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The Pelican Brief: A Novel
The Pelican Brief: A Novel
by John Grisham
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $9.37
169 used & new from $0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars It Was Good at the Start, Then Turns Into a Tedious Read..., September 21, 2015
Having not ever seen the film adaptation, I was curious about this book when I saw it in the library. It was actually pretty suspenseful in the early part of the book, but when the two leads meet....the book becomes very convoluted and tedious.

There are also some questionable things that take away the quality of the book:

Darby Shaw, the female lead and law student, is able to elude trained government assassins while high ranking Chief Justices (with trained government agents) weren't able to handle said assassins. Not too mention, Darby occasionally pays by credit card which allows her pursuers to keep on (or find) her trail. Not too mention, Shaw's much older boyfriend dies in one of those assassinations, yet...at the end of the story she and the male lead, Gray Grantham fall in love with one another. (Dang, girl, your boyfriend's incinerated remains didn't even have time to cool!)

This novel reminds me why I had issues with the Alex Cross novels: The lead was way too smart. Not clever smart, but unrealistically smart. (And, then there is the thing with the convoluted writing and plots, but I digress). Too, she -- Darby -- had the tendency -- and a lot of films do this -- where she would give Grantham long directions or a criteria on how to meet her (e.g. change cabs here, walk two steps there, wear this, take a right there....) and Grantham doesn't need to ask for those directions a second or even third time. In a tense or non-intensive situation, a person won't remember directions like those.

Pelican Brief is a book that started out great, but turned into a book I wanted to put down.


Odder Than Ever
Odder Than Ever
by Bruce Coville
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.95
51 used & new from $0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars A Book Hurt by Stereotypes, August 30, 2015
This review is from: Odder Than Ever (Paperback)
This book was really good after the first story, 'The Golden Sail.' The stories were simple, and each had a beginning, middle, and end. However, it wasn't until I got to the second to last story 'Am I Blue' did I see this author, Bruce Coville, in a different light.

'Am I Blue' is about a kid who may or may not be gay. He is given a fairy godfather named Melvin who plays into the stereotype of the flamboyant gay male and author Coville even has this character stereotype others. For example, Melvin uses a few gay slurs and claims it is synonymous to the way 'many black people' use the n-word which is to take the word back.

Now, as a black male (who also identifies as bisexual) to say that 'many black people' use that hateful word is offensive as well as inaccurate. That particular word was never 'ours' and shouldn't be used a mainstream piece of language since we do not hear other racial epithets being used the same way. So, Coville not only stereotypes gay individuals, but also African Americans.

I went ahead to read the final story in this anthology 'The Metamorphosis of Justin Jones' and wasn't impressed. It wasn't well-paced as the 'good' stories in the book nor was it easy to digest. At certain parts I had to go back and read to understand what was going on.

Overall, this is a book I had high hopes for, but was disappointed by broad negative generalizations/stereotypes.


A Stranger Thing (Ever-Expanding Universe)
A Stranger Thing (Ever-Expanding Universe)
by Martin Leicht
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.99
57 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars I Judged the Book by Its Cover *spoilers maybe*, June 8, 2015
This book got me interested in this trilogy. Or rather, the cover did. Our main heroine, Elvie, is decked out in shiny black latex(?) pants and a white coat, very possibly for the snow environment of the story. She is firing a raygun at someone or something, and in her right arm she carries her daughter Olivia. It is a cover that hints a solid action-packed story with a complicated, tough heroine. Unfortunately, the sequel doesn't live up to the coolness of the cover.

"A Stranger Thing" picks up from the last book, where 16-year-old Elvie is taken to an Almiri camp in Antarctica for safety with her friend Ducky, her father, and her boyfriend/baby daddy Cole Archer. There they meet other Almiri (all handsome males) who broke The Code (i.e. they didn't just sleep with the one girl they were each assigned to). However, a band of renegades, Almiri/human hybrids (the Enosi) led by Elvie's long lost mother, Zee, randomly arrive to get a man who just wandered onto the camp. An Almiri/human hybrid named Bernard who is described as having long hair and a long beard.
Elvie's mother, who is found out to be an Almiri/human hybrid, connects with Elvie's father since he thought she was dead. And, randomly, Zee, Elvie's father, Bernard, Cole, and Oates another Almiri who broke the code form a group to head to the Echidna from the previous book to look for any secret Jin'Kai machinery or files. (Note: How is it the Echidna crash landed coincidently in the same area as where Elvie and her friends were being held? Wouldn't that get the attention of the Earth authorities as well as the Almiri?)

