Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Reading books on my phone (a couple of quick reviews)...

If I'm being completely honest, one of the main reasons that I upgraded my phone was that I was tired of being the only person on the train who couldn't play 'Angry Birds' on the way to and from work. Of course I'd always rather be reading but nothing helps you gets you through the morning commute like throwing cartoon birds at cartoon pigs. You know what I mean... ;o)

The other, slightly more serious reason, is that I could save myself spending money on a Kindle by getting a phone (for free) with a screen big enough to read books on. One Kindle app (amongst several other eReader apps) later and I've got to say that the jury is still out...

On the one hand I've been pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to read off the screen; nice clear resolution and so on. The Kindle app is very cool but I'm also enjoying other readers as well, I'm talking about any reader that takes the time to give me pages that deliberately look all old and yellow. That really appeals to me. On the other hand though... I can actually feel my eyeballs start to dry up if I read anything longer than a small novella and also finding that I much prefer reading off pages that are the size of, well... pages. You can't fit enough text on a phone screen to keep the story engaging, not for me anyway. If I'm ever going to read anything larger then I'm going to have to bite the bullet and get that Kindle...

I have been reading a few short works on my phone though; here's what I thought of a couple of them...


Orbit have recently released a line of short fiction designed to fit snugly onto your e-reader and ease you gently into longer works by the same author. I've totally stalled in my reading of the 'Expanse' series (thought I'd finish reading 'The King's Blood' first, that went well...) so I thought that James S.A. Corey's 'The Butcher of Anderson Station' would be a good place to hop back on board and remind myself of what I was missing.

Not only is 'Butcher' a good place to jump back on board but it's also a great starting place for readers new to the series as we take a little step back in time to see what made a certain character fight for a new cause. On the surface things look very simple with a hostage situation that can only end in one way (especially if you've already read 'Leviathan Wakes') but once you get into the plot things become a lot more intricate. Corey really makes good use of the limited space to explore the relationship between the two leads in a lot of detail, exploring characters in depth and building up a narrative that is nothing short of engrossing. You may know how it will end but if you're anything like me you'll have to stick around for that ending.

There's  lot of excitement building up around the new 'Dredd' film and Abaddon are getting in on the action with 'Judge Dredd Year One: City Fathers'. Dredd has been upholding the law, in Mega City One, for less than twelve months and is about to face his toughest case yet. A dead agent points at the arrival of a new drug on the streets, a drug that causes mass hysteria in users before killing them. Chaos is about to erupt sector wide and Judge Dredd is the only person who can stop it...

I love the way that the title sets you up to expect one story and then hits with another story entirely (and at just the right time as well). This approach throws things into a new light and gives the plot fresh impetus just as the plot reaches its climax. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

What we have here is a mixture of detective story and introductory scene setting for new readers; it'a a mix that works but only up to a point. I couldn't help but wonder whether Dredd works better in comic book format... The background is gloriously bleak and grimy, fans will recognize it straight away while newcomers will get a clear picture of what Mega City One is all about. The story is a good one as well with plenty of questions and gunfire to keep the plot moving at a nice rate.

I just found myself wondering whether Dredd is the man to carry a novel. The whole point of Dredd is that he is meant to be one dimensional, at least this early in his career, all about upholding the law and nothing else. This works fine in the comic as you have a lot of other stuff to look at. In a book though, I'm not so sure... There's a lot of focus on Dredd and his character isn't quite up to that level of scrutiny.

'City Fathers' is a lot of fun though and I'm glad I gave it a go. Fans in particular will enjoy seeing all the little nods at what is to come in Dredd's future.

'The Butcher of Anderson Station' - 9/10
'City Fathers' - 8.5/10

2 comments:

Liesel K Hill said...

I know what you mean. I think you have to be in the right circumstances for e-readers. I downloaded the kindle app on my phone and often read from it or goodreads, but that's because my job currently has a lot of downtime. It would be awkward to pull out a book, but my boss is cool if I just do stuff on my phone, so it works really well for me. Overall, though, I prefer real books and generally read from them at home. :D

philnorris63 said...

I enjoyed Judge Dredd Year One and am looking forward to more of the same. I like the way its been transferred from comic to prose, I think they've managed to make Dredd carry the story.

My only query was Rico's inclusion, seemed a bit strange he was there, the Judge's & Dredd knew all about him being corrupt, and yet he was still at liberty?