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So…about those books I’ve been reading

December 17, 2008

I was going to do a Manga Wrap-Up first, but I realized I still haven’t gotten to that Ark Angels book that’s upstairs, so I guess I’ll just catch up as much as possible on my non-manga reading list.

I read…eleven books since the last Week in Books. So much for that “week” thing, huh? Ah well. I like splitting the manga up from everything else.

La la la…I started with the last book in Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies “trilogy,” Extras.  (It’s the 4th book.)  The entire idea behind this book is “Let’s fast-forward a couple years after the trilogy, and let’s set it in Japan.  Kids’ll go crazy for it.”  Well, yeah.  Westerfeld, as always, does a good job of spinning the present and the future into good yarns that don’t preach too much and keep most of the ideas original and clever.  Post-rebellion, everyone’s trying to figure out what to do to re-implement a system of money/rewards/etc, and Japan decides to tie it to the idea of “face”–that is, saving face, losing face, or, in this case, gaining face exposure by becoming as popular as you can.  The story follows Ugly Aya as she tries to figure out how to be popular.  Looks like this new world isn’t much different from the old one, huh?  Well, that’s sort of the point.  Aya, already wobbling in a changing world, doesn’t know whether to grab on to the new system, wish for the old to come back, or go for something new.  Her discovery of self is just as important to the reader as society’s struggle to reidentify after its old system came crashing down.  Another winner of a YA book for younger teens/struggling readers/anyone who likes books.

Next I read Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book.  This is some seriously creepy stuff, y’all.  The first scene is a triple murder where the only one left is a hunted toddler who, not knowing what’s been going around him with the death and all, wanders into a graveyard and comes under the protection of the ghosts who reside there.  Gaiman has decided to bring back the horrifyingly scary children’s story, and yeah, it works.  I was decidedly creeped out.  Then it’s all creepy in other ways, and the kid, Nobody, grows up to have other scary adventures, including a fight against his family’s killers of course.  Thumbs up, and then hidden behind my back in case someone tries to cut it off.

Hm, then I read Leaving Fishers by Margaret Peterson Haddix, who writes awesome awesome books.  (I swear, all eleven of these books are winners, guys, unlike my current read, Black Dossier, which is making me dislike Alan Moore even more than I did after I tried to get through the pornfic he wrote with his wife.)  Leaving Fishers is about a girl who moves to a new town and feels horribly out of place–and attracts the attention of the local weird religious group, which may or may not be a cult.  I was pretty fascinated by this, what with the whole born-again Christian thing factoring in.  There was so much legit going on at first, you just find yourself nodding along, and then, BOOM.  You don’t know who to blame, if anyone at all.  Haddix does a great job, especially with the ending.  Definitely a read for every kid, like ever.  Why isn’t this being taught in schools?  The cult’s too Christian, maybe?

Then I read The Other Boleyn Girl for the book club I help run.   It helped that I was really sick and fairly ignorant of that time in history other than “Anne Boleyn is beheaded (SPOILER!!!!) and Henry VIII also married a chick with the same name as the Dr. Quinn lady,” but I read it in, like, two sittings and loved it.  I fully intend on getting from the library 1) the movie and 2) the next book.  Can’t wait to post the thread on our book club where we talk about inaccuracies.  Oh, how people will complain.  It will be beautiful.

After that, I picked up Paper Towns by John Green because he’s never let me down before and also because the girl on the cover is so beautiful that you have to read it.  You can’t ignore her.  That’s pretty much the point of the girls in John Green books.  On one hand, I want to hate him because I loathe that whole “special girls walk on water and we boys must worship them” bs and yet I know–I KNOW–teenage boys do that all the time.  And of course I know I hate this because there have always been those girls, oh so damaged and broken and gosh, can’t you just FIX them, they are the specialest of snowflakes, blah blah blah, and they play to that, and teenaged girls like my former self, who are just trying to be themselves–as soon as they figure that out–are like “Wait, what does she have, besides every single bit of your attention?”  But ultimately, I place the blame on the guys who are dumb enough to fall for it or, worse, think it even when the girl isn’t playing to it, so ultimately, the guys in John Green books bug me.  But I like them anyway, because I think, “They’ll get over this and grow the hell up one day, and they will look back and be like ‘What was I thinking?  She farted/pooped/peed/bled/was just like everyone else.'”  Green doesn’t write STUPID boys, so I have faith in them.  And I keep reading them.  And I like the books a lot, especially this one.  Er, which, by the way, is about a girl who disappears and her crush is trying to find her.