Another plot issue comes up that isn't clear: The babies that the teenage girls give birth to are supposed to be Almiri: male and handsome. And, they are technically 'hybrids.' Yet, the hybrids in the story are shunned because they are either female, or not so handsome males like Bernard. Also, it is also said these hybrids are a threat to Almiri existence since they can procreate with both Almiri and humans. (This doesn't make sense if Almiri are actively seeking out human women to impregnate to begin with, whether or not it's 'systematically' since it begs the question: Are humans and these hybrids supposed to not procreate? And, wasn't this Almiri system in place so the human race wouldn't phase out since a pregancy from an Almiri results in a barren womb). Again: Why impregnate human women if cetain types of hybrids aren't wanted or anticipated?

Getting back to our story: The group, on sleds pulled by dogs, are attacked by orca whales which results in the death of Bernard. However, they eventually make to the Echidna and meet up with Dr. Mardsen who was able to survive the crash. They also come up against Devestators (one of the weird Jin'Kai creatures which is described as looking like an xenomorph from the Alien films) and find a Jin'Kai boy, the product of a slain student from the previous novel.

Some Almiri from the camp also turn up and make known they want to overtake the leader, an Almiri who looks like (and turns out to be) James Dean and who is Elvie's grandfather on Zee's side of the family. Zee leaves with Dr. Mardsen, since she's holding a grudge against the Jin'kai (because of the entire 'wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am' way of thinking) taking Elvie's child with her. And thus, we end on a cliff hanger.

Now, if this all sounded confusing, it was. I was unable to get a sense of the environment during the action scenes. And, I was unable to really get a sense of motivation from a lot of the characters. Things happen too conveniently for Elvie and our heroes at times, and not much is explained in regards to how the Almiri operate and Jin'Kai operate. As it stands, I don't see how I'm supposed to root for the Jin'Kai or Almiri - they both seem bad with the Jin'Kai being more violent than the Almiri. However, as a completion-ist, I am going to read the final part of this trilogy: "The World Forgot."


Mothership (The Ever-Expanding Universe)
Mothership (The Ever-Expanding Universe)
by Martin Leicht
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.83
54 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Idea That Wasn't Executed Well *spoilers maybe*, June 8, 2015
"Mothership" is the first book in 'The Ever-Expanding Universe.' A sci-fi book about a group of teenage girls - pregnant juniors in high school - who are hunted by a group of attractive, buff male aliens called the Jin'Kai. These girls are protected by commandos, also attractive and primarily male, called the Almiri.

The story is told from the point of view of 16-year-old Elvie Nara, a girl who seems to have a witty or snarky quip no matter the moment. (She is also given a very cheesy nickname by her father: 'Dearheart'). Elvie is one of 45 girls aboard the Echidna, a re-purposed space liner that has been turned into the Hanover School for these pregnant teen girls. A school, run by Jin'Kai men, used to pull in these girls systematically impregnated by Almiri boys who left after the girls started showing their baby bumps.

These Hanover School instructors were planning to switch the Almiri babies with Jin'Kai ones before the commandos came on board the Echidna, so the book is about the commandos trying to get the surviving girls to safety while avoiding Jin'Kai aliens.

And, this is where things get confusing. For example, if the Jin'Kai were trying to 'process' these girls (i.e. switch babies) why are they trying to kill them? It's understood that the Almiri showed up suddenly when the girls were doing their underwater exercises in the school's pool, as the Jin'Kai started drowning these girls. (Mind you, these Jin'Kai were instructors, staff members, cooks for these students previously). Was it the idea that 'if we can't have these girls, no one will?'

It's also interesting how the Hanover School was created to pull in those girls who were already impregnated by these Almiri. What if the girls who 'weren't' pregnant by an aliens were the only ones who turned up at the school? What if the majority of the girls who turned up for this school were impregnated by humans and only a few impregnated by aliens?

Furthermore, it's brought out that the young women become barren after having a child with an Almiri. Meaning: They are no longer able to have any more children for the rest of their lives.

The story suggests that the girls chosen to be impregnated can't say 'no' to these handsome boys and willingly decide to sleep with them. Not too mention, any contraceptives take will still result in pregnancy. Too, the Almiri have a 'code' where only designated girls are supposed to be knocked up, but - again - what if the girls say 'no?' Or are they incapable of saying 'no' and they are made to sleep with their Almiri 'lover' whether or not they think they think want to.

