[Amazon Link]

Have I mentioned that I feel compelled to finish reading a book once I've started? Some sort of psychological mini-disorder? That applies here.

It's by Daniel Suarez, and is a sequel to the novel Daemon which I read back in 2012. I liked that one just fine! And it ended with a cliffhanger, and so reading this was an obvious choice. But also a poor choice.

Background: in the previous book, the gifted (but homicidal) Matthew Sobol created the Daemon, an AI-powered malware that infected all kinds of computers and hence was able to carry out all sorts of mischief nationwide. The good guys were always one step behind at defusing the Daemonic threat, and at the close of the book had just suffered a ringing defeat.

But in this book, the roles are essentially reversed. The Daemon is revealed (mostly) as a liberator, getting the citizenry out from under the rule of Big Corporations. And the folks seriously fighting the Daemon are revealed to be (mostly) corrupt, perverted plutocrats, willing to sacrifice any number of innocent lives in order to maintain their lofty perches. The conflict continues through the book, but it never gets interesting. Things erupt into ultraviolence every so often, but once you've read about ten people decapitated by a Daemon-controlled motorcycle, having that same thing happen over and over loses its sparkle.

I griped a little about Suarez's prose in Daemon, saying it was "clanky in spots." Here the clankiness is pervasive and deafening. The characters, good and bad, are cardboard, uttering clichés and drivel. (Think of a book written by a left-wing embodiment of the worst literary habits of Ayn Rand; that's Freedom™.)

Despicable Me 2

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

What can I say? It's silly and aimed at the kiddos, but I really had a good time watching it.

At the end of Despicable Me, the "villain" Gru, transformed by the sweet little trio of girls he had recruited to advance his evil schemes, resolved to go straight. And he has. In fact, he's bringing out a line of designer jams and jellies! The little yellow "minion" creatures he commands seem OK with it, but his scientist sidekick, Dr. Nefario, would prefer something more on the, well, nefarious side.

But other wrongdoers are still up to no good. In fact, one has just managed to abscond with an entire secret Arctic laboratory. (Big magnet.) Gru is recruited by Lucy, of the Anti-Villain League, into investigating the matter.

Lots of sight gags and (as the MPAA puts it) "rude humor". For example, in an early interaction with Silas Ramsbottom, head of the Anti-Villain League:

Gru Oh, attitude. That's right. So thanks but no thanks. And here's a tip: Instead of tasing people and kidnapping them, maybe you should give them a call! Good day, Mr. Sheepsbutt.

Silas: Ramsbottom.

Gru: [chuckles sarcastically] Yeah, like that's any better.

I know you're supposed to outgrow this stuff, but I never have.