Saturday, March 19, 2011

Project 50 Restart: February

Mockingjay by Susanne Collins
I didn’t like the other books in this series, but I REALLY didn’t like this one. It’s hard to get behind a heroine who always makes the wrong moral choice. Katniss and Gale fight to lead the resistance and Peeta is supposed to have been brainwashed by the Capitol to hate Katniss with a murderous passion. I just didn’t buy any of it. The ending was the worst, with key people dying indiscriminately, and then after all the horrors, “love conquers all” and they live fairly happily ever after. Honestly, it was weak as a story before this book, but Mockingjay was proper pitiful. D-

Dubliners by James Joyce
God, it’s good to read something literary for a change. I’d been reading such simple YA fiction for so long that it took me a while to get my brain used to the language and keep on the look out for metaphors. Dubliners is a collectipon of short stories (set in Dublin, of course) so it’s easy to pick up, read one, and get a whole narrative in 20 minutes. What I love about Dubliners is it’s romantic but depressing reality. None of the characters really end up getting what they hope for and the stories end with this delicious post-modern sadness that makes you feel like you’ve read something that matters instead of “good fun.” A-

Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
This is the first Holmes story which was a big hit for ACD after he sold the rights to the only publisher who would take it. It stirs something expectant inside to read about Holmes and Watson’s first meeting, knowing the volumes of stories that come after. I’m beginning to see the pattern in these novels, where Holmes solves the story with apparently little proof, then we get the backstory, in this case, set in the American West, that gives all the evidence. I liked this one better than Valley of Death. B+

Vox by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
This is not a book in the series that you can pick up without having read the previous book, “The Last of the Sky Pirates.” Ook Barkwater manages to return to Sanctaphrax, having been captured as a slave. He finds a number of bizarre shady characters in service to Vor Verlix, the once powerful most High Academe, driven mad with revenge for the goblins, shrykes, and Guardians of Night who drove him to his pitiable state. The Librarian Knights hatch a plan to escape their hiding pace in the sewer, which gives a chapter or two of intense action, but overall, I felt like the book was lacking structure as a whole story and leaning too much on the reader’s previous experience with the Edge Chronicles Series. C+

The Stealers of Dreams by Steve Lyons
This doctor Who novel features the Ninth Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack Harkness. The author really captures Nine’s personality to a T. I can see Christopher Eccleston’s performance throughout the whole book. The trio land on a planet with a number for a name and a police force that institutionalizes purveyors of fiction. Writing groups operate in secret because stories are considered highly dangerous. Those who indulge eventually go “fantasy crazy” and lose touch with reality. The book is expertly crafted with a plot twist at the end that I totally didn’t see coming. Fantastic! A-