Title: Nightwatch by Sergei Lukyanenko
Genre: Russian Horror
Synopsis: Set in contemporary Moscow, Lukyanenko's fantastic American debut—the first in a series about an epic struggle between good and evil—charts the adventures of a race of supernaturally gifted Others, who serve either the Light or Dark Side. The Others slip in and out of an eerie parallel world where they coexist in an uneasy peace that a terrible revolution may soon disrupt. Philosophical Anton Gorodetsky, an earnest Night Watch agent, falls in love with 24-year-old Svetlana Nazarova, a troubled young doctor under a Dark Magician's curse. While Anton endeavors to undo the curse, he discovers Egor, a gifted boy unwilling to choose between his Light or Dark abilities. As humankind's fate hangs in the balance, Anton is forced to re-examine his allegiance, and Svetlana is drawn deeper into the exotic, vivid universe of dueling magicians, shape-shifters, witches and vampires. Potent as a shot of vodka, this compelling urban fantasy was adapted to a Russian blockbuster movie in 2004.
I just finished reading this last week and frankly, I've been totally engrossed in it even after the fact. I started reading this shortly after finishing both of the Russian movies, Nightwatch and Day Watch. There's an entire series of books, Nightwatch, Day Watch, Twilight Watch, and Last Watch, and I know from this book I'll dive into the next in the series pretty soon. Anton was a great character to follow around, he does a lot of musing and inner railing against whether or not the Light Side is really any better than the Dark Side, what with the fact that the Night Watch freely hands out licenses to the Dark Others to hunt and kill humans at certain times. As long as the Dark Other has a license, they're in the clear, the Night Watch just turns their head. You can tell how disatisfied with this he is, just going through the motions and trying to find something to have faith in, realizing he should feel in the right and not question his higher ups. I loved the other characters this books centers around. Olga, a disgraced Great Sorceress, is probably my favorite, with her unquestioning soldier-like duty to the Light and her very repressed envy of the innocent and upcoming Great Sorceress. Can't wait to read the next book.
The movies themselves are very different from the book, but strangely that didn't bother me at all, I liked them both quite equally. Part of this is probably because Sergei also wrote the screen plays. The movies get the gist of the story, at least for the first book, but change the character situations a bit so that it ties more tightly together into a complete whole when you watch them both. They are very action orientated, I was really surprised by them. The first one is all about the fight scenes and the second one is slightly more muted, but has this great scene of Alisa, one of the main Dark Other characters, driving her car across a building and finally Into it. The scenes can get a little hokey in some places in both films, I thought the ending of the first film was a little mish-mashed, but otherwise I really, really enjoyed both films. Nightwatch I watched with the English dubbing, which they did quite a good job with, and the other I watched in Russian with subtitles...One of the cool things is they did a lot of little graphic things with the subtitles to illustrate a point. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the Matrix, Underworld, Sin City, or other movies of that type.
Title: A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson
Synopsis: Wallace, who works in Publications of the North American Aircraft plant, near Los Angeles, heckles hypnotizing, finds he is susceptible and becomes the channel through which his neighbors' emotions and the secret of his house assume domination. Prescience, sensitive telepathy, and a sense of possession gnaw at his marriage; the haunting of a murder done and one to come lead him to apprehend a killer no saner than his experiences. A teaser which has more possibilities than performance.
I generally love Richard Matheson, but I was extremely disappointed in this book. Maybe it was just Too subtle for me, but I couldn't get into it like I have all of his other books. I understand that his neighbors were pretty disgusting people, but I don't know that it was horrifying as all that. The only part that really caused me to raise a brow was when he first got the real thoughts of the true killer, but even then it was just a spark and he didn't really sense the killers deep sickness until the very end, he was just focused on his pervy overweight neighbor lady. Yeah, I get it, your neighbor lusting after you is disgusting and sickening, yes, the waves of hatred coming off of your other neighbor for his wife and life situation is awful, but it just didn't wasn't compelling. I thought at first maybe I didn't like it because it was so short and I generally like longer books so I can get to know the characters better, but then I remembered that I read I Am Legend and that completely floored me, along with a lot of his other short stories housed in that book. I don't know...The whole thing just felt uninspired.
Now I'm reading Mythology by Edith Hamilton and I'm pretty well engrossed in it. Her writing is beautiful and you can tell she has a real passion for the subject of Myths. Unfortunately the used copy I picked up is now falling apart at the seams, so I'll have to get another copy sometime. Ahh well.