06 February 2011

Novel novels: January 2011

1. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

3 stars

I get the feeling that this book is some sort of lesbian pulp classic, and all I can say is thank fucking hell we got beyond this point. Or maybe it's a literary style that is still alive and well and I'm just ... missing out. Whatever.

The point is, if you want to read some tortured self-flagellation that's kind of like a cross between Lolita and The Women's Room, this is an excellent choice.

And yet, it managed to get 3 stars. Wtf. Well, if there was ever proof that my starring system kind of sucks major ass, this is it.

2. Spook Country by William Gibson

4 stars

I got Zero History from the library, started to read it and realized there was another Gibson in between Pattern Recognition and Zero History that it appeared I had not read. That would be Spook Country, which I just happened to have in my personal collection, but had not yet read. Bra-fucking-vo, self.

Now, I am a major William Gibson fan-girl. I heart Cayce Pollard so hard that I used an l33t speak version of her name as a password for a while. Spook Country does not disappoint (although Hollis seemed very much like Cayce to me).

PR seemed a little further in the future than SC did, which I can't imagine is purposeful since SC obviously occurs at least several in-world years after PR. I think the sense of contemporary-ness I got from SC came from multiple time-specific pop culture references, which may or may not have been present in PR, but I don't remember them, if they were.

Anyway, SC has a multiple-perspective storyline, lots of techporn, mystery/intrigue/late unveiling of plot points and descriptions of what characters are wearing in pretty much every scene. Basically everything I love about William Gibson.

3. Zero History by William Gibson

4 stars

More Hollis, more Milgrim, more Bigend.

Maybe I'm being uncharitable here, but I was hoping for more development from Hollis than a love story. Yawn. Don't get me wrong, I like the story, but I wanted more.

I enjoyed the metamorphosis of Milgrim, from one-talent druggie to a more independent, self-aware and gifted person.

My favourite part of this book, I think, was the (albeit slight) vulnerability of Bigend. His role in the books up until now has been this sort of omnipotent, nearly omniscient force of nature, and that image gets disturbed a little bit in ZH. I'm really looking forward to the next book, to see what happens with Bigend.

4. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

3.5 stars

I'm trying to cut down on the number of books I have in my library queue, because I'm having trouble reading them all before they have to go back. Especially the books, like Incarceron, that have waiting lists as long as my arm. No, I have no problem reading a book in the three-week loan period. I do, however, have problems reading a dozen books during that time, especially if I want to do something else besides go to work and read.

I've been trying to cut out (or at least cut down on) young-adult books, but the three I read this month were ones whose queues I had been on forever, and I couldn't really pass them up when my turn came.

Anyway, I'm really glad I read Incarceron, for the pure steampunk joy of it. The serendipitous fairytale-ness kind of bothered me, but it's not like I can expect better from a YA in all good conscience.

5. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

4 stars

I am thrilled that this is a series, because I can't wait to read more from Reeve. Thoroughly detailed alternate-history dystopia and artful steampunk *squee*

I loved being pleasantly surprised when (what I thought was) some sort of overblown foreshadowing would happen ... and was then followed by something that was totally contrary to the foreshadowing.

So maybe what I'm trying to say is that the plot was melodramatic, but managed to not be completely transparent. Something.

Whatever, newseriessqueelove!

6. The Unincorporated War by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin

3.5 stars, trigger warning for compromised consent

How I end up feeling about this book will probably depend on what happens in the next one. I want to see how they tie up various plot lines, et cetera, before I decide if the Kollin brothers are amazing or if I want to punch them in the face.

The two major lines being Neela and the religion thing.

[spoiler?] I kind of like that it seems Neela has passed the point of no return. Is there any way she can be rescued after this and have the story retain its credibility? I don't really think so, so if she magically ends up being okay in the third book, the Kollin brothers are going to have to work really fucking hard to make that look plausible and not like a fucking cop-out. [/spoiler]

I seriously admire authors who take their main characters past the point of no return. Points for balls and realism. Shit happens in real life, so shit needs to happen in books.

Did I mention that dystopia is basically my favourite genre? No? Well, now you know. Moving on ...

Ditto the religion thing. [spoiler] If it turns out that religion is going to save the world, and all this society needs is religion to Make Everything All Better, I am going to be some serious kinds of fucking pissed. Because although it's good that this new version of religion is being less pushy about their specific beliefs, they still think that it's okay to judge people if they don't have any sort of faith. Although an improvement, it's not my idea of perfect. [/spoiler]

7. Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

3.5 stars

My third YA steampunk novel for the month, but I hadn't tired of it yet. Perhaps that's the ticket? Steampunk versus paranormal romance?

BlahblahblahIheartScottWesterfeldandsteampunkandbiopunk. There's not really much else to say.

Scoring system is as follows:
1 star = hated
1.5 stars = didn't enjoy, but didn't hate
2 stars = didn't enjoy particularly
2.5 stars = enjoyed somewhat
3 stars = enjoyed, but might not read again
3.5 stars = would probably read again
4 stars = would like to own a copy
4.5 stars = would like to own a copy, and would probably read occasionally
5 stars = would like to own a copy, and would probably read often

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