I’ve done a spot of reading this week.
Another Little Piece, by Kate Quinn.
HarperTeen, 2013, 419 pgs.
I grabbed this one from the library (actually, not so literally – it was an eread) because I liked the premise: girl goes missing, girl gets found stumbling out of woods thousands of miles from home, girl swears she’s not the girl…but isn’t sure how she knows or who that means she is. Unfortunately, the feel of the book was Contrived. The voices of the small-towners that found Annaliese, the family that picks her up, everything surrounding our protag. And that would have been cool if the point (a la Girl with All the Gifts) was to first break it all and then build it up again. I just never felt like we got to authentic world-building. I didn’t care. Maybe this is just a teen-audience story that couldn’t make the crossover, but I found it lacking. Teens that like the survivalist/strong fem lead thing going on could really enjoy it, though. 2 of 5 stars.
A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing, by Eimear McBride.
Galley Beggar Press, 2013, 227 pgs.
This has been on my to-read list forever, so I was rather excited to snatch it from the shelves at our local library. It must get good numbers because a) I haven’t seen it there before and b) it was still with the New Releases section. Then I started reading it and I was even more amazed; I hadn’t realized the prose was stream-of-consciousness – like, heavy stream-of-consciousness, William Faulkner stream-of-consciousness. And people are still reading the shit out of that? Good for them! Once I found the rhythm of our protag’s narrative (not an easy thing), I found myself really digging it. Yeah, it could have been easier and it’s not going to be everyone’s thing. I wasn’t even sure as I was reading it that it was my thing. But the story of her broken childhood and how she attempts to bandage it together in her mind (she didn’t; she just let the glass rattle around in the drawer scraping up whatever it would) was kind of mesmerizing in a “Hunh. Holy shit.” kind of way. Glad I borrowed instead of bought, but a solid 3 1/2 of 5 stars.
1222, by Anne Holt.
Scribner (but it was translated, so…?), 2011 (first pubbed in 2007), 336 pgs.
This was not the Agatha Christie I wanted it to be. Which was disappointing because it said right there on the jacket blurbs that it was much the same. Group of travelers get into a bit of a train wreck, a blizzard descends, they’re all marooned in a chalet. There’s even a curmudgeonly detective to play Marple/Poirot. Alas. The cast of characters was too odd, and maybe it was the translation, but everyone felt off. Like the audio and video weren’t synced. The plot and pace and ideas behind the mystery were fine, it was mostly a disconnect on the execution for this reader. 2 of 5 stars.
Where Women Are Kings, by Christie Watson.
Quercus Books, 2013, 432 pgs.
This was my favorite book of the week. A woman and her husband, fresh off the pain of the stillbirth of their child, decide to adopt Elijah, a Nigerian boy whose mother abandoned him after her own devastating loss…but not until after she convinced Elijah that he was bad juju because of a terrible wizard who possessed him. The book bothered me in its single-stance portrayal of adoption – that issue is large and complex and could have been drawn as such here. I liked that Watson paid a bit of attention to the fact that Elijah’s adoptive parents were mixed-race, but, again, more time and shadowing should have been given to it. I felt incredibly connected to the characters and I liked getting Elijah’s birth mom’s story from her own voice, and I loved letting Elijah tell part of his own story. It wasn’t for lack of heft that the story felt plottier and less in everyone’s heads than it could have. I loved Obi’s Nigerian father and the way he cared for his grandson. Nikki’s sister, however, felt like a caricature and I could have done without her and her daughter. A flawed execution of a good story, but I liked puzzling and stewing over the constructs of this one much better than those other half-baked books I read this week. 3 of 5 stars.
So there you have it! A small peek into a few of the books that have been flying off my shelves. I have another half dozen or so I could have added – there was no napping for me this week, and so a lot got read – but let’s not try to get too caught up, shall we?