“Legion” by Brandon Sanderson

Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 1.31.37 PMHow to describe the sheer awesomeness of the concept at the heart of Legion? There’s no way. You have to experience if for yourself.

But let me try. Stephen Leeds is a rich, brilliant dude who has earned the (somewhat) derogatory nickname of Legion for having learned to successfully manage his multiple personalities and benefit from their diverse intellects and specialties. Unlike a typical case of multiple personality disorder, Leeds actually sees his aspects outside his body, interacting in various ways with his surroundings and guiding him and giving him feedback that he might otherwise not notice (I’m not an expert–I think visual hallucinations are unusual for MP disorder. I also don’t know if people in the know shorten it to MP disorder).

I notice that on this cover, there’s a dude in a cool-looking peacoat holding a wicked-sweet gun. Since I read this novella a month or two ago, I’d forgotten about my favorite “aspect” of Stephen Leeds. The guy with the gun, J.C. Yes, he was hilarious and the verbal repartee he participated in with one of Stephen’s female aspects, Ivy, was sparkling and captivating. I loved it.

Alright, so Brandon did a great job with the execution (as usual, the bastard [term of endearment]). What I loved was the cast of characters–they were diverse and the dialogue between them was sharp and well done. So much of this story was perfect I could just run down a grocery list of what did it for me, but that would be boring.

I don’t like stories that glorify mental illness (like A Beautiful Mind [the movie…is there a book?]) because they tend to overlook the fallout and pretend that it doesn’t matter–when the reality for me (my late father had a mental illness that was variously described as delusional paranoia to schizophrenia, which just illustrates the difficulty of diagnosing diseases of the mind) was that the collateral damage mattered very much to me, my mother, and my sisters. In any case, Brandon does a clever and interesting job of detailing how one person might harness their multiple personalities and benefit from this schism of the mind, and I never felt like Legion was romanticizing something that can be awful to experience (but…I guess that is kind of what he’s doing…hmm weird that it never felt that way).

One thing that struck me, and which I don’t know if he was doing intentionally, was the concept that someone with such a high IQ MIGHT be benefiting from compartmentalized geniuses like Stephen and his various personalities. I mean, I don’t know if I’m even articulating what I mean very well. I just thought to myself as I was reading that embedded in the subtext was the idea that people with extreme intelligence might just think on many different planes, which could be described as personalities. It SEEMED to me that one idea here is that too much brilliance of that nature would have to be separated into different mental entities in order to control it.

That’s what I thought. And I like that idea. And even if Brandon didn’t mean to do that, I feel like it’s a possibility.

Usually Brandon (did I mention that we’re not friends but that I employ the use of his first name liberally because I’m just that way? Yep) writes endings to his stories that blow my mind. As usual, the ending of Legion had a twist that I enjoyed and felt like the payoff was worth it. BUT, it wasn’t his BEST ending ever in the entire universe of Brandon books/stories. It was just pretty good and I can’t complain about that, because Brandon writing a pretty good ending is the same as me writing my best ending ever (and most other writers too).

I wish I could keep my reading schedule up with how prolific he is, but I’m really glad we have a machine like him rolling out stories that keep us entertained and thoughtful and give us ideas and magic systems that no one else has ever come up with. He’s a freaking genius. I actually think he MIGHT be Legion.

Review of daynight, by Megan Thomason

I got daynight when it was free on Amazon. It was the top download in teen sci-fi and my own book couldn’t move it from that top spot. So I thought, what the hey? And I got it and began reading it. Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 9.17.54 PM

There is so much that is amazing about daynight. It’s a complex story with a complex background, so much so that there were times when I was reeling from trying to absorb it all. The pacing is often quick, and sometimes too quick because the ideas are just that complex, which I think testifies to the creativity of the worlds within the story.

I’m not sure how to explain without potentially giving away spoilers, and since I can’t really tell what the spoilers would be (because there are super cool revelations all through the book that might blow your mind a bit), I won’t go into very many details. My review will simply gloss the surface in order to preserve the element of surprise.

Let’s just say, I was completely blown away by potentially one of the coolest ideas about Earth and this alternate world of Thera. That doesn’t even explain it. But it’s brilliant.

So anyway, I prefer to be REALLY subjective in my reviews because I’m not a professional reviewer, nor do I work for Clarion or Kirkus. I just like to hear myself.

I loved Kira. Sometimes I thought she was too smart for her age, but then, I have no recollection of how intelligent or dumb I was at her age. She’s incredibly clever and tough. I rooted for her from the beginning. The only time I ever wanted to punch her out was when she was being totally blind about who loved her and who didn’t.

BUT, I remember LOADS of times when I was intentionally BLIND to the romantic inclinations of my guy friends. Like, completely and purposefully daft just to preserve the friendship or because I wouldn’t DARE be so arrogant as to assume that all these guys wanted a piece of me.

So I forgive Kira for being blind. Totally human.

I thought Blake and Ethan were great, and I can see why Kira is torn between them, but I think I’m in the Ethan camp. Sorry Blake. Their histories explain them really well, though I tend to hate flashback as a way to reveal it–sometimes I don’t know if there’s another way to do that, especially for Blake.

I think in the end, daynight only reveals a fraction of the complexity of the story. The end left me wanting to read the next book, which is great. My biggest reason for only rating it 4.5 stars is because there were times when the inner dialogue could have shed MORE light on specific events in the story.

There were circumstances where I was like, WTF!? But the characters just keep moving forward. I have no idea if that’s even fair of me to say, because it ends up being akin to one of those 48 Hours Mysteries where witnesses are saying things like, “She just behaved really oddly after he was murdered. Like, no tears. And then she said let’s go out for coffee to me. And WOULD A PERSON WHO’S BOYFRIEND WAS JUST BRUTALLY MURDERED SAY THAT?” And the answer is, who the hell knows? Guess what? People handle things differently.

So would Kira do some of the stuff she does? Who knows? The author knows. Kira knows. But I just want to know what Kira is thinking. I want to know why she presses forward and if she’s anguished inside and scared and doesn’t want to even crawl out of bed, I want to know that. And sometimes she says that, but often she doesn’t.

I hope Megan keeps writing and the series just gets better. She has wicked sweet ideas that I’ve never read before, nor thought of before, but they’re so good that I’m like, “Damn her! It should have been mine!”

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