I read this on impulse (due to a mix of the praise it received from the Australian book podcasts I listen to, and the library I work for had it availaI read this on impulse (due to a mix of the praise it received from the Australian book podcasts I listen to, and the library I work for had it available).
I'm not sure why it's heaped with praise, it was okay; not sure why it was compared to To Kill a Mockingbird other than some broad similarities to rural settings, young protagonists, and racial issues. JJ is more of a mystery than TKaM (which is more of a pseudo-memoir wrapped up with a trial). I would reread TKaM in the future, but I don't think I'll ever want to reread JJ.
My main problem with the book is that Jasper Jones is not the focus, nor is he even the narrator. Jasper Jones enters the story as plot device and saunters out again so the main character can tell us about his life and his parents and his friends and his town.
Oh, we need plot again! Bring back Jasper Jones!
I really wish the narrator was Jasper and not Charlie Bucktin. I'm not familiar with the racial tensions of 1960s Australia but, considering this type of story has been written many times before--seemingly always from the POV of a character who isn't the minority in question--this feels like a lost opportunity to explore heretofore unexplored territory. Because it's written from Charlie's POV some characters I wish we heard from more feel muted (like Jeffrey's parents). Jeffrey is more annoying than funny, and we get to hear him far more than I think was necessary, so it's kinda strange that we hardly get any dialogue from his mom or even ANY words spoken by his dad. They feel like dressing to bring home thematic points of the story and not much else.
And don't get me started on Charlie's mom. In fact, I don't think there's any female character who is pleasant or free from being abused in some way (except for Charlie's love interest, because: love interest).
JJ might take place in the 1960s but I wish its approach to... everything! were a little more modern.
I like that it evoked a time and place I know nothing about (1960s Australia) but maybe there are better books out there, from a more diverse POV, that might do the same thing. Any suggestions?...more
Michael McDowell has been on my radar for a while (Beetlejuice and Nightmare Before Christmas writing credits!) but I haven't tried his books yet. SinMichael McDowell has been on my radar for a while (Beetlejuice and Nightmare Before Christmas writing credits!) but I haven't tried his books yet. Since I weirdly believe I should always read someone in order, or at least read their first book first, that's what I did here.
I read this fairly quick and enjoyed it overall. There's a lot of detail to be had about this small southern town and its people so there's no first-time-novel lack of anything, but it is a little overwritten. Maybe repetitious is a better word: something happens and we get people talking about what just happened, and people like to repeat things, and we get the details (wrong or right, cuz gossip) a couple times over. It's fine the first few times when we're learning about the town but it tends to read like filler once the story gets going and you just want the flow to be flow-ier.
And don't get me started on the southern-isms and speech patterns. 'Gone' for going to/gonna gets really hard to read, even, or especially, after the 100th use of it.
Writing quibbles aside, a small southern town full of spiteful unlikable people is evoked here pretty well. The number of likable people is minimal, and one of them is the protagonist. The horror fun here is watching the townspeople kill or be killed because of the titular amulet (think of the Nettie and Wilma in Stephen King's Needful Things, just over and over). The grand guignol ending precedes a bit of a tepid ending concerning our heroine and her awful family---the curtain falls before we get see what happens, so I feel a little shorted on that end.
All in all though, it's a fun little horror jaunt for the patient....more
I read this so I could watch the mini-series adaptation (I can't resist a read-and-watch). I think I enjoyed the book more than the series.
I really caI read this so I could watch the mini-series adaptation (I can't resist a read-and-watch). I think I enjoyed the book more than the series.
I really came to like Aminata (I identified with her book-loving ways) and that really helped when the story took some leaps in time that are sometimes a bit convenient. Only the first chapter deals with her life in Africa before she is stolen by slave traders and I felt it gave short shrift of her childhood and upbringing, not to mention the culture and society she comes from.
The story then takes what is the horrifying but not unusual trek of someone being captured in Africa, enslaved, transported and sold in the U.S. followed by the horrifying but not unusual experiences of a slave in the states. Aminata's life spans decades so I can understand why years (even decades) would pass between chapters but I would have read all the words needed to fill in those gaps. Really I'm just complaining that I would have read much more of this novel if it existed.
