Archive for the ‘iain banks’ Category

Inversions by Iain M. Banks

Inversions (Culture, #6)Inversions by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is not your typical Sci-fi book. If you are not familiar with the “Culture” Series by Iain M. Banks then you probably won’t even notice the science fiction that is going on behind the scenes. If you are familiar with the series then, like me, you will probably find this book simply brilliant. “Culture” often meddles with less advanced worlds, helping them evolve into a more advanced civilization.

Since the story is told from the point of view of person from the less advanced world there is no direct mention of the real story, because “culture” helps without the people they are helping having any knowledge.

If you are not familiar with “Culture”, you still get a get an enjoyable story (but will miss the sci-fi aspect of the story). If you are familiar with the “culture series”. You get 2 stories, the one that is told and the one that your insight will allow you see. Brilliant!

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The Quarry by Iain Banks

The QuarryThe Quarry by Iain Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With Iain Banks being my favorite writer, this being his last book, and the circumstances (Banks finding out he was dying of cancer after he wrote the book). “The Quarry” holds a little more meaning for me than most books I have read. On the Surface “The Quarry” is about a man dying of Cancer and one last weekend spent with his friends. For me the story is about more than dealing with dying it’s also about the living and life going on. All the character in “The Quarry” are complex and real. Most are not likable and all are flawed. Guy (the one dying) sort of blackmails his friends to visit him by mentioning an old video that would be embarrassing to all, he mentions they might want to look for it before he dies. The story is mainly told through Guy’s adult son/caregiver who is slightly autistic or has asperger’s syndrome. A point of view that allows you to see the situation from both the inside and the outside. The story from the inside is about his dad dying and what it’s like to deal with it up close and personal, the outside is watching how his dad’s friends (several are “A” holes) deal with it and with each other. I liked “The Quarry” a lot and really enjoy the depth of the characters and their flaws.

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Stonemouth by Iain Banks

Stonemouth: A NovelStonemouth: A Novel by Iain Banks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Stonemouth is a story about Stewart Gilmour, a man who is returning to his home town of Stonemouth, Scotland to attend a funeral. Stewart had to leave town five years earlier, after he got himself into a little hot water with one of the town’s powerful crime families.

I have read more than a dozen books written by Iain (M) Banks. If this was the first book I had read by him I probably wouldn’t have been eager to read any of his other books. Though there were a few redeeming factors about Stonemouth that kept me from giving it two stars instead of the three that it received. The story was good enough to keep me reading and wondering what was going to happen next, and what had happened in the past. When I finished the book Stewart seemed like a real person to me (I found myself wishing him the best of luck). There was also a conversation between Stewart and another character about how the events of the past could have happened, several of which surprised me and made prefect sense. I really liked this conversation, it was the only part that felt like I was reading a Banks book.

I found Stonemouth to be predictable and parts of the story felt awkward and forced, making the flow of the story choppy. There were times in the story that Stewart, sometimes drunk and sometimes sober, had thoughts about global warming, politics, religion and the darker side of human nature. Many books by Banks have similar subjects as an undercurrent and were done well and flowed in the story. However, in Stonemouth they sounded more like a rant and felt out of place.

The thing that bothered me most about Stonemouth was what appeared to be, for lack of a better term, a product placement for Apple computers and the iPhone. When Stewart loses his iPhone he has to replace it with what is referred to for the rest of the book as a “rubbish” phone. And Stewart comments how he can’t wait to get to an Apple store to replace his good phone. When Stewart has to use his dad’s computer he comments on how it felt like preschool compared to his Apple.

Three Stars but not recommended.

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The Bridge by Iain Banks

The BridgeThe Bridge by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So far I have thoroughly enjoyed every book by Iain [M.] Banks I’ve read. ‘The Bridge’ is no exception.

The Bridge was a strange and surreal ride. It starts with an auto accident and a man falling into a coma. In the coma he finds himself in a strange world (living in a city on a bridge), not knowing who he is or of life before the bridge. The bridge lies between the city and the kingdom. His life is filled with strange happenings, bizarre dreams all the while reality is bleeding through. The story takes you through parts of his life before the accident, his life in the coma and his dreams which are more like nightmares. The different story lines all have elements from his real life. Regrets, choices made, choices that need to be made and the internal battle he must fight. When I was finished reading the story I was totally satisfied and happy to be alive.

