Novels often take a long time to read, so I don’t really discuss them very often, although I do love a good book. Also, my focus has been in the comic area. However, I’ve been thinking that I can use the Spotlight to aid the new Clutter Report in going through my collection. In this case my novels. The bookshelf is as full as the longboxes, but I don’t pick up books as often. Still, I thought of a way to make some interesting posts and get myself to go through my novels.
Introducing “Chapter by Chapter”. Simple enough idea. I grab a novel, read each chapter, and review it as I go along. Once I’m done, I do a full report at the Clutter Report and decide whether or not I want to keep it. If you have the same book you can read along. Obviously there will be spoilers if you haven’t read it, but if you have, I ask that you don’t spoil what’s coming up, especially those books I haven’t finished reading myself yet. For example, the inaugural book to be discussed.
Transformers: Exodus – The Official History of the War For Cybertron is supposed to be the prequel to War For Cybertron, the excellent Activision game where I just finished Chapter 2 over the weekend. This novel, however, I haven’t read. You will be given insight as to what I was thinking at the end of each chapter (or rather chapters, which I’ll explain shortly), and then we’ll see how right or knee-jerk I was the next time. I may have a format worked out, but here’s how we’ll start off.
For the first article of each book I’ll read the dust jacket or back of the book (whether it’s a hardcover or paperback) and the prologue, and give my early thoughts on what I’m expecting. Since this book doesn’t have a prologue, I get to write this longer introduction to the article series and just go by the dust jacket. Then in future installments I’ll read a chapter and write a review of just the chapters I’ve read, like reviewing a TV show episode by episode or comic series issue by issue.
Except here the 39 chapters are like 5 pages long. I’m assuming Alex Irvine changes chapters at every scene. So I’m thinking that for this series I’ll read maybe 5 chapters per article. (Great, it’s “Sing Me a Story” all over again, since the title doesn’t quite work here.)
A little about Alex Irvine. A teacher of English at the University of Maine, Irvine has written a number of science fiction novels, as well as comic books. So I’m guessing he brings some writing credits with him. However, he is now dropping into ShadowWing Tronix’s #1 favorite fiction, the Transformers Multiverse. As you can guess, I’m going to be very fickle here. Additionally, I’m really enjoying the game, and video game adaptations are less that spectacular. Look at any video game novel or BW Fave Linkara’s recent review of the comic “adaptation” of Star Trek: Elite Force. (Wait until you see who’s back.) So let’s get knee-jerking.
And right from the start we hit a few disappointments, but more of a personal nature. It’s the second paragraph that already has me a bit concerned.
“Freedom is every Cybertronian’s right!” After Megatron utters these immortal words, the caste-bound planet of Cybertron is rocked to its foundations. Megatron, an undefeated gladiator thug, gives voice to the unspoken longings of the oppressed masses–and opens the mind of an insignificant data clerk to possibilities previously unthinkable.
If you’ve read my comments on the Megatron: Origin comic (I should do a “Scanning My Collection”, although I thought I reviewed them when it came out) then you already know that I have a few concerns here. If this book is like that comic, then we have another case of the Autobots being written not as the mostly noble heroes we’ve always seen them has but a group who deserves to be overthrown, thus making Megatron a hero of sorts. This is not in keeping with previous depictions and I have given Eric Holmes as much heck as I can without actually reviewing the comic on site. (Or at least I can’t find it on the site.) I shouldn’t be too surprised, since Milne was the artist on that series, but it still bugs me that the Autobots are going to be the bullies here, even if Megatron ends up going off the rails.
So who is the “data clerk”? Orion Pax, the Autobot who would become Optimus Prime. Orion Pax is Prime’s original name, as covered in the episode “War Dawn“, my preference for Prime’s origin story (although it doesn’t tell how he climbed the ranks). However, in the episode Orion isn’t a “data clerk”. That was “Optronix“, the Optimus Prime of Dreamwave’s Transformers: The War Within. Orion is supposed to be a dock worker, charged with transporting Energon. Personally, a truck makes more sense for an Energon transporter’s alt mode than a data clerk’s. It was the one part of the first TWW that I didn’t like and I have this theory that alt mode=job/personality, but that’s for another time.
So does this mean the book will be bad? I don’t think so. I don’t like the version of the Autobots or Prime’s origin they’re going with, but as long as it stays in continuity with the video game, I’m not going to get too worked up about it. In the next edition I’ll read through chapters 1-5 (because they’re short) and start the review process…Chapter by Chapter. (Or “Chapters by Chapters”, whichever.)