Reading in 2012

June 2012

‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy- Suzanne Collins

Fun, page turning stuff. Not very believable dystopia. Mild cultural critique. Margaret Atwood lite.

‘The House’

A memoir by someone, I can’t remember who, and I didn’t write down anything about it before returning it to the library. Fail. Will have to find it again. It wasn’t my cup of tea, in any case.

‘The Importance of Being Seven’ – Alexander McCall Smith

Boy, he just churns these out, doesn’t he? Like cuddling up under the doona with a warm cuppa. Cosy. Unchallenging. Quite funny in bits.

‘Snuff’ – Terry Pratchett

Oh dear. I think the old brain has betrayed poor Sir Terry at last. He has been working at the same ridiculous pace with his Alzheimers- what else could he do, after all?- and finally it is showing. The usual Pratchett elements were in place, but he could not string them together with any coherence. This makes me very sad.

May 2012

‘Anansi Boys’ – Neil Gaiman****

A good read. Not a blow-your-socks-off read, but a solid and entertaining story. No real tension; I felt fairly secure in the assumption that the bad guy would be punished and the protagonist would get his girl. The character of Anansi, the trickster god, was a delight, though his was only a small, if crucial, part of the story. And he was mostly dead.

Also, I just checked last years reading list and realised that I completely neglected to add a book that I read, I think in December, but I’m not sure. I just saw an advertisement for it in the UK magazine ‘Country Living’, which reminded me about it:

‘The Language Of Flowers’ – Vanessa DIffenbaugh

Yeah, I hated this. The idea of someone who was skilled in the archaic Victorian method of sending and reading meaning through flowers, and also with an unexplained ability to influence life using these floral missives, was such a beautiful and lovely thing. So it was awful to see it debased to a very basic ‘chick learns to love and trust life’ story. So much potential unrealised.

April 2012

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters’ – G.W. Dahquist

This is one of those weighty fantasy – or in this case, steam punk- novels that my mother likes to pass on to me. I’m afraid I don’t often have the patience for them (sorry, Ma). This one was no exception, unfortunately. It actually started better than most, with an interesting set up and quite involving characters. But half way through, they all began chasing each other around and discovering things, and I really got quite tired of it. The convolutions of the plot are not really worth the time it will take me to type it out.

‘Wuthering Heights’ – Charlotte Bronte****

Well, you all know how this one goes, I guess, so I don’t have to explain it to you. What I found most interesting about it was how it contrasted with modern day novels. No-one in this novel was saved, or improved, or learned anything. They were slaves to their situations and temperaments. This is such a contrast to the tone of narrative today, where we are all in charge of our destinies, etc. Most intriguing. I don’t know if I liked it, but I won’t forget it quickly.

March 2012

‘The Children’ – Charlotte Wood ***

A kitchen sink style family drama. Nicely written and plausible characters. It kept me turning the pages even though this is not a style of story that usually interests me. The story begins with an accident; in an Australian country town, a father falls from the roof and his grown children gather from afar to be at his hospital bedside. Old patterns of sibling relations repeat themselves until a dramatic incident sheds light on each character and shakes them loose from their patterns of thinking. Interesting, if not compelling.

‘Shades of Grey’ – Jasper Fforde *

Hmm. Here’s the idea. Sometime in the future, Something Happens and everything is changed. People no longer see all colours in the spectrum, but only one. Their ability to perceive this colour is tested and ranked and this gives them their status in society and dictates who a person marries, associates with and their job prospects. There are many other facets to this world too, and as the story unfolds much is mysterious and unexplained… and that’s about as deep as it gets really.

I enjoyed those of Ffordes ‘BookWorld’ novels that I have read because they were full of such exuberance and fun and no attempt at boring plausibility. This book is not like that. It seems a bit joyless, really. A disappointment.

February 2012

‘Lavinia’ – Ursula Le Guin *

So sorry, Ursula, I just couldn’t get into this one. I didn’t really care enough to even finish it. Maybe I’m just not in the right space for it now…

January 2012

‘The Sum of Our Days’ – Isabelle Allende ****

This is an enjoyable and involving glimpse into the whirlwind life of Allende. Tragedy and comedy are all here and the author comes across as a real dynamo- tempestous, controlling and irrational but also loving, open-hearted and forgiving.

‘American Gods’ – Neil Gaiman ******

The tenth anniversary edition was a Christmas present this year, and I can’t believe it has taken me ten years to get around to reading it. It’s fantastic. Bloody fantastic.
The premise is that gods are the personification of human belief, so, like Tinkerbelle, without that belief they just fade away and die. America being home to many immigrants means that Celtic and Nordic gods rub shoulders with Chinese, Indian, Slavic and many other kinds of gods. But the old gods are being threatened by the emergence of modern gods, like Media, Internet and Technology… or are they?
Pulp fiction meets myth; I loved it. 2012 is going to have to work hard to find me a better read than this one.

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