Tag Archives: Fiction

Marissa Meyer – Cress (2014)

CressThis novel, the third installment of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, focuses heavily on the character of Cress, a futuristic Rapunzel who appears briefly in Cinder.

We learn that Cress is a shell, a Lunar girl born without powers, but having proven to be adept with technology is saved by one of Queen Levana’s servants and kept in an isolated satellite (much like Rapunzel’s tower). From here she is tasked with tracking and capturing Cinder, but uses the opportunity to have the crew come and save her. As expected, plans go awry and the different characters find themselves stranded in difficult situations.

Cress and Thorne are thrown together and end up lost in the Sahara desert while Cinder, Wolf and Lunar guard Jacin track down Dr. Erland in the North of Africa. The crew try and come up with a way to defeat Levana and intend to disrupt the royal wedding before traveling to Luna to start a rebellion.

We see less of Scarlet in this book as, having been captured by the Lunars is held as a prisoner on Luna. Her story is compelling however as it seems as though the Queen’s mentally unstable step-daughter shows an interest, and kindness to her. This step-daughter, Princess Winter, only appears briefly but probably has a much bigger role to play in the upcoming installment to be released in November.

There is a lot of keep track of in the book, and while I was disappointed when all the romances seem to be heading (I was pulling for Cinder and Thorn although that seems unlikely), I thought that this novel stood out from the previous two. There’s a lot of plot development and Meyer leaves the reading with a great deal to look forward to. It leaves off in an interesting place, and I cant wait to see how she resolves everything.

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Patrick Rothfuss – The Name of The Wind (2007)

NameOfTheWindAside from Game of Thrones, I don’t find that I read that many books that can be classified as Fantasy. I had this recommended to me by a friend though, and while I was a bit unsue at first (Fantasy books tend to be enormous), I’m so glad I read it.

While I tend to think of all Fantasy as being the same, battles with mystical creatures much like Lord of the Rings, etc, Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind proved to be something else entirely. It’s a bit strange actually, nothing really happens in this books, the first installment of a trilogy, and yet I was totally drawn in and compelled to keep reading.

We meet Kote, an innkeeper in a small town and learn that he is the fabled Kingkiller, one responsible for staring the current war, in hiding. He meets a scribe who wants to write down his story so Kote begins to relate his ubringing, the loss of his parents, and then his time spent at the University, which takes up the majority of the book. The University is like Hogwarts but a bit less fantastical. Kote, or Kovothe as he was then known, studies to be an arcanist learning the rules which govern sympathy, which is essentially a very specific type of magic. It’s hard to explain here, but Rothfuss does a good job in the novel. Kvothe’s goal is to learn the name of the wind and thus exercise power over it. Along the way Kvothe makes friends, and enemies, and well as tries to win the heart of Denna, a girl impossible to pin down, while trying to find out what he can about the mythical Chandrian who killed his parents.

The book ends, as I said, without many events occurring or any kind of dramatic climax, but it is clear that Rothfuss is setting the stage for the next two books. I have already started reading the second installment and hoping that there isn’t too long of a wait for the third.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche – Americanah (2013)

americanahI don’t think there are enough words to accurately describe how much I loved this book. I wasn’t familiar with Ngozi Adiche until I heard about this novel and now I cannot wait to read more of her work.

Essentially Americanah tells the story of Ifemelu and Obinze who are young and in love when they leave their home in Nigeria and head west. While Ifemelu ends up in America, Obinze, finding post 9/11 America closed to him, takes up a dangerous life in London as an undocumented immigrant. While the story is about the relationship between these two characters, Ifemelu’s journey is by far the more compelling.

The story of Obinze sheds important light on racism and the danger that undocumented immigrants live in every day, but the plot involving Ifemelu, who is despite her academic success is forced to grapple with what it means to be black, is by far the most important part of this novel.

The title itself refers to Ifelemu’s journey from Nigeria, to the hallowed halls of Princeton, and back. Once back in Nigeria she looks at everything through the eyes of an American leading her friend to call her an Americanah.

Ngozi Adiche grapples with the issues of race, love, and identity in such a brilliant and beautifully written way, grasping the nuance often involved with tackling such issues. As an African Americna female herself, she is probably able to draw on her own experiences to make this novel as rich as it is. I really don’t have much else to say, this was definitely one the best books I’ve read all year.

Louisa Locke – Maids of Misfortune (2009)

MaidsofMisfortuneWhen I bought this, I had originally thought it was a non-fiction book about the lives of domestic maids living in Victorian San Francisco. Instead I found myself reading a, quite sloppy, murder mystery set in Victorian San Francisco. I am all for historical fiction and murder mysteries, but this was just bad historical fiction.

