Friday, May 10, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Bosch, Season Five:
The latest season of Bosch is fairly mediocre. It starts with a tense situation immediately followed by "THREE WEEKS EARLIER...", a device that J.J. Abrams believe adds suspense, but really just serves to annoy the viewers. The various plots don't really work in isolation, and the "main" plot is fairly mundane. I think the biggest problem of this season was that the main characters spent too much time isolated into their own stories without the great interplay that shows how strong the relationships are. The "satisfying high point" of the season occurs in the penultimate episode (in a court case, of course), leaving one more episode of meandering and unbelievable action scenes before it's all over.

Final Grade: B-

Catastrophe, Season Four:
The final season of Catastrophe is of middling quality -- lots of great insults that tiptoe the meanness line and a plot that doesn't go in any particular direction. It ends on an upbeat note, and is over quickly. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B-

Santa Clarita Diet, Season Three:
The most recent season of this show about suburban undead is not quite as good as previous seasons but still worth a watch. By the end, I was a little tired of Drew Barrymore and the constant jokes about gender equality, but still enjoyed the ride. Netflix cancelled the show after this season (on a minor cliffhanger), which is only slightly disappointing to me. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Healers and Thieves by Susan Quilty:
Susan Quilty, a local writer from Rebecca's yoga studio who also wrote The Insistence of Memory, delivers a solid Young Adult novel with fantasy elements. The YA Fantasy genre has a reputation for being overcrowded with mediocre mashups of Harry Potter and Twilight, so it's refreshing that Healers and Thieves is built from a palette of concepts and plot devices that don't already feel overused. This story does a good job of capturing and conveying the main character's wonder and sense of discovery as she leaves her comfort zone. It sometimes reminded me of Elizabeth Winthrop's classic, The Castle in the Attic, but with much more robust world-building.

Quilty does a good job of incorporating the modern world YA elements without bogging down the momentum of the main plot. When it comes to the first book in a trilogy, there are usually two ways to go -- either tell a small, complete story with hints at a broader universe that are unfolded in subsequent books, or start progressing towards the final book without delay, treating each conclusion as a pause point in the action. Healers and Thieves falls squarely in the latter category. While I wish that the book had more self-contained finality in its ending, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and look forward to Book Two.

Final Grade: B+

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