Some of these teen girls onboard the Echidna are killed off in gruesome ways. One is found with burn marks on her back, her insides falling into a pool, another is killed by electromagnetic plating, some are blown up in the Almiri rescue ship, and another has her head sliced off.

If the book hasn't already pushed boundaries, there is even one of the pregnant teens in love with one of the Jin'Kai aliens, one who was a staff member of the school. This staff member is so in love with teen girl that he helps the survivors escape.

At the climax, there is a big car chase that doesn't result in getting the attention of any authorities. Some Jin'Kai posing as construction workers were trying to get Elvie and her baby. Somehow Elvie is led to a hospital where there is an all Almiri staff. (How did they manage that?)

One thing I did find interesting was Elvie's friend Ducky, who takes his name literally from the Molly Ringwald film "Pretty in Pink." He lives up to his namesake as Ducky is also in the 'friend zone' with Elvie as Jon Cryer was with Molly Ringwald in that 1980s film.

I originally became interested in this series because I noticed the cool (and, yes, sexy) cover for the first book with 'Elvie' in black leather (or latex) pants, a white snow coat, firing a ray gun while holding her baby daughter. (Note: Almiri are male, so the fact that Elvie has a baby daughter is what drives the story for the second part). Unfortunately, judging the series by a cover was wrong, since I found this initial entry problematic.

Would the sequel clear things up and rectify the problems of this book? We shall see.


Kindred
Kindred
by Octavia E. Butler
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.20
403 used & new from $0.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Good but Not Without Flaws, May 27, 2015
This review is from: Kindred (Paperback)
Octavia Butler always grabs me with her openings. For example, with "Kindred," we open with our lead, Dana, who has lost part of her arm (her right arm, if I remember correctly) which is thought by police and Dana's family to be due to physical abuse from her husband. In reality, it's due to Dana being frequently called back into the past into the slavery era, where she has to make sure an ancestor of her lives, an ancestor who is white male who will father a child that will play an important part in Dana's family tree; if this child isn't born, then Dana may cease to exist.

Unfortunately, there are a few things which didn't work for me with "Kindred." One thing was a bit at the end when Dana and her ancestor have it out verbally and physically. It was confusing and seemed to be written in a way to end the story quickly. Another bit that didn't sit well with me was the passive way the police and family members handled their claims of spousal abuse; it just seemed to be forgotten as the story progressed. Granted, Dave and her husband Kevin couldn't explain the time traveling that was going on, but their marriage seemed to be judged in their time (the 1970s) as well as past they both traveled to (the slavery era) especially since they were an interracial couple - Dana, a black woman and Kevin, a white male.

What did work for me was the symbiosis motif that turns up in Butler's stories. In this case it was a the mutual, but weird relationship that Dana has with her white ancestor Rufus. It turns into fascination from his point of view as he sees her as a sort of guardian angel when they meet in his early years and she is given some leeway on the plantation she unwillingly has to stay until she is whisked back to her own time. As Rufus becomes an adult, his attitude changes to a lustful, controlling attitude as he acts on his male entitlement as well as the white privilege he holds in that era.
This novel was an early one from Octavia Butler, published in 1979. Given that America still needed a lot of progression, even after coming off the Civil Rights Movement, Butler has Dana in a marriage with a white male (although not without describing the racism both face in their own time) and Dana feels her era is a refuge, a progression from the past of slavery she is sporadically called back to.

The book wasn't perfect, but it was interesting. As aforementioned, Butler not only grabs me with her openings but I was able to be immersed in the emotions and the environment of her characters. It's just those confusing and passive bits mentioned earlier that bring it down for me.
I've already read the two "Parable..." books (which were somewhat lacking as well but high in emotion) as well as her final novel "Fledgling" (which I thought I was brilliant). And, I do plan on reading her other books.


The Erection Set
The Erection Set
by Mickey Spillane
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
51 used & new from $0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars Reads Like An Early Draft...., May 4, 2015
Boy, this book was a task to get through.

There were no clear goals or obstacles to overcome, no clear story, and a lack of strong characterization. This book read like a draft that was still being tweaked; ideas from a brainstorm.

Even the title doesn't have anything to do with the 'story.'

The main character was Dogeron Kelly, usually called 'Dog' for short. He's described as having a crew cut and a face that is hawk-like, and is middle-aged. I'm assuming this character is based on Mickey Spillane himself. Dog always has women of all ages swooning over him and is always witty. Also, he seems to be an illegitimate child who is the heir of an estate which other people want to get their hands on - although, again, that part isn't quite clear.

