Category Archives: Books

REVIEW: Through Violet Eyes

Mark Berryman reviews “Through Violet Eyes”


through_violet_eyes

I thought about what to write for my second blog. I had a few ideas but then I decided to write about my favourite series of books, The Violet series by author Stephen Woodworth.

I first became aware of these books when my wife’s aunty gave her the second book “With Red Hands” she said it was utterly brilliant. Upon finding out it was the second book in the series, my wife went online and ordered the others. I’ve always enjoyed reading books, but my wife reads all the time. I had been looking for something to read, something that I would really enjoy; I’m quite picky when it comes to books. Claire (the wife) said to me that I had to read this series. She said it was right up my street and she guaranteed I would love them. All I can say is, she wasn’t wrong.

The series is set present day, but with one massive difference. Every generation there are a handful of people who are born with violet coloured eyes. These people are conduits for the souls of people who have died. When they have been trained, a violet can let a soul into them for various reasons. The main character of the series, Natalie Lindstrom, uses her gifts to help catch killers. The first time we meet Natalie is at a murder trial, she lets the soul of the murdered person inhabit her in order to give evidence against their killer.

When violets are being murdered by the “faceless man” Natalie is partnered with FBI agent Dan Atwater, a man with a troubled past that still haunts him. Dan goes out of his way to make sure he never makes skin contact with Natalie (violets can be contacted by dead people from a persons past if she touches them. They become a “touch stone” for them to come through). As the book progresses and with help from violets who have been murdered, Natalie and Dan’s relationship grows as they search for the killer.

As the books progress we learn more about Natalie’s life and the past she has that she would rather forget. They are excellently written. Woodworth paints a vivid picture of what is happening that is easy to picture in the mind. I couldn’t help but picture Eliza Dushku and Jeremy Renner as the two lead characters as I was reading.

When I worked for Waterstones I made it my mission to get as many people as possible to buy these gems. Not enough people have read them and they do deserve to be read by as many people as possible. I’ve read and re-read them on a number of occasions since and I love them just as much as the first time I read them.

I’ve since become “facebook friends” with the author himself who seems to genuinely be a very nice guy. I’ve told him that I hope one day he goes back to this universe he has created and write more.

I’ve purposely not said too much about the story as I’d hate to give away any spoilers. So do yourself a huge favour, go to your nearest Waterstones, or whichever book shop you have near you and get a copy of these books. I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed!

BOOK REVIEW: Yukikaze

English cover
English cover

Given the fact that Japan seems obsessed with animation and manga we in the west tend to forget they also write novels too. It does seem to be the exception however that one of these books becomes adapted in to an animated feature or series. The benefit of manga books is that TV or film producers already have an idea of how it will look once animated. Books on the other hand are left open to far more interpretation on the part of the readers and producers and so are a bigger risk. In this environment it is no surprise then that books becoming animated like Yukikaze by Chohei Kambayashi will continue to remain the exception. The question then is whether or not that is a bad thing.

I do not want to delve too much in to the anime series as I want to concentrate more on the book. I do want to say however that I am big fan of the five part OVA and that is what lead me to buying this book as I wanted to delve deeper in to the world of Yukikaze. If you have never heard of Yukikaze then here is the plot: thirty years ago a hyperdimensional portal opened in Antarctica allowing an alien race known as the JAM to come through and attack our world. They were beaten back by Earth’s forces however and now humanity are the alien invaders as they have established a base on the JAM’s homeworld to continue the fight. The story follows Rei Fukai and his advanced reconnaissance aircraft named Yukikaze which has a sophisticated AI system. Together Rei and Yukikaze unravel the truth about the JAM while the Earth forces seem determined to remove men from the fight and replace them entirely with machines.

Just from that alone its easy to see that a lot is going on in the world Kambayashi has created. This is a very philosophical story in places as it discusses the ramifications of giving machines greater intelligence and taking over more of our everyday lives – in truth not a new concept but still an interesting one. One interesting point that comes up is that the JAM initially believed our planes and ships were the lifeforms on Earth rather than machines created by Humans. To some lifeforms I suppose that would be how it would look. Another really interesting point was that some people on Earth believed the whole thing to be a hoax and to me that echoes the Moon landing and the conspiracy theory that has surrounded it ever since 1969.

I have read repeatedly that Japanese texts lose something when they are translated in to English. I can’t vouch for that as I don’t speak Japanese but what I will say is that at times this becomes a hefty read and I found there were long periods that failed to capture my interest and then BANG a section would come up where I was hooked. It really was an up and down experience at times. There were sections of the book I felt were unnecessary to the story and seemed to be filler. One bit that did surprise me however was in a scene where a reporter is talking to Rei about the reasons why humanity is remaining on the JAM’s homeworld and he mentions that if it was for monetary purposes then it must involve Jews somewhere. I was surprised by this because it seems a very western concept and not one I would expect to find in a Japanese book.

I have read many aviation based books over the years and am a big fan of Dale Brown, Stephen Coonts and John Nichols. I therefore have high expectations on the descriptions of military flying. It was perhaps the biggest disappointment about this book that the flight scenes aren’t very vivid in fact they are almost glossed over. I think because the anime had such spectacular flight scenes that I was expecting that to be translated from the book but it just wasn’t.

I don’t think this book is for everyone. Fans of anime and science fiction may enjoy it but I do believe that this is a very Japanese story and you have to be aware of that reading it.