June 29, 2015

Recent Reads

72. Just So Happens
This graphic novel has wonderful sketchy watercolory (yes I just made up that word) art, and is quite lovely to look at. The story/plot however is so thin as to be almost transparent (pun intended). The questions asked are universal ones, especially for those of us who left home and now live in a country different from the one we were born and raised in. Yumiko was born in Japan, but now lives in London. Happily by all accounts, but when she learns of her father's death, she returns for the funeral, and is struck by the rituals of life in her birth country. 

This story disappointingly does not explore deeply any of the various themes it could have, so while I really liked the art, this is not a book I'd recommend. Rating: 2 stars.

73. The People in the Trees
This book was my book club selection for the month. I started out reading the ebook, but found it difficult to get into the story as I did not like the point of view of the main character, and had a hard time looking out through his eyes. So I switched over to the audiobook, and people, if you are going to read this book, I would highly recommend the audio. The one I listened to had three narrators - Arthur Morey, William Roberts, Erin Yuen, and they are so, so good. I found that unlike reading the ebook, having the book read to me created the separation I needed to appreciate the novel.

I love first contact stories, and if you do too, add this one to your reading pile. If you are a fan of this genre, then you already know there there are moral and ethical dilemmas galore awaiting you, but this story ups the ante in so many ways.

To say that the main character is unlikable would be the understatement of year, but I think a huge part of this story works, because of that. The author is wonderfully skilled, and I so appreciated (though did not necessarily enjoy) the journey she took me on. She sets up moral/ethical quandaries, and once you get as comfortable as you can get, she ups the ante. Are you comfortable now? Repeat. How about now? Is there a moral line you will not cross? I gotta tell you I've spent many tough hours in very dark tunnels with only a little flashlight, and I cannot think of the last time a book did that to me.

I heard the author describe this book as "science in fiction" as opposed to science fiction, and I could not agree more. There is an authenticity to this novel that is hard to put into words. Using footnotes, real science and history all helped to create the illusion that I was reading an actual adventurer's log as opposed to a novel. And this is her debut novel? Cannot wait to read her new one.

The book club members were mixed in their reviews of the book, but it sure sparked a fascinating and lively discussion. This is not an easy story in any sense of the word, but is well worth a read. The only reason it did not get five stars is because at no point in the story did I enjoy myself. But I might reconsider and add the extra star after several more days spent in sunlight. Rating: 4 stars.

74. Flight Volume One (Flight #1)
First you need to know that while I'm a huge fan of the graphic novel, I am neither a fan of short stories nor anthologies, and that is what this book is. A collection of graphic stories. I did not know that going in. Mea culpa. 

The stories are all about flight in one way or another, and while I quite liked the art, many of the stories in this collection were really weak. That being said, there is wide variety of stories and artistic styles, and for that reason alone it might make sense to grab a library copy and give it a look-see. 

I've got the next book in the series waiting for me, and will report back if I like it better. Rating: 2 stars.

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