Next I read Soulbound, which I briefly mentioned and will not talk about now in hopes that I’ll get to that recap one day.  One day in the next year.  2009 is going to be the year of the snarked romance, I tell you.

Then I read a bunch of manga I’m not telling you about yet, followed by one of the few Minx books I have left to read before they give me nothing else anymore: Burnout.  This quick tale by Rebecca Donner, is about a girl who is trying to adjust to a truly crappy new family situation, and makes the best of it by macking on her step-brother-type guy.  Aww, I make it sound more shallow than it is.  It’s also about, uh, the plight of the environment and the loggers who make their money off of its destruction, and choosing between what’s right and what you want etc etc etc.  It’s not my favorite Minx book, I figure, but I enjoyed it more than some of the other titles.

After that was another Joann Sfar book, The Rabbi’s Cat.  Fun, fun work about a cat that gains the ability to talk and how through this his owner, a rabbi, begins to test his faith.  Oh hey, there’s a second book.  Thanks, Amazon!  Definitely want to pick this up.  I am loving on Sfar so much.

Argh, it’s getting late but I don’t have too much left to get through!

I read Holly Black’s The Good Neighbors: Kin, which is okay but nothing I haven’t read before (that Mike Carey work, I think, or something else), and the one guy looks so much like an older David Bowie that I was completely distracted.  I think I might be too old for it.  Like Francesca Lia Block.  But it wasn’t BAD.  I also had the feeling I’d read it before, which made me look up Black’s other work, but it didn’t seem to be an adaption.  I don’t know.  I think other people would enjoy this more.  People who like faeries and aren’t sick of Tori Amos.

Next I read Cycler by Lauren McLaughlin.  I would just like to point out that Scott Westerfeld interviews McLaughlin here, and immediately makes a grammatical error, which upsets me.  All I could think was, I’m glad I’m not his editor.  I didn’t read the whole article, but it seems like the kind of thing you’d want to read after the book, just in case.  (I’m running out of time here before I conk out; I’ll probably read it tomorrow.)  Quick overview of Cycler: Jill turns into a boy four days a month.  At first, it’s just her with boyparts, but then she and her mother come up with the idea of meditating all “his” experiences away, and ends up forming this split personality, Jack.  This is a fascinating YA read, all about gender and sexuality without being heavy-handed.  And kinda sexy, go figure.  I loved this, can’t wait for the next one, although it makes me sad that there’s a next one because I’m over the whole sequel thing.  Still, I realize there’s too much story here for one book.  I’m hoping it doesn’t turn into a series though.

FINALLY, I read Persepolis 2 which, taking place mainly outside the politics of Iran, was much easier for my European historied brain than Persepolis 1.  In this book, Marjane is sent to Vienna by her parents, and stays there until the war is over, whereupon she returns to Iran, a citizen of nowhere.  I think that in general, people never feel like they fit anywhere, but when everyone around you is saying the same thing?  That really sucks.  Okay, I’ve hit the wall, guys.  I cannot finish this with any real coherence.  I’ve gotta get some sleep.  If you haven’t read Persepolis, you should, because it’s one of those things you should read.  If you have and you haven’t read Persepolis 2, time to go pick it up.  We good?  Good.  I’m going to bed.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. trappedintheattic permalink
    December 19, 2008 1:19 pm

    I’m reading “The Constant Princess” right now, which is Gregory’s take on Katherine of Aragon, so that’s exciting! She has a new one out about Mary, Queen of Scots that I really hope I’m getting for Christmas. God, I love her stuff. I KNOW it’s inaccurate…but there are NON FICTION books for accuracy!

  2. bookslide permalink*
    December 19, 2008 4:03 pm

    Darn right. Like I said on the book club, unless Anne & Henry went off into the sunset together, I’m there.


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