Did Not Finish, Post-Apocalyptic

Review: Stung

Cover of "Stung," featuring red text on a black background and a translucent image of a honeybee superimposed with an image of a syringe
Image from Bethany Wiggins

Title: Stung

Author: Bethany Wiggins

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic

Trigger Warnings: Death, blood/gore, alluded threat of rape

Back Cover:

Fiona doesn’t remember going to sleep. But when she opens her eyes, she discovers her entire world has been altered-her house is abandoned and broken, and the entire neighborhood is barren and dead. Even stranger is the tattoo on her right wrist-a black oval with five marks on either side-that she doesn’t remember getting but somehow knows she must cover at any cost. And she’s right. When the honeybee population collapsed, a worldwide pandemic occurred and the government tried to bio-engineer a cure. Only the solution was deadlier than the original problem-the vaccination turned people into ferocious, deadly beasts who were branded as a warning to un-vaccinated survivors. Key people needed to rebuild society are protected from disease and beasts inside a fortress-like wall. But Fiona has awakened branded, alone–and on the wrong side of the wall . . .

Read to: Page 72

Review:

I have mixed feelings about this book.

Okay, let’s back up. I wasn’t all that excited about reading this. I picked it up because I’d heard of it many, many years ago and it was on clearance for $1 at my local bookstore. Those are the only reasons. I finally started reading it because I ran out of library books a few days before my next library trip.

I really like the concept. You get quite a bit from the back cover, and even though I didn’t get too far into the book, the world was great. It was dark and gritty and violent and fascinating, the kind of place where even when you know it’s day you picture the sky full of black clouds. And I really like that kind of setting. It was shaping up to be a pretty solid post-apocalyptic world.

The part that I couldn’t get past was Fiona. And not really Fiona herself. It was that it’s made really clear that she’s in her late teens and has an obviously well-developed body, but she’s lost a big chunk of her memory and still thinks she’s 13. The first ally character she meets has her disguise her gender because “it’s unsafe to be a girl” – and the reader knows exactly why, especially when you see the rough and rowdy bands of men roaming around, but Fiona is still 13 in her head and has no idea. And even though her body is older, it felt really gross and creepy to me to hang rape threats over the head of a 13-year-old kid.

Also it felt kinda weird for me, a 20-year-old, to be inside the head of a 13-year-old. It never really bothered me when I read middle grade books, but for some reason this one felt like an invasion of privacy.

Honestly, that was my only problem with the book. Without that part, I don’t think I would have found it spectacular, but I think I would have enjoyed it. That one little detail just gave me an uneasy feeling, and I couldn’t keep reading.

The Stung series:

  1. Stung
  2. Cured
Finance/Money

Review: The Total Money Makeover

A picture of the The Total Money Makeover book cover, featuring a smiling Dave Ramsey holding a pair of scissors in the middle of cutting a credit card.
Image from Dave Ramsey

Title: The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

Author: Dave Ramsey

Genre: Finance/Money

Trigger warnings: Fatphobia, ableism

Back Cover:

Okay, folks, do you want to turn those fat and flabby expenses into a well-toned budget? Do you want to transform your sad and skinny little bank account into a bulked-up cash machine? Then get with the program, people. There’s one sure way to whip your finances into shape, and that’s with The Total Money Makeover.

By now, you’ve heard all the nutty get-rich-quick schemes, the fiscal diet fads that leave you with a lot of kooky ideas but not a penny in your pocket. Hey, if you’re tired of the lies and sick of the false promises, then take a look at this – it’s the simplest, most straightforward game plan for completely making over your money habits. And it’s based on results, not pie-in-the-sky fantasies.

With The Total Money Makeover, you’ll be able to:

  • Design a surefire plan for paying off all debt – cars, houses, everything
  • Recognize the 10 most dangerous money myths (these will kill you)
  • Secure a big, fat nest egg for emergencies and retirement!

Where Financial Peace gave you the solid saving and investing principles, this book puts those principles into practice. You’ll be exercising your financial strength every day and quickly freeing yourself of worry, stress, and debt – and that’s a beautiful feeling.

Review:

I got this book as a graduation gift … for my high school graduation. It’s technically a reread, but since it’s been over three years since I last read it, I remember very little. (Of the book itself, at least – my parents are huge Dave Ramsey fans so I’ve been through several of his classes and know all the principles.) I’m honestly not sure why I picked it up again, but it’s pretty engaging and didn’t take me too long to get through.