This is another book that I would only recommend to adults not just because of the sex and violence but because Iain [M.} Banks is such a good writer he can make you feel the desperation, hopelessness and horror on such a deep level it will leave some readers feeling a bit uneasy (until you finish the book). Several of the books I have read by Banks have been dark and emotionally straining at times but he (Banks) always manages to have the perfect ending (some happy, some not so happy) that leaves me with a feeling of awe and a desire to read more.

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Walking on Glass by Iain Banks

Walking on GlassWalking on Glass by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m kind of in the middle of a Banks binge, trying to get a few of his non M books read (Iain Banks = fiction, Iain M. Banks = SciFi).

This is the first non M book that I think could have been an “M”. Walking on Glass has three stories that come together towards the end. The first story is about a man walking to the house of the woman he loves to tell her how he feels. Along the way he recalls moments he spent with her and how he felt at the time, he is walking on air. The second story is about a man that just quit his job before they could fire him. He knows they are out to get him. His tormentors are relentless. He has to avoid their microwave guns and the lasers in the axles of cars. He knows that if he tells what he knows they will lock him up (in a hospital) to keep him quiet. The third story is about a couple who have been locked in a castle until they either kill themselves, or until they can answer a riddle. To give an answer to the riddle they have to figure out the rules to a game and play it to it’s conclusion, games like Chinese Scrabble or spotless dominoes. The riddle they need to answer is: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

Iain Banks does a wonderful job of putting the reader inside the head of the characters, so you don’t just feel for them you feel with them. Walking on Glass is on the dark side and contains adult situations and some suffering.

As I was reading I knew what it was like to be each of the characters. To be in love, to understand what it would be like to believe there are tormentors out to get you, or to be frustrated with trying to learn a game just so you can try to solve an impossible riddle.

Towards the end of the book there were times that the suffering was so intense that I felt physical pain and could not stop reading for fear that the pain would stay with me. The stories come together and the ending was perfection that left me completely satisfied and happy that I read this book.

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A Song Of Stone by Iain Banks

A Song of StoneA Song of Stone by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Song of Stone is brutally dark. The writing is beautiful and poetic. The subject matter is horrific. The story takes place during a no name war in a no name country and is told from the view of Abel as a first person narrative.

Abel and his lover Morgan are nobles. They attempt to abandon their castle and flee to safety disguised as refugees when they are captured and taken back to their castle by a lieutenant and her band of soldiers. This is where the cat and mouse game begins. The story contains graphic violence, sex, incest, rape and human cruelty at it’s worse.

The further I got into the story the more it seemed to have a hold on me. The closer I got to the end the more I felt a need to finish it. By the time I got to the last chapter I wanted it to not end I no longer wanted to know, but still I had a need to know.

When I finished reading A Song of Stone it felt as if my psyche was savagely beaten and bruised, it may take weeks for my mental health and well being to recover, if ever.

When I closed the book I immediately wanted to read something else but I’m not sure if it’s to dilute the feeling A Song of Stone left me with or if it’s because the writing was so good (and deep) that it ignited something in me that makes me want to read and read and read.

I would recommend to ADULTS ONLY that have read the reviews and are still interested. Not recommended as a first Iain (M.) Banks read.

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Excession by Iain M. Banks

ExcessionExcession by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Damn! Banks can weave a tale! This is one complex story. Events set around the discovery of an Excession (Something excessive) that could be a danger to all. The Excession is capable of things no culture/species in the universe is capable of doing, maybe even destroying the universe. If that wasn’t enough to deal with there are conspiracies, spies, war, relationships and love.

Banks does a wonderful job of weaving the story lines together. Each character is developed so well you feel what each of them are going through (even the “traitors”) and understand why they do what they do.

Even though the story deals with dark material like death, war, love and hate etc., there is still humor throughout the story.

This is one of those books that you don’t want to end, but when it’s over you are totally satisfied and can’t quit smiling.

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