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MartynVHalm

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An Accomplishment Worth Five Stars!

The Value of Vulnerability - Roberta Pearce

I read this book recently, after reading Pearce's other offerings, A Bird Without Wings and For Those Who Wait. And I've enjoyed The Value of Vulnerability more, not just because the prose has matured, but also the subject matter.
I'm not a regular Romance reader, so with A Bird Without Wings and For Those Who Wait, I regularly had problems suspending my disbelief. Not because Pearce is a bad writer, far from it, but because the romantic worldview permeating most Romance novels is distinctly alien to my own experiences in the matter.
The power in The Value of Vulnerability lies in the subtle shift towards more mature characters. Not the characters in the other books were immature or even adolescent, but there was a sense that the characters were at the cusp of adulthood, rather than jaded by their adult experiences.
In The Value of Vulnerability, the main characters are Ford Howard and Erin Russell. Ford is a sociopathic womanizer who abandons more women than a sniffler throws out tissues. Erin is a single IT specialist who presents a welcome challenge for Ford, who is used to dating vapid women who rarely warrant more than an evening's attention.
The brief courtship that ensues, surprises them both in its intensity and as quick as they connected, they spiral apart, each confounded by their feelings for each other.
Then disaster strikes...
I'm not going to give away more of the plot, except that I was enthralled by the story and characters, and genuinely moved by the dramatic developments. An accomplishment worth five stars.

An Accomplishment Worth Five Stars!

The Value of Vulnerability - Roberta Pearce

I read this book recently, after reading Pearce's other offerings, A Bird Without Wings and For Those Who Wait. And I've enjoyed The Value of Vulnerability more, not just because the prose has matured, but also the subject matter.
I'm not a regular Romance reader, so with A Bird Without Wings and For Those Who Wait, I regularly had problems suspending my disbelief. Not because Pearce is a bad writer, far from it, but because the romantic worldview permeating most Romance novels is distinctly alien to my own experiences in the matter.
The power in The Value of Vulnerability lies in the subtle shift towards more mature characters. Not the characters in the other books were immature or even adolescent, but there was a sense that the characters were at the cusp of adulthood, rather than jaded by their adult experiences.
In The Value of Vulnerability, the main characters are Ford Howard and Erin Russell. Ford is a sociopathic womanizer who abandons more women than a sniffler throws out tissues. Erin is a single IT specialist who presents a welcome challenge for Ford, who is used to dating vapid women who rarely warrant more than an evening's attention.
The brief courtship that ensues, surprises them both in its intensity and as quick as they connected, they spiral apart, each confounded by their feelings for each other.
Then disaster strikes...
I'm not going to give away more of the plot, except that I was enthralled by the story and characters, and genuinely moved by the dramatic developments. An accomplishment worth five stars.

Hunter

Hunter - Wil Wheaton This short story has a cool twist that I wouldn't want to reveal, but it's gruesome to an almost horror-like level.

I didn't know the actor Wheaton could write so well, but I will seek out more of his work.

Recommended for sci-fi/dystopian fans.

A Bird Without Wings

A Bird Without Wings - Roberta Pearce Since my noir novelist notoriety is already down the drain after reviewing For Those Who Wait, I might as well review Roberta Pearce’s A Bird Without Wings.

The author was concerned that I would be bored reading her books due to the lack of blood and violence. And disturbed people. However, knowing beforehand that Callie was unlikely to stab Lucius in the eyes or Lucius ending up a spree-killer actually made me focus on their interaction. And I found both Callie and Lucius a lot more engaging than the protagonists of FTWW, mainly because they seemed more ‘fleshed out’.

Callie is a frumpy genius with a crush on her boss, Lucius Ransome, who is called Luscious by the female staff for obvious reasons. Her best friend Rachel learns that Lucius is looking for a researcher into some family history to distract his family while he gets the family’s affairs in order.

Grumpy Lucius hires frumpy Callie, who surprises him by disagreeing with him about a painting, but he doesn’t start noticing her bodacious body after Rachel gives Callie a makeover.

Lucius is always called in to fix the problems of the Ransome family, as he seems to be the only one with some sense. The rest of the family seems obsessed by some ancestral treasure and Callie has to disprove the existence of the Hidden Ransome Treasure while Lucius can fix the problems without his family interfering.