I didn't get a sense of the environment the characters inhabit in this novel. I found myself trying to keep up with all the characters, even the minor ones which are given names and don't seem to actually move the 'plot' forward. (Of course, I use the term 'plot' very loosely). I found it difficult to figure out the locales Dog visited. For example, he's dealing with Italian criminals at one point and I wasn't clear whether or not he was still in New York - I believe he's in New York for majority of the novel - or Europe.

Even though the book overall is pretty poor, there was a particular scene that still stood out as iffy: Dog is lead to the restroom of a diner by another character. This 'other character' (I forget his name and I forget whether he was a cop or just another one of Dog's acquaintances) takes Dog's gun and shoots it at the toilet, then hands it back to Dog. Now, even though there is no clear reason why that little exchange happened, Dog and the 'other character' walk out of the restroom, no one else in the diner is said to be frightened by this gunshot except Dog's pretty blonde companion.

While I'm probably going to read Spillane's other novels, especially his Mike Hammer novels, I don't see myself coming back to this particular book for a second read. I actually was attracted to this novel by the original cover and the title. And, while the cover gave an idea of how the women where in the novel: sexy, blonde, described in detail (especially when they were naked) that was the extent of their characters.


Star Trek: The Original Series: Foul Deeds Will Rise
Star Trek: The Original Series: Foul Deeds Will Rise
by G. Cox
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
71 used & new from $0.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Book Was Interesting but I Don't See MySelf Returning to It Anytime Soon...., April 8, 2015
Yes, we've heard it before: "Star Trek" novels are hit or miss. For me, they're usually 'miss.' And, unfortunately, this particular novel by Greg Cox is just that - a miss.

I'm a fan of actress Barbara Anderson who portrayed Lenore Karidian in the original "Star Trek" episode: 'The Conscience of the King.' She's also featured prominently in other shows such as the original "Mission: Impossible" series as well as the original "Ironside." So, when I found out that this novel would catch up with the character, I was excited. However, like many Trek novels, this reads as glorified fan-fiction. For example, Cox, like many have pointed out, name drops references to past episodes so much that it becomes obvious rather than organic. Also, the pacing isn't consistent and the characters aren't consistent.

The pacing slows when we're with Spock and Scotty, but picks up when we're with Kirk and the goings on with the Enterprise. There is some sort of conspiracy going on with a warhead on a planet Spock and Scotty are investigating, but it's convoluted. When the climax approached, I was confused on who was trying to do what in order to sabotage the peace conference.

The characters, in particular Chekov, aren't consistent. In "Star Trek VI," Chekov has to have the new officer, Lt. Valeris, explain to him that an unauthorized phaser (or phasers) going off within the ship would alert the alarms - yet, here in this novel, he already knows this. Also, one of the alien characters interacting with Spock and Scotty uses very human terms such as "it sounds damn fishy" (and I believe another very human phrase) when his species doesn't seem to really know or interact with humans.

The ending seemed padded. As aforementioned, the parts with Spock and Scotty were iffy. I also felt the ending was padded out; the book was overstaying its welcome. And, yes, the main villain of the piece used a method that harks back to an original episode.

Some dates are inconsistent. I believe 'The Conscience of the King' took place around 2266 and the events in the novel take place around 2288. Yet, characters continually state '20 years' has passed rather than 22 years. I first took it as the way people would generally talk when referring to a length of time (e.g. 18 years ago can be referred to consistently, in a conversation, as almost 20 years ago). However, '20 years' was mentioned as the standard time that passed.

Lastly, the plot seemed like a reworking of the "Star Trek VI" plot. In that film, there was also a conspiracy between two factions. And, there were people within those two factions who turned on their own to satisfy personal agendas.

So, overall it was an 'interesting' read. I liked reading about Lenore, I liked reading about Kevin Riley - also a character from that original episode who is now an Ambassador. However, I don't see myself returning to this book for an encore.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 2, 2016 3:04 PM PST


Star Trek: The Original Series: No Time Like the Past
Star Trek: The Original Series: No Time Like the Past
by G. Cox
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
87 used & new from $1.83

3.0 out of 5 stars Some blunders keep this from being a 4-star...., March 19, 2015
"Star Trek" novels are usually hit or miss. Yet, this particular book wasn't too bad. There were some things that didn't work for me. For example:

*The redshirt security guard dying 'just because' was really obvious during two points in the story when Cox depicted guards having some sort of death wish. Granted, they are protecting the landing party which usually includes senior officers, but you would think that these guards wouldn't be so impulsive, that they would think before taking action. I grew to like these characters and the author seems so much in a hurry to kill them off to satisfy a tired trope.

