Monthly Archives: January 2015

David Mitchell – The Bone Clocks

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Sometimes a book can send you off your beaten path and help you to explore authors you might never have come across. I read The Bone Clocks, just after it was released, and it was the start of a new direction, in which genre still plays a key role, which a few years ago I would never have entertained. Have I had the same moment I felt when instead of just knowing the Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen I finally listened. Have I Grown up?

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In 1984, teenager Holly Sykes runs away from home, a Gravesend pub after a fight with her mother. Sixty years later, she is to be found in the far west of Ireland, raising a granddaughter as the world’s climate collapses. In between, Holly is encountered as a barmaid in a Swiss resort by a sociopath in 1991; has a child with a foreign correspondent covering the Iraq War in 2003; becomes the confidante of a self-obsessed author of fading powers and reputation during the present decade. Yet these changing personae are only part of the story, as Holly’s life is repeatedly intersected by a slow-motion war between a cult of predatory soul-decanters and a band of vigilantes led by one Doctor Marinus. Holly begins as an unwitting pawn in this war – but may prove to be its decisive weapon

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This book is composed of six parts, dropping in chronologically throughout Holly’s life. Four of part are told through the eyes of characters holly encounters along the way and these provide a great change in pace and style that makes each one brilliantly unique. From Hugo Lamb’s (James Mcavoy in the film surly?) predatory life as a Cambridge undergraduate to an immortal being waging war, each proved a glimpse into holly’s life and emotions and genuinely make you care without eclipsing Holly. My personal favorite is Crispin Hershey, a former “wild child of British literature” whose career is in free-fall. Crispin meets Holly and the literary festival circuit when the queue he thought was for him is really for her.

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The story isn’t the best you will ever read but Mitchell has a great talent for making you care about the people and to read between the lines. I was glued to every page even though there isn’t much story progression until the final few scenes. This book feels like the side notes to the main story but just told incredibly well.

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I was lucky enough to meet David on his tour and take some pictures, which I have shared in this review. I was compelled to attend mainly because Bone Clocks is the only one of his books I’ve read and that is what sent me down the path I’m on now. The books he recommend to me I’ve loved, The WindUp Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami to name one.

So my conclusion from this, and something I will take forward into the new year and beyond is to keep more of an open mind about literature, just because something is listed for the Man Booker or is placed in Richard and Judy’s book club, doesn’t mean is shite. 🙂

Maybe i’ve grown up

david and the beard

No way.

Drop me your thoughts and book recommendations into the comments below or tweet me @europaoutlaw

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In The Miso Soup – Ryu Murakami Review

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Recently I have been reading about the most depraved and detestable human beings I have ever come across in fiction and I am loving every minute of it. Douglas Coupland Chuck Palahniuk and Patrick Hamilton, to name a few, have really engaged me to a slightly worrying degree. The characters are unpredictable and unapologetic which keeps me firmly on the edge of my seat.

Reads like the script notes for American Psycho – The Holiday Abroad”

The Guardian

Even though I think this is an awful quote (Really? American Psycho – The Holiday Abroad? That’s a straight to Netflix sequel if I’ve ever heard one) and on refection doesn’t do give this book enough credit, but It was enough to get the hooks in. That and the stunning cover.

Twenty year-old Kenji is a Japanese “nightlife” guide for foreigners — he navigates “Gaijin” men around the sex clubs and hostess bars of Tokyo. He receives a phone call from an American named Frank, who seeks three nights of his services. While Kenji has promised to spend more time with his girlfriend, sixteen year-old Jun, the money is too good to pass up. Though she does not really figure in the proceedings and Murakami seems more interested in the relationship that develops between Kenji and Frank, a warped form of friendship, fueled by fear but also by fascination. He finds himself closing out the end of the year accompanying Frank around Shinjuku, wondering if his strange, plastic-skinned patron could be responsible for the gruesome events recently reported in the news.

Its a fascinating book. The relationship between the two of them, twists and turns through out but its Frank that really makes this novel stand out. His mental regression from wealthy business man to bumbling child is astonishing and the constant tease of him falling off the cliff, whether its in Kenji’s mind or physically acted, increases the tension between the two.