I thought this was a pretty good plot for a romance novel. I admit I haven’t read many, but in comparison with FTWW, where the protagonists aim at preventing a wedding from happening, ABWW is definitely more engaging plot-wise.

Another interesting juxtaposition is that Callie is from a poor background, suffering from self-esteem issues, and focuses on money as important, as people who don't have any are wont to do. Lucius, however, is born into a rich family and doesn't think money is that important. Through studying the Ransome family for her research Callie learns the real value of money.

One thing that irked me about Pearce’s prose is her tendency to use alternative speech tags or combining action with speech tags, instead of using beats or standardised speech tags like ‘said/whispered/yelled’. The reason it irked me is that speech tags like 'she averred' have tendency to break the spell as I'm reading. The first time I came across 'averred' I actually had to look it up, now it's 'God, she used that verb again'.

Apart from Pearce's use of speech tags, the prose flowed well and I stayed up too late reading the last few chapters. Pearce's has a few instances where her protagonist, who apparently has total mnemonic recall, explains historical facts in a way that skirts exposition but thankfully stays on the interesting side and doesn't become the dreaded info dump.

The ending was predictable, but well played out.

As to the ending--I disliked the epilogue intensely to the point where I felt it was a blemish on an otherwise well-written and clever novel. Let me explain:

The novel ends with all the issued tied in a neat bow and the protagonist are all set to live happily ever after. Turn the page and there's an epilogue in the form of a letter Callie sends to a Constance Simms, who turned out to be the second-grade teacher from the beginning of the book. Since I didn't read the book in one sitting, I had no idea who Simms was again (thank God the ebook has a search function) and I thought the information in the epilogue was wholly unnecessary for the story, except to re-iterate and confirm what the ending already concluded.

My advice to Pearce: Trust you readers and lose the epilogue.

I heard that Pearce's next novel will include a sociopath in love, so I'm eagerly awaiting an ARC...

For Those Who Wait

For Those Who Wait - Roberta Pearce At the risk of damaging my noir novelist notoriety, I’m going to say I liked FTWW, but not unequivocally. For one thing, the title was too long. And there was too much romance in it. All these people pining for each other, instead of the fjords, like any Norwegian Blue would...

However, I can’t complain about the romance, because the author herself pleaded with me not to read and review her work. She didn’t want me to risk my alpha male reputation (where do women come up with that tripe?) and she thought I’d be bored out of my skull without at least one dead body.

So there’s this girl Fiona, who pines after the bad boy big brother of her best friend. The BBBB spurns her and marries a girl he knocked up, so he’s doing the honourable thing.

When I complained about this incongruity, the author claimed that I was focused too much on verisimilitude. Apparently I’m not much of a bad boy (hey, I always carried condoms so I wouldn’t be forced into a shotgun wedding). Despite the lack of verisimilitude, I read on.

The book starts at the preparations for a wedding between Mara, Fiona’s middle sister (the protagonist is the eldest of three McKenna sisters) and Fiona’s best friend Will, the younger brother of Bad Boy Noah Wilding (sure, put Wild in his last name, why not?).

Meanwhile, Noah is divorced from the bitch he married, because he found out that he was not the child’s biological father, so the passion between Noah and Fiona is rekindled, although they’re both older and wiser (ha-hum).

Mara is an insecure bitch (or is she just bitchy from having saint-like Fiona for an elder sister?) and Noah and Fiona conspire to break up the wedding to prevent Will from Unhappiness Ever After.

Now, I readily admit my unfamiliarity with the romance genre, so I told the author I would just read the book to comment on the technical aspects. Still, despite my many reservations, I was sucked into the story (or was it because of the torrid sex scenes?). Usually I wouldn’t be interested in the happiness of entitled and affluent beautiful people like Fiona or Noah, but they were so relatable I had to read on and know whether the promised HEA would indeed happen or if the wedding ended up in a massive bloodfest with Fiona snapping and going on a spree killing.

I’m sad to say there was no blood spilled or people maimed. While that was disappointing to me, Roberta Pearce’s readers will probably enjoy the ending of FTWW.

I just segued straight into reading Pearce’s second novel, A Bird Without Wings (another bloody long title).

A Smudge of Gray: A Novel

A Smudge of Gray: A Novel - Jonathan Sturak I'm conflicted about writing a negative review of this book. I stopped reading, which is usually a 1-star (I didn't like it) review, but the merits of this book still pushed me towards a 2-star rating (It was OK).

