So God's an irresponsible teenage layabout named Bob, and unfortunately for all of Earth, he's fallen headfirst into a combo of lust & love for yo...moreSo God's an irresponsible teenage layabout named Bob, and unfortunately for all of Earth, he's fallen headfirst into a combo of lust & love for young zookeeper named Lucy. Chaos ensues.
The premise sounds full of landmines of unenjoyability, but Meg Rosoff's earned my trust with two other books, How I Live Now and Picture Me Gone. This comic romp is a very different story, something that Vonnegut or Adams might appreciate, but it's also quite thoughtful about issues of faith, mortality, and the relationship between humans and God. There's even a strand of sweetness, particularly anytime Eck (a penguin-esque creature, the last of his kind, and under extreme threat of being eaten very shortly) was on page and ruminating about death and life. There is approximately zero theological coherence, and I wasn't happy with the way some of the story strands turned out, but overall, it was an interesting read.(less)
Enjoyable mostly because I loved reading about life downstairs. I watched some episodes of You Rang, M'Lord? a few months ago, and I was reminded of t...moreEnjoyable mostly because I loved reading about life downstairs. I watched some episodes of You Rang, M'Lord? a few months ago, and I was reminded of that while reading about Dandy's cluelessness whilst undercover as a lady's maid.
I skipped the third and fourth books in this series (the third kept putting me to sleep, and I avoided the fourth because I can't stand circuses), but as far as I can tell, this fifth book is an odd duck in comparison because it's actually fast-paced! The previous books were slower than molasses. Perhaps correspondingly, the prose wasn't as consistently sharp as in the previous books. I also don't know if this would be a good place to the start in the series, because Dandy going undercover means her actual character and life aren't depicted.
The mystery itself was engaging for the majority of the book. Dandy is employed by the lady of the household, whose husband is engaging in gaslighting and planning to murder her. On Dandy's first night on the job, however, someone else is murdered while she and her client safely sleep, and while a strike hampers official investigations, Dandy is drafted to assist--all while maintaining her cover as a shouldn't-be-so-nosy lady's maid. There are interesting complications--a baffling last will and testament chief among them--and I was reading with great interest, enjoying various twists and mental puzzles, until the resolution hit. Some suspension of disbelief was required on my part to swallow it. (view spoiler)[Is hypnosis something I'm expected to belief in? Not just hypnosis, but to that extent? REALLY? (hide spoiler)]
So. The book had its flaws and I probably wouldn't recommend it indiscriminately, but it was still an enjoyable reading experience for me on balance.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is one of those books where I struggle to judge it on its own merits. It's a good enough book, but not only is it not Code Name Verity and not tr...moreThis is one of those books where I struggle to judge it on its own merits. It's a good enough book, but not only is it not Code Name Verity and not trying to be Code Name Verity, it also has a lot of glaring weaknesses and not really a book I'd recommend to non-YA readers (whereas Code Name Verity, I shove at everyone). I mean, ffs, the character's name is Rose Justice, and she's a plucky American teenage pilot/poet who naively doesn't know what she's getting into when she signs up to ferry planes in England. It's a bit too on-the-nose and I'm-a-stand-in-for-modern-privileged-readers for me. The majority of the book is a straightforward story about a concentration camp, and I think memoirs and non-fiction are far stronger reading experiences than this was.
The book's focus on the Ravensbrück Rabbits, 74 Polish women brought to the camp as political prisoners and subjected to terrifyingly inhumane experiments on their legs, was one of its strengths, even if it the story was filtered through Rose. The book actively acknowledged this problem, the problems of telling someone else's story, and how telling your own story can be a hard enough challenge, and how these things are intertwined. There are also a lot of complications about the narrative of survival and the fetishized survivorhood narrative and how that's just not how it is or how it feels and how survivors struggle against it and with it, and these were areas where the book excelled.(less)
"The military officially ran the town in one way, and our husbands in practice ran the town in some ways, and we ran the town clandestinely in others."
