Thursday, April 12, 2012

Book Review: Xor Shape of Darkness by Moshe Sipper

 On his twelfth birthday Lewis Nash comes home from school to find that his house has blown up to smithereens, killing his father. Having lost his mother in an accident four years earlier, Lewis realizes he is now an orphan — but he has no time to dwell on it. The moment he gets off the school bus a fearsome wolf-man tries to grab him. The boy is saved in the nick of time by Master Long, who reveals to him that he’s a Shaper from a place called Xor, which is being devoured by the Realm Pirates. Lewis learns that he must do his utmost to become the powerful Shaper he was destined to be.

Because, it would seem, he’s the one and only chance Xor has.






Dr. Sipper has published over 140 scientific papers, and is the author of three books: Evolved to Win, Machine Nature: The Coming Age of Bio-Inspired Computing, and Evolution of Parallel Cellular Machines: The Cellular Programming Approach. He is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games and Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines, an Editorial Board Member of Memetic Computing, and a past Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation.
Dr. Sipper won the 1999 EPFL Latsis Prize, the 2008 BGU Toronto Prize for Academic Excellence in Research, and five HUMIE Awards—Human-Competitive Results Produced by Genetic and Evolutionary Computation (Gold, 2011; Bronze, 2009; Bronze, 2008; Silver, 2007; Bronze, 2005).



My Review:

Pros:    Throughout explanations of the Realm, Lewis interjects and explains things in a simpler way, so the reader doesn't lose interest with confusing world making. I also admire how these interjections are entertaining and lighten up the story.

Cons:  The beginning felt slow, but necessary. Once we were introduced to Lewis things picked up quickly and the reader gets engaged in the story.


Characters: I want the other characters to be a surprise, so just know they're all fairly well rounded. I will allow myself to gush over Lewis Nash, though--the main character of the story. For a complex personality of a twelve year old boy--who technically isn't human--I found him to be my favorite character. He's the kind of character that I want to adopt and take care of, regardless of his tendency to turn into a bed if he gets tired.


Movie Potential:    Definitely not. There's a nice spin to a well-used plot, but it will still feel too cliche to movie watchers. It wouldn't be anything to hit the big screen, but it could possibly show up as a made-for-tv disney movie.



Writing style:  The narration carries the innocence and wonder of a child, but the maturity and reasonable wisdom of Yoda. Considering Lewis' personality, though, it makes total sense and was enjoyable to read.

Format:    Kindle for iPod Touch--no problems.

Other:    Plot: there were twists that I didn't think would be there. Nothing completely unpredictable, but still pretty entertaining.

Overall Rating: 4/5

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