Is this a book blog? Is this a dance blog?
YOU’LL NEVER KNOW.
[cackles into the distance]
Anyway. Today I have more books for you! My 2016 reading is clipping along at a vigorous pace, and I have five more titles to share with the world.
FINIKIN OF THE ROCK, Melina Marchetta
I got irritated enough by this one to write an entire post on it. Two-dimensional YA Fantasy is two-dimensional.
TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG, Connie Willis
Once I got past the initial world-confusion and vague 90s British pop culture references, this time-travel story was a cute romp through a variety of ages. The part I enjoyed the most was the Victorian-era mystery, complete with a hapless, put-upon time-traveler, stuffy elite, and, of course, a dog. And a cat. The Hugo winner from 1999, this light, fun novel is sort of DOCTOR WHO meets Agatha Cristie. (But not like this.)
YOU’RE A VAMPIRE: THAT SUCKS, Domenick Dicce
I am a sucker for a vampire story, especially a humorous one. (Pun 110% intended.) Hence the promise of a tongue-in-fangs how-to book for the recently un-dead flew off the proverbial shelf into my grabby hands. Sadly the cleverness of the humor is limited to that of the bad pun in the title, with most of it played for laughs against the bigwigs Stoker and Meyers. By now, we get it. Entering TWILIGHT into the vampire cannon is dumb. Some of the rules Stoker used that became vampire lore are inane. I wanted more. I find the evolution of the vampire myth and what it meant in 1898 vs. 2016 is very interesting, and this book did little but schlep out a few cheap jokes.
THE ENCHANTED, Rene Denfeld
This is a strange little book. I’ve recently gotten into watching BookTube (video blogs about books on YouTube, for the un-initiated) and it got some hype, so I gave it a whirl. It’s a very ‘literary’ book–the writing is elevated and lyrical, with some quite beautiful passages of some very dark subject matter, creating a sort of transcendental contrast. When I first heard of the book, it was pitched as magical realism, but after reading it I’m not quite sure. Is it still magical realism if the ‘magical’ element very well could have been hallucinations from one character? Does it matter?
It’s also a book that’s clearly going for effect rather than story, which worked for me maybe half the time. The POV shifts were handled reasonably well, but the plot was just a wee bit too meandering to be truly compelling. Luckily it’s short, and so I’ll say if you are looking to lose yourself in the darkest of modern fairy-stories, give it a shot.
VICIOUS, V.E. Schwab
Ok. So this book was flippin’ awesome. It’s like X-MEN meets FRANKENSTEIN. Mad science, comic-book villains, morally grey characters–even on the surface it sounds like a blast. AND IT WAS. The book was near-perfectly plotted, the pacing and use of flashbacks some of the best I’ve seen in a long time. The characters were interesting and 3-D, resisting archetype and simplicity at every turn.
AND, on top of all that, the author takes dialog and situations that are 90% guaranteed to be B-movie cheese, and somehow makes them completely believable. There was one scene were a character shoves another character down some stairs and then talks at them before finishing the job–which is to, murder. Right at the end of the scene, I paused, thinking “he was just monologue-ing like a cheesy Bond villain–and I don’t even care.”
Really my only complaint is that I didn’t want it to end–and that’s really not even valid because the book was one solid passage from first scene to last scene, and anything extra would have dragged it down. It was tight, fun, exciting–hell, it read like a movie and could be a great one, in the right hands.
Side note: This book is interesting to me on another level. I’ve actually read another book by V.E. Schwab–her more recent release A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC–and I…wasn’t impressed. It was fine, but it didn’t really click, and I watch the hype over its sequel with quiet bemusement. But when I heard the premise of VICIOUS and my eyebrow went up, I bought it, and oh my am I glad I did. The moral here, boys and girls, is to not write-off an author just because of one book. Unless something is aggressively bad, I shall try in the future to give authors a second chance.