Personally, I consider subtlety to be a marker of good historical fiction. The reader should know where they are in time and space, but should not need constant reminders. Locke however feels the need to constantly remind her readers that they are in San Francisco in the late 1880s by cramming every single stereotype associated with the Victorian period into her work. I will give you some examples:

Annie (the main character) is a clairvoyant and constantly remarks about how her customers as obsessed with the unknown. (The steryotype that everyone in the Victorian era was obsessed with the spiritual realm)

Annie goes to a dance and wear a dress showing her ankles and is therefore mistaken as a prostitute

Annie makes a male character, Nate, blush when she says the words “legs”

Everyone in San Francisco hates the Chinese expect for Nate and Annie because naturally, as the heroes of the story they cannot be racist or sexist.

The plot of this story was not bad. It is a murder mystery and has enough suspense that I wanted to know what happened. It turned into a bit of a romance however (and a messy one at that), and wading through the info-dump of Victorian clichés was a bit more than I could handle. This book is part of a whole series, but I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest anytime soon.

Max Brooks – World War Z (2006)

WorldWarZThis book has been out for a while now, but having never been huge into the Zombie craze, I wasn’t dying to read it. I have always however found the premise interesting and my curiosity brought this book back to my attention. Essentially Max Brooks is inspired by Studs Turkel’s The Good War in writing this book and aims to replicate his style. As The Good War is an oral history of the Second World War, World War Z is an oral history of the Zombie apocalypse.

The story is presented through a series of interviews with various fictional characters about their experiences with the Zombie War. The book takes the reader all around the world, similar to The Good War, but a major theme is that of American isolationism, which is interesting given the climate in which Brooks was writing.

I personally didn’t love this book, but it is a fresh and interesting take on the dystopian future genre. Fans of the Walking Dead or other Zombie themed tv-shows/movies will probably love this book. As I said however, Zombies were never really my thing so it’s hard for me to fangirl about this as much as some other people have.

Wayne Grady – Emancipation Day (2013)

EmancipationDayThis book has been getting a lot of buzz in the past year from Canadian book reviewers, mostly for the style of writing. I will agree that Wayne Grady has written this book in a rhythmic way that evokes the jazz music that appears throughout the story. The music is not the driving force as it is in Half Blood Blues however, but rather belongs in the background, providing ambiance music to set the scene. As much as I enjoyed Grady’s writing, for me the story was about 60% there.

Essentially Grady is telling the story of Jack, an African American boy who is born with white skin. He grows up in Windsor Ontario during the 30s and 40s before the outbreak of the Second World War. During the war, while stationed in Newfoundland Jack meets Vivian and marries her but tries to keep his family a secret. Things get complicated however when the pair travel to Windsor to meet his family and Vivian finds out she is expecting a child.

It’s a good story, but I feel like it either should have been a lot longer, or much shorter focusing in on Jack’s refusal to acknowledge, and even hatred of, his own race. There is so much interesting emotional stuff to dissect with his character which wasn’t really done. There is no real climax or conclusion to the novel, and the characters do not really develop. I still liked the book but I’m not so sure if it deserves all the immense praise it has received.

Rory Gilmore Update Number Five

Doing the Rory Gilmore reading challenge means reading works that are almost impossible to read, or works that you may not have a great deal to write about. So here I have three short reviews of my experiences with books from the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge.

TimeTraveler'sWifeAudrey Niffenegger – The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003)
I read this book in high school at a time when every I knew loved it. I remember parts of it, but I don’t remember being in love with it as much as the rest of my peers were. It’s a pretty typical love story and I had thought that the time travel element would be really cool, but I was wrong. The time traveling was pretty depressing and, spoiler alert, the ending is sad. It was written well, and a good story if you’re into that kind of thing, but tragic modern day romances just aren’t really my thing.

Dan Brown – The Da Vinci Code (2003)DaVinciCode
Oh Dan Brown. I don’t even really want to talk about this book anymore I read it so long ago and there was so much hype surrounding it. It really is an interesting premise and a very suspenseful read, but it is also a work of fiction. All these people who got up in arms over the plot and themes of this book really just need to chill. It’s a murder mystery that uses some historical elements (some very well researched and some totally fabricated) to move the plot forward. Add in an Indiana Jones-esq historian and a sexy sidekick looking for vengeance and of course this book is going to end up on the New York Times Best Seller List.

GobletofFireJ.K Rowling – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000)
Only two Harry Potter Books appear on the Rory Gilmore reading challenge, the first one and this one. Like everyone else in the world I love the Harry Potter series, but this book was not my favourite. It is however, the pivotal book in the series. It is in this book that the story gains an edge and loses some of that whimsical-fantastical-ness and really becomes about the fight between good and evil. While it starts out innocently enough, school is basically cancelled due to a inter-school tournament, at the end Cedric, an innocent bystander dies, and we’re all brought back to Harry’s reality. Life is not all about Quidditch and Butterbeer, Voldemort is now a real threat, not just a part of a ghost story. While books One, Two and Three, are almost standalone books, The Goblet of Fire does not have a neatly packaged conclusion. It is the beginning of the end which will be drawn out over the next three books (and four movies).