If you’re unfamiliar with Dave Ramsey and his financial principles, this book is a reasonably good introduction (even though I think it’s a sequel-ish thing to his book Financial Peace). This book goes over Dave’s “Baby Steps” to financial security, financial myths that are holding you back, good (and bad) examples of finance management, and even testimonies from people who’ve gone through his program and fixed their financial problems.

Overall, it’s a good book. Not great, just good. It’s inspiring and it teaches good principles and solid money management skills. But it does have some MAJOR problems.

In case you didn’t get the picture from the back cover, the entire book uses the “fat vs. fit” metaphor to talk about budgets. MAJOR fatphobia. Bad budgeting/debt/spending more than you make is bad/wrong/negative/stupid … and fat. Good budgeting/saving/investing, on the other hand, gets words like “important,” “excellent,” “fit,” and “lean.” I honestly didn’t notice this when I read it the first time, but now that I’m more aware of fatphobia, it bothered me a lot.

There’s also a bit of subtle ableism going on (or subtle to me as a mostly able-bodied person – if you’re disabled you may find it a lot more obvious). The book is written for people who are working full-time at a non-minimum wage job. And one piece of advice he gives in the “pay off debt fast” section is get a second job (or a third or fourth) to make more money and pay it off faster.

Dave also has a very matter-of-fact way of speaking. In most cases, this isn’t bad – I honestly like how he puts everything in simple English and doesn’t over-complicate anything. The whole book is a remarkably low reading level. However, sometimes his style gets a little too blunt, I think, especially the way he calls financial decisions he doesn’t agree with “stupid.” That’s just a personal pet peeve, though.

If you take a critical look at the salesy part of the book, it actually sounds kinda like a scam. “This way is the ONLY way to do it and it works every time, if it fails it’s because you weren’t intense enough!” is the basic message. Which sounds really like a scam. The only thing I have to say about this is I’ve seen it work for a lot of people. So sometimes it works. I don’t know how necessarily foolproof it is, though.

This book definitely has some huge problems. (For that matter, this is pretty indicative of Dave Ramsey’s stuff in general – it all has similar problems.) But his principles are solid, and if you can look past his “my way or be in debt forever!” preachiness, the fatphobia, and other issues, it’s a pretty inspiring book. And if you want to get your finances under control or figure out how to pay off a lot of debt, it’s worth a read. (Although if you’re disabled in any way it might not be so useful.)

High Fantasy

Review: Eon by Alison Goodman

Eon
Image from Alison Goodman

Title: Eon (or The Two Pearls of Wisdom) (Eon #1)

Author: Alison Goodman

Genre: High Fantasy

For years, Eon’s life has been focused on magical study and sword-work, with only one goal: to be chosen as a Dragoneye, an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl masquerading as a twelve-year-old boy. Females are forbidden to use dragon magic – the penalty is death. When Eona’s secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a struggle for the Imperial throne. Eona must find the strength and inner power to battle those who wish to take her magic…and her life.

Eon has been languishing on my to-read list for years. Chinese mythology is fun, and girls disguising themselves as boys usually makes for some fun plots. I bought this on a whim back in February, and I just now got around to reading it.

Eon/Eona…first off, I’m not sure which to call her. Eona had spent so long repressing her femininity and being Eon that most of the time she was more Eon than Eona. So anyway, for the most part, I liked her. Occasionally I got annoyed that she didn’t figure things out sooner, but it could just be me being a plot predictor. But overall, I enjoyed watching her navigate the story.

The plot started out so simple. Eon the cripple was trying to hide that he’s really a girl and be chosen as the Rat Dragon apprentice. That’s all. Then after the ceremony where the Rat Dragon chooses an apprentice, things get messy. A ruthless Dragoneye intent on taking all the power, secrets being kept and discovered, lies told, allies and enemies and dragons making a delightful mess. The plot more than made up for anything I didn’t like about Eon/Eona.

Through the whole book, the names annoyed me. This was obviously China, but nobody had Chinese names! Then I got to the end and found an author’s note that said while the world was based off China and Japan, it was actually completely made up. So I can’t really complain about it, but I wish the note had been in the beginning.

I was quite pleased with Eon. And it ended on a semi-cliffhanger – bad enough that I’m definitely going to have to read Eona, but not so bad that I have to run out and buy it immediately.

