I loved this book for many reasons. First, true confession, because I recently visited Iceland (where I bought the book at Mál og Menning in Reykjavik...moreI loved this book for many reasons. First, true confession, because I recently visited Iceland (where I bought the book at Mál og Menning in Reykjavik) and months after returning I am still enamored with the country. But, second, because the author does a great job developing her characters.
This is a story of three siblings trying to survive in Reykjavik immediately after a zombie outbreak and the four strangers they adopt from an outing to get medical supplies. All the characters have strong personalities—some pretty outrageous, but believable. The interaction between characters is humorous, to say the least. Barbara, the oldest sibling, has been preparing for the zombie apocalypse for years—as has the author apparently. Barbara's father trained her in firearms and other survival skills; their basement is stocked with food and other necessities. Inherent with any zombie tale, the action is nonstop.
In addition to this being a lively, fun story, I appreciated how the author embedded elements of social media, including a playlist (one song for each chapter linkable by a QR code) and one chapter composed entirely of people's Facebook updates about the outbreak. The inclusion of a traditional recipe and many footnotes explaining Icelandic history, customs, and contemporary society will probably appeal only to foreigners—but being an enamored traveler, I enjoyed them.
My main dislike was with the design. At times there is a lack of spacing between paragraphs. And the frequency of typos is high. Nonetheless, these shortcomings didn't distract from the story (and I'm an editor), which is strong in action and character.
I hate that I will never again read The Tale of Murasaki for the first time. Liza Dalby's story transcended time. While I was between these pages I fe...moreI hate that I will never again read The Tale of Murasaki for the first time. Liza Dalby's story transcended time. While I was between these pages I felt I was looking through a window into 11th century Japan. That's a precious talent with precious results: how the main character, Murasaki, and I share some of the same concerns and angst—even across time we are not alone in our fears. And while some reviewers criticized the book's slow pace, I didn't mind. I felt the pacing reflected the languishing nature of Murasaki. I was also drawn to Murasaki's reverence for nature—how she was always noticing—and the period's use of poetry. (What would our world be like today if we sometimes communicated with others using poetry?)(less)
World War Z tells the history of the worldwide zombie war through a series of interviews. Millions of zombies are still roaming the earth, being syste...moreWorld War Z tells the history of the worldwide zombie war through a series of interviews. Millions of zombies are still roaming the earth, being systematically eradicated, when the interviewer travels the globe collecting people's stories. What a clever approach, allowing multiple viewpoints and perspectives, from a Chinese doctor who told of the supposed origins of the zombies in China to soldiers describing the ineptitude of the military's initial response to many tales of corrupt politicians and businessmen. At times the narrative felt like thinly veiled politicizing about the current situation in the Middle East, the greediness of pharmaceutical companies, the ineptitude of government bureaucracy, the harm of empty rhetoric. The obviousness of this commentary in places felt tedious. But overall the author cleverly told his story, even down to his fabricated author bio.(less)
What a wonderful story about the business of living. That sadness, grieving, despair cannot be wished away. That nature holds us to certain truths: on...moreWhat a wonderful story about the business of living. That sadness, grieving, despair cannot be wished away. That nature holds us to certain truths: one being that to live is to feel, deeply, sometimes painfully, sometimes joyfully. It is foolish to think you can will the difficult parts of life away, but within the difficulties is the source of strength.
My thoughts make it sound like The Secret Life of Bees is a self-help book. No. It's just a really good story about the wisdom that can be gained from others. The author's writing ability also does much for the oft-quoted, but oft-unexecuted, admonition that a writer should show, not tell. Her words bring poetry to this tale and help readers to walk alongside the characters.(less)