DNF ARC REVIEW: The Noble Path – by Peter May

Title: The Noble Path
Author: Peter May
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
First published: May 31st 1992
Publisher: Quercus Books
Finished reading: October 27th 2019
Pages: 544
DNF at 35% (190 pages)

“Nothing was more difficult in life than coming to terms with your own limitations.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Quercus Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I have been meaning to try Peter May‘s books for a long time now… In fact, I have a physical copy of Entry Island waiting on my shelves, but somehow I haven’t been able to find time to read it yet. I was stoked when I received the email that my request for The Noble Path was approved a few months back, and after multiple fellow bloggers recommending his work, I fully expected to enjoy my time with this story. And I most definitely never would have guessed I would end up DNFing it instead!

First of all I have to say that this is most likely a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me‘, especially since it has such a high rating on Goodreads and overall positive reviews. I’ve tried really hard to warm up to the story, giving it a second, third and fourth chance and even reading other books in between to see if a change of scenery would help me finally connect to The Noble Path afterwards. But no such luck, and after days of struggling and seeing myself starting to skimread just to try and turn those pages, I knew it was time to just throw in the towel and let this story be. I hardly ever DNF a story and I still feel mighty guilty about this, but it has become painfully clear that The Noble Path just isn’t the right story for me and I might just not have been the right target group to begin with.

I still think that the historical background and setting of The Noble Path is absolutely fascinating. 1978 is a turbulent, dark and bloody time for Cambodia, with the Khmer Rouge reign and devastating genocide. A very disturbing and heartbreaking backdrop for this story, and I do believe the author does a great job with his descriptions of both the Cambodian and Thai setting and the events related to that era in history. It shows a lot of work has gone into research of this period, and I can really appreciate that. That said, I’m just not sure if I’m the right target group for this story. The Noble Path has that Rambo/Die Hard typical action movie vibe with an overload of action, violence and bloody scenes; especially once Elliott is in Asia it almost feels like you reading about a  Rambo II spin-off… Not necessarily a bad thing, but not exactly my cup of tea and it made me struggle to connect to the story.

The Noble Path has quite a few different POVs, and it can be a challenge (especially in the beginning) juggling them as well as trying to connect them to get a full picture of what is going on. I wasn’t really a fan of how the different characters were described, and I once again felt like the wrong target group as the story seemed written for the typical white male audience with its sometimes sexist comments, excessive violence and graphic scenes. I by no means have a weak stomach and don’t mind things getting bloody,dark and violent, but the tone in The Noble Path really put me off. Once again, this is a personal reaction and I’m by no means saying this is a bad read, but it did prevent me from actually reaching that final page. I’m really sad my first encounter with Peter May‘s work ended on this negative note, but I still have hope for his other books… Although I confess that I’m going to take a little break for now.


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BOOK REVIEW: Flux – by Orson Scott Card

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Title: Flux
(Maps In A Mirror #2)
Author: Orson Scott Card
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Fiction
First published: September 15th 1992
Finished reading: June 28th 2015
Pages: 288
Rating 3

“The future is his, and the present is yours, but the past belongs to me. I don’t know how far into the future his probability curves have taken him, but I can match him, step for step, century for century in the past.”

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When I was away on a trip two weeks ago I managed to forget to pack my kindle… But luckily there was a book exchange at the hostel we were staying at and I saw a copy of Flux collecting dust on their shelves. I have to admit I’ve never read any of Orson Scott Card’s work before, so I thought it was a great way of getting to know his work. Flux is actually a collection of seven short stories about humanity. He explores possible futures for the human race in different ways… Unfortunately, I cannot say I enjoyed all the short stories. Some were actually quite boring while others were on the gruesome side. I mean, A Thousand Deaths is about killing a convicted criminal over and over again and that isn’t exactly humane isn’t it?! In The Doghouse was actually quite funny; it’s about what would happen if dogs would be aliens. Overall it was entertaining enough for a weekend away, but I cannot say I was overwhelmed by the stories or that I actually would recommend reading it. I’m going to try and read a Orson Scott Card novel soon though so I can get a better idea of his writing style…

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Flux is a collection of seven short stories that discuss possible futures for the human race:

# A Thousand Deaths: In this future the government can legally clone and then kill a convicted criminal various times until the criminal confesses in a way that they think is satisfactory…
# Clap Hands And Song: If you would be able to relive a moment of the past one last time, even if it would have consequences for the present or future, would you do it?
# Dogwalker: A cyberpunk story where someone is able to log into a government program.
# But We Try Not To Act On It: In this future the government has control even over what you can watch on TV and only they can decide if the TV can be turned off.
# I Put My Blue Genes On: The Earth is no longer inhabited and the aliens try to find out why.
# In The Doghouse: In this future the question is what would happen if dogs would actually be aliens…
# The Originist: The longest novella of the bunch. It’s set in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation universe and questions love and marriage among other things.

