword of Truth books, so it’s possible that there’s something in one of the –  I want to say fifteen, although when I started reading them there was only ten, which is how you can tell it’s been a while since I read them – books that hints at some kind of connection between these two different storylines. This made it a little confusing for me once the two storylines collided, but it did succeed in making it refreshing, yet still familiar.

Designing a good female character who is the perfect balance between strength, courage & tenacity, and empathy & femininity is challenging. If they’re too much of either, I find they become immediately unlikeable, like Sansa Stark during the first season of Game of Thrones, and Cersei Lannister during… well, the entire series, really. On the one hand, you had Sansa, who very much behaved like a proper lady, and dreamt of meeting a handsome man who would sweep her off her feet and make her feel like a queen, both figuratively and literally. Now, this isn’t the bad part of her personality. The bad part comes with how incredibly naïve she is about the ways of the world, especially her inability to see that Joffrey is a sadistic creep, and the worst possible choice for a husband. Her life just keeps getting worse and worse, but you can’t help but feel that it’s her fault because of those aspects of her personality.

Cersei’s character is an example of a female character from the other end of the spectrum, one who is very strong, manipulative and understands very well how the world and the minds of men work, which aren’t bad qualities in and of themselves, but she portrays them in a way that basically make her look like a… well, you know. Not a very pleasant person, let’s put it that way.

Both characters have admirable qualities, but they lack balance, resulting in characters that you love to hate. In The Law of Nines, the female protagonist Jax is what I would consider a decent balance between the two extremes. She’s strong, vicious even when she needs to be, extremely loyal, and despite how out of place she feels being in our world, she learns quickly so that she doesn’t get taken advantage of. Jax is certainly one of the main reasons I kept reading this book, but sometimes, one reason is just not enough.

My overall impression is that it’s not a great book, but it’s still worth the read. It’s certainly an interesting side story, and there are several moments where I could feel my heart pounding against my chest when our protagonists found themselves with their backs against the wall and their lives on the line, but it was a bit of a struggle to read it through to the end. The story felt rather repetitive at times, even a little simplistic in its plot, and from start to finish, it kind of felt like I was reading two completely different stories that only sort of meshed together.

There was one part of the book that I really liked though, and I feel like that alone made it worth reading. I actually mentioned it in a previous post, which you can check out here. In short, the protagonists Alex and Jax were having a deep discussion about the similarities between magic and technology, and what our world would be like if we suddenly didn’t have access to any of our modern day technology. I find myself often saying that I’d be able to live without my phone and my computer if I had to, but I never stopped to consider it on a global scale, where the majority of humanity relies upon having access to technology to survive.

I also enjoyed the conspiratorial tone at the beginning of the book, evoking plenty of paranoia and suspense, as neither you nor Alex had any idea what was going on. I even enjoyed how they introduced Jax, this mysterious woman who comes out of nowhere, and initially gives Alex the cold shoulder following his rescue attempt.

So, not a great book, but not altogether terrible. If you want a sneak peak into the Sword of Truth series before reading it, then The Law of Nines might not be a bad place to start. I would classify it as the kind of book you read a few pages of before going to sleep every night. I don’t normally like to give a book a bad review, but I just found it too difficult to lose myself in this one. However, even bad or moderately good books have their merits and deserve to be read. You never know what you might glean from them.

What do you look for in a good female protagonist? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or on my blogs Facebook page, and until next time, keep on reading!

Cheers,

BookNerd

 

 

 

 

 

A World Without Technology: Can You Imagine It?

BookNerd

“It is said that a picture can say a thousand words. Well, so can a thousand words. They are the keys by which we can unlock new and amazing worlds, some of which ascend beyond the imagination, and it all begins on the first page.” – BookNerd

 

Having grown up on a farm out in the middle of the boonies, I know what it feels like to be technologically limited. The house was heated with a wood burning stove in the basement, the grass was cut using a hand held scythe, the water was pumped out of a well, and the closest grocery store was very small and took twenty minutes to get to by car. When it came to watching television, one of my favourite pass times, we were lucky if we could get five channels, and that’s only if the weather was nice and we turned the antenna until it was in just the right spot using the rotor [for those of you unfamiliar with the term ‘rotor’, it was basically a device that had a nob that you turned in order to get a better TV signal… my how things have changed]. Then there was the dial up internet, which would often take up to an hour to load anything, and was incredibly frustrating when someone else wanted to use the phone, and were met instead with the familiar dial up screech upon picking up the receiver.