I love the headspace that the use of first-person plural requires me to inhabit: the continuous shifting of stories and perspectives, the complicated pushback between individual and community, and a subtle undercurrent of fate and destiny suggested by how many disparate paths converge, momentarily, into one before diverging again. I enjoyed the gorgeous use of first-person plural in Julie Otsuka's The Buddha in the Attic, so when I heard about the use of the same style in this book, I was totally game. Proooobably shouldn't have tried to hold up any other book to the high standards of Otsuka's prose. Nesbit's prose was clunky in comparison, and even if the style wasn't always executed gracefully, I still thought she mostly justified the POV choice she made.
This book is about, and narrated by, the wives of scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, and at the start of the book, I was eagerly consuming all the details, mundane and extraordinary, about life in Los Alamos. The vignettes were sometimes too heavy-handed, and sometimes repetitive and dull. I greatly preferred the end of the book when the ethical aspects and ethical legacy were grappled with, and that's when the book really had power.(less)
I'll get this out of the way first: the burry man is a real thing and, to my eyes, looks terrifying.
This was a slow-moving mystery, but the atmosphere...moreI'll get this out of the way first: the burry man is a real thing and, to my eyes, looks terrifying.
This was a slow-moving mystery, but the atmosphere was a delectable mix of spooky (pagan traditions, talk of ghosts in gloomy woods), sad (family feuds, the legacy of destroying an entire generation in WWI), and funny (Dandy, who clearly prefers dogs to children, is charged with judging a Bonniest Baby competition, and she--despite her friends very clearly instructing her to simply choose the plumpest baby there--forgets and instead picks a scrawny newborn, much to the dismay of the locals). I missed the meditations on crime-solving that the first book of the series featured, but I appreciated that Dandy was very level-headed about truth-seeking--particularly in comparing it to justice-seeking.(less)
A dark page-turner, but the ending was a letdown. Like the ending to The Mirage, it worked and seemed inevitable enough and I couldn't read fast enoug...moreA dark page-turner, but the ending was a letdown. Like the ending to The Mirage, it worked and seemed inevitable enough and I couldn't read fast enough, but it did nothing for me on an emotional level.(less)
Condescending about disability, and the hero's a jerk to the heroine for most of the book. I really, really, really loved the heroine Tessa's interact...moreCondescending about disability, and the hero's a jerk to the heroine for most of the book. I really, really, really loved the heroine Tessa's interactions with Oscar and Anthea, though, and would have loved this as a coming-of-age and opera-awesomeness tale, had the romance not been dreadful.(less)
"A secret is always accompanied by more or less of fear, and produces more or less of cowardice. But it can no more be avoided than a sore on the flesh or a broken bone. Who would not go about, with all his affairs such as the world might know, if it were possible? But there come gangrenes in the heart, or perhaps in the pocket. Wounds come, undeserved wounds, as those did to you, my darling; but wounds which may not be laid bare to all eyes. Who has a secret because he chooses it?"
This book circles around some of the familiar themes and set-pieces of the Chronicles of Barsetshire, but for the enjoyable length of a short novel. Neither the plot nor the characters are particularly complex, but I enjoyed most of all the happily argumentative, stubbornly moral Dr. Wortle. He nearly combusts from exposure to such hypocrisy and the trial-by-gossip/newspaper, but he does so on his own terms, even calling out his wife for being judgmental in the sake of protecting herself from scrutiny: "Sin! I despise the fear of sin which makes us think that its contact will soil us." He also stunned her into silence by stating, in nearly hair-pulling frustration, that "[i]t is often a question to me whether the religion of the world is not more odious than its want of religion."
For such a short book, there too many passages too tedious for me, and as sympathetic as I was, it was hard for me as a modern reader to care so much about Victorian pearl-clutching. The romance in this book, between Dr. Wortle's upright daughter and a young man he tutors, was pleasing (I really like Trollope's romances, okay), but extremely underdeveloped and mostly untethered to the rest of the plot.(less)