FFT Fridays: Let’s Talk About Book Hangovers

Look, I changed the format of titling Friday posts! (mostly because I was running out of adjectives that started with “F”). It’s still a little wordy to me. But it was better than spelling out: Food for Thought Fridays: Let’s Talk About Book Hangovers. Oh boy. Work in progress, as always.

Perfect web comic. From anythingcomic.com

Perfect web comic. From anythingcomic.com

So I finished Golden Son, that book I gushed over a Friday post-or-two ago. Oh my gosh. It’s good. My official review will be up Monday, but I promise: it’s an excellent sequel.

The issue? It seriously messed up my sleep schedule.

It is paced so blazingly fast, that it felt unfair to stop at a chapter. But the characters were still in trouble! But that last line was so gutting! I have to get to a good stopping point!

And there never was. I was staying up until two o’clock, three o’clock in the morning for a good solid week to get that thing read (and not in a “it’s a chore, I have to review this for the blog” kind of thing, not that any of the books I read are like that. In a “I’MSOEXCITEDIT’SJUSTSOGOODCAN’TSTOPREADING” kind of way). I stayed up until past 3 the last night to get the last 150 pages or so polished off. I allowed myself a moment there, in bed, to soak in what the ending meant, for the characters, for myself, a reader who now must wait ANOTHER YEAR for the last piece of the trilogy to finish up an already great series.

And then I had to grab a few hours of sleep before I went to work in the morning.

And now the tough thing: how do I follow up a book I’ve been so excited for, a book that I devoured in less than a week, that I really, truly liked?! Isn’t everything just going to suck now? I’ll pick up something from my to-read shelf, read a chapter and whine, “But it’s no Golden Son!”

I’ve told some of my coworkers about my book hangover, and they’ve suggested rereading the book I just finished, reading a book I have read before, one I know I already love (should I start Harry Potter again now?). At the time of writing this post, I have indeed read another book after Golden Son, and it was not one I had read before, and I did enjoy it. But, you know, it could have been worse. I could be in a serious book rut right now!

SO. How do you, my lovely readers (of the blogs and of the books), how do you recover from a book hangover? What was the last book to give you a book hangover? What weird or awesome suggestions have you heard, or do you have, for such a situation? I’d love to know!

AND HAPPY FRIDAYYYYY!!

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& Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Fiction. Publisher: Penguin Press

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.
Fiction. Publisher: Penguin Press

The Book Itself: Simplistic, pretty intriguing. I couldn’t help but try to read the little snippets of writing left on the “notes” that make up the title.

My Review: Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins this debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.

This book is less about the crime of Lydia’s passing (which turns out to be tragic, yes, but not overly nefarious or complex), and more of how the family member’s pasts come to screw up their presents, and how their faults mess them up overall. It’s certainly well-written. It’s just a tad…predictable.

I knew what James’ – the father’s – mistake would be before he did it. The current timeline of the story is interspersed with scenes from the past – James and Marilyn meeting, marrying, her temporary absence, etc. etc. etc. The whole book is well-written, but these glimpses of the past are more riveting, more real than the present scenes. Images like Marilyn crying in the care, an old fashioned cookbook in her arms, and her fighting with her mother at the courthouse before she gets married to a man not of her race are powerful images.

And it’s hard to say what I disliked about this one. It was…nice. As nice as a story about a tragic death of a young girl and the slow ripping apart of the family she left behind can be. Maybe I would have actually liked it more if things had turned out messier in the end. It ends very neatly. Loose ends, personal issues, the great big mystery of Lydia’s death…it’s all okay by the end. Which it probably shouldn’t be.

Overall, it’s an okay story of characters who have flawed, but common problems. I felt as if it did not get as complex as it should, and did not end as messy as it would have been in real life. I get the impression that the Lee’s will continue along quite happily, Lydia and they’re incorrect picture of who she was will just fade immediately into background music. Not really cool.

My Grade: C+

FFT Friday: Let’s Talk About Literary Tattoos

I have two tattoos. I got one done when I studied abroad (researched the tattoo parlor first – it won awards in cleanliness and design, and I still adore it), and another the year I graduated college. They have great personal meaning to me, and I have great memories of getting them.