This may sound like a horrible way to live for some of you, but honestly, it’s a way of life that I miss sometimes. It may not have been easier, but it was definitely simpler in a way. It felt like I was living in the kind of close knit community that doesn’t really exist anymore, where people helped one another unconditionally, where parents went out of their way to run programs for the kids of the neighbourhood, and we were more afraid of the coyotes howling at night than we were of other people.

It’s also a reminder that there is so much that the youth of today who take for granted. I wrote an article once about how many of today’s children know next to nothing about cooking, food and nutrition. They think that it all just comes from the store and that there will always be plenty of food to go around. They have no concept of sustainability, of how it gets from the farm to their plate, and how pre packaged or ready made meals are not only less nutritional, but are also depriving them of the joys of cooking. It’s a shame, really, and it’s only going to get worse as society continues to make great strives towards making life ‘easier’.

I started thinking a lot about this after reading this passage from                           9780515147483_p0_v1_s260x420                 The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind, which I will hopefully get to the end of in the next week or so. For those of you unfamiliar with this title, The Law of Nines is part of the same universe as The Sword of Truth series. I won’t say too much, except that you learn quite a bit more about the world that Richard ‘Rahl’ Cypher grew up in, and how it might not be all that different from our own…

Anyway, there is this one part in the book where the two main characters get into this deep discussion about what our world would be like if we suddenly no longer had access to the technology that we have come to rely upon so heavily for everything:

 

“Well, imagine life here without technology. Imagine life without the technology that heats your buildings, helps grow food in abundance, makes your lights glow. What would life be like without your phones, your trucks, your medicines and cures, without the means to supply the people in your cities with goods and services?

Imagine all the people in cities deprived of every kind of technology, technology that they use every day to survive. Imagine everyone suddenly having to find a way to grow their own food, to preserve it, to store it safely.

[…] Without your technology the fabric of civilization itself would come apart within days – if not hours. Everyone would be on their own. One city wouldn’t know what the next is doing, or if they were even alive. There’d be no plans or cars or anything else. You couldn’t travel to other places unless you walked. Do you have any idea how long it takes to walk just a few dozen miles? A distance that in your cars takes a brief time would be days of hard travel on foot.”

      It goes on for several more paragraphs, and the more I read, the more I realized just how hopeless many of us would be if we could no longer rely on the convenience of our technology to get by. Growing up, I thought it was normal having to walk almost half an hour to get to a friends house, until I visited some of my friends in the city who literally just had to cross the road. It seemed unfair at first, but then I thought about all of the beauty of nature I got to enjoy on my long walk, a beauty that my city friends were being deprived of.

      Having to work harder to get something makes you appreciate it so much more, and I fear that that’s something else that might be lost on the next generation of youth. Having worked in a grocery store, I’ve seen all sorts of different family dynamics. It always warmed my heart to see children who were eager to help their parents carry the groceries, as if it was the most exciting thing in the world. There was even this one kid who really wanted to pass me all of the groceries by himself. Those were the days that made me smile.

Then you had the children on the other end of the spectrum, the ones that made you feel the same pain that the parents must be feeling as they watch their child throw a full blown tantrum in the middle of the store when they could only have one chocolate bar, or when their teenage child is too busy text on their phone to bother helping out when their parent is struggling to pack and carry all of the groceries by themselves.

Where has their sense of responsibility gone? Their respect for those who raised them? Their appreciation for the things that they already have? Everyday, it seems to only get worse and worse, and I fear that future generations will be completely unequipped to handle even the simplest challenges should they no longer have technology to lean back on.

What are your thoughts on this quote? I’d love to hear what all of you lovely BookNerds have to say, so please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below, or on my blogs Facebook page. Happy reading!

Cheers,

BookNerd   

Thoughts From a Train: What Will Become of Books and Newspapers?

nerdfighters rules Hello Fellow BookNerds!

Greetings fellow fans of the literary world!