The Eon duology:

  1. Eon
  2. Eona

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EON scored a 3.5 (A-)

Dystopian

Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Legend
Image from Marie Lu

Title: Legend (Legend #1)

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Dystopian

What was once the western United States is now the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal, but his motives are far from malicious.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge her brother’s death. But the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Yes, I know I’m way late to this party. And I’m kind of ashamed at myself about it. I bought Legend on summer vacation two years ago. It’s only now made it to the top of my reading pile, and that’s because I’m trying to clean out my stuff before I leave for college next month.

Day was awesome. He had some fantastic abilities which sometimes bordered on unbelievable. I could ignore that, though, because he’s exactly the kind of character I love – a good guy criminal who puts the government in fits because they can’t catch him or even figure out what he looks like.

June was pretty fun, too – she was Day’s equal, but working on the other side of the law. The story is half her perspective, so even though she’s Day’s worst enemy, I could see her upbringing and beliefs and like her equally well, for different reasons – her boldness and tenacity, as opposed to Day’s street smarts and good heart.

The plot was an engaging split between half June’s semi-political mess and military stuff, and half Day’s criminal underworld and struggle to survive. It was a great balance – June’s plot didn’t get boring, and Day’s didn’t get repetitive. There’s quite a few twists and turns, and while I can’t say I guessed any of them ahead of time, none of them really caught me by surprise, either. (Of course, I’m really good at predicting plots – you might not have that problem.)

Pretty much my only problem with this story was June and Day could be a little too perfect. Don’t get me wrong, I love characters with crazy-awesome bordering-on-impossible skills. I just like them better when they fail a couple times, just so it doesn’t feel like they’re invincible.

So what originally led me to buy this book is I read somewhere that it was heavily influenced by Les Miserables – and Les Miserables may be my favorite classic book ever. Through pretty much the first half of the book, every time I sat it down I started looking for Les Mis parallels. I found some, but not as many as I expected. Which was okay, because it was an enjoyable read in its own right.

This is one of those books where I highly enjoyed the story, and I’d certainly love to read the next book, Prodigy. But I’m not a.s.a.p., buy-it-right-now excited about it. I definitely intend to read the next book – but it may have to wait until next summer.

The Legend trilogy:

  1. Legend
  2. Prodigy
  3. Champion

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LEGEND scored a 3.7 (A)

Science Fiction

Review: Max

Cover of "Max," featuring the word "Max" in silver letters in front of a picture of a blond girl in a red tank top and a dark-haired boy standing behind her, with a stormy sky in the background.
Image from James Patterson

Title: Max (Maximum Ride #5)

Author: James Patterson

Genre: Science fiction

WARNING: This book is fifth in a series, so this review will probably contain spoilers of the previous books. If you haven’t read the previous four books in the series, I recommend not reading this review.

Back Cover:

Max and the flock have traded in Antarctica’s subzero temperatures for sunny Los Angeles, where they’re taking over the skies with their hair-raising air show. But a powerful enemy has them in his sights – and Max’s mom in his grasp.

When the flock learns that millions of fish are dying off Hawaii’s coast, and Max’s mom is being held in the middle of it, they are confronted with the most frightening ecological catastrophe yet.

While Max and her team comb the depths of the ocean off Hawaii’s coast, the ruthless kidnapper develops his own dark plans for the flock. Can the flock protect themselves from the approaching army – and save the world from utter destruction?

Review:

Yeah, I’d intended to read this directly after The Final Warning. We all know how that goes. Anyway, after finishing my reread of The Final Warning, I began to remember why I considered getting rid of the copies I own. The first three books were fabulous, and then it went downhill at book 4. I pretty much only read this one because I recalled some awesome scenes on an army base.

Max was still pretty fun, and she had some snarky comments that left me laughing out loud. The romance thing with Fang, though – I guess I’m used to them being friends and kind-of co-leaders from the first three books, because her actions around him just seemed weird and got on my nerves.

Like I said in previous reviews, besides Max, the rest of the characters weren’t jumping off the page. Except Angel – but Angel got on my nerves. (I seem to recall her getting worse as the series goes on.) She’s probably the most powerful of the Flock, and in Max, she’s figured out that nobody can really make her do anything she doesn’t want to.

The overarching plot was “get Max’s mom back,” but it was really the smaller details that the book focused on. The Max-Fang romance was a pretty big part. So was the changing Flock dynamics (I liked it better when Max was the undisputed leader). But the army base part I remembered? Awesome as ever. I absolutely love watching normal people react to the Flock.

