Review: The Revenge of Lord Oda

The Revenge of Lord Oda
The Revenge of Lord Oda by Nick Lake
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Don’t remember when I started and finished this book. Didn’t take a month to finish, though)

The first book was brilliant. It was fun and unexpected (I mean, it’s ninjas with vampires. This could go wrong in so many ways). I didn’t expect to much on this sophomore volume, and I suppose it did well enough.

We find early on that the hero’s teacher, the vampire Whatshisname, didn’t die after all after the huge fight at the end of the first book. I thought that was a mistake. Apparently I’m more bloodthirsty than the vampires in the book.

The hero reunites with his mother, only to see her die at the hands of a confused ex-companion who mistakenly believes the hero murdered her sister. This was interesting, I thought, and a move in the right direction from a plot perspective. What I didn’t expect, however, is the ghost of the mother haunting her son. A sad, passive-aggressive ghost following the son, draining him of his life energies, and periodically appearing before him in leaving frustratingly undecipherable clues – apparently she forgets that as a ghost her instructions/warnings/apologies don’t come through living world, so the hero sees her mouthing… something… and he can’t for the life of him figure out what the heck she’s saying.

This is, literally, an unhealthy basis for a mother-son relationship. He finally figures out what he needs to do on the cusp of dying (I think I face-palmed myself here), dies and meets his mother finally in hell who (finally!) can communicate! Luckily she doesn’t say, “I just wanted to tell you all this while that you didn’t tie your shoelaces.”

He gets the vital clue he needs to uncover the treasure of the plot, which is something I feel is the wrongly named Buddha Ball. There didn’t seem to be anything vaguely Buddhist about this weapon of mass destruction. Anyway, he gets this, and proceeds to destroy the same guy he supposedly killed in the last book. The bad guy got his guts sliced open at the end of the last book, but because the hero was bleeding, some of his blood flowed into the open mouth of the fallen bad guy, turning him into a vampire (because the hero is a vampire ninja – I had forgotten to mention this bit. You know, just in case you didn’t realize from the title of the book).

The love interest is the daughter of the said bad guy, and I’d imagine he’d have a hard time courting her now, having killed her father not once, but twice. In fact, he’d have such a hard time of it I suspect he’ll spend a big portion of the third book doing just that. I have that very book, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he accomplishes this.

I’m slightly cheeky with this review, but I have to say I did enjoy this book, though admittedly not nearly as much as the first one. There wasn’t an expectation with the first book, and the second has to be coloured somewhat with some kind of expectation.

I seriously look forward to the concluding volume of this story.

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Review: A Single Man

A Single Man
A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nothing like a long road trip to give me the time I need to finish this long overdue book. Highly recommended, so naturally I approached this with trepidation. Nothing like heightened expectations to completely screw up a perfectly good book.

I admit I was a little tentative with this book because I didn’t know what to expect. I did know what I didn’t want though, and that’s having the book preach at me, clumsily painting the injustices of being in a minority, and thinly veiled attempts to persuade me to one side or another.

But no, thankfully. Nothing preachy about the book at all, just the day in the life of an ordinary middle aged man who just happens to be gay. George is still grieving over the loss of his partner, and grapples with thoughts of life, death, and the general challenge to continue living as he approaches the latter part of life. It’s not a book about a gay man, but a book about a lonely man. It’s heart-wrenching, hopeful and depending on how you feel towards the end, a little tragic.

I loved how Isherwood explored George’s feelings, and absolutely adored the dialogue. Wonderful wordcraft here on full display.

The overwhelming feeling I had upon finishing this work was *this* is how a day in a life novel is supposed to be written: succinct yet full of meaning. It’s almost everything Ulysses isn’t. A Single Man is wise, even-tempered, humane, touching, and something you’d finish reading feeling completely satisfied knowing you’ve been changed that little bit as a result. Importantly, it felt like it was written just so, to finish at the perfect length.

Thoroughly recommended.

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