Though I have read a few novels dealing with slavery in their own unique ways (ahem, Gone With the Wind vs Beloved), this take on the story was interesting for really humanizing why an American victory for independence was a loss for slaves---something that's obvious on the face of it but let's just say that that perspective is sorely missing from high school history class (or least it was in my day). Due to recent events here in the U.S. I was able to feel just a tiny bit of the impending dread one might have when those who don't have your best interests in mind wins political power.
Even if at times the story feels likes it's ticking off expected beats rather than just telling the story naturally (and maybe one tragedy too many? am I being too naive?) this was a greatly enjoyable read.
A short bit on the adaptation: Again, loved Aminata the character (portrayed by Aunjanue Ellis) but wow was this a different take on the novel. I think it was a little too Hollywoodized, inserting action and events that didn't happen in the book to help spice things up I guess. I also think it didn't dare to be as dark as the novel because there was too much, um, rewriting to make things positive in some ways. It was interesting but if you're never going to read the book I guess it's not a bad 2nd....more
This was a fun graphic novel, detailing a world that existed way before even our ancient civilizations existed. Told through the eyes of one specificThis was a fun graphic novel, detailing a world that existed way before even our ancient civilizations existed. Told through the eyes of one specific person who has traveled the world in search of, well, you'll find out, he tells many stories and hears many stories. We benefit because the stories can be sad, funny, long, short, just a nice variety of different types of stories that tap into the kind of deep mythic storytelling that satisfies like no other.
I'm never good at analyzing the artwork because I never have a problem with any kind of artwork when it's consistent. This is very visually appealing and fun to find the details.
I'm definitely going to read anything Isabel Greenberg creates....more
From all the reviews and blurbs praising Lexicon I thought I'd like this more than I did. I mean, it's about words and the superpowers of controllingFrom all the reviews and blurbs praising Lexicon I thought I'd like this more than I did. I mean, it's about words and the superpowers of controlling people behind them, so how could I not?
The structure is set up to tell parallel stories, one informing the other to eventually become linear. But as mysterious as the mystery is, the "I can't tell you anything/I'm not going to explain everything" thing goes on for far too long for me to sustain the I-have-t0-keep-reading momentum. I got bogged down about 1/3 of the way through, read a chapter or two here and there, then forced myself to finish up because the new year was coming and I like a clean break between the reading "fiscal year" to carry over a book and mess up my numbers (I know, I know).
The ending didn't quite satisfy either. I liked that the expected story turns weren't what they turned out to be so when it ends kind of conventionally, and quickly, I thought the ride came to an abrupt end after so many words about everything else. And a bit confusing considering the words that had worked before didn't work again, so why was that?
Anyway, it was an interesting adventure novel based on the power of the word. I didn't really accept the premise of a "word" being able to affect someone in a certain way (like it does in the novel) until I read one of the between chapter asides where it is pointed out that with certain, say, political hot topics or words, someone who is otherwise level-headed and sane can become a raving madperson spewing vitriol. And that's what made the concept much more real.
Fun, but wish it was more compelling and satisfying....more
It's an extremely fun premise that loses some momentum because the flaw of the titular Fold is easy to figure outWavering between two and three stars.
It's an extremely fun premise that loses some momentum because the flaw of the titular Fold is easy to figure out if you're steeped at all in science fiction tropes. The clues are everywhere and you can see where things are heading pretty easily.
The biggest demerit, though, is that the narrative "punchline" only resonates if you're familiar with a previous book by Cline. It's enough of a head-scratcher to people like me who haven't read that previous book that an afterword was necessary to explain this not so inconsequential bit. Suddenly the weirdly unexplained moments became clear as references, but references to things that apparently are in this other book. Even if it's not a sequel (a "side-quel", the author calls it), I feel annoyed that the explanation of a huge chunk of the story is likely contained in another book.
tl;dr: I would have enjoyed the book a lot more if I knew I first needed the background of a previous book to understand the unexplained stuff....more
I'm writing this review some months after having read the stories, but after looking through them again I remember feeling the same feels I had the fiI'm writing this review some months after having read the stories, but after looking through them again I remember feeling the same feels I had the first time around.
