March 27, 2017

Recent Reads

28. Wires and Nerve, Volume 1
Let me first say that I have not read any of the Lunar Chronicles books, so I was meeting all the characters in this graphic novel for the first time. It's my understanding that it picks up after the final book in the that young adult series, so I figured it'd be a good place for me to start to see if I wanted to try reading any of the original series. I liked the art, and the there were some fun moments, but I was not sucked into the story, though if you are already a fan, I can see how it might be more appealing. Rating: 2 stars.

29. How to Breathe Underwater
Book blurb: In story after story, Orringer captures moments when the dark contours of the adult world come sharply into focus: Here are young people abandoned to their own devices, thrust too soon into predicaments of insoluble difficulty, and left to fend for themselves against the wide variety of human trouble.

Short stories are not my jam, but I've challenged myself to read more of them this year. I'd heard glowing reviews of this collection of nine stories, so decided to start here. These are all stories that have young girls or women at the center of the tale, and each and every one of them has a moment where I had to pause and re-read the previous sentence or two. Each story captures a seminal moment in these girls' lives, and the writing wonderfully captures the emotions surrounding these moments.

I'm not going to talk about the premise of each one, as the reveal is partly why these work so well. I spread these nine tales out over a week, and have a distinct sense of each one. As with all collections, I liked some more than others, and my faves were Pilgrims, The Isabel Fish, Care, and Station of the Cross. I docked a star because as usual each story left me wanting more. Just when I settle into a story, it ends, and I have to surface and re-orient myself.

Parents/adults can be so clueless. We often forget how difficult it is for kids to navigate this crazy world, but this collection helps us remember. Rating: 4 stars.

30. Tiger's Curse (The Tiger Saga #1)
I recently asked my nieces and nephews to recommend books they thought I must read. This was the one my fourteen and a half year old niece, Isabella, selected. She loves the entire series, and was so excited for me to read it too.

Let me start by saying that the writing is simply awful, and if not for my niece, this would never have made its way into my hands, and the writing is not the worst thing about it! Can one be racist unintentionally?

Kelsey is a white girl living in Oregon. She's 17, if memory serves, and after a tragedy ends up living with loving and caring foster parents, who don't seem to mind at all that she suddenly decides to take a job that requires her to live at a circus for two weeks, and also while you're at it, why not go all the way across the world to India with a strange man and a Bengal Tiger? See the world! Wherever did she meet this tiger you ask? Why, the above mentioned circus of course. And, yes, it turns out that the tiger is actually an Indian prince who was cursed over 300 years ago. Oh, and it turns out that Kelsey is the chosen one of the Indian Goddess Durga, because you know, there aren't like half a billion Indian girls who could have been picked instead. Aren't we done with the "white person saves darkie" trope yet? Anyway, there are four curses, and Kelsey and her tiger/prince have to figure out how to solve them. This book has an Indiana Jones type of sequence, as the duo try to crack the first curse. Oh, and yes, there is the requisite love triangle and teen angst, not to mention that these guys, while they look 21 are really around 350 years old. But then again, Vampires have been doing this very thing for millennia, and now that I think about it, this certainly has shades of Twilight.

After reading the above, you might be wondering why the generous two stars. Yes, the plot is ridiculous, the writing bad, the characters not well fleshed out, the dialogue stilted and so dang cliched, but this story also has hot Indian dudes, is set in India, and has Indian mythology, albeit watered down, but still. In a world where my Indian American niece does not often see or read about hot Indian guys, let along girls, I can see why she loves this series.

Everything about this story didn't work for me. The other books solve the remaining curses, but needless to say, I simply don't care enough to continue with the series. Rating: 2 stars.

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