I’ve flirted with the idea of getting another one, possibly with a literary theme. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to inspiration (titled “The ‘You Can’t Have Just One Tattoo’ Effect” hehehe), and have seen many a Buzzfeed or other article about literary quote tattoos, literary tattoos, the best, the worst, the most creative, etc. etc. etc.

Books have meant a great deal to me since I learned how to read. They have become a true passion in my adult life, and I read every single day, all manner of things. When people tell me they “don’t read,” or “don’t like books,” I don’t scoff at them, think they’re stupid or uneducated. I just feel a little sad for them: missing out on worlds upon worlds of fantastic happenings! It’s literally the cure for boredom, anywhere, at any time of day or night!

So…what literary quote, image, or meaning would you permanently etch on your body? 😛

I balk at quotes, because who knows if a certain string of words will mean the same to you eighty years from now?

IF I did do a quote, though, it’d probably be one by Jack Kerouac, often quoted in his list of “30 Beliefs and Techniques for Prose and Life.” I found the list in its entirety in the book I’m using to write every day (still going strong!): A Writer’s Book of Days. The quote is simple: “You’re a Genius all the time.” I also weirdly love the capitalization of the word “genius.” It’s kind of like saying “YES. I AM a genius. Thank you for noticing the importance of my genius.”

Or maybe that’s just me talking to myself.

Image-wise? I’ve pinned examples of old-fashioned tattoo-style books, modern fictional book jackets, and books flying, their covers like wings.

And then there’s Harry Potter. My first recollection of a favorite book, the Harry Potter series is the foundation of my early reading memories. The midnight premiere of the final book, released when I was still in high school, is very clear in my memory.

Besides, what’s nerdier than a Harry Potter-inspired tattoo?

So…there’s the art from the books themselves. Huffington Post compiled a large graphic of all of the art that Mary GrandPré created for the start of every chapter. How about the chapter where the Weasley twins leave Hogwarts? Or the one where Harry first chooses a wand? Not sure I’d get Dobby’s bush-baby-eyed visage tattooed somewhere on my body forever, but there’s some beautiful art there.

There’s the quintessential Deathly Hallows symbol. Or the three stars that begin each chapter. Subtle. Tiny.

From this Buzzfeed article

From this Buzzfeed article

Diagrams of each one of the deathly hallows…

Heck, there’s a tumblr dedicated to Harry Potter tattoos. (I mean, there are probably tons. But this was just the one I stumbled upon).

SO. How about any of you? Anybody have tattoos? Any of them literary in nature? What would you get if you were only brave enough?

HAPPY FRIDAY!

 

& Review: City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Publisher: Broadway Books

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Publisher: Broadway Books

The Book Itself: Ooooh, scary guy in a gray roooobbbbe…

My Review: Years ago, the city of Bulikov wielded the powers of the Gods to conquer the world. But after its divine protectors were mysteriously killed, the conqueror has become the conquered; the city’s proud history has been erased and censored, progress has left it behind, and it is just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power. Into this musty, backward city steps Shara Divani. Officially, the quiet mousy woman is just another lowly diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, Shara is one of her country’s most accomplished spymasters-dispatched to investigate the brutal murder of a seemingly harmless historian. As Shara pursues the mystery through the ever-shifting physical and political geography of the city, she begins to suspect that the beings who once protected Bulikov may not be as dead as they seem-and that her own abilities might be touched by the divine as well.

One sign of a great book is one that makes you stay up late into the night, wanting to see the next intense thing that happens next. City of Stairs is exactly that kind of book.

I’ve actually avoided this book for a while. Reading the back of the book made my eyes glaze over. It was wordy, complex for even a blurb. And there were already obvious these fictional political undertones to the whole thing (I’m not a huge fan of aggressive political writings). I passed on it a couple of times.

