The Girl in the Spider’s Web

The Girl in the Spider's WebThe Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz (2015)

Summary

Hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist are back in this continuation of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series.

Review

I was position #1 on the library waitlist for Spider’s Web, so I got it the day it was released. I took it with me on a camping trip in Oregon and stayed up at night, reading by the light of a lantern.

I thought the book was just… okay. It didn’t have the same excitement and energy as the original trilogy. Lisbeth and Mikael felt a little off and there were too many forgettable new characters. I also thought the ending was strange and unsatisfying. Overall, I still thought the book was okay, but I don’t think I’d recommend it.

You might like this book if you are interested in…

  • Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, et al.)
  • Hacking
  • Autism and savants
  • Mysteries and thrillers
  • Sweden

Lifeline

Lifeline

Summary

You are Taylor’s only contact after his/her* ship crashes on an alien moon. Help Taylor through life or death decisions as the text-based story plays out in real time.

*I said his/her because Taylor’s gender was intentionally left ambiguous. I personally imagined Taylor as a guy because he made me think of Mark Watney in Andy Weir’s The Martian.

Review

For a few days, Taylor and I shared a bond. Whenever Nick asked what I was up to, I usually said something like, “I just helped Taylor find a generator!”

Lifeline decisionsThe game plays out in real time, so you won’t hear from Taylor while he’s sleeping or busy doing something. You just have to cross your fingers and hope he’s okay. With other games, waiting between playing is frustrating and annoying, but with Lifeline, it adds realism. It takes about three days to play if you respond to Taylor regularly.

After you finish the story, you have the option of going back in time and making different decisions. You also unlock “fast mode,” so you can skip the waiting time if you want.

Taylor died the first time I played. And the second, third, and fourth times. It wasn’t until I went back to the very beginning of the story and changed a few early decisions that I found a happy ending for Taylor.

I liked Lifeline a lot. It is engaging and suspenseful. Buy it. 😛

My criticisms are that you are limited to only 2 choices per interaction. Sometimes I wanted more options than that. Also, although Taylor usually listens to you, he’ll sometimes argue with you or ignore your suggestions altogether. This is realistic, but on Day 3, Taylor is going to the peak regardless of any choices you make.

You might like this game if you like…

  • Text-based games
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • Choose your own adventure games
  • Space exploration
  • Sarcastic characters
  • Suspense and horror

Want to play?

$0.99 on Google Play & iOS (currently on sale)

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (2015)

Summary

A woman named Rachel takes the commuter train every day where she imagines the lives of a couple who live in a home along the train tracks. When the wife goes missing, Rachel feels compelled to help in the investigation, which she might be more involved in than she realizes.

Review

I was eager to see what the hype for The Girl on the Train was all about. Overall, I thought the book was okay… not terrible, but not spectacular either. I liked the premise and the plot was fast-moving, but the characters weren’t very interesting. There were a few red herrings, but I predicted some of the ending fairly early in the book.

The Girl on the Train is often compared to Gone Girl. Both are thrillers that revolve around marital problems and have multiple narrators, but they’re definitely two distinct books. If you’re a fan of Gone Girl, though, I think you’d like this book (and vice versa).

You might like this book if you are interested in…

  • Psychological thrillers
  • People watching
  • Marital problems
  • Gone Girl
  • Alcoholism
  • Unreliable narrators
  • Learning British terms like “off-license”

Gone Girl

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)

Summary

On the morning of Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary, Amy disappears unexpectedly.

I don’t want to ruin the story, so I won’t say much more than that. 😛

Review

Gone Girl was a book I liked, but didn’t love. The twists and turns and unreliable narrators made for a really interesting story, but I couldn’t stand the crazy, despicable characters… though I guess that’s the point.

You might like this book if you are interested in…

  • Mystery, suspense, and crime genres
  • Dark, psychological thrillers
  • Complex personalities
  • Gender issues
  • Red herrings
  • Marriages gone bad
  • Unreliable narrators

The movie (2014)

A movie based on Gone Girl (also called Gone Girl) starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike was released in October. I watched the movie shortly after finishing the book and I was impressed by how true it stayed to the book. I had heard that it had an alternate ending, but I was disappointed to find it more or less unchanged. Nonetheless, the movie was really well done and I recommend seeing it.

Inferno

When my mom and sister started reading Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, I thought I’d join them and read it at the same time. I accidentally picked up my copy of Dan Brown’s Inferno instead, without realizing I was reading the wrong book. Whoops! 😛

So a decade after my last Dan Brown book, I finished Inferno last week.

Summary

InfernoInferno is Dan Brown’s 4th book about Harvard professor of symbology and iconology, Robert Langdon — this time, centered around Dante’s Inferno. The story begins with Robert waking up in a hospital in Florence, Italy with no knowledge of how he got there. His doctor, Sienna Brooks, tells him that he is suffering from amnesia after getting shot in the head the night before. When the assassin shows up to finish the job, Robert and Sienna flee and try to piece together what happened, leading them on a thrilling race against time.

Review

Thankfully, reading the Robert Langdon books out of order doesn’t matter, so there weren’t any problems with reading Inferno before The Lost Symbol.

The core idea of Inferno is that we are seeing rapid, unsustainable population growth and some argue that it is going to cause our extinction within 100 years if we don’t act now. That, coupled with the idea of transhumanism, made for a thought-provoking read. I was shocked to learn that half of US pregnancies are unintended.

I know Dan Brown gets a lot of criticism, but his stories are gripping and fun to read. One of the things I really like about his books is the blending of fact and fiction. I enjoy googling all of the art, buildings, and people he references in his books as I’m reading.

While I enjoyed reading Inferno, there was one thing that drove me nuts: I couldn’t understand why the antagonist left his series of clues. I get that there wouldn’t be much of a story without them, but I really would have appreciated a motive for doing so. The ending also felt a bit weak to me.

Oh, and I learned that “doge” refers to more than just the internet meme; it was also the title of Italian city-state rulers in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. That made for some funny visualizations while I was reading. 😛