The reason for my conflict is that I dislike the style of Sturak's writing, but I acknowledge that he has a way with words and that there are almost no mistakes in his prose.

Let me first state what I liked about the book:
The cover is brilliant, I think. Ominous and eye-popping despite the lack of bright colours. Clearly a professional cover.
The blurb is also good. Good, clear prose, and a concise conflict that interested me.

Which is why I'm disappointed in the content of the book itself and stopped reading at the end of chapter 10.

Like I said, Sturak has a way with words, but instead of form following function, function was definitely subservient to form. Sounding a bit too pleased at his ability to write a simile or metaphor, Sturak's convoluted prose strangles the story like kudzu vines killing a tree by taking away all sunlight.

I read part of the sample before I downloaded the book (for free) and was at first captivated by the prose, but after a while I started to long for the clear, concise prose Sturak used in his blurb.

Make no mistake, Sturak can write. I enjoyed the flowery descriptions: "A subway station bustled, infected with morning commuters." The images were wonderful, however, the descriptions often tended to run several paragraph and dragged down the pace of the story.

Meanwhile the characters are unsympathetic without fail. Trevor Malloy is an arrogant and sadistic hitman, and his wife Laura is described in loving detail as a ‘housewife, a homemaker and babysitter when the kids weren’t in school’ with ‘a hourglass figure’ with the ‘naive look of an auburn-haired Hollywood star from the 1940s with her simple elegance’ who ‘spoiled her children’ and was in turn ‘spoiled by her husband with a large bankroll, which offered her a life filled with salon trips and a closet filled with designer clothes’. She behaves unsympathetic, complaining that she ‘doesn’t understand why her husband bought a trampoline’ when all the children do ‘is jump on that trampoline the minute they got home’. In all the interaction with the children and her husband she comes across as a whiny insecure hellion.
Brian Boise is an overworked detective who’d rather spend time crawling up the career ladder than with his haranguing wife and non-descript sullen kid constantly complaining about Boise’s lack of attention. His colleagues are rude, obnoxious turds who belittle and ridicule him.

Along with the drawn-out descriptions that reeked of verbal diarrhoea, Sturak has a tendency to talk down to his readers as if they are totally ignorant of the world around them:
Katie and Kevin jumped from the trampoline and ran toward their father at the back patio. Their dad was tall and wore a dark gray suit with black onyx cufflinks securing his French cuffs. He was wheeling a 20" Travelpro Rollaboard carry-on featuring toughened nylon waterproof ball-bearing inline skate wheels and a Checkpoint-friendly laptop compartment--the ultimate addition to the frequent business traveler. The kids hugged him tenderly, just as two kids did who adored their father.
Like we need the retailer’s description of his luggage and the pointers that the kids adore their father.

Brian lowered his voice as lovers did when they expressed their feelings verbally.
This is a detective trying to convince his wife that it’s a good career move to solve a copycat murder case.


The verbosity extends to the use of alternative speech tags for the simple 'said/whispered/yelled', but often missed the ball:
"I want spaghetti!" Kevin shouted.
"I want hot dogs!" his sister contradicted.
To contradict is to deny the truth (of a statement) by asserting the opposite, and hot dogs are not the opposite of spaghetti.

"All you do is jump on (the trampoline) all day long."
"Not all day, Mom. We have school," Kevin clarified.
Kevin's reply is a retort, not a clarification.

One of his gloved hands gripped his proverbial briefcase.
I wondered to what proverb or idiom the briefcase referred, but evidently Sturak means that the briefcase always accompanied the character.

The silhouette of an inert figure holding a briefcase stared at him.
Inert means lacking the ability or strength to move, it’s not a substitute for ‘motionless’.

…, the tingle of adrenaline flowing through his amplified veins.
Amplification is the increase in volume of sound, not an increase in physical volume of matter. Though sometimes used to describe the intensifying of feelings (amplified hearing) or concepts (amplified political unrest), or enlarging upon or adding detail to a story or statement, the widening of veins is not amplification.

The verbose prose also tends to dramatise everyday inanimate objects in a way that irritated me:
On the nightstand, a clock blared “11:57.”
The clock is not making any sound, so blaring is odd.

