Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What I read -- March 2011

Considering what I'm reading now has 453 pages to go, it's unlikely I'll finish anything else in March, so I'll just post this now. Mid-month saw me go to the library one evening and take out two books, having already started Leviathan, and then discovering that I had two more waiting for me in the holds system. And then another one appeared after I'd read two of them. So I finished more books than usual.

  1. “World War Z” by Max Brooks. Library book. The Z stands for zombie, of course. This was a good resource for me for thinking about the science of my zombie novel. Also, good for looking at alternative ways of organizing a narrative. This is a series of interviews with people who were involved in different ways with the zombie war, so really it’s a collection of linked short stories.

  2. “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins. I had to take the boy to an appointment and didn’t want to carry around the big, heavy geology book, so I grabbed this from the pile. Everyone else in the family had read it already. It sucked me in so fast! There was a point about a hundred pages from the end where I was kind of bored, but the ending was right, the Snow/Coin thing worked, and man, I totally stopped liking Gale.

  3. “Leviathan” by Scott Westerfield. The boy got this for Christmas, and when I’d finished Mockingjay, he suggested I read this. The opening is fabulous, with Alek being incredibly gullible and the POV is very close, so I was kind of yelling at him. Illustrations were wonderful in a book like this. There was a spot about halfway through that I found so stressful I almost put the book down (Alek being really stupid and gullible again), but I pushed through, and it was totally worth it. The tension between the characters was great, with both Alek and Deryn having really complex characters.

  4. “Shades of Milk and Honey” by Mary Robinette Kowal. Library book I’d requested. It was a very quick, easy read that totally paid homage to the whole Jane Austen thing, where the main character needs to get married but has few prospects, only to find she had many. I loved the way Jane thinks Melody is totally more likely to make a good match, not recognizing that people are totally drawn to her talents, and that Melody is wholly aware that beauty fades, but talentless is forever. Jane is another fabulous unreliable narrator.

  5. “White Cat” by Holly Black. Library book I picked up because it was on the YA feature shelf. Reading this right after Shades of Milk and Honey, I was tempted to compare and contrast the magic systems. You know, a high school English essay question “both books insert magic systems into a ‘real world’ environment. Compare and contrast.” What makes a magic system good, I’d say in these books, is immediate personal consequence. Also, consistency. These two books were about small people within the system, rather than top dogs. I just read about the follow-up novel in Locus, so I'll need to look for that...

  6. “Liar” by Justine Larbalestier. Library book. Back when for a few short months Toronto had a McNally Robinson bookstore over at Don Mills Centre, I’d read the first 30 pages or so, so when I saw it at the library, naturally I picked it up. Wow. I’m really glad I hadn’t read any spoilers for this book, because it would have totally ruined the effect. I’m glad there was no back copy, and the flap copy was vague. This book was brilliantly executed. About 50 pages in, I was afraid the big lie was going to be something lame, like Zach wasn’t really dead or something. The twist was so much more interesting than that. And I would have found a white person on the cover to be incredibly disingenuous. Like, who the heck is that a picture of? Also, some of the issues JL raises in this story are issues I wonder about myself. Like, why is it always the girl’s fault when something goes horribly wrong? I mean, in this case... but still.

1 comment:

Fran said...

Some of these books sound interesting. Now where did I put my Library Card?