Friday, May 6, 2011

That's it?!

Rainbows EndRainbows End by Vernor Vinge

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

That's it? It's over? So many loose ends left untied. I felt very unsatisfied when I finished this book last night. It seemed like the book was more an excuse to explore certain issues like the rise in technology and different things about security and such, but in the end the author was like, well, i think i made the points I wanted to so I'm done. No obligation to explain himself. I mean maybe he was leaving room for a sequel? Maybe?

I thought Ceredwin's review (see community reviews on goodreads) of this book was particularly humorous. She said having a famous + living + poet was like including a fairy princess unicorn. You just can't have all three. In a sense this shows the predictability of this book. I give definitely give Vinge points for clever expansion off current technology and creative naming for stuff (I had different names stuck in my head for the whole two weeks I was listening to this book and was like, where did that word come from, oh yeah...). Also, the book gives plenty of fodder for discussion about the future of books and technology so it serves its purpose. But I don't know how cleverly it really accomplished it's goal as a story or a work of great fiction.

(I should also add as a side note that I listened to the audio version of this book and did not read it on paper.)

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  1. I had the same thoughts when I finished the book. I was like what?? This is the end? I wanted a more conclusive end. I guess when reading any sort of book we want it to be all packaged nicely at the end with a pretty bow on top. If that doesn't happen readers come away very disappointed.
    As I was trying to make the end acceptable in my mind, I thought that maybe it was a commentary on our lives. When is our lives ever wrapped up nicely in a pretty bow? Every day there are questions that still needed to be addressed. The journey never ends...but we want it to in books.

  2. I also would have liked more closure, especially with the ex-wife. One thing I will say, though, in defense of the novel's storytelling, is that the overall journey of Robert's ethical character throughout the book seems very satisfying to me, especially in his relationship with his granddaughter. I found myself feeling genuine emotions toward that relationship, and what he does for her in the end is plausible and amazing compared to Robert Gu from the beginning of the book. His story was cool, and didn't seem forced.

    I remain lost about Alfred, and the connection to the first scene, and even what was going on in San Diego. I think the audio format (which trudges along even when my brain stops briefly) made it harder to tie up those ends. But that's not the book's fault--just problems with comprehension on my part.

  3. Hmm... I don't think i have a problem with great literature that doesn't tie itself up with a nice bow and a pretty didactic ending, but I feel that wasn't really the problem with this book. I was more disappointed in that Vinge doesn't even explain some of his plot twists or characters. I felt it really more left you hanging like unfinished, not like I'm trying to help you ponder the world at large here or serve some function by ending my book this way. not to cut too harshly on it. But I felt Vinge was trying to juggle too many things: a compelling plot line (or several), an almost psychological analysis of what technology does to us socially, and venturing out on several possible different ways technology may develop. So I didn't really feel like it was just one of those, man I'm sad this book is over and I want to know what happened to the characters kinda thing. It was more like ... unfinished. Like I expected the guy to just have died in the middle of a sentence like the end of The Castle by Kafka.