I’m going to give up my copy of Max. I used to recommend that people new to the series stop at Max, but now I think for older readers, stopping at Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports is probably a better idea.

This series still has lots of nostalgia as one of my absolute childhood favorites (and starting a desire for being a winged person that I actually still have), but The Final Warning on didn’t really cut it for 17-year-old me.

The Maximum Ride series:

  1. The Angel Experiment
  2. School’s Out–Forever
  3. Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
  4. The Final Warning
  5. Max
  6. Fang
  7. Angel
  8. Nevermore
  9. Maximum Ride Forever

Paranormal

Review: True Talents by David Lubar

True Talents
Image from Book Verdict

Title: True Talents (Hidden Talents #2)

Author: David Lubar

Genre: Paranormal, I guess

WARNING: This book is a sequel, so this review will probably contain spoilers of the previous book. If you haven’t read Hidden Talents, I recommend not reading this review.

When their secret gets out and the bad guys close in, Trash, Martin, Flinch, and the rest of the gang find themselves in a fight for survival against a brutal enemy. An action-packed adventure where things blow up, people die, and Torchie buys an accordion.

After enjoying Hidden Talents, I was pretty excited to read True Talents. I remembered liking it even better than the first book.

I loved the characters even more this time around. I don’t remember how long it’s been since Hidden Talents (it was mentioned in the beginning, but I forgot), but the boys seem much older now. Except for Torchie. Torchie never loses his childlike enthusiasm and cluelessness.

The characters’ aging was likely due to a slightly more serious tone to this book (actually being in danger of dying, as opposed to just navigating school). But I don’t think they’re too old for the Hidden Talents readership – more like 8th or 9th grade, as opposed to 6th or 7th.

I wish their powers had factored into the story a bit more – I’m all about the psychic powers. But True Talents did a good job of spotlighting the boys’ non-psychic abilities. I loved the way they worked together as a team.

Looking back on it, I’m not sure how David Lubar pulled off such an action-packed plot without relying on the powers. There kidnappings, evil scientific experiments, faking a death, guns for hire, an accidental bank robbery, and all sorts of dangerous stuff. But somehow, the story focused more on the boys than their powers.

I remembered correctly – I enjoyed True Talents so much more than book one. And I wish so hard there were more books in the series (preferably one from every boy’s perspective). But I guess I’ll have to settle for what there is. I think I’ll donate this book to the library with Hidden Talents, but I definatly recommend both books for junior high boys.

The Hidden Talents series:

  1. Hidden Talents
  2. True Talents

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TRUE TALENTS scored a 3.8 (A)

Paranormal

Review: Hidden Talents by David Lubar

Hidden Talents
Image from egb63’s Weblogs

Title: Hidden Talents (Hidden Talents #1)

Author: David Lubar

Genre: Paranormal

Every time Martin opens his mouth, he gets in trouble. He’s just been dumped at the last place that will take him; a school filled with freaks, misfits, and psychotic bullies. His roommate starts fires, his new friends are thieves and cheats, and his teachers hate him. Then things start to get really weird.

This reread is part of my quest to clean out my bookshelves. I got Hidden Talents on a whim from PaperBack Swap, loved it, and immediately got the sequel. Of course, that was four years ago.

The characters weren’t extremely developed. But that wasn’t a problem. I didn’t remember or expect a lot, and there was enough. Stubborn, smart-mouthed Martin and cheery, oblivious Torchie are the main ones, but there’s also a handful of other boys (friends and enemies) and a few teachers. None of them were outstanding, but they weren’t flat either.

I remembered all of the plot, even the details – it’s simple, straightforward, and uncomplicated. But don’t take that to mean uninteresting, because it isn’t. It just doesn’t have a lot of twists.

Most of the story is Martin figuring out the weird things going on with his new friends, then trying to convince his friends he’s right. Even though I knew what happened, I liked following along.

I still liked this book four years later, but not quite as much as I did the first time. I may give it to my 12-year-old brother, because I think he’d enjoy it, but I won’t be keeping it. (I’ll definitely be reading the sequel, True Talents – I recall liking that one even more.)

