Thursday, September 10, 2015

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Suits, Season Two:
I described the first season of this show as "breezy fun without much depth or drama", and sometimes that's exactly what you want to watch. The second season is slightly less funny, but makes up for it with a more cohesive overarching storyline and great guest stars.

Final Grade: B

Narcos, Season One:
This Netflix original is very well done, with great cinematography that feels very movie-like. The show tells the tale of Pablo Escobar and cocaine in the 1980s -- one of those eras where I recognize the names from being alive in that time, but was too young and concerned with He-Man to actually know anything about. The show transitions from almost too much English narration in the beginning, to a majority share of Spanish with subtitles by the end, so be ready to read. Overall, the show is engaging and does a good job of setting up season two, but world-changing impending doom foreshadowed in the pilot narration never really solidifies onscreen. There's also a fair amount of unnecessary sex for the Game of Thrones contingent, but it's peppered through the subtitled scenes for those of you who are visual learners. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: A-

Wool: Omnibus Edition by Hugh Howey:
This probably the best dystopian future sci-fi book I've read in a long time -- good enough that I'll probably get it for my mom for Christmas. Wool is the first book of a trilogy, consisting of five shorter fragments (and the Omnibus edition contains all five). The tropes and the general ideas expressed are not new, but the way everything is tied together is impressive, and shows a masterful grasp of storytelling. The author does a great job of balancing exposition against action, steadily answering old questions while introducing new ones, and the way characters are phased in over the first few chapters works very well. A couple sequences, like an underwater repair mission, outstay their welcome, but this is a minor quibble. Characters are also very fleshed out, and much more intriguing than the flat caricatures that sometimes creep into sci-fi books. I've already started the next book, Shift.

Final Grade: A

Libgdx Cross-platform Game Development Cookbook by David Saltares Marquez and Alberto Cejas Sanchez:
This tech book was the polar opposite of the book I'd purchased on JavaFX. Supported by reams of sample code and clear, concise prose, this book does a solid job of introducing all facets of the libgdx game development library. The book could be improved by offering more detail on entity-component-system systems like Ashley, and how a real-world project would organize and integrate Ashley, Box2D, and libgdx code, but the existing content is solid.

Final Grade: B+

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