Friday, October 06, 2006

In Soviet Russia, Night Watches You!

I decided to try reading a little foreign fantasy, namely Sergei Lukyanenko's Night Watch. The first time I heard of this book was when I saw a copy of the DVD of the movie adaptation and saw it listed as "based on the international bestseller" (or whatever). My first thought was, "Wow, I didn't know they were making a movie based on a Dicworld novel!" Then I read the back and realized it wasn't. Sigh!

A lot of people seem to like this book. All the reviews on Amazon were four or five stars. Reviewing is largely a matter of personal opinion, and in this case my personal opinion is that the book ain't all that great. There are several reasons why I didn't like the book. First off, there are major differences between Russian and American culture, which makes it a bit difficult for an uniformed American, like myself, to follow the action.

Then there's the names. Everyone one seems to be referred to by at least two of them. It's not hard to figure out that Olga and Olya are the same person, but how in the heck am I supposed to know that Gesar and Boris Ignavich are the same person?

I also didn't like the tone. It might just be that I've been in kind of a bad mood these past few days, but this book seemed depressing as Hell. From what I understand (and remember that I don't normally read Russian novels), Russian novels are usually depressing.

The book isn't all bad though. The plots, though a bit confusing, is very interesting. It's all about the light wizards of Night Watch trying to maintain the balance with the dark wizards of Day Watch. The characters, especially the protagonist, are very convincing and interesting. If you like Russian novels and fantasy, you should probably read this one.

If you like Russian novels or fantasy--but not both--you still might want to read this one. I didn't like it, but I didn't really think it's terrible. Actually, I think it's a bit above average. That's why I give Night Watch three and a half yo-yos.

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