But finally I saw it in paperback and decided to give it a go. And I’m glad I did! (My coworker saw me reading it once during break and told me how good it was – where was she when I passed it up the first time!) Now, it is a little politic heavy. I’d compare it to Wicked by Gregory McGuire if I remembered more of that book. As it is, I read that one when I was in middle school, unable to truly grasp the politics that embedded every scene. I remember really not liking it because it was so political – it just felt like it was all fictional politics and no action-driven story. City of Stairs features a main character in politics. Her whole life is centered on that. So, we as readers are focused on that. She gets a crappy assignment? She gets demoted? Promoted? She attends a party where great political figures lobby for allies? We hear about it. In detail.

This shapes up towards the end of the book, where Sigrud, the muscle in this story, kicks some monster ass. He is the antidote to the scenes where characters are rubbing elbows with the rich and powerful to get ahead politically.

Really, this story happens because of Sigrud. He takes care of all threats. If Sigrud weren’t there, out protagonist would have died five times over. Good thing she’s a good politician, and rescued this big, scary guy from a prison once. Good move.

I’m getting sassy, but really, Sigrud’s backstory and his relationship with Shara is a good one. I like them together. And Shara isn’t totally useless. She knows a little magic (known in this fictional world as “miracles”), she’s bookish and curious about the world around her which makes for some excellent worldbuilding. This world is very tightly fleshed out. I can only hope there are more books set in Bulikov. Sigrud needs to do some more stuff! At the end, Shara sets off to tick some more people off, and we need to see it happen! More books, please!

The names can be cumbersome. It’s a book where you’re plopped in the middle of a very complex, magical, fictional world and expected to just figure it out. It takes a little work to get into it. But once you are, you’re in it for good. You root for Sigrud, you get frustrated with the corners Shara gets backed into, you wish you could see the magical city of Bulikov back in its glory days for yourself. It’s immersive and complex and makes you want more: all marks of a great sci-fi/fantasy novel.

My Grade: B+

Fortitude Friday

HAPPY 2015, EVERYONE!!!

How were your holidays? Your Christmases, your Hanukkahs, your Kwanzaas, your New Years Eves?

An awesome Christmas gift I received! Banned books socks!

An awesome Christmas gift I received! Banned books socks!

Mine went along swimmingly, thank you for asking! 🙂 I’m super excited for what this year has to bring. New opportunities are cropping up at work, someone I love comes home from a deployment in Afghanistan, and friends far and near are making big, ambitious plans to see and hang out with each other this year. I have three penpals from three different states that I hope to see in person this year. Fingers crossed that I can keep my resolution to see them all, separately or together!

It’s also that (maybe dreaded?) time of year that the R-word happens. Yep, RESOLUTIONS. Do you make them? Are yours to eat healthy and lose weight? And then two weeks in, you have half a box of Krispie Kremes and feel like you’ve ruined everything?

Well, never fear! I treat resolutions like those pirates on Pirates of the Caribbean do, more like guidelines, really. I almost always break mine at one time or another, but I see them not as iron clad I-do-these-things-or-I’ll-have-an-unsuccessful-year-and-feel-like-a-failure, but more like things I should pay attention to more this year. Targets to focus on and remind myself of positivity every time I feel discouraged or grumpy throughout the year (mainly when I’m hangry. I get hangry like you WOULDN’T BELIEVE).

Last year my goal was to complain and gossip less. When I did find myself whining, I tried to remember that hey, there’s nothing really big in my life to complain about. My mantra when I felt a little lost in college was “it’s really all going to turn out okay.” The “really” being in there because sometimes it was genuinely hard to convince myself sometimes that something would eventually be okay. I’m not saying I 100% succeeded the entire year. I didn’t. But it was a good thing to think about and try to improve on myself.

My household's newest addition: a kitten we've named Cheshire, next to my new book-shaped pillow!

My household’s newest addition: a kitten we’ve named Cheshire, next to my new book-shaped pillow!

SO. That’s a long winded introduction to basically say that I’ve prepared some resolutions that I’m going to post on here! Mainly reading and writing ones, as that’s what this blog is focused towards. I also have that whole eat healthier and exercise more thing going on, but I had a chocolate muffin for breakfast and haven’t joined that gym yet, so…work in progress!