As with other anthologies, I point out the stories that especially captured my attention. Some stories reminded me of an episode of Black Mirror or were interesting premises drawn out way too long, so I didn't like them enough to mention here (but that doesn't mean they were bad!).
Out of 20 stories, the following 8 made my imagination tingle:
A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai'i by Alaya Dawn Johnson Postapocalyptic vampire story that made me feel like I was there (and I'm not really a vampire story kinda guy).
Each to Each by Seanan McGuire The next step in human evolution and colonization doesn't always have to be in outer space---the planet's surface is mostly water, right?
Sleeper by Jo Walton Examines the consequences to history in a future where the personality of historical figures can be simulated and manufactured for the masses.
Windows by Susan Palwick I love generation ship stories and this tells a slice of life of one mother affected by a generation ship.
The Thing About Shapes to Come by Adam-Troy Castro Really fascinating story about babies born as shapes and how their parents, and the world, adjust to this new and surreal reality. (Note: The ending---I usually hate these types of endings, but I was okay with it here for some reason.)
We Are the Cloud by Sam J. Miller Sad story of lonely kid in love (I could see where it was going right away) but with a sci-fi twist, of course. I wish there were more, the ending kind of feels like the beginning of a larger story.
The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever by Daniel H. Wilson A father realizes the fate of the Earth and tries to comfort his daughter. A realistic (I guess?) take on one way the Earth could be wiped out.
How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps by A. Merc Rustad Robots, of course, help shine a light on what it means to be human....more
I read this because my brother said he'd heard, from many people over time, that this was just about the scariest book ever written. I'm happy to sayI read this because my brother said he'd heard, from many people over time, that this was just about the scariest book ever written. I'm happy to say that the rumors of its scariness have been greatly exaggerated.
I think it's utter dreck, and probably dross as well. I have a hard time understanding why this won the World Fantasy Award (which I'm completely unfamiliar with, shame on me) when its competition that year included ANY other books, two of which I did read, and which I remember enjoying much more than this (The Vampire Lestat, The Damnation Game).
Almost from the get go I saw this book as White-Westerner goes to Brown-People Country and gets horrified by everything. And so it went for the ENTIRE length of the book. Everyone who was not white is unpleasant? Yup! (Unless they were the wife or the sexy vixen of a non-character who the White Westerner can ogle). Brown people compared to animals? Yup! Monkey, toad, rabbit... Terribly narrow rendering of an entire city, culture, and religion? Yup! Flip open to any page and you'll have an example. When pretty much every non-western character is dehumanized into repulsive or otherworldly caricatures, you'd have to be willfully naive to say "it's just a setting, it could be anywhere!"
While a couple of "scary" or "creepy" things happen in the book, none of it really ties together very well. While other readers mention the dread or conspiracy they felt permeated the book, all I saw was this bumbling main character acting like how the perfect dunder-headed horror victim should in order for the story to fulfill its purpose. Nothing really makes sense story-wise unless you see it as a narrative necessity in order for the book to be a horror book. The main character's turning point into madness is a wet dream he has about the goddess Kali. Thereafter he's sorta kinda in thrall to her but only to explain his being a jerk to his wife (nevermind that he's a jerk in general). I never got the sense that anything supernatural happened to him, only that he was disturbed so much by this different culture that it made him crazy (like another reviewer points out, similar to Heart of Darkness, which has it's own history of being a literary touchstone of racism and xenophobia).
This book, just, no! Whoever thinks they're getting a cultural lesson about India, please, stop. Whoever thinks this is a good horror book, either I'm not so easily scared or... I don't even know how to finish that sentence. If you're scared by third world countries, brown people, or clumsily vague supernatural conspiracy theories then this is your kind of horror.
I have to admit I was truly horrified by this book, but not in the way it intended....more