Sunday, October 22, 2006

Death by Giant Worm... huh.

On LibraryThing, my Scott Westerfeld tag has gotten awfully large. The Last Days just made it bigger, and finally, to my relief, it's bigger than the Meg Cabot tag. (Now remember, these are just the books that I've read this year.) I don't know why it bothers me that Cabot was the biggest for a while. I must want my love/hate Cabot emotions to be of the closet variety.

Anyway, The Last Days is the sequel/companion to one of my favorites from last year, Peeps. Now, if you read the Voya review you may think it one of the worst published books this year. I however, think the reviewer was unduly harsh. No, it wasn't Peeps, and yes, once in awhile I had to remind myself which character's chapter I was in, but it was compelling, interesting, and I enjoyed the characters. While I missed Cal, it was gratifying to have a conclusion to the two stories.

Picking up where Westerfeld left Cal and Lace, we meet 5 new voices who, despite the fact that NYC is clearly in a downward spiral slowly being taken over by piles of garbage, hordes of rats and totally creepy giant worms, just want to form a band, play music and get famous. They mostly ignore the state of the world in their teenage self-absorption, with just the occasional but revealing asides. I think that this is one of the highlights of what Westerfeld did in this book. He allowed the teens to try to go on with their normal lives until they had no choice but to admit that normal was no longer an option. Even then, they fit Armageddon into their own agenda. I enjoyed it.

It does bring up something I've been wondering about sequels for some time now. We always say that sequels are rarely as good as the first. Is that really the case though? How much of our perception of the second novel is because we are already acquainted with that world - because it's no longer novel and fresh? For instance, would I still like the first Pirates movie more than the second had I seen them in reverse order? When it comes to fantasy/sci-fi novels, can we truly expect to be as wowed with a fantastical world we are already familiar with? What do you all think?


Little Willow said...

First of all, Westerfeld = good.

I really enjoyed Peeps. I thought it was well-researched, witty, creative, funny, and engaging.

I liked The Last Days. It wasn't Peeps. It had different narrators, a different edge, a different goal - and it was a good story on its own, but I was waiting for Cal. I felt like I was on a subway bench, waiting to catch the train, while someone decent was talking to me, but I was too busy checking my watch and tapping my foot impatiently to be "really listening" (thanks, Buffy) to Minerva and crew. I knew as I was reading it that I was cheating myself.

Anonymous said...

I adored Peeps and I really, really, really liked The Last Days. I do think Penguin should have called The Last Days a companion (rather than a sequel), though. Seems like that might've cut down on the foot tapping.

Jackie Parker said...

It's just like the issue a lot of us had with "New Moon;" we missed the Cullens so much that everything paled in their absence.

But, I think that I'm now ok with Cal just having a cameo. I liken it somehow to Melinda's appearance in Halse's Catalyst - we knew then that she was ok - that her story was, not over exactly, but that she had survived the worse and moved on. Cal survived the hardest part, and the conclusion of this Armageddon belonged to someone else. I'm ok with that.