Thursday, September 30, 2010

An Update on Sucking at Bookclub

A few weeks ago I wrote this, inspired by the fabulous list Steph provided here. For those of you who hate to click, I'll sum up. I'm doing a really bad job of reading the books for my bookclub this year and was looking for book suggestions because I was generally in a rut.

People were fabulous about it and offered me a ton of suggestions. And today, for your reading pleasure, 3 mini book reviews:

First of all, Jenn recommended The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime by Mark Haddon. I had no intention whatsoever of reading this. However, as fate would have it, it was on display as I was walking out of the library one day and I took it as a sign. This is the slightly warped story of a young man with autism and his quest to discover who killed his neighbor's dog. His determination leads him ultimately down the path to discover, not only the doggie murderer, but also a terrible truth about his own life. Since it is told from the perspective of what we most often refer to as a "high-functioning autistic," the prose is purposely stilted. Which actually makes it quite enjoyable to read. You truly feel immersed in the character. Also, because he has little understanding of emotions, you can see the trauma ahead long before he does, leading to a nice bit of emotional conflict on the part of the reader.

When I finished, I was fascinated by a few aspects of the book, mainly, the demonstrations of his logic and reasoning. I dug a little on the old Internet to determine if this is typical of our understanding of autistic reasoning and found a truly mixed bag. Many professionals and at least one reviewer who genuinely suffers from autism poo-poo'd these details as being not at all accurate. But more professionals and at least one organization praised it as being very accurate and helpful. In either case, I really enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime, and it definitely made me curious; which is a truly great thing for a book to accomplish.

From Steph, I acted on two recommendations, the first of which is The Forrest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. This short YA fiction novel tells the tale of a young girl named Mary who searches for truth and meaning in a community that has survived the zombie apocalypse. Rebelling against the rules of this very structured community lead her to question everything she's been taught. When the community is breached by the zombies, Mary, accompanied by a few friends and relatives, embarks on a journey to find the ocean.

I greatly enjoyed this take on post-zombie-apocalypse life for a couple of reasons. First of all, like many post apocalyptic stories, we see a very controlled society step in and replace individual freedom with safety. While this is a common theme, I found it very well handled, showing the imminent danger of conflict within the community and the near-necessity of many of their measures. It's easy to see how this slippery slope was started. Secondly, the community is ruled by a quasi-religious group that seems to not exist in our current world. Some aspects seem Catholic and some seem to be completely other, but they add up to a faith that did not just step in to rule in chaos, but one that was created from the chaos.

I just found out that there is a sequel, The Dead Tossed Waves and it is currently on hold for me at the library.

Next up, was Sunshine, by Robin McKinley, a book that came highly recommended by both Steph and Jenn. Sunshine is the story of a young girl, trying to live a normal life in a world where vampires and other supernatural creatures are the norm. Sunshine, the titular character, is abducted by vampires and chained up in an abandoned house. There, she builds an unlikely alliance with an old and somewhat powerful vampire.

The only word I can use here is artful. Never before have I felt more hungry after finishing a book. Were this a series, I would have read the whole series in one sitting. As it is, I was left longing for more with a deep, painful longing.

So many questions were left unanswered. So many story lines lingered after the final page. Not loose ends, exactly, because they were questions that really didn't need an answer. Just a lingering thread begging to be picked back up.

The only thing I can truly say that I didn't enjoy about the book was the repetitive nature. If the author told us once that humans and vampires had never-ever worked together, she told us 27 times. There was a point where I literally turned it over and yelled at the cover that "I get it already. It never happens. You might be evil. Oh my goodness, get over it."

But the story itself, masterful.

In short, you guys did an truly excellent job and despite the fact that I still have a lengthy list at my disposal, I think you should try again. Tell me what to read!

Despite the fact that all of these links are Amazon links, I do not participate in their affiliate program. Just convenience. Promise.


Jenn-Jenn, the Mother Hen said...

Thanks so much for telling me about "The Dead-Tossed Waves"!! I didn't realize there was a sequel. I just put in a hold request with the library for it. Squee!

Also, if you want an interesting story, I recommend the Morganville Vampire Series by Rachel Caine. It's about a 16-year old girl who graduates high school early and goes to college in a small town in the middle of nowhere, Texas. She could have had a full scholarship to MIT or CalTech, but her parents are way overprotective and tell her she has to spend the first two years at a school within an hour's drive of their home. Come to find out, the town was founded and is run by vampires. There are moments where you want to roll your eyes at how high school it all is, but most of the time, it's an engrossing series with some laugh-out-loud and squeal-worthy moments. The first book is called "Glass Houses".

Jenn-Jenn, the Mother Hen said...

P.S. My favorite character in the series is not the female protagonist, but Eve, her uber-Goth, snarky best friend and housemate.

Sage said...

Though I've shouted it over and over on Facebook...

You should read "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. The library has it--they even had an event when the third book comes out. (so no excuses!)

You should also read "Feed" by Mira Grant. Because it's awesome, and it's about bloggers and politics and zombies, but mostly about who you trust and love the most. If the library can't find a copy, I'll give you mine. Or I'll mail it to you. Something. (so no excuses!)