Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn | Mini book review

I first put the Sharp Objects audiobook on hold on Sept. 3. But because adaptations are the bane of my existence, I didn’t get it until this year. /endrant

If you’ve lived under a rock and somehow missed the synopsis, this book follows a reporter Camille who goes back to her hometown to investigate the case of a murdered girl and a newly missing girl. Family drama and small town antics ensue.

So, to start with the positive, this book was compulsively readable. I’ve read the rest of Gillian Flynn’s bibliography, so I knew I got along well with her style, but this was her first book, so you never know. It’s no surprise at all that someone read this book and thought “This has to be a TV show.”

But, saying that, there were times in here where the made-for-TV dramatic scenes came with a side of “well that’s crazy and intense, but why is it happening? How did we get here?” Looking back at the all the twisty dark scenes after finishing the book, I realize several of them seem to serve no purpose other than to elicit a “WTF?” response. They didn’t serve the plot or even character development. We already knew our characters were deeply flawed.

Overall, I think I’ve seen a season (*cough* or 13) too many of crime procedurals to be shocked by anything in here. On top of that the annoying AF bad journalist tropes had me eye rolling so much they almost got stuck. I’d still recommend reading it for a “fun” thriller, if only to compare it to the TV show.

⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden | Mini review

WTF did I just read? 3.5 Stars ⭐️, rounding up.

The first description that comes to mind with this book is fever dream, but given the hallucinogenic drugs in here I’ll change that to acid trip. This is one hell of an acid trip of a book.

The Prey of Gods is a sci-fi/fantasy story set in a future South Africa. You follow a bunch of different characters from a young girl coming into new abilities, a delightfully ruthless demi goddess trying to reclaim power, and several characters who experience a new hallucinogen sweeping the country.

To start with what I love is how much humor and different tricks to the tropes that Nicky Drayden accomplished. Her characters and her mix of storylines were some of the most original I’ve ever read.

That being said, it sometimes reads like 6 separate short stories that the author just set in the same place and time. When she starts to combine them, things get a bit messy. Several times in the second half I found myself thinking “wait, what? What’s happening? Did I miss something??” I think this could’ve easily been longer or split into separate books to try to sort everything out.

All that being said, I loved all the disparate parts of this mix of science fiction and fantasy. I just wish the execution was a bit more polished. And I’m eager to see what the author does next.

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas | Book Review

2018 has been the year of feminist dystopians, and I’ve finally read the last one that was on my physical TBR for the year (that I had been meaning to get to since February!)

Red Clocks follows three women and one teen girl in the near future after a “personhood amendment” is passed in the US, barring everything from abortion, artificial insemination and single-parent adoption. We follow The Biographer, The Mender, The Wife and The Daughter as they all deal with life under this change and slowly the connections they all have to each other is revealed.

I’ll say at the top that this book won’t be for everyone. The style especially takes a while to get used to and even then it’s still strange in its combination of lyrical language and stark/choppy structure. But for me, that style brought such a power to book that, once I got the swing of things, I was completely hooked.

You could feel the desperation, you could feel the contempt and the anger. In the end these “placeholders” (naming the point of view chapters after the women’s role in society) were fully realized people. I could relate to the wife who’s life I’ve never lived; I could relate to the mender even though I’ve never been called a witch.

And unlike some of the other books in this same vein I’ve read this year, it’s a dystopian that is explained in a way that you could easily see happening. Some say modern comparisons to the Handmaid’s Tale are exaggerations — but this book? This is a couple of short steps away from reality.

I’ve only begun to scratch the surface with my feminist dystopian reads of the year (Future Home of the Living God; The Power; Vox; The Handmaid’s Tale; The Book of Joan; The End We Start From; Red Clocks), and I already have more on my list for next year. But what are your recommendations?

Severance by Ling Ma | Book Review

When was the last time you read a book and it just stuck with you for days afterward?

I finished Severance Wednesday night and despite my attempts to get into my next book, I keep going back to Severance.

This was a surprise. When I picked it as my Book of the Month, I only knew the briefest of synopses and wasn’t expecting much out of it. And now, three days later and I hadn’t posted my review because I was still ruminating. . 
Severance is a strange little book that manages to be several books at once successfully. It’s an anti capitalist satire. It’s a Chinese-American immigrant story. And it’s an apocalyptic zombie story.