RESOLUTION #1: Keep up this blog all year
Before NaNoWriMo in 2014, I was totally rocking the blog schedule. I had reviews planned out and scheduled, I had Friday posts written and saved for every week: I was golden. AFTER NaNo, not so much….I’m not saying I should have two months of reviews and Friday posts planned out at all times, but the goal this year is to work on posts once a day every week, probably on one of my days off, so that I don’t feel flustered and like I’m letting people down if I forget a Friday post (been really bad about those ones lately. Sorry everyone!)

RESOLUTION #2: Attempt to write, every single day.

awritersbookofdays

Key word: “attempt.” I’m sick of saying my goal is to be a writer, that I really want to write a novel one day, and…I’m not a regular writer. So this year I shall make a conscious effort to write something every day. If I don’t get a substantial amount down, I won’t beat myself up. But I’m going to try. And that’s important. I’m using The Writer’s Book of Days by Judy Reeves as a guideline for each day. She uses very short prompts (“Someone cheated,” “Write about the passing of hours,”) to get you going, which I’m digging right now.

 

RESOLUTION #3: (On a related note:) DON’T BUY ANY MORE WRITING BOOKS
^That is to say, books about writing. Like A Writer’s Book of Days kind of thing
Seriously, I have enough. Ask me how many I’ve read. Go ahead.
None of them.
It’s seriously a sickness.

RESOLUTION #4: Re-read Harry Potter
Because it makes me happy just thinking about it 🙂 And I have that lovely paperback set I mention in my &Favorites section up there!
Another series I loved as a kid that I should revisit: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (and really, the whole His Dark Materials trilogy)

RESOLUTION #5: Read at least 50 books, but really, shoot for 60.
My coworker did a really awesome thing in 2014: she set a challenge for herself to read a book from every section in our store. 60 books in total (she left out sections that didn’t make a whole lot of reading sense: computer programming languages, children’s coloring books, etc.) giving herself a little leeway for books she really wanted to just enjoy (“wild cards”). And she got to read a lot of really cool stuff. She was really into her history selection, and she read Bill Nye’s new science book. It was a really, really cool thing. And she finished with two minutes to spare (she said she marked the last book as finished on Goodreads and got to stare at it in happiness for two minutes before it clicked over to 2015…)! A very brave thing, I think. On one hand, I’m selfish and only want to read the books I want to read. And I’m not sure how well I’d take to reading the history, the science, the subjects I don’t normally reach for. But hey, it’s called a reading challenge for a reason! Anyone up for seeing me blog my journey in 2016?!

& Review: The Silent History by Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby, and Kevin Moffett

The Silent History by Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby, and Kevin Moffett. Fiction. Publisher: FSG Originals

The Silent History by Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby, and Kevin Moffett.
Fiction. Publisher: FSG Originals

The Book Itself: An interesting choice of how to display the title. The penciled in letters are indented in the cover, so that when you run your finger across them, it almost feels like someone wrote them on personally. The black cover is embossed with what look like tree rings (sound waves?). Overall, I think it’s very fitting: it looks like a taped together documentary, a book world focused on language.

My Review: Sometime right around now, doctors, nurses, and—most of all—parents begin to notice an epidemic spreading among children. Children who are physically normal in every way except that they do not speak and do not respond to speech; they don’t learn to read, don’t learn to write. Theories spread—maybe it’s related to a popular antidepressant. Maybe these children, without the ability to use or comprehend language, have special skills of their own.
     Unfolding in a series of brief testimonials from parents, teachers, friends, doctors, cult leaders, profiteers, impostors—everyone touched by the silent phenomenon except, of course, the children themselves—The Silent History is both a bold storytelling experiment and an unexpectedly propulsive reading experience. Originally conceived and serially published as an award-winning iPhone/iPad app by Eli Horowitz, the former publisher of McSweeney’s, along with the acclaimed novelists Matthew Derby and Kevin Moffett and the intrepid coder Russell Quinn, the book has been reedited and, at times, rewritten into a definitive, nuanced, and unputdownable text, a story that is timely, timeless, and terrifying.