When this finally happens and Franks identity becomes clear, around the middle of the novel, The tense relationship changes once again in a scene of sickening violence that is both compelling and repulsive. It is relatively short but shocking never the less, and it is impossible to finish the rest without a heightened level of anxiety.

In The Miso Soup is short be very sweet and putting the possible political stance to one side, it’s a thoughtful novel about what its like to be lonely or have a lack of identity. Its modern Noir at its best and somehow, through all the darkness and ambiguity you still come away hopeful for all involved

Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments or on twitter @europaoutlaw

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Walking Dead/Wolf Among Us Dev Telltale Confirms New IP in Development

 

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Telltale Games has confirmed that it is working on a new original IP. The news was revealed alongside an announcement that president and co-founder Kevin Pruner would be transitioning into a new role at the studio as CEO. Former CEO and co-founder Dan Connors will remain with Telltale Games as an executive advisor.

No mention of a release date or platforms for the new IP was made. The studio is working on several other games at the moment, including the third season of The Walking Dead series, Minecraft: Story Mode, Tales from the Borderlands and the Game of Thrones series.

Last year marked ten years since Telltale Games was founded. The studio’s most recent release, Game of Thrones: Episode One – Iron from Ice, was well-received in GameSpot’s review, praised for its depiction of characters from the Game of Thrones universe and anxiety-inducing game-play.

A lot has been said recently of Telltale potentially over extending itself, with all the plates it has spinning, and that they should take time out to improve their game engine. I personally disagree. I have no interest in downloading these games an episode at a time and, much like I do T’V shows, prefer to binge on the whole thing once I can get my hands on it.

Here’s a few ideas I would like to see from them

1. Doctor Who

2. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower (Could be a long one..)

3. GTA

4. Neil Gaiman’s American Gods

5. Son’s Of Anarchy

That’s what I would like to see. If you have any more list them in the comments below or tweet me @europaoutlaw

 

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Transistor PS4 Review

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I’ve had Transistor for a long time in my library and I’m sad to say, it took until IGN announced it as a potential GOTY to take notice.

It didn’t seem like my kind of game, but when the opening bars to its incredible sound track kicked in and the impeccable delivery of the opening line was over, (“Hey, Red…We’re not gonna get away with this, are we?”)  I was hooked

Red, a famous singer in a city called Cloudbank, is attacked by the Process, a robotic force commanded by a group called the Camerata. During the clash, she is transported all the way across Cloudbank and comes into possession of the mysterious Transistor–the great sword-like weapon she was to be assassinated with. The Transistor is buried into the chest of an as-of-yet unnamed man (who seems to be close with Red), now slumped over and dead; though his consciousness and voice seems to have been absorbed into the Transistor itself, along with Red’s voice. The Camerata continues to track Red and the Transistor down with the Process, wanting the weapon for some yet-unknown cause.

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Transistor utilises an isometric point of view. The player controls the character Red as she travels through a series of locations, battling enemies known collectively as the Process in both real-time combat and a frozen planning mode referred to as “Turn()”. Using Turn() drains the action bar, which refills after a short delay. At times, the point of view is frustrating, with your view being impaired by scenery, but these are few and far between. As good as the Combat is first time round, the recursion pushes your skills to the limit, in a blasé of neon. The pace increases dramatically and you will find yourself trying every combination of functions possible. An excellent feature to the game is the character of the Transistor and the way the two interact. Even with Red’s voice being stolen, the dialogue is interesting and emotional throughout and the voice coming out of the speaker in the controller was an added bonus to the atmosphere

Transistor’s the kind of game that made me sad to leave it. I wanted to continue exploring the excellent combat in new, more challenging scenarios. I wanted more music and more story, But most of all, I wasn’t ready to leave Red or her world behind. Super Giant deserve all the accolades they have, and will, receive for this game and made me remember why I love to play

Bastion is apparently coming to PS4 in the future and I’m really looking forward to getting back into a Super Giant game

Add me on PSN Europaoutlaw and twitter @EuropaOutlaw

What was your favourite game of 2014?

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9/10

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