Parasite by Mira Grant | Book Review

Rating: 5/10

Format:  Audio-book – Library

I read all three of Mira Grant’s Feed series, which I thought was pretty good and acceptably horrifying for the topic (Zombies). I want it written down that I predicted the “twist” to the Feed books and predicted the “twist,” to this book as well. Honestly, if you gave me this and the Feed books I would have told you she wrote this one first. It just doesn’t feel as sophisticated. I did finish it but I wasn’t thrilled about it.

Our protagonist, Sally, has been in a terrible car accident and has amnesia. Apparently, she used to be an incredibly difficult person. Which is kind of hilarious because Sally is painfully awful now.  She’s a whiny, confusing girl-from-a-box. It’s a lot of what drove me crazy about the first Twilight book– stop putting yourself in danger! You do not know what’s going on! Stop right where you are! So crazy. Anyway, so after her car accident, a company saves her life by installing their magical universal medicine tapeworm.

Yes, you did read that right. The Big Corporation(TM) peddles Magical Universal Medicine Tapeworms. And almost everyone has one in 2027! It is able to cure basically every disease. People don’t get sick anymore! Sadly that’s one of the more believable things that goes down in this book. Also, one of the first scenes in the book involves someone with a PhD handling a cadaver without gloves. UMMMMMMM. All of my higher education was in what people call the “soft” sciences- a label to which I take exception– BUT I did take biology as an undergrad, and spoiler alert: WEAR GLOVES IN THE LAB. Dude.

I probably wouldn’t be this mean about this book if I’d gone in with lower expectations. The Feed books were dark and complex and interesting. This book felt messy and predictable. The protagonist was un-root-for-able and honestly that’s enough for me right there. I won’t throw all of Mira Grant out, but definitely take a pass on the magical tapeworms.

Subjective Rating: 2/5

Objective Rating: 3/5

Advertisements

Northanger Abbey by Nancy Butler | Graphic Novel Review

Rating: 7/10

Format: Ebook – Owned

I really should have known better. As a fluffy Hufflepuff creature, I should love all things Jane Austen. I should love the romance and the English countryside and London society. I love tea and dresses and kissing, so what can I possibly dislike about Jane Austen? Honestly, I have no idea. I just don’t enjoy them. I’ve never enjoyed an Austen book and if I couldn’t enjoy this as a graphic novel, I think it’s time I hung up my hat.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with this story or this book. The art is beautiful, the pacing is great, and even the characters are interesting (sometimes). I just can’t make myself care about what’s happening. I found myself idly turning pages to look at the pictures without reading the words. Then I had to go back and figure out who was being proper with who and whether they were going to take in the air or whatever.

I have no idea why I’m so violently opposed to all things Austen. I read Emma in the 7th or 8th grade– probably in between The Three Musketeers and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I was numbed by it. I kept trying though, I’ve tried a ton of her books over the years. Even Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson couldn’t make me enjoy Sense and Sensibility!

Anyway with that all said, I’m just the wrongest person to give anyone a real review of this piece. I can tell you the art was really nice.

Subjective Hearts:  3/5

Objective Hearts: 4/5

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro | Book Review

Rating: 8/10

Format:  Audio-Book – Library

Kathy’s lovely English boarding school – Hailsham – is exactly how every book has described English boarding schools since my mom used to read Roald Dahl to us. In fact, for the first few chapters, I was beginning to feel like I was missing something. This book is like one of those paintings that the more you look at it the weirder it becomes. Or like when you say a word too many times and it starts sounding like nonsense. Then it broke my tiny heart.

I listened to this book in Switzerland this May (I am wildly behind on my blogging), which was great considering Switzerland is much more like the English countryside than Eastern North Dakota, haha. It’s possible my feeling of immersion into a different world helped me get involved in this admittedly rambling tale. Kathy narrates the story as though she’s explaining it to us. It actually reminded me of being a therapist and having my clients tell me about their childhoods. Some things are important, some things aren’t, and all of it is kind of wistful.

Of course there’s a twist to this tale. This isn’t simply a coming of age story but a story that grapples with some harsh moral questions. Especially questions about who deserves love and how they should receive it. If this wasn’t a grown-up book I might have brought it to my book club as I think we’d have a pretty exciting discussion. If you plan to read it, I suggest not learning anything else about it– it’s better going in fresh.

Subjective Hearts: 4/5

Objective Hearts:  4/5

 

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin | Book Review

Rating: 7/10

Format: Audio-Book – Library

I won’t lie to you, I loves me a book about a sibling group. I don’t know why. There’s just something interesting about that special bond siblings have. I also enjoy a story that spans several decades, which this one definitely does. Beautifully imagined and decidedly elegiac, this is something I can feel good recommending. To some people.

The Gold children go to see a magic woman. She’s supposedly a psychic– they enter one at a time, down to tiny Simon. When they come out, they know their death dates. Some choose to believe it, some can’t. The impact of the woman’s words still echoes through their lives, whether they take her word for it or not.