Sprawling. The one word to describe this book. It covers a great many years, a plethora of characters, and touches on a great deal of political and social hot topics. This novel’s sprawling-ness (not a word!) isn’t always a great thing.

We follow the epidemic of silents from the birth of the first wave of children, to decades later, when these children have reproduced, their parents have become estranged, their condition “cured,” then protested, and then the whole thing brought to an overall unsettling conclusion.

It’s a book you have to pay attention to. The first dozen chapters (none more than five or six pages) are dizzying. You are introduced to a new narrator every chapter, each with their own story and relationship to the silents. And then you have to remember all these different stories, each with multiple characters each. It gets to the point that you see the name of the narrator at the beginning of the chapter, and you struggle to recall who they’re linked to, and what was the last thing that happened to them? It’s honestly difficult at first.

But then it’s like getting hit in the head again and again: eventually you learn to duck. Eventually you remember the characters and stories by sheer repetition. It’s a big book. There are a lot of stories going on. And decades of fictional history. Some characters are infrequent narrators (a shopkeeper at a mall, a politician). They come up to spice up the monotony the authors feel you’re going through, hearing about the same core group of people. But these infrequent narrations tend to confuse, and muddy up the steady timeline.

It gets a little easier toward the end, where all “main” characters (only in quotations because there are like, eight) are in the same place, at the same time, dealing with the same enemies. Even then, things are complex.

There were some odd choices that I found distracting. Whole characters – the hippie woman who spends a couple chapter in a full body condom, and who bolts herself to a door for months on end without food or water and supposedly lives, and the mentally unstable guy who really wants to be one of the silents, and develops an unhealthy, weird relationship with a wallaby (yes, a wallaby) for a bit – as well as products. There are random snippets of products that could feasibly be sold in the near future: fat bread (an addivtive snack bred filled with various fillings), “Slush,” and “Spray Ya Face” (chemicals that kids spray each other with that make them feel good?). All of these feel incredibly random. They didn’t add to the world for me, they were something that had to take the time to be described, fleshed out. Spray Ya Face is given a few paragraphs, only to never be mentioned again.

Whew! Now, it is a good book. No doubt complex, which is the one thing I would expect from a piece written by three different people. But the concept of silents, and the way most of the characters approach them and support or act against them, are plausible reactions people would have were this situation a reality. I like the idea of a worldbuilding/dystopian characteristic (a section of the population born without speech) approached so big-picture, so broadly, and from so many angles. It’s fascinating in a scholarly way, and the fact that most of it is so well-written really helps.

The ending is eerie and disturbing, in an interesting and bittersweet way. It’s a good way to end the epic that was The Silent History, which was a unique approach to a fascinating idea.

My Grade: B

Fangirl Friday

My coworkers watched this whole week as I squirmed in my seat in the breakroom, as I kept turning the pages of a book I’d already read, saying “I forgot how good this is!” over and over again.

That’s right: a sequel I’d been waiting a year for came out this week.

And it was none other than the sequel to Red Rising, which, as you might recall from my last Friday post, was the best book I read in 2014.

But. BUT. Not only did we receive the book a week early, and have to store it in the back and not sell any copies until the 6th (what TORTURE, I tell you!!), but the author himself just happened to be swinging by a local bookstore in my neighborhood for a reading/signing that very week.

And on my day off, no less.

So yeah, the planets aligned for this week, everybody.

Pierce Brown, beginning to sign books

Pierce Brown, beginning to sign books

The event was great, by the way. Pierce Brown read from the first chapter of Golden Son, he answered a bunch of questions from the audience and he signed copy after copy of books – sometimes four a person! We learned a bunch of cool things about his writing process (not a stranger to procrastination), what he hopes for the possible movie adaptation of his books (he hopes Darrow is played by a relatively unknown actor), and how readers are selected for audiobooks (essentially five sound bites sent to him in an email, with the pressure of having to select one voice to portray his entire series. Yikes! No pressure! But both the author and audience agreed: the reader he chose is an exemplary one).

