Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Last Days of Krypton

I'm normally not a sci-fi reader. In fact, the only sci-fi I've ever read was the Ender's Game series and the Hitchhiker's series, both of which I read and adored in high school. I have otherwise never been interested in the genre. Somehow, even though I loved these other two series, I thought I couldn't get into sci-fi books. Plus, I thought they were way too technical for me. I don't know anything about warp drives and whatnot. BUT Kevin J. Anderson was able to draw me in with his latest book, The Last Days of Krypton, which was just released in paperback on August 28.

I may not be a sci-fi fan, but I am a HUGE Superman follower. I've watched all the TV Series and seen the movies - and Superman comics are the only ones I've ever collected. See, my geek side is coming out now. So when I heard there was a book coming out that finally put all of the pieces of Krypton together, I jumped at the chance to read it. And I wasn't disappointed, although I guess I'm easier to please than some of the reviewers on Amazon. The hard thing for any book that backtracks on an already in place mythology with a huge following is that it will have critics who thought it should have come together differently. Many fans will already have a picture in their minds of what happened and if it doesn't add up then, well, they just won't like it regardless of how well done it is.

With Superman this may have been slightly easier to avoid because the mythology regarding Krypton has been so scattered over the years. Readers have seen several potential causes for the end of Krypton, including the sun going supernova, major geological pressure causing the world to explode and civil war breaking out causing Kryptonians to destroy themselves. The awesome thing is that Anderson addresses all of these in his book. It's obvious the author did his research and tried to include everything in the plot line.

In The Last Days of Krypton, we follow the last year or so of the history of Krypton, home planet of Superman (Kal-El, Clark Kent). It is told from the perspectives of many of the main characters - Jor-El (Kal-El's dad), Zor-El, Zod and Aethyr to name but a few. We learn of the great war in Krypton's past, which gives us the reasoning behind their world's fear of space travel and connecting with alien species. We discover how Jor-El came across the spaceship in which he eventually sends Kal-El to Earth. And we learn the origins of the green Kryptonite. We also have questions answered about the phantom zone and General Zod, which is huge if you're a Superman fan.

I, for one, have been confused about a lot of these things for a long time and was happy to have these questions addressed in such a gripping book. While I enjoyed most of the book, I thought the part about General Zod's takeover of the Kryptonian government was a little long, but it was also suspenseful and kept me reading. And I was thoroughly confused by Aethyr's turn-around. She starts of hating the authority of Krypton and researching its past. She is non-conformist to say the least, but then becomes an adamant Zod follower, even as he leads Krypton to near destruction. Somehow, I didn't get this abrupt change. Being non-conformist doesn't necessarily mean you'd want one person to take over the whole country and be OK with them killing off anyone who disagrees. Other than those two things though, I thought the book was well done. And the cover rocks (it's a hologram!).

Oh, and if you're unfamiliar with Superman lore, don't feel like you couldn't pick up this book. Anderson does a much better job of explaining each character's role than I have done here. Plus, there's a list of characters in the front of the book, along with a description of who they are in relation to each other, in case you get lost. I don't think you'll get lost though. The book follows a fairly linear timeline, introducing characters as you go along as with any other book.


Michelle said...

This sounds REALLY interesting. My dad is a HUGE fan of Superman, something that's been passed down. I'll have to look out for this one.

trish said...

Nice review. When I get through with the series I'm currently working on by Anderson, I think I'll pick this up. I'm a fan of Superman and think I'd like it. :-)

Michelle said...

I'm sorry I haven't responded to your email, but illness has become a family friend! This book does sound really interesting, and I would like to read it, but I live in England and the postage is horrendous. I have a mailing address in California, but I wouldn't be able to access anything until next March at the earliest.. thank you for thinking of me!