Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fantasy: A Once Crowded Sky by Tom King

Publisher: Touchstone
Date: July 10, 2012
Format: hardcover ARE (Yeah, never seen one of those before, but it's quite nice!)
Source: publisher
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.)
Pages: 325
Reading time: two days

From GoodReads: The superheroes of Arcadia City fight a wonderful war, and play a wonderful game, forever saving yet another day. However, after sacrificing both their powers and Ultimate, the greatest hero of them all, to defeat the latest apocalypse, these comic book characters are transformed from the marvelous into the mundane. After too many battles won and too many friends lost, The Soldier of Freedom was fine letting all that glory go. But when a new threat blasts through his city, Soldier, as ever, accepts his duty and reenlists in this next war. Without his once amazing abilities, he's forced to seek the help of the one man who walked away, the sole hero who refused to make the sacrifice-- PenUltimate, the sidekick of Ultimate, who through his own rejection of the game has become the most powerful man in the world, the only one left who might still, once again, save the day.

My review: A literary novel based on comic books is generally going to be either really bad or really good, so I didn't get my expectations up too high about this book. To my delight, A Once Crowded Sky leaned directly towards the "really good." For the most part, it was masterfully developed, incorporating versions of the archetypal superhero into a fantastic modern prose story. I loved the author's entertaining writing, the occasional humor, and the connections to myth, history, and literature. I breezed through a lot of the book, not wanting to put down such a well-written, epic fantasy story.

The plot kind of slowed down for me, though, towards the middle, and it almost completely lost momentum at the end. For me, at least, the apex of the story was over by about page 260. I lost whatever points the author was trying to convey after that and was ready for the novel to just end. The book was quickly headed towards one of my favorite reads this year until I hit this hurdle. However, it's still a very worthwhile and, for the majority of the novel, great read, whether you're into comic books or not.

By the way, I don't think I've ever read a comic book in my life, so I am in no way biased towards this novel by any geeky (and I mean that in the best sense of the word) comic book fandom.


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  2. I liked that book OK, but I sure thought it petered out in the last few chapters. Funny thing is, I can't even remember why. Certain moments in that book stood out for me, and I still remember them, but not much by the end.

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