*On page 26, the author has Scotty and two security guards - Robbins and Pierce - hiding in the gym swimming pool on the Enterprise while evading alien intruders. Cox gives the characters the ability to see one another clearly, at great lengths, underwater. Now, as a swimmer myself, I know a person can't really see another person's facial expressions clearly even at a close-up, unless he or she is wearing swim goggles. So how is Scotty, retrieving a small breathing mechanism lost in between some underwater furniture for aquatic crew members, supposed to see facial expressions or reactions of his companions several feet away without a problem?

*The ending was a bit muddled, convoluted and hurried.

What did work for me:

*Many "Star Trek" tie-in authors want to give you a science lesson and pad chapters with such, usually bogging down the story and pacing. Some also have Kirk and crew uncharacteristically talk like science lecturers or people who live and breathe encyclopedias of science, not like real people. In "No Time Like the Past" the character voices (of not only the original crew, but also the "Voyager" characters) is maintained.

*I do like that the 'reset' button occurred which brought back some of those security guards we lost so quickly early on in the novel. And, I like that Kirk initially felt remorse losing said security guards.

Overall, a fun read for the curious of how Seven of Nine would fare in "The Original Series."


Now and Zen (S.A.S.S.(Students Across the Seven Seas))
Now and Zen (S.A.S.S.(Students Across the Seven Seas))
by Linda C. Gerber
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.99
84 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's a Pass..., September 3, 2014
I’ve previously read “The Great Call of China” by Cynthea Liu in the SASS (Students Across the Seven Seas) series and found that book to appeal to various demographics (e.g. age, genders, and racial backgrounds). Liu offered an engaging story that combined romance, family values, with Asian culture. Unfortunately, “Now and Zen” by Lisa Gerber seems to do everything opposite the Liu book. For example, there is inconsistent pacing, a female lead that doesn’t mature or grow by the end of the book, no charismatic or appealing Asian male characters, and – for the most part - uninteresting supporting characters.

Gerber seems to have her Asian female lead Nori Tanaka surrounded by primarily Caucasians and seems to push the idea that European standards of beauty should be admired, especially by this Asian female. Early in the novel, Nori calls a group of Caucasian males ‘hotties’ – particularly one who is blonde.

American media tends to push the white male/Asian female relationships as ‘normal’ and have other relationships (e.g. usually a black individual opposite a non-black individual) as controversial or a time to discuss race. It’s interesting on Nori’s trip to Japan, she doesn’t notice any Asian males or any other men of color. Granted, she ‘can’ have a liking for white males, but we are not told why. As aforementioned, if the lead was a black female rather than Asian, there probably would have been a chapter devoted to discussing the why’s and how’s that hypothetical black female lead liked a non-black man; a long discussion of race. Hence, Gerber perpetuates the racial double standards for Asians and other non-whites, particularly black people. Gerber perpetuates the stereotypical focus on Asians as the ‘safe minorities’ or the ‘model minorities.’

Nori’s roommate, Amberly Bryson, is Caucasian and blonde as well. Only she is female. Amberly Bryson is as looking like a Barbie doll, and she is depicted as a bimbo. Yet, she turns out to be a voice of reason towards the end of the novel. (It comes off as awkward based on her characterization for most of the novel).

The moment when Nori is supposed to grow or find some sort of life enlightenment is when she meets an aunt and uncle while on her Japan trip. This is when the book slowed down for me. This is also when I felt the author didn’t fully immerse me in the surroundings or the relevance of said aunt and uncle.

If the aunt and uncle didn’t add much relevance to Nori’s growth of a person, her overall experiences didn’t teach her anything. Erik, a blonde German boy she is infatuated with refers to her as a geisha towards the end of the novel. Even though she tells him to stop and is depicted as uncomfortable, she still has a liking for him. Now, this can be attributed to her being a teenage girl, but this not only comes off as naïve…but dumb on her part. Is the author trying to say something about bad boys and the girls who go after them? Or is the author trying to comment on Asian female/white male relationships?

Erik turning villainous towards the end comes off as anticlimactic. For most of the novel, he is so wonderful, so handsome, but suddenly he verbally disrespects Nori. There is no buildup to his evilness and there is no follow-up to tell us ‘why’ he turned evil (or if he was always like that). He just comes off as a stereotypical white guy who feels entitled to Asian women.