The Hidden Talents series:

  1. Hidden Talents
  2. True Talents

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HIDDEN TALENTS scored a 4.0

Classic, Science Fiction

Review: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

A Princess of Mars book cover
Image from Do Góry; modified so I feel okay with posting it here

Title: A Princess of Mars (The Martian Tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs #1)

Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs

Genre: Science Fiction/Classic

Suddenly transported to Mars, John Carter found himself captive of the savage green men of Thark. With him was Dejah Thoris, lovely princess of Helium. And between them and rescue lay a thousand miles of deadly enemies and unknown dangers.

This book has been on the bookshelves in the office for a long time (it came in a box of adult sci-fi and high fantasy books Dad got off eBay), but I avoided it because of the naked people on the cover. Then we got the movie John Carter on Netflix, and when I learned a really good movie was based off this book, I decided to give it a try.

I was surprised at how much I liked John Carter. He was a Confederate soldier in the Civil War, then a gold prospector, but always a gentleman. (Having learned a lot about the Civil War recently from a pit stop in Gettysburg on my way to Washington, D.C., most men were gentlemanly back then.) He could fight (and he was good at it), but he was also kind, protective, and respectful.

Unfortunately, the other characters pulled pretty flat. Dejah Thoris was beautiful. Sola, the green woman assigned as John Carter’s servant, was peaceful for a green person. The rest of the green people were wild and violent. And…that’s about it.

The rescuing Dejah Thoris plot that is mentioned on the back cover? Dejah Thoris doesn’t even show up until halfway through the book. The first half is John Carter adapting to life as a sort-of prisoner of the green men and fighting his way up from prisoner to chief of sorts. Then Dejah Thoris gets captured, and since the green men and Dejah’s people are enemies, they decide to kill her. So about two thirds of the way through the book, John and Dejah escape.

The John Carter movie had a lot of similarities to the plot of A Princess of Mars. The movie producers didn’t follow the same timeline as the book and glossed over some parts, which made for a better movie. But the parts they skipped made for a better book. I loved John Carter’s time with the green men, and I highly enjoyed learning about their society. Of course, once they escaped, I enjoyed that, too.

The biggest thing that bothered me about this book was that clothes apparently don’t exist on Mars. Everything was done in the nude. Nothing is actually described, and it’s not awkward for the characters, but I just felt a little weird knowing that whatever is going on, everyone is naked. (On the bright side, the cover makes sense.)

Like a lot of classic books, the writing is a little dense. Despite being an action book, it’s still full of long paragraphs and heavy on description. For the most part, I didn’t mind (although I did find myself glossing over paragraphs here and there), but if you’re used to snappy action, this would certainly be a change of pace.

Did I enjoy this book? Yes. Will I be reading the other 10 books in the series? Probably not. Besides the fact that we don’t own the rest of the series, I think A Princess of Mars had a perfectly acceptable ending and see no reason to continue past the conclusion.

The Martian Tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs:

  1. A Princess of Mars
  2. The Gods of Mars
  3. The Warlord of Mars
  4. Thuvia, Maid of Mars
  5. The Chessmen of Mars
  6. The Master Mind of Mars
  7. A Fighting Man of Mars
  8. Swords of Mars
  9. Synthetic Men of Mars
  10. Llana of Gathol
  11. John Carter of Mars

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For more on my “report card” grading system, please see my About page.

A PRINCESS OF MARS scored 3.6 (A)

Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Review: The Final Warning

The Final Warning book cover
Image from Hachette Book Group

Title: The Final Warning (Maximum Ride #4)

Author: James Patterson

Genre: Science Fiction

WARNING: This book is fourth in a series, so this review might contain spoilers of the previous books. Read at your own risk.

Back Cover:

In one of the world’s most extreme environment – the freezing South Pole – Max and the flock are in serious trouble. The grotesque Uber-Director has put a price on their heads, and a worldwide auction for the genetically modified kids is about to begin. His mutant army is heading down south to track down the winged gang, and with no function for mercy, the soldiers aren’t about to take pity on anyone. Oblivious to the Uber-Director’s evil plans, the flock is on a special government mission to save the Earth. But in a brutal environment like the South Pole, being able to fly isn’t always an option for escaping your worst nightmares.

Review:

I was going through my books a long time ago and realized I owned the first five Maximum Ride books but hadn’t read them in a while. So I started rereading them to see if I still wanted to keep them.

I had intended to read The Final Warning in pretty quick succession after Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports…but yeah, that didn’t happen. It got shoved between a backlog of books that need read and books that need to get back to the library suddenly. But one Saturday with nothing happening, it made its way to the top of my pile.

