Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

This book is up there with Ready Player One and Lock In in terms of future and technology themes. It's also similar to Mission Impossible and X-Men, among others.

Basically, Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany), wakes up with no memory. Oh, and there's dead people all around. But she finds clues to her situation in notes left by...herself? Or whoever was in her body before her? Still not clear on that. Myfanwy learns right away she can take the equivalent of the blue pill or the red pill, and, well, you can guess which she chooses.

Turns out she works at a place similar to MI6 but with X-Men employees, or maybe even Miss Peregrine's recruits. Kinda like how the Ministry of Magic and the British Parliament work side by side, but not openly.

You may be wondering by now if there is a single original thought in this book. I'm not trying to denigrate this story by any means. It was interesting and entertaining for sure. O'Malley has a lot of great tongue in cheek moments and he doesn't take his story too seriously. I found the levity refreshing.

Basically, a solid recommend, and there's a sequel coming out that I'll probably check out at some point.

Wreckage by Emily Bleeker

I went into this book thinking it was going to be a lifetime movie throwaway. While Lifetime would probably salivate over this one, I was pleasantly surprised by the story as a whole.

It's a castaway story with a little before, but mostly during and aftermath kind of stuff. We follow two individuals who have endured a harrowing plane crash and Gilligan's Island scenario, and switch between their now and events on the island.

Bleeker did a great job of She didn't allow her characters to take the easy way out of things and I believed the emotions and reactions of her characters. What's even more is how she handled their lives afterward. She writes about their struggles and how they deal (or not deal) with them.

But her ending, it was satisfying. I was just touched by the story and was invested in it the entire time. There really isn't much more to say about it. A great book.

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

I'm not sure what this book was about, but I'm sure it's something important. This book reminded me of something I might read in high school or college with a lot of themes and symbolism that were totally over my head. But if I learned anything, it's to recognize when I'm reading a book that has themes and symbols (read: every book, I guess).

The Enchanted is about death row inmates as they wait for their date to arrive. Some welcome it, some fight it, some don't care one way or the other. We also meet a lot of prison employees, a chaplain, and a woman who works for defense attorneys in a last ditch effort to find some redeeming value in her clients. 

What is over my head about this book is the way it's written. We have a narrator who is one of the inmates, but I'm not really sure if he narrates the entire story. Otherwise it's written in that third-person omniscient voice that I've always found hard to relate with. So it took me awhile to get into the book, but once I got used to the writing and got to know the players, I really enjoyed it. In fact, when it ended, I just thought it was a beautiful piece. 

If there is one theme I can identify, it's death (obviously). But Denfeld tackles it from a lot of different perspectives. He also writes about loneliness. What I like is that, while it's probably really easy to go cliche with the setting of the prison, I didn't feel that was an issue.

Then there's the horses...and the little men. Okay, this I didn't get. Our inmate narrator will talk about the men and horses underground and things like that. I don't know, maybe mental illness is another theme? I'm sure those descriptions are rife with symbolism, but my little brain wasn't able to completely understand all of that. 

But I think that's something else I liked about the book. It had a little bit of lightness and fantasy to add to the otherwise dark and heavy overtone of the book. And who doesn't like a little bit left to the imagination? 

So a good read that I think will affect people in different ways, But definitely a lot there to digest.  

The Good Neighbor by A. J. Banner

I think I read this one while I was on maternity leave and in a post-partum fog. I say that only to warn you that yeah, this review will kinda suck. Not only is it a year-ish overdue, but I probably wasn't in my right mind as I read it, delirious from trying to keep a three year old and newborn from killing themselves or each other.

Speaking of killing people, this story begins with a deadly fire in Sarah's neighbor's house. She is able to rescue her neighbor's daughter, but the parents don't survive. Sarah ends up trying to rebuild her life with her husband (they ended up moving, but I can't remember why). And in dealing with her own insecurities and problems, she also has her neighbor's daughter occasionally in her care, and another teenage neighbor who has issues of her own. But their stories are all intertwined somehow, (I'm assuming, since I can't remember).

I went on Goodreads to read reviews to jog my memory and all I got were a bunch of "not really a psychological thriller" or "glad it was free" or this review by Becky, which is awesome, unlike her assessment of the book.

In a nutshell, not the greatest, but I don't think I hated it as much as everyone else. It was what I needed at the time, a brainless read. Of course, there are probably a lot of those out there that might not make you as angry at the end as this one did (at least according to the reviews I read, 'cause again, I don't remember). If this review is any indication at all, maybe you should just skip the book and read Becky's review of it, which I guarantee is more entertaining.