What I've Read So Far: January-May, 2018
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - 4/5 Stars
Now I know what all the hubub about TFIOS is about. Sure the hype is well deserved, but had I read this at a different time, I would have raved about it. But I am old AF and I think I am a little less dazzled by young love of this kind. The story is pretty basic and so are the characters.For me, it is the dialogue that stands out. John Green is a superb wordsmith. He can string a lot of quotable quotes that stirs all the right bits in your heart.
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer - 4/5 Stars
Weird ass book, this. And I loved it. It's ooky, kooky, icky, and all other sorts of oky! It's like an Amazon Jungle Twilight Zone thing. More than the mystery, I love how the protagonist (The Biologist) is written. It is largely very character driven, and I felt all of her frustrations and sadness and grief and curiosity. I think, I'll take a bit of a breather though before taking on book 2, Authority. Because Area X can be really suffocating.
The Ballad of Black of Tom by Victor Lavalle - 4/5 Stars
I was suprised by this tiny little book, inspired by “The Horror at Red Hook", H.P. Lovecraft's extremely racist story. One among the many, or so I'm told. Now I have a close to non-existent knowledge of H.P. Lovecraft, let alone The Horror at Red Hook but it did not, in any way, affect my enjoyment of the tale. It is a straight up,well written, engaging fantasy horror story that talks about how shitty it is to live amidst discrimination. How hard it is to be decent and to just do life when the society you are living in treats you like crap because of your race. This was set in the 1920s, but it still reflects modern day racial injustices. And oh, it has some awesome magic and monsters in it too.
White Teeth by Zadie Smith - 5/5 Stars
This too surprised me. Judging by how thick this book is, I was expecting it'll take me ages to finish. And historical novels aren't always my jam. But I breezed my way through White Teeth in no time at all. The story encompasses more than one family history, and how each of these family histories soon intertwine. There is something grand and sprawling about this tale, but somehow it is also very personal and intimate. And there is a degree of the ridiculous in White Teeth, which make me love it all the more. Also, I am in love with Zadie Smith's writing. She is funny and blunt and poetic, all at once.
Manila Noir edited by Jessica Hagedorn - 4/5 Stars
Manila Noir is a bit of a hodgepodge of good and okay stories. I enjoyed some but not others. But overall, it is a solid collection that captured the grit and grime of Manila, and does justice to the "noir" genre. Satan Has Already Bought U by Lourd de Veyra, Trese: Thirteen Stations by Budjette Tan & Kajo Baldisimo, and Jose Dalisay’s “The Professor’s Wife, and Batacan’s “Comforter of the Afflicted, are among those that made an impression to me. Although the other stories too, left a lot of gruesome imagery in my head in true noir style.
Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast - 4/5 Stars
An uncomfortable read. And I mean that in the best possible way. It is a testament to Roz Chast's ability to be completely vulnerable and honest about her contentious relationship with her parents that dates way back childhood and continous up until the end. She talks about the complicated and terrifying nature of aging and sickness and death that all parent and child woul have to go through. Her drawings, of the quivery and scratchy type, brings out Roz Chast's anxiety to the forefront. And her humor undercuts the grief and pain of her life story. It is a wonderful piece of graphic fiction.
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell - 5/5 Stars
Okay. The Bone Clocks has plenty of issues. It is the most expositiony of all of Mitchell's works, and there are clunky parts where I felt a disconnect. But once again, I am bawled over by the sheer ambition of a novel of this scale. And because Mitchell's stories are very entertaining and this one is particularly gripping and INSANE. Yep, that's ALL CAPS INSANE to you. Like more insane than his usual brand of insanity. And being a legit David Mitchell fangirl (quick shout out to the DM girls: Lynai, Meliza, Gwaxa, Joy, and newbies Inga Cary!) The Bone Clocks felt like a tribute of sorts to all of his past works. It feels like an amalgamation of all the books that came before this. So expect old character cameos and stuff. And for a fan like me, it was a pleasure spotting familiar names. Overall, I don't think I have come across a David Mitchell book that didn't impress and satisfy me. So yeah, The Bone Clocks is awesome sauce in my book.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - 5/5 Stars
I've read a handful of post apocalyptic fiction in my time, but what makes Station Eleven standout is that it is largely about the love of the arts amidst a post apocalyptic world where you would think that the arts would have already become obsolete, a frivolity that no one would care for because everybody is busy surviving. But clearly survival is insufficient, to quote from the book. The story talks about the life of an actor, about passion for theater, about the ups and downs of being a performer. And I also love that is tackles the absence and presence of things. Because you really will never know what you've got until it's gone, or until the world turns into a wasteland and plumbing and electricity are a thing of the past. Station Eleven is a beautiful and haunting book, and I really didn't expect it to be this comtemplative and intimate. I loved it to pieces.
So far, that's all I've managed to read from th beginning of the year. And from my very achievable goal to read at least 10 physical books I already have on my shelf, I managed to do 6 from among the 8 I have above. With TFIOS, I did ebook and for Station Eleven I listened to Mommy L's audiobook (supplemented by an ebook copy).
So yeah, so far so good!
If you've read any of these, do talk to me about it in the comments section below! Any thoughts on the Annihilation movie perhaps? (I haven't seen it BTW) And I hear somebody in Hollywood bought the rights to Station Eleven so color me excited.