September 28, 2015

Recent Reads

106. Dark Places
I decided to move this up my TBR pile as I wanted to read the book before watching the movie.

This dark story is the second book I've read by the author, and I so much preferred this one to Gone Girl. The outlines of the story are quite basic: Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were brutally murdered. She testified that her fifteen year old brother, Ben, was the killer. We pick up the story twenty five years later.

It is what Gillian Flynn does with that skeleton plot that makes this a fascinating read. The story line is told through three narrators and two timelines: Libby Day in present day, Ben Day (brother) and Patty Day (mother) on that fateful day in 1985.

I am not a fan of multiple timeline stories, but this one should be taught in MFA programs to showcase how to use that device brilliantly. The people in this story are not likable, and the author excels in delving into the minds of flawed, broken, and ultimately very well fleshed out women characters. So much for sugar and spice and everything nice! You won't find that here. 

This is a story that explores themes of family and loss, damaged people and how they cope, memory and the passage of time, secrets and communal hysteria. I really liked how the story played out, the quirky cast of characters, and the slow reveal of the mystery at the heart of the story: Who committed the murders? Was it really Satanists? As an aside, this story had me Googling "Satanic Panic" which lead to some fascinating dinner conversations at our house. 

I listened to, and highly recommend, the audiobook, which is wonderfully narrated by Rebecca Lowman, Cassandra Campbell, Mark Deakins, and Robertson Dean. Rating: 4 stars.

107. Air, Volume 1: Letters from Lost Countries
Do you think you could tell the difference between a frequent flier and a terrorist?

This graphic novel is the first book in a series of four. I'm not even sure how to summarize it, so let me simply say that it would fit in the following genres: science fiction and fantasy, romance and political thriller, spy and espionage, magical realism and terrorism, and I'm sure I've left out one or two! It is strange and surreal and full of quirky characters, but did feel a little too rushed. The art is really good though, and I'm hoping the story settles down somewhat, and develops the characters better in the later volumes. Rating: 3 stars.

108. The Fishermen
Man Booker Prize Longlist Strike #2. I'm a huge fan of this prize, and like many fans I've started to make my way through the long list, and so far it has been a disappointing experience.

I really liked the premise of this story and had read great things about this one, but there is something missing. I did not connect with the story, the writing, or the characters, so I've thrown in the towel after 50 pages. 

This does not bode well... Rating: 1 star.

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