Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wool by Hugh Howey

Wool is one of those futuristic, dystopian, post-apocolytpic, insert your own buzzword here, type books that I'm sure is packaged as a three-book series...(checking internets)...yep, it's called the Silo Series and also includes the novels Shift and Dust.  Despite my sarcasm, this was a book I couldn't set down many times.

The novel started as a short story that was released by Amazon for the Kindle in 2011.  Due to its popularity, Howey continued writing and amassed a three book collection in two years.  Basically society exists in an underground silo because the air outside is too toxic to breathe.  The chapters are written almost in a Game of Thrones style where a grouping of chapters is from the perspective of a different character.  The first few chapters were so intriguing to me that I feared I wouldn't like the format because I didn't want to move on to another person's story....much like you don't want to break up with someone you are comfortable with, I guess.  However, Howey is the best friend who helps you realize it's for the better.  I found myself happy to move on each time because his different characters are equally compelling.

Which brings me to my next point, it kinda sucks when he kills the ones you like.  But as we learned from G.R.R. Martin, that can be quite a beneficial plot device.

Of course the story isn't confined to the silos and its inhabitants.  There is, of course, a great conspiracy involved and the question of life outside of the silo is explored.

And, like any popular book, there is a movie in the making.  Ridley Scott is on board for this one.  I am cautiously optimistic.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

My motivation for reading this book was to get it off my shelf and back on my neighbor's, who had lent it to me months before.  Coupled with the fact that she also brought me a plate of pure sex for Christmas (no one makes better cookies than her), I was beginning to feel like a really lousy neighbor.  "But my dog ocassionally tears into your yard, screaming for Kiki the Poodle to come out" I want to scream (let's ignore the fact that he probably doesn't want to play with her).  That's neighborly, right?  Okay, maybe I have some work to do.  Well, at least I can return her book now.

The Secret Life of Bees is the story of Lily, a 14 year old girl, growing up in the South in the 60's.  She finds herself in Tiburon, South Carolina, after having run away with her nanny Rosaleen from an unloving father.  Lily believes that Tiburon holds the clues to her mother's past, something Lily's memories and her father have revealed little about.  In Tiburon, Lily and Rosaleen are taken in by the Boatwright sisters, a beekeeping trio with an eclectic lifestyle.

Oh, and Rosaleen and the Boatwrights are all black.  Why does this matter?  Well, the setting is 1964 and President Johnson has just signed the Civil Rights Act.  Lily isn't the only one running away, Rosaleen is also escaping some trouble she got into on her way to register to vote.  If the fact that Lily is living with four Aftican American women isn't enough to turn heads (and it is), Rosaleen's legal trouble is.

What I like about this book is that there is a lot of potential for drama, given the year, the location, and the character's themselves.  It was this potential that made me uneasy about a lot of things while I was reading.  But Kidd has a nice balance of good and bad.  She doesn't capitalize on all the possible (and sometimes obvious) storylines.

Her characters, although I felt not fully fleshed out, were memorable.  She created a unique world that existed in the Boatwright's pink house, complete with their own livelihood and religion.  Her descriptions of life at their home, the daily work, the church services, the celebrations, and the trials, made me want to be right there while everything happened.

Turns out, a movie was made in 2008 with Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, and Alicia Keys.  I would never have been interested in this movie if I hadn't first read the book.  Now, I think I'll actually see it.  I'd love to see Kidd's characters come to life on the screen.

So in all, a strong book.  A bit of a girl power vibe, but I'm a girl and don't mind that kind of thing (every now and then).  It wasn't a life-changing book, but a well-told story.  Something I might recommend to, say a neighbor, for a *quick* summer read.