I would like to apologize for my absence for the past couple of days; I found myself to be neck deep in boxes and piles upon piles of other paraphernalia. You don’ really realize just how much stuff you have until you try and pack it away. I don’t care what people say; I think it’s possible to have too much stuff ^_^

Anyway, to make up for the brief lull in my blogging schedule, I thought I would spend a little time talking about an issue which continues to be brought up again and again, and which I’m sure each and every one of you has wondered about at least once…

At this moment, as you are reading this, you are on you computer, your tablet or some other electronic device with an internet connection. From the moment you turned it on, I bet it took you less than five minutes to log onto the internet, open up a search engine and stumble upon this blog. Five minutes. There are times where I still find it difficult to accept the ease with which people can find what they’re looking for, and they don’t even have to leave the comfort of their couch to do it. Heck, people can build an entire career and earn a fairly handsome salary without having to set foot outside their homes, or interact with customers or clients face to face! Almost everything can be accomplished online, and that includes reading.

I can still remember the day when I got my first library card. It stands out rather vividly in my mind, mostly due to the embarrassment I felt after realizing that I wrote my name wrong – I would like to state for the record that I was quite young at the time, and still relatively new to the world of writing – but it also made me feel grown up. That card was my responsibility, belonging only to me, and giving me the power to borrow as many books as I pleased. The excitement and joy of kn0wing that I could visit the library any time I wanted and fill my mind with the thousands of stories contained within the thousands of books they had to offer … It was a day I shall never forget. Another day I will never forget is the day I set my eyes on an e-reader for the first time.

It looked so strange, like something out of a science fiction novel. Yes, how ironic it would have been if said person had actually been reading a science fiction novel at the time, but alas that was not the case. All irony aside though, I just couldn’t come to grips with this revelation right away; I mean, how could people possibly enjoy having this cold, rectangular mass of circuits sitting in their hands when the world is already filled with these tastefully bound and artfully decorated books that people poured their souls into? Keep in mind that this was the old me who was, shall we say, not overly fond of the direction to which humanity was headed in a technological sense? It took me years before I got my first cell phone, and that was only out of necessity.

The new me, however, has adopted a view which neither contradicts nor coincides with the whole “skynet will take over our computers and enslave the human race” mindset. I won’t deny that the advancements we have made and continue to make in the field of robotics sends shocks of anxiety through my nervous system when I dwell on it for too long, but that does not cloud my eyes to all of the benefits that have come from this. However, I also don’t have blinders on when considering how much technology is and has been taking away, which is where we arrive at the big question on everyone’s minds: is there room in a digital world for old relics like paper bound books and glossy page newspapers?

After I saw that person with their e-reader, pressing a button to turn to the next page of what I am sure was an amazing book, I swore to myself that I would never succumb to the temptations to purchase one myself. Today, I still don’t own one, but that promise I made back then was to a person who was still unwilling to accept that the world was changing, along with everything in it. I will never give up my bookshelf, and I will continue to get up early every morning to pick up the newspaper from the end of the driveway, but I will not deny myself  the potential pleasure that comes from something that people put a lot of hard work into making. Technological innovations, after all, stem from the idea of a single person, ideas which would not be made possible without the human’s unique ability to imagine how things could be. This same kind of imagination is what gave birth to memorable characters like Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes.

It is quite possible that the books and newspapers we have become so used to seeing over time may fall into disuse, but I can’t see them disappearing altogether. Many relics of our past have been seen to pop up time and time again, and in some cases they are just as popular today as they were back then. It can’t be helped; we are a race of beings prone to feelings of nostalgia and sentimentality, and no matter how much we try to distance ourselves from the past, we can’t help but take a few souvenirs from those times with us.

This is my predication: so long as there are people, there will be books to be read and newspapers to be perused. Now if alien races come and take over the planet, then my prediction may be proven false, but this prediction is not based upon the insight gleaned from fiction; these are the thoughts of your average university student who has seen her fair share of fads live and die, and then continue to live again. As Bob Dylan would say, things they are a changin’ , but change does not have to mean an entire overhaul of everything we do.

This is the opinion of only one BookNerd, though. I would love to hear what the rest of you think. Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments, and until next time, happy reading!

Cheers,

BookNerd