Well, I’m back.
Hi internet! I have returned from gallivanting across Iceland, the Netherlands, and Belgium. My brain has returned to the correct time-zone, but I’m still not sure what day it is. I intend to write at least two posts on our travels, but first thing’s first–a book round-up.
After my slack-off in July, I’m happy to report that I got back on the horse and read four new books in August. (Note: I’ve actually re-read a handful of books this year too, but I’ve not counted them in my blog round-ups or the Goodreads 2016 challenge. This month I re-read LOCK-IN by John Scalzi on the flight out.)
WARBREAKER, Branden Sanderson
Say what you want about Sanderson, but the man can make a magic system. This sizable book follows the story of a variety of characters in two (nearly) warring kingdoms. Politics of divinity, differing historical narratives, culture shock–all explored from many angles as only the tome of a fantasy master can. My complaints with the work are a) despite being 700 pages, the climax kind of came out of left field and wrapped up abruptly and b) I really only cared for two of the POV characters. Still, a solid modern adult fantasy with a cool and complex magic system.
SLEEPING GIANTS, Sylvain Neuvel
This sci-fi thiller was billed as similar to THE MARTIAN and WORLD WAR Z–and I think that comparison does the book a disservice. Yes, it’s an epistolary novel about a world-changing alien-discovering event, but that’s about where the comparison stops, to my irritation. The most interesting part of it was the ‘narrator’, or rather the individual collecting the records–in WORLD WAR Z and ILLUMINAE and so on, the interviewer/collector is passive and silent, letting the interviewed subjects tell their story. But in GIANTS, the narrator very much inserted himself into the story as a menacing presence, and I found it cool.
But, then there also is a criminally-underused mad scientist and overall this book gets a ‘meh’.
THE HISTORIAN, Elizabeth Kostova
OH MAN. Ok. So this book. I was idly flicking through recommendations on Goodreads when I spotted this one, saw “historical fiction” and “vampires” and yep, I’m reading it.
This book is the sequal/retelling of DRACULA that we deserve. An atmospheric, travelogue-y gothic mystery, this delightful book follows three generations of historians as they try to untangle supernatural happenings and the tumultuous history of the clash between the Ottoman Empire and Romania.
This book has: a) the best combination of the historical figure Vlad the Impaler and the character Dracula I’ve seen, b) the best text depiction of Dracula himself ‘on screen’ I’ve read since Bram Stoker’s original, c) the best intertexuality with DRACULA, and d) the best exploration of Eastern European and Turkish history and culture, in both Vlad’s time and 1970’s Soviet Bloc era, when the bulk of the book takes place.
Does it have perfect writing? No. But I loved it nonetheless.
ZEROES, Chuck Wendig
I spent a good time of my time reading this book trying to decide how to classify it. Cyberpunk thriller? Tech-based Lovecraftian horror? Both?
The weird mythic-monster overtones make what would otherwise be a fairly standard hacker-thriller book a bit more interesting. The colorful cast of characters were fun to read, but I found the plot confusing and the writing style a bit too choppy to sink into. (Frankly part of that could be because I read it while traveling.)
Overall it was fine, but not really my jam.
So those are my reads? What about you? What fun new things have you read?