Without warning, the car propelled on the track, and just like that, chaos ensued.
This is a description of a leaving subway train during normal 'rush hour'. The departure of a subway train is usually preceded by doors hissing shut and the soft tug when the train starts moving, so it’s not shooting forward ‘without warning’. No ‘chaos ensues’, but rather the normal bustle of a subway station continues.

This time he dropped the cake on the floor. It detonated.
The sponge cake ‘detonates’? Since ‘detonate’ means ‘causing to explode’, the description goes awry. Sponge cake, even if flung at a tile floor, rarely explodes and never causes anything to explode.

The third floor elevators sat in tranquility, but then an abrupt ding sliced through the silence. The shining doors opened as Trevor strolled off.
Quite a dramatic description for an elevator arriving and a passenger getting off.

Large maps of the city were sprawled across the walls.
Sprawling is a horizontal action (sitting, lying, falling), not a vertical one.

(Character opens a top drawer.) Inside, a 9mm pistol, silencer, and ammunition glared at him.
So a pistol stares at him angrily or fiercely? While I concur that a pistol might have a menacing or ominous vibe, glaring requires eyes, something a gun lacks.

I’m sure many readers will probably delight in Sturak’s wordiness, but I couldn’t be bothered to drag myself through garrulous blathering with literary pretensions where I expected a tense thriller.

Beauty Is for Suckers

Beauty Is for Suckers - M.A. Carson I was pretty much finished with vampire stories when this book came along. I loved the blurb and sample, and the innuendo in the title, so I bought the epub right away and pushed it to the top of my To Be Read list.

Iris Greene, new fangled vampire, has allowed herself to be bitten in order to become attractive, but for some reason the bite by the Elbow Biter doesn't work. Well, it does, in a sense, because she needs copious amounts of SPF 165 sunblock and she's allergic to Bibles, crosses, garlic and Holy Water, but her appearance is still the same. And while her looks never got her noticed when she was alive, now the vampires she meets don't even realize the dumpy girl in front of them is a vampire unless she shows them her fangs.

With an ensemble of a teenage slayer, a vain therapist and his socialite wife, as well as a score of attractive and decidedly unattractive vampires, Iris finds herself looking for a way to fit into her new world while she tries to find the vampire who bit her in order to force him to transform her to what she wants to be.

This incredibly funny vampire tale was well-written, with engaging characters and ludicrous situations that were nevertheless so viscerally described that they were ultimately believable. Recommended for fans of fangtastic humour.

4 out of 5 stars.

The Killing League

The Killing League - Dani Amore Well, I managed to get to 29% of the Kindle version of The Killing League until the lack of verisimilitude deflated my suspense of disbelief.

I had high expectations of this book, due to the enticing blurb, but the story failed to deliver. The characters were described to provide a visual image, but I got no sense of their internal emotions beyond what Ms. Amore told me they were feeling. The writing is not unskilled, and some of the descriptions were quite visceral, but when someone fires a gun in a forest and:
The smell of cordite hung in the air around them.

That's a huge red flag that someone doesn't know what they're writing about. Cordite hasn't been used firearm ammunition since second World War and the triple-based gunpowder that replaced might have a acidic metallic smell that might be picked up by extremely sensitive noses, but only if someone fires boxes of ammunition in a closed space, like a small room or a badly ventilated shooting range. In the open air? No chance that a smell will hang around after firing one round.

Of course, Ms. Amore is probably not the only writer who mistakenly uses cordite with post-WWII ammunition, but there was more to The Killing League that failed to engage me.

The lack of characterization was grating. None of the characters was even faintly interesting. Not the serial killers, who seemed derivative and unoriginal, nor the protagonists Mack and Nicole, who are both bland and superficial.

The pace was sluggish because the writer felt compelled to fill whole scenes with descriptions or explanations that were not necessary for any mildly intelligent reader to figure out for themselves. Dialogue was often pedestrian and interspersed with dragging descriptions:
"Hey Boss!" Antony Toffol, her sous chef, called out as she started inventory on the wine selections.
"Yeah," she said. He stood with the door to the kitchen open. Nicole smelled the olive oil, garlic, onion, rosemary, shallots, paprika and black pepper that were being used in various incarnations.
"Someone dropped off a card for you," he said. "It was under the door when I opened up -- it's over on the receptionist table."
"Okay, thanks," she said.

