Mass Effect: Ascension and Retribution, Franny and Zooey, By The Way

I’ve been reading a lot lately. I’m always reading a lot at any given time. This time though, there’s a large time between my last reading update and the current one. Not having had a home in a while makes it hard to update a blog.

Somehow I managed to keep reading all this time. I might have been homeless, and I may have struggled keeping sane inside a shelter, but reading is something I not once stopped doing. All it did was limit my options of what to read, while giving me all that more time to go ahead and read it.

Since there’s so much to discuss this time around, I figured I would cut it into several posts so I can slowly catch up to what I am reading now. What I’m reading now? A thick fantasy tome, so catching up shouldn’t be all that hard to do.

I should have a post ready about what I’ve gone through in the last month. One of many, at least. You’ll hear more about that soon enough. For now, let’s just look at the first 4 books on my list.

Mass Effect Ascension

Mass Effect: Ascension by Drew Karphyshyn

I wasn’t a fan of the first novel, Revelation, but I was still interested to see if Drew Karypshyn had something up his sleeve for the rest of the Mass Effect book series.

He didn’t.

An autistic biotic child is kidnapped from the Ascension Project, a training facility for especially gifted biotic children where they learn to deal with their powers in a controlled environment. Taking place just before the second Mass Effect game, it’s only natural that Cerberus is heavily involved in all the events of the book, while The Illusive Man pulls the strings from the background.

The conclusion of the book not only downplays the strength of Cerberus, it also completely undermines the image of The Illusive Man as a dangerous force and careful mastermind. It almost makes him look like a cartoon villain.

Like the previous book, the story unfolds as systematically and by-the-numbers in Ascension. There’s not a single surprise along the way. After a while it even becomes noticeable that all the major human villains, outside of The Illusive Man himself, are all people with asian features.

Avoid.

Mass Effect Retribution

Mass Effect: Retribution by Drew Karpyshyn

The Illusive Man’s favorite word. Just like you’d expect, Retribution follows The Illusive Man as he personally gets involved in an act of vengeance upon one of the characters from the previous book.

He infuses him with the salvaged Reaper technology from Mass Effect 2.

There’s a few surprises in this one, although not in a good sense. First of all, The Illusive Man getting personally involved in something petty as this, and the way it explodes in his face almost completely destroys everything the character stands for. Secondly, Anderson plays a large role in this novel, and he’s acting like a cocky 20-something hero, grinning like a fool and making witty remarks all over the place.

At least Kahlee Sanders, after being in the lead for the last two novels, still shows not a single sign of character development. At least some things never change. Even if they really should by now.

I think I’ll stop reading Mass Effect books at this point. They’re really not worth the time and effort.

Franny and Zooey

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

A short little book, but one that packs a good punch to it. I’m not Salinger’s biggest fan. In fact, I disliked Catcher in the Rye. Despite that, Franny and Zooey grabbed me.

The book consists of two short stories, one about a young girl having a mental breakdown, the other about her older brother talking to her after the fact. Central to both of them is a book about a farmer trying to learn how to pray correctly.

Something about these two characters and the way their stories are brought forward grabbed me in a way that Catcher in the Rye just couldn’t.

I read the entire book in one sitting, and then reread it the next day.

By The Way

By The Way by Dave Thompson

I have always been interested in the story behind the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and I heard really good things about the book Scar Tissue. This wasn’t Scar Tissue. In fact, it wasn’t all that great.

Written by someone not personally involved in the band, or the situations described, and worse yet, without much skill in writing, even the more interesting parts of the book just fall flat. It just feels like an impersonal list of things that happened to a group of people, rather than an accounting of everything that happened to a band that openly discusses these things.

A real shame. Hopefully I’ll get my hands on Scar Tissue soon instead of this one.

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