Category Archives: Terrible books

Ghost of a chance (Ghost finders)

Ghost of a chance / Simon R. Green

And now we go from a series I enjoyed to a book that I find it really hard to say anything positive about.

Simon R. Green is apparently more well known for his Nightside series, which I’ve never read. I picked up this one instead of the first Nightside book because the fact that Ghost of a chance was the first in the series was printed on the cover. Urban fantasy publishers: PLEASE do this. More than once I’ve started halfway through a series because it was nigh-impossible to tell which book was first so I grabbed the one in the worst condition. Historical romance books are even worse, as I’ve seen some authors (Laura Lee Guhrke, for example) where the books in the series are listed in a different order in each book.

Please quit doing this, publishers. My public library occasionally numbers things in-series on their spines, but they aren’t particularly consistent about it and it appears to be more common with hardcovers and or/trades than it does mass market paperbacks. The least you could do is list the series in order on the fly-leaf.

Back to this book in particular.

Brief plot summary

JC Chance, Melody Chambers, and Happy Jack Palmer are a team of paranormal investigators working for the Carnacki Institute. Tasked with investigating an apparently simple haunting in the London Underground, things become more complicated when a team from their arch-rivals, the Crowley Project, arrives.

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The warded man

The warded man / Peter V. Brett. First published 2009.

Tired of implied racism and sexism in your fantasy novels? Why not read The warded man, which finally makes these age-old themes explicit!

Since I started to go on a  rant about this book in my previous post I figured I should probably just post a review of it.

The warded man (known as The painted man in the UK) is the first book of one of Orbit’s ubiquitous relatively disposable fantasy series. I’m somewhat conflicted about the novel as it is. There’s definitely some potential but the book is so massively problematic that in hindsight it’s almost impossible to call it a “good” book. Unfortunate.

This book made me cry.*

If I haven’t made it clear, this book features and so this post will deal with with issues of incest, sexual assault, child abuse, sexism, and religious/racial/ethnic stereotypes. If you don’t want to experience that then don’t read this post, and don’t read this book. All the objectionable content will be below the cut.

There will also be spoilers.

If you can handle the content but don’t want spoilers, I’ll add the following to the plot summary below: Brett peppers the book with brutal atrocities with little context and few to no repercussions, apparently with the goal of making the book “gritty” and “adult” but serving no purpose – not even in advancing the plot.

*Not difficult. I also cry at jewelry commercials, movie trailers, and couples taking pictures together in Daley plaza.

Plot summary

Arlen is a young boy in a cursed world: every night demons rise from the ground to kill anyone not sheltered by protective wards. Humans are in danger of extinction. Frustrated at the way the populace has passively accepted this fate, Arlen seeks to find some way to fight back against the demonic menace.

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Blackcollar

Blackcollar / Timothy Zahn. Originally published 1983.

In which I am severely disappointed.

Blackcollar is a the first novel in a series by Timothy Zahn, an author best known for his massively successful Star Wars EU novels. Blackcollar is, as far as I can tell, Timothy Zahn’s first published novel. If you’re the type who’s inclined to start reading from an author’s first book, I abjure you: don’t do that here, you’ll end up with a totally twisted sense of Zahn’s writing. I came to it having read a decent percentage of his more recent books, grabbing it on Kindle when it was on sale, and was not a fan of what I found.

Brief plot summary

The Earth has lost its war against the alien Ryqril,* but an underground resistance movement still thrives. Allen Caine is tasked with finding the elite blackcollars, guerrilla heroes of the war now in retirement and under close observation by the Ryqril and their human collaborators.

*Don’t ask me how to pronounce it. It’s a space opera from the 80s, which means that all alien names are contractually obligated to be a random mish-mash of letters.

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The maze runner

The maze runner / James Dashner. Originally published 2009.

In which I struggle to be objective about a book I absolutely hated

The maze runner is the first book in the eponymous series, soon to be a poorly reviewed but possibly financially successful film. It’s a post-apocalyptic YA novel that has been widely successful but has less name recognition outside its target demographic than more popular series like The hunger games.

Brief plot description

(no spoilers)

A boy named Thomas wakes in an elevator with no memory of anything but his name. He soon finds himself in the company of about 60 other boys trapped at the center of a mysterious maze, none of whom have any idea how or why they are there. The most well-respected of these children are the “maze runners”, who daily explore the maze in an attempt to map it out and find an escape.

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