I don't like to 'force' myself to read. There are so many books still to be read, that I couldn't justify wasting my time on this one. Sorry, Ms. Amore, but the second star is merely because the formatting and editing seemed professional. The story itself didn't rate more than 1 star for me.

Six Dead Spots

Six Dead Spots - Gregor Xane Disturbingly funny, or hilariously disturbing, Xane's wonderful Six Dead Spots chronicles the protagonist's floundering descent into madness when Frank discovers first five, then six spots on his body where there's no feeling. Frank finds out that the 'dead spots' have something to do with a recurrent dream that grows ever more difficult to grasp. Using self-medication Frank tries to penetrate the dreams to solve his problems, but as his health deteriorates his friends and family are trying to help him. Or are they? Nothing is clear to Frank anymore and he risks his life and sanity to solve the puzzle.

Xane has a wonderful imagination and this quirky story is both original and enthralling. Like [a:Joseph Garraty|4866444|Joseph Garraty|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1306905471p2/4866444.jpg], Xane proves himself to be one of those self-published authors whose quality and originality supersedes that of many trade published peers.

Recommended to readers who enjoy quirky horror stories.

Looking for Chet Baker: An Evan Horne Mystery

Looking for Chet Baker: An Evan Horne Mystery - Bill Moody As a Jazz enthusiast, I can appreciate books revolving around Jazz musicians. And since Evan Horne is in my hometown Amsterdam when he's looking for Chet Baker, that makes it all the more interesting.

I enjoyed Evan's first person narration, and I know Mr. Moody is a musician himself by the way he can write interestingly about performances and the life of musicians.

Evan is visited by his friend Ace in London, just before Evan is to depart for Amsterdam. Ace is a writer and needs Evan to help him research a book on Chet Baker, who died in Amsterdam after falling out of a second story hotel window. Evan, who has been burned by his curiosity and his impromptu investigations before, refuses to assist Ace and leaves him to play the reminder of his gigs in London.

Ace departs for Amsterdam, but by the time Evan arrives, Ace has moved out of his hotel and disappeared. When Evan finds Ace's portfolio on Chet Baker, something he wouldn't just 'leave behind', Evan realizes something is rotten in Amsterdam and goes looking for Ace.

Although as a suspense author myself I figured out the plot pretty soon, it was a joy to follow Evan through Amsterdam. I liked his easy camaraderie with veteran saxophone player Fletcher Paige and Mr. Moody catches the atmosphere and laid-back attitude of Amsterdam pretty good.

For the musical side of the story, Mr. Moody really knows what he's talking about. The Amsterdam part of the story has some problems though. I know the area Mr. Moody describes pretty good (I live about ten minutes walking from the Zeedijk and the Red Light District) and while many things are accurately described, there were plenty of times where the view was biased towards American sensibilities, the sort of seedy, semi-dangerous Amsterdam foreigner hope to find in a city that's safer than probably any city in the US.

Apart from having to remind myself time and time again that the book was first published in 2002, and therefore featured landmarks and situations that aren't there anymore. Jazzclub Bimhuis moved in 2005 to its current location on the Piet Heinkade and you cannot find a payphone in Amsterdam (everybody has cell phones nowadays). So it was kind of a shock when one of the characters did use a cell phone near the end of the book.

Since the book describes the official Chet Baker memorial, I guess Mr. Moody researched/visited Amsterdam between 1999 when the official memorial plaque was fixed to the front of the Prins Hendrik hotel, and 2002, the first publication date of the book. By that time, the seediness of the Zeedijk was more than a decade in the past.

For those who are interested in the memorial, both the official and the 'illegal' Chet Memorial can be viewed on this website.

Some of the Dutch (street) names are flubbed, like a Dutchman called 'De Hass' (Hass is German, the Dutch name would be De Haas), and Prins Hendrik is sometimes spelled as Henrik. The descriptions of the coffeeshops seems more like a description of an opium den. Another thing that bugged me was that Mr. Moody used the phrase 'put him off' where the phrase should've been 'blew him off', once in a narrative, once in a letter.

Despite these flaws I enjoyed this story and I'll probably read more of Mr. Moody's books, especially if they feature more Amsterdam...

3.5 stars.