You follow Candace Chen in a split timeline, in the past as she rides out the civilization-ending pandemic in her corporate office building in NYC and in the present as she travels with a small band of fellow survivors.

Author Ling Ma’s examination of capitalistic culture is biting, but what really hooked me was how she explored modern “stuck in a rut” lives and the pitfalls in nostalgia. She’s not the first to make the zombie/office worker comparison but her iteration was so bleak and discomforting (especially for someone like me who experiences deja vu almost daily and finds “comfort” in predictability). And I found Candace to be one of the most relatable unlikable characters I’ve read in a long time.

I’ll spare you all many more details than that because I highly recommend going in mostly blind like I did. I’ll definitely be picking up more from Ling Ma in the future and will move this to the “to be reread” stack.

What I’ve read so far in November | Weekly Reading Wrap Up

Hello, everyone! As I’ve said in the last few posts, my job had been crazy dealing with the election (I worked from 5 am to 1 am Tuesday, then back to work again at 6), so I missed WWW Wednesday. But I’ve still been reading a ton so I didn’t think it was a good idea to just combine weeks, so here’s what I’ve read so far in November. Continue reading “What I’ve read so far in November | Weekly Reading Wrap Up”

Weekly Wrap-up (A Belated WWW Wednesday)

It’s WWW Wednesday, a tag hosted on Taking on a World of Words It’s easy to do, just answer the three questions below! Work is crazy busy and stressful right now and will be until after the election, so apologies in advance that my posting is going to get more erratic for a few weeks.

Continue reading “Weekly Wrap-up (A Belated WWW Wednesday)”

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor | Book Rant

Book: Muse of Nightmares

Author: Laini Taylor

Release Date: Oct. 2, 2018

Synopsis

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.
Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.
As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?
Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Timesbestseller, Strange the Dreamer.
 

Format: Audiobook

Narrator: Steve West

Length: ~16 hours

Listening speed: 1.5x

Rating: (★★★):

Review

(TL;DR: Unpopular opinion, I think it was messy fan-service that I was extremely disappointed by)

If you follow me on Goodreads or Instagram, you’ll know just how much of a struggle reading this book was. I started it first thing on Monday and it just could not make it through. That never happens to me. This is going to be all unpopular opinions so please take all of the following criticisms with a grain of salt. I wanted to like this and I’m glad you did/will if you’ve read it. But here are my issues:

It started off really rough. The first chapter introduced all new characters, and it’s unclear from the beginning when it’s supposed to have taken place. So from the start, I couldn’t really jump right back into the story from the cliffhanger like I wanted to. Wehn we finally got back to Lazlo and company, the narrative/perspectives seemed to have changed style from the first book/I just don’t remember it clearly enough. With everyone talking in the same scenes, it was really jarring when the perspectives would change. You’d be in Lazlo’s head but then all of a sudden you’d be hearing about Minya’s motivations, then in Sirai’s. It was a lot of messy back and forth rather than neat sections focused on one person. This didn’t really continue for the rest of the book, but it’s what made the beginning so slow because I had to keep restarting to keep the story straight.

Now I don’t want to give spoilers for any of rest, so I’ll talk more broadly. My main problem is this felt like poorly done fan service. Laini Taylor knew everyone was expecting a lot out of this sequel. We needed backstory, we need resolution, we needed more Lazlo-Sirai personal time. We got all that, and it was too much. This felt like 3 books shoved into one. The backstory takes over the plot and expands the world in a way that doesn’t fit the book.

We could’ve had a quieter, more streamlined plot that dealt with characters we already knew and really examined everyone’s motivations rather than introducing all these new plot lines/crazy explanations/weird tonal shifts/and obvious set up for followup books. The development we got of Minya’s morally-gray character was excellent, so why in the world did we need an extra enemy to deal with?

I’ve seen rave reviews saying “Forget all your expectations, because this book will deliver all of that and so much more.” But to me, that feels, lazy (?) in a way? If your readers couldn’t have possibly known what would be in the second book, that doesn’t mean it was an excellent twist. It means you were missing the foundations and foreshadowing you needed in the first book.