With this information, the Gold children split off in different directions. We get to see so many amazing places and settings. The magical realism of the magic woman doesn’t cross into the rest of the book, which is decidedly normal. If you’re picking this book up for something fantastical you’ll be sorely disappointed by 3/4 of the siblings’ stories.

The writing is fairly stark, and sometimes jarringly sexual. For a book that’s short on romance, it seems like there’s a lot of sex. Yep, sex and open talk about bodies and genitalia– which is maybe weird in a book about siblings? There’s no incest in the book, just to be clear, but it did strike me as a little off-key.

If you’re interested in character studies, fate vs. choices, or even historical fiction, this might be a good choice for you. If you’re looking for a warm family tale, you’re barking up the wrong tree with Benjamin’s dark and stark tales.

Objective Rating: 4/5

Subjective Rating: 3/5

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid | Book Review

Rating:  8/10

Format: Audio-Book – Library

I certainly haven’t read enough about the modern Middle-East (though this book doesn’t ever say the original location). That’s no question. It’s my lack of depth in this area that leads me to compare this book to the graphic novel Persepolis (which I loved). It’s humbling and fascinating for me to read what life is like in active war zones. It’s further humbling to read about the plight of refugees and the experience of being quite literally lost.

Our protagonists, Nadia and Saeed are compelling and interesting in their own ways. Nadia is fierce and Saeed is sweet. Through violent circumstances– their relationship escalates with forced swiftness. Even as they have each other, they’re still trapped in an incredibly dangerous city with violence on every corner and a regime who doesn’t need a good reason to make you disappear.

Full disclosure, team, I did not realize this book was Magical Realism when I downloaded it haha. Imagine my shock when things started going a little wobbly.  It took me a moment to even realize it was magic, I believed the author so fully. I got really sucked into this book. As refugees, Nadia and Saeed make their way through various destinations. Their relationship is utterly fascinating– you come to realize even when you go through something intense and intimate with someone– it doesn’t make a marriage. Something I wish I’d known earlier in my own life.

I definitely recommend this book, as long as you’re ready for it to get a little magical.

Subjective Hearts: 4/5

Objective Hearts: 4/5

The Ten Trusts by Jane Goodall and Marc Bekoff | Book Review

Rating: 9/10

Format:  Paper book – Owned

I’m a Jane Goodall fangirl. Goodall is just– her compassion, patience, and gentleness with all animals, even people, is so admirable. Often those of use who are veg*  and animal rights activists forget that humans are animals too. We can be so cruel to our fellow humans that they (perhaps rightfully) refuse to listen to us. Goodall just goes in there with radical love and understanding and making the world a better place. Oh yeah, and she’s a brilliant writer and scientist. She’s besties with animals. It’s just. She’s a hero, okay?

I know less about Marc Bekoff, but I enjoyed hearing from him throughout this book, and appreciated having another voice. The collaborative style was fitting for the content.

This was a small, short volume, but I was moved to tears more than once by the authors’ conviction and stories. I truly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest on living on our planet (that’s all of us).

The Ten Trusts:

1. Respect all life

2. Live as part of the Animal Kingdom

3. Educate our children to respect animals

4. Treat animals as you would like to be treated

5. Be a steward

6. Value the sounds of nature and help preserve them

7. Do not harm life in order to learn about it

8. Have the courage of your convictions

9. Act knowing that your actions make a difference

10. Act knowing that you are not alone

 

Three Sides of a Heart: Stories About Love Triangles edited by Natalie C. Parker | Book Review

Rating: 8/10

Format:  Audio-Book – Library

With big-name contributing authors like Roth, Johnston, and Ahdieh, I had high expectations for this volume. I will say I was not disappointed. This is great praise from me, since I hate both short stories and love triangles. I picked this book up because it promised new takes on the love triangle, which was certainly true.

I rarely pick up volumes of short stories. That’s probably because I don’t like them. I want to be sucked in and know everything about characters and their worlds. I love fanfiction, team. I want more of characters I love, not less. Short stories just aren’t a great fit for me. Usually, when I just start warming up to the characters– suddenly the story is over. I find it incredibly jarring. Then I have to go write fanfiction, which, I just don’t have that kind of time, guys.

I’m also a vocal opponent of the consistent mishandling of love triangles. There’s much written on this, if you’re curious to find out more, give it a quick google. Any book that solves a love triangle with a good twist gets major kudos in my book (That Inevitable Victorian Thing by EK Johnston is a great example).

So, with those two huge hurdles in mind, this volume of stories really performed well. I was engrossed in almost all of them. I enjoyed the many scifi settings, the relative diversity of characters and sexualities, and the quality of the storytelling. The vast majority of the stories even did well with their love triangles! There were a few stories that ended without any kind of resolution– which I know is like, a thing in short story writing. It is a thing that I hate. It seems like really enjoying 80% of a movie and then standing up and leaving.

The vast majorities of the stories were interesting, engaging, and creative. I would heartily recommend this volume to someone who does enjoy short stories. If you actually like short stories, this would be an amazing summer read for 2018.

Objective Hearts: 4/5

Subjective Hearts: 4/5