Sometimes I read things that aren't fanfiction, and in 2021 I'm trying to do better at this. Here are my totally unsolicited opinions on the books I'm reading. Warning: Spoilers ahead.
If you have a book to recommend, drop me a line. I favour scifi/fantasy, dystopia, contemporary romance, crime thrillers*, mysteries and the occasional classic or historical fiction. I do not enjoy paranormal romance or Westerns, but I'll try anything if it has good prose and finely written characters.
*note: I'm sick to death of crime thrillers featuring a beautiful dead woman and the rest of the cast is a sausage party. Give me feminist takes on that trope, especially queer lit, and if you're gonna kill the gays or the girls, there had better be a damn good reason for it.
Skip to: Courtney Summers |
Matt Haig - The Midnight Library
This book received great reviews on Goodreads, and the premise hooked me right from the start. Maybe that's why I was so disappointed that it underwhelmed me.
Protagonist Nora should be a sympathetic and relatable character, but I couldn't find it in me to care about her sad, claustrophobic existence, aside from wondering what made her special enough to get so many other chances, so many choices to remake and lives to try on for size. Or was that privilege something that was offered to everyone on the brink of death? If that was clarified in the book, I don't remember it ... maybe because I found the prose clunky and repetitive throughout.
I skimmed whole pages of this book that read like shopping lists, and the passages that were nicely written were too rare for me to really enjoy the cool concept, or the multiple different chances Nora tried out. Most of which, by the way, felt overdone and not very believable. The author squandered opportunities to dive into Nora's depths (why is Ravi so mad at her, and what does that say about Nora's inability to make decisions?) or to lighten the mood into cringe-humour (OlympicMedallist!Nora giving a motivational speech should have been hilarious, considering LifeHopping!Nora had no idea what she was doing). And after a while, I couldn't find it in me to care.
I also saw the ending coming from chapter one, but hoped it would be well handled despite the telegraphing. And it was competently done, but nothing about this book set my world on fire. All in all, a large helping of disappointment.
Courtney Summers - All the Rage
I started this book at 11pm, and verily do I regret it. This book stole an entire night’s sleep from me, because I could not put it down.
It was the raw agony in Romy’s story as it unfolds in both past and present, and her toughness masking her vulnerability – both her story and her character reminded me of Veronica Mars more than once, although without the show’s glitzy noir cool veneer. There were no snappy one-liners or fun mysteries to solve here: just people struggling to navigate their way through a life that oozed injustice and sweltering heat.
The horrible thing that happened to Romy – and kept happening every day in the way everyone bullied her relentlessly, reminding her of the trauma she suffered (as if she could ever forget it), blaming her for it and calling her a liar – is all about Romy. It’s the dark shape that moves beneath her surface, shadowing and chaining her. It, or rather he, has a name. But I love that he never makes an actual appearance in this book – because this is Romy’s story, not his.
The only reason I took one point off my score is because of the repetition in the final chapter – I see what Summers is doing there, but it still felt like a cheap way to end such a powerful book.