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Flux was quite an ok read, but I don’t think this was the best read to get to know Orson Scott Card‘s work. The short stories were all quite different and it was hard to determine what was his ‘real’ writing style. The last novella is actually a fan fiction novella based on Isaac Asimov‘s Foundation universe, but since I haven’t read that one yet the references were lost. I guess Flux is a great read for Orson Scott Card fans, but I still think I should have started with a different novel instead.

BOOK REVIEW: The Children Of Men – by P.D. James

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Title: The Children Of Men
Author: P.D. James
Genre: Mystery, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: 1992
Finished reading: January 31st 2014
Pages: 241

Rating 3

“Without the hope of posterity, for our race if not for ourselves, without the assurance that we being dead yet live, all pleasures of the mind and senses sometimes seem to me no more than pathetic and crumbling defences shored up against our ruin.”

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In The Children Of Men, P.D. James introduces us to an infertil world that is slowly coming to an end… A world without hope. It is set in the year 2021, and no babies have been born since the year of Omega in 1995. The whole world is infertil and its inhabitants only become older and older to the point that the world population shrinks drastically to about 40 million. Whole villages disappear and slowly everything is starting to show signs of decay. I loved the imagination James used to put together this book, although the first part was a bit slow. The whole intent of escape made the book that much more interesting and the characters really come to life during the second part. All in all a nice read set in a dystopian infertil world that focuses on the question what will happen when the human race is on the border of extinction.

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Theo Faron is a history professor who only has his job left to live for, when one of his students approaches him. Julian forms part of a small group seeking to rebel against the government, and she will play an essential role in the rest of the story. Theo knows the Warden of England Xan personally, since it is his nephew. Under the spell of Julian, he talks to Xan and tries to convince him to change his politics. Unfortunately it is all in vain. Our history professor then escapes reality by traveling around Europe, and when he comes back after six months a surprise is waiting for him… After a few weeks the group, Five Fishes, send him a cry for help: Julian needs him. He reluctantly agrees but soon comes under her spell. They were hiding a enormous secret that will change everything: in a world where infertility is a norm, Julian has managed to get pregnant again. Together with Theo, the Five Fishes try to get away from the government and keep Julian hidden away safely until the baby is born…

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This dystopian novel is not one of the best ones out there, but it is still an interesting read. It makes you reflect as a reader what would happen if the world actually would become infertil… Something that will mostly likely mean the end of the human race. In short, it’s a nice and relatively short read as long as you don’t set your expectations too high.

BOOK REVIEW: The Pelican Brief – by John Grisham

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Title: The Pelican Brief
Author: John Grisham
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First pubished: 1992
Finished reading: March 25th 2013
Pages: 432
Rating 3

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I used to read a lot of John Grisham novels when I was younger, and I still find them entertaining in general. The Pelican Brief doesn’t let legal thriller and John Grisham fans down. Although there is not as much law involved as in other novels written by the same author, this one is still an entertaining read. It’s what you call a page-turner with an moderately fast pace and a prose that is easy to read… Although I must admit one of the main characters Darby sometimes ended up irritating me. Some of her behaviour just didn’t fit the whole brilliant-law-student character, and we are not even talking about running right into the arms of Gray after what happened to Thomas. Definitely not convincing and it takes away some of the credibility of the story. Still, this is a nice read for Grisham fans and any lover of comfortable mystery/thriller books.

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One morning America learns two Supreme Court justices have been murdered the previous night. Justice Rosenberg and Justice Jensen are as different as day and night, and the question arises who would have killed both of them. Law professor Thomas Callahan is heartbroken, but his brilliant student and lover Darby Shaw sees the whole situation as a big puzzle. She starts preparing a legal brief (later to be called the pelican brief) trying to find out who was behind the murders. Someone has to get advantage out of the deaths, and she studied an enormous amount of cases before she saw light in the darkness. Darby gives her legal brief to Thomas, who then gives it to his FBI friend. But the letter ends up in the wrong hands, and Thomas pays for it with his life. Suddenly Darby is on the run, hiding from experienced but dumb killers and trying to solve the puzzle at the same time. She gets help from an ambitious reporter of The Post and together they try to show the truth to the world…

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While the legal part of this thriller doesn’t play as big of a role as in other John Grisham novels, The Pelican Brief is still an entertaining read with a healthy dose of action. I have read better and some parts are quite cliche, but I would still recommend reading this one if you are looking for a quick and easy read that will entertain you for a few hours.