Escaping Barcelona

Escaping Barcelona - Henry Martin Henry Martin’s thoughtful and intelligent discourses in the GoodReads community threads intrigued me enough to pounce on the chance to read Escaping Barcelona when he submitted it for screening and reviewing in The Source.

And I was glad I did, because Escaping Barcelona is a novel that will stay with me long after I reached the last page. Rudy is an enigma. At first I thought he was ‘an American abroad’, but despite references to American measurements and valuta, Rudy’s lack of Spanish and English made me reassess my first impressions. I believe Rudy’s nationality has been left deliberately vague to avoid giving the reader any preconceptions towards the protagonist.

After Rudy gets robbed and brutalized and finds himself stuck in a city where he’s essentially a stranger, his struggle for survival on the streets becomes a poignant travelogue, where Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into a mire of betrayals and danger, with few chances of hope.

Since my own personality is more purposeful than Rudy’s, I was frequently frustrated with his passive/defeatist attitude, and his tendency to focus more on cigarettes and wine than nourishment and hygiene. Which also spoiled the infrequent intimacy Rudy had with female tourists—I wondered if these women weren’t repulsed by his unwashed smell or ‘I haven’t brushed for weeks’ breath. I can understand how a street person fails to smell himself, but other people still have noses.

Still, that’s the stickler for verisimilitude in me. And the fact that I got frustrated also means that I was emotionally invested in the character, which is a tribute to Henry Martin's penmanship.

Rudy’s ordeal—having to live on the streets of an unfamiliar city, trusting strangers and hoping to regain the means to escape Barcelona—is written with a sensory detail that rings disturbingly authentic, from the physical deterioration to the desperate scrabble for nourishment and the small moments of happiness resulting from the unexpected kindness of strangers.

Henry Martin has an ability to draw memorable characters and imbue them with an ambiguity that makes the reader wary about their intentions. Although there are a few characters that lean more toward the darker side of humanity, most characters have to forego the luxury of moral superiority in order to simply survive on the mean streets of Barcelona.

Following Rudy around Barcelona was interesting and rewarding. I’m eager to read Henry Martin’s other works, and follow Rudy’s further adventures.

A Dance with Dragons

A Dance with Dragons - George R R Martin Too bad the series ends at a cliff hanger. Character arc was pretty interesting in this one, but the lack of resolution is disappointing. I still think, even with a series like this, that there should be some kind of temporary resolution at the end of this book.

Imagine if GRRM keels over without finishing the series...

One thing I noticed that over time, the books become more and more drawn-out... whereas in the first book the action followed action pretty quickly, the latter books are less 'active'. And I could've done without Cersei's 'how the mighty have fallen' episode...

Miami Blues

Miami Blues - Charles Willeford, Elmore Leonard I loved this book. The quirky characters, the weird situations, the interaction. Junior Frenger, a freeloading sociopath recently released from prison, arrives in Miami, where he uses his skills at deception and violence to twist situations into his advantage.
Weary police detective Hoke Moseley investigates the carnage in Frenger's wake and falls victim himself, which leads to hilarious situations.

Strongly recommended to fans of Elmore Leonard and noir crime novels.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein If you haven't read Heinlein and you want to get an idea of how good he was, this is the book to start with. And read Stranger in a Strange Land next.

Glory Road

Glory Road - Robert A. Heinlein Typical male adolescent fantasy where a decommissioned soldier, restless in France, signs up for a dangerous mission to rescue a damsel-in-distress.

Friday

Friday - Robert A. Heinlein I read this the year it came out, when I was in my Heinlein phase. I do believe that I selected the book mainly on the titillating cover, but I think it would attract any adolescent SF reader. And, yes, compared to his works like [b:The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress|3274505|The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress|Robert A. Heinlein|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1215388147s/3274505.jpg|1048525] and [b:Stranger In A Strange Land|1777966|Stranger In A Strange Land|Robert A. Heinlein|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1195503994s/1777966.jpg|908211], Friday is quite adolescent in story and theme.

So, I read worse Heinlein novels, like [b:Starship Troopers|573833|Starship Troopers|Robert A. Heinlein|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1304018517s/573833.jpg|2534973], that (in hindsight) are more insipid and adolescent. I think Friday ranks with [b:Glory Road|2271981|Glory Road|Robert A. Heinlein|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1225595012s/2271981.jpg|1862679], but is definitely inferior to the first two books I mentioned.