And a little light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel for those of you who write: Brown wrote six books, and received over 130 rejections before Red Rising was accepted and taken to print. Even then, he had to pitch it as YA, then an adult fiction book before it was finally a real thing. And, when asked if he’d ever revisit any of those books after the success of Rising, he laughed and said a definitive “no.” Perseverance, my friends. Perseverance, and just the right story.

My newly signed hardcovers! With quotes from the books in each

My newly signed hardcovers! With quotes from the books in each

I got both of my hardcover copies signed (both Red Rising and my new copy of Golden Son). And my friend and coworker, who came with me, got a copy signed for our manager, who had to give away his copy to a customer who wanted one at our own store (we were only sent five copies! Five!)

Now, it doesn’t help that Buzzfeed wrote an article about how nice Pierce Brown is to look at. That, coupled with what a fan I am of his books, made me a babbling idiot when it was my turn to shake his hand and make small talk while he signed. But such is life: full of awkward moments 😛

Anyway, any of you meet someone you’d been dying to meet? Authors, actors, newscasters? How was it? Were you a babbling idiot, like me?

& Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin. Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy/Adventure. Publisher: Little, Brown

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin.
Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy/Adventure. Publisher: Little, Brown

The Book Itself: This one’s actually a little too simple for me. The title, in a brush-like scrawl, across a matte black background. Slanted in the light, the black background depicts a maze: the walled city itself. But it doesn’t stand out on a shelf. The only reason I knew about this one was a few reviews floating around that I’d read.

My Review: 730. That’s how many days I’ve been trapped.
18. That’s how many days I have left to find a way out.

DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible….

JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister….

MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She’s about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window…..

In this innovative and adrenaline-fueled novel, they all come together in a desperate attempt to escape a lawless labyrinth before the clock runs out.

Chalk this one up to “mature” “Young” Adult fiction. One of our main characters is a prostitute, and the other two are involved in the drug running trade. Death, disease, and famine run rampant in their home town. It ain’t a happy place. Rape, drug administration and the resulting addiction, and torture feature prominently at one point or another. It’s a story that tries to shock you at every turn…but is actually quite predictable.

Dai has a chip on his shoulder…and it’s pretty easy to suss out what it is, based solely on what he’s doing now and who he’s involved with. For chapters and chapters he “alludes” to a loss in his past. And it’s very obvious what it’s from (hint: it has to do with what he’s running now…) Mei Lee doesn’t get to do a lot, as she’s locked in a brothel, promised to one customer only, and simply moons out of her window for a boy who leaves tiny presents outside of her window. A poor, rather pitiful, character with so little to do. Jin is searching for her sister, although she’s already really figured out where she is (which brothel she’s in)…and in my mind it’d be pretty easy to get in there to see her (she could pretend she’s a customer. She’s already impersonating a boy). So at the story’s start, everyone’s basically stalling for time. Twiddling their thumbs, as it were. They all know what they need to get, but it’s a waiting game to get it. There are some unnecessary obstacles put in their way that seem to be in there just to prolong the story.

The boundaries in the walled city are funny. It seems quite easy to leave the place, so there’s suddenly a lack of tension there. Sure, all three characters have reasons to stay put: one is locked up in a brothel, one is on a mission to find her sister and get them both out, and the third has a personal vendetta he wants to see through to avenge someone from his own past, but to know that you can run outside the walls when you need to…it makes the city less imposing, less of a character.

The action ramps up appropriately in the last fourth of the novel. The last three days or so, everyone’s running places, bleeding out, holding their breath, waiting for rescue, reuniting with people from their past. The author does keep you turning pages then, and hurdle after hurdle is placed before each character, so that at some point you are sure that all of them are dead, that they can’t possibly come back from it all.

The conclusion is strong, although there’s a lot of nice-nice in the end. Everything is just a little too neat, in juxtaposition with all the nastiness the book tried to shock you with. So, overall, too direct and ugly out of the gate, a little implausible towards the end. Not a very strong contender.

My Grade: C