There are a few characters in the novel that could have been jettisoned for better focus. For example there is Kiah, a tall white Australian girl with ‘fiery red hair’ who is depicted as down-to-Earth and reasonable. She probably could have been a better alternative to the Amberly character since I wanted to know more about Kiah. However, the Australian seems shoehorned in; she shows up in the beginning and the end, and doesn’t really affect the overall story.

Another character that could have been jettisoned is Michiko, a Japan-born girl Nori meets in Japan. Michiko seemed to only exist to tell Nori she’s not Japanese enough since Nori was grew up in America, and nothing else is made on that claim. Nori doesn’t really seem to be affected by Michiko, and the author doesn’t really go into what it means to be Japanese. The only relevance Michiko has is when she calls out Erik for calling her a geisha – something that should have gone to Nori for character growth. Interestingly, Michiko is not depicted as having a life outside disliking Nori and complaining; a nonsensical character.

Atsushi is a Japanese boy Nori meets during her trip in Japan, and another that probably could have been jettisoned. Even though Atsushi has a liking for Nori, he is depicted as being in the ‘friend zone;’ she is too enamored with Erik. Even towards the end when Nori supposedly has a ‘romantic’ feeling for Atsushi, it seems like a temporary interest; a friendship rather than an actual romance. Even towards the end after Erik and Nori break up their romance/friendship, and Atsushi gains Nori’s attention, Nori still has feelings for Erik despite how she was treated.

Nori definitely isn’t written as a strong heroine.

Overall, this book could have been developed more with stronger characters and not clichés or stereotypes. Characters that didn’t move the plot along could have been left out. The goals of the story, the goals of the heroine (i.e. what is she trying to achieve?) could have been made clearer.


The Running Man
The Running Man
by Stephen King
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
59 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It Could Have Been Better...*Spoilers Maybe*, July 27, 2014
I was aware of the book by Richard Bachman (also known by his real name: 'Stephen King') around the same time of the 1987 film with Arnold Schwarzenegger. While I think both the book and the movie are interesting in their own way, the movie seems to be better paced and more engaging. And, while I've occasionally revisited the film, I don't see myself revisiting the book.

The similarities:
Both the movie and the film feature a lead named Ben Richards and both have Network Games, a prominent company that produces reality shows where people compete for money in life or death situations.

The differences:
In the book, Ben Richards is black and down on his luck. He resides in a future where there is a huge gap between the poor and the rich. Hence, the reason he enters the popular 'Running Man' competition - a competition open to anyone who passes certain medical exams - under his free will to make money for his wife and sick child. In the film, Ben Richards is white and a peace officer in a dystopian police state framed for the murders of civilians, and is put into the also popular 'The Running Man' competition - a show that features criminals hunted for sport - to put a rise in ratings.

Where the book has the competition set in multiple cities around the American East Coast, the movie has a contained area. And where the book is more dark and pessimistic, the film has some lighter moments due to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s one-liners and the climatic fight against the villains.

Furthermore, the major villain Dan Killian (also a black man in the novel) is renamed Damon Killian in the film, and is portrayed by the late Euro-American actor and former television show host, Richard Dawson.

A final difference is the lead in the book dying while getting revenge on the major villain after verifying that his wife and child will get his winnings. The movie, on the other hand, has the lead surviving, not only getting revenge on the major villain (and villains) but also getting the girl.

In regards to the novel in general:
Interestingly, there are a lot of racist epithets thrown about, showing that race and racism are pretty rampant around 2025. As of the time of this review, that is 11 years from now! (Considering that we still have race and racism issues today, that isn't so farfetched).

Since "The Running Man" - the book - was written in 1982, I would have liked King to create a character that won and lived; a character that overcame great obstacles and became a stronger individual by the end of the novel. And, maybe a character arc that gives Richards and his family some peace in this aforementioned dystopic society. Here, we just get a character that comes off as unlikable due to his lot, even though we are supposed to care about him. And, given there were so few black male heroes in sci-fi in the early 80s - in film and literature - it would have been cool to have something 'different.'

Also, the writing in the book is shaky and not as engaging, as I hinted earlier with my comparison between the book and the movie. (Again, I feel the movie is better than the book).

One thing in the novel I did find clever was the usage of a countdown from 100 to 0 for each of the chapters (i.e. each chapter is a number in the countdown). This not only counts down to a literal 'explosion' that takes out the major villain, but it shows the metaphorical explosion of Ben Richards' anger over the course of said novel.


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