I still loved Max, but she seemed a little more serious in this book. Her sarcasm and cynical wit made me love her in the first three books, but it didn’t seem to show up as much. She still had her moments, but her whole mood seemed darker.

All the other characters disappointed me a bit. I remembered them as much more vibrant than they seemed this time. (I even had a minor crush on Iggy at one point.) But this time around, they all just kind of felt flat.

I got to a point where it’s pointed out that the oldest three Flock members are 14, and I went, “That’s it?” I feel like this far along in the series, they should be older. I don’t recall this bothering me when I read it for the first time at 14, but at 17, they felt far too young.

I did enjoy the plot. I remembered almost all of it, so there weren’t really any surprises (except a few things that I didn’t realize happened in this book). But I enjoyed the confused almost-romance thing between Max and Fang, and Angel’s love of penguins, and Total’s complete obsession with Akila the dog. And there’s still some butt-kicking, even if it isn’t as much as the previous books.

The one thing that actually annoyed me (and I didn’t notice it at all as a 14-year-old) was the whole global warming thing. It got preachy. That especially annoyed me because Max was all championing this cause, and then it never comes up in the rest of the series again. I do think not harming the planet is a good thing, but please, let’s not use a preachy plotline to get your message out.

It’s not that I didn’t like The Final Warning – it just doesn’t hold the same magic as it did when I first fell in love with it. I don’t think I’ll be keeping this one. But, since I own Max and I seem to remember some hilarious scenes on an army base, I may reread that one before donating it.

The Maximum Ride series:

  1. The Angel Experiment
  2. School’s Out–Forever
  3. Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
  4. The Final Warning
  5. Max
  6. Fang
  7. Angel
  8. Nevermore
  9. Maximum Ride Forever
Classic

Review: The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers book cover
Image from Books Into Films

Title: The Three Musketeers

Author: Alexandre Dumas

Genre: Classic

Back Cover:

When hot-blooded young d’Artagnan comes to Paris to seek his fortune, he finds himself challenged to a duel with not one, but three of the King’s Musketeers. But Athos, Porthos and Aramis are to become his greatest friends, and companions in dangerous adventure when he becomes embroiled in the intrigues of the Court and the beautiful, evil Milady.

Review:

This is one of those classic books that I’ve had the intention of reading for a while – ever since I read Dumas’s amazing The Count of Monte Cristo. Plus, I’d enjoyed the movie. Anyway, I finally got around to reading it.

D’Artagnan was an interesting character. He could be hotheaded, reckless, and impulsive at times, which tended to get him in a lot of trouble. But he was smart, had some common sense which he sometimes ignored, and was very loyal to his friends. I had some issues with his morality, but overall, I didn’t mind him.

Athos, Porthos, and Aramis didn’t have quite as much personality. Their main personality trait was loyalty to each other. Athos had a very secret past, and kept a tight hold of his emotion. Porthos was vain, and that’s about it. Aramis wanted to be a priest (but I’m not sure if that’s a personality trait). They were just mediocre characters.

Milady was a perfectly evil villain. She was a fantastic actress, had a scheming mind, and was brilliant at reading people and finding their weaknesses. Then she played them like a piano. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say she was capable of getting every man and most women under her control. Astonishingly cunning and utterly evil, that was Milady.

I’m not sure I can identify what the main plot was. I think it was made up of all the intertwined subplots. The kind and the cardinal had different political ideas, and the cardinal schemed against the king. The cardinal sent Milady to humiliate the king. D’Artagnan and his friends foiled the plot and ran afoul of Milady. Plus romance subplots, Athos’s secrets, political unrest between France and England…everything was brilliantly and delightfully complicated, but it all tied back together in the end.

Except for d’Artagnan’s horse. I expected a little more closure with that plot point.

My biggest problem with this book was the morals – or lack thereof. Aside from Athos, it seemed like every major character was having an affair. D’Artagnan’s romance interest was married, even. It may have been prevalent in France at that time, I don’t know. But I didn’t like the lack of morals.

The movie adaption I saw can only be called The Three Musketeers in the sense that the main characters were named Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d’Artagnan. The plot was loosely based on the first third of the book. If you’re looking for a good idea of what the book was about, you won’t get it from the movie.

Overall, The Three Musketeers (which, in my opinion, should have been called by Dumas’s original title, The Fourth Musketeer) wasn’t as good at The Count of Monte Cristo. But it was still an enjoyable read.