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review 2018-01-07 12:59
The Book of Joan
The Book of Joan: A Novel - Lidia Yuknavitch

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

A tricky rating to give, for I did like some parts of this novel, but others just didn’t sit with me.

It made for intense read, for sure: for the catastrophe it depicts, the parallels it draws with our current world, the violence inflicted to characters (and especially women), the crude representation of a degenerated mankind, the desperate way the main characters live their lives. Christine and Trinculo, lovers in bodies that cannot experience physical pleasure anymore, united through skin grafts and art instead, as well as through their common support of Joan of Dirt, burnt for heresy. Leone, sexless and hardened warrior who never gives up. Nyx and their willingness to bring about destruction to help creation in turn.

One may or may not appreciate, also, the literary references. Jean de Men is most obviously a reference to Jean de Meung, and his perverted goals a direct echo of de Meung’s writings about women being deceitful and full of vice. In the same vein, Christine is Christine de Pisan, whose own writings attacked de Meung’s. Trinculo, both in name and behaviour, is the Shakespearian fool, whose apparently nonsensical language and insults are used to carry unconvenient truths. This goes further, since Christine is a feminist voice who lost her physical femininity, while Jean defiles bodies too close to his for comfort. As far as I’m concerned, those worked for me.

The writing itself, too, has beautiful moments, and weaves metaphors and descriptions in a way that gives the story a surreal aspect. Something larger than life, something that the characters try to reach for and clutch to, just like they clutch to their past sexualised humanity because they don’t really know what to do with their new bodies, much too fast devolved.

The science fiction side, though, didn’t work so well, and even though I was willing to suspend my disbelief, I couldn’t get over the evolutionary processes throughout the story. Joan’s power? Alright, why not. But human bodies degenerating to sexless, hairless, mutating in such a rapid way affecting everybody, not even on two or three generations but within one’s own lifetime? That’s just completely illogical. I see the intent, I understand it to an extent ( as it pitches this broken mankind with its broken bodies against the one being who brought destruction yet at the same time is the only one who can still bring about true creation), but it still won’t work for me from a scientific standpoint, which is something I still expect to see in a sci-fi/post-apocalyptic setting.

The writing deals with first person points of view that aren’t necessarily the same person’s from one chapter to the other, and it made the story confusing at times, until a hint or other made it clearer whose voice I was reading. At times, it made the narrative disjointed and the characters ‘remote’, which made it more difficult to really care for them.

Nevertheless, it was a compelling read that goes for the guts, violent despite—or because of?—its poetry.

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review 2017-12-31 09:02
High "Holy-Shit!" quotient
The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham

That was awesome! I love it when pop-culture classics are really all that.

 

This one kept surprising me:

 

- Because I had NO IDEA what it was about (beyond some vague notion that there was an apocalyptic event, and some plants were involved)

 

- It changed lanes and directions non-stop (no getting too comfortable here, shit kept happening and fucking everything up)

 

- The dry, matter of fact and concise way some things were put, like

 

Oh, yeah, and one day those plants picked themselves up and went walking, whats it to you? Did I mention they are carnivore? Bah! People got over the novelty in a week or so

(spoiler show)

 

- And the sassy social commentary.

 

I was very much entertained, and could hardly stop reading, or muttering exclamations every chapter or so. Classic campy deliciousness. Loved it.

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review 2017-12-25 01:55
What thoughts do eggs have?
Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too: A Book - Jomny Sun

Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun was an odd little book.  The reader follows our main character who is an alien (or aliebn if you prefer) sent to earth to learn about humans but because he's never met one he assumes every living thing he sees is a human. Therefore, he becomes good friends with a tree, beaver, egg, etc. Reminiscent of Find the Good, this book is chock full of life lessons about what truly matters. Our little alien friend learns how to be content and happy, what loneliness is, how to be a good friend, the value of creativity, and most of all how to accept oneself. There's also an underlying message about doomsday and what the planet would be like without human habitation. Is this actually an apocalyptic tale cloaked behind a cute alien story?  I have to point out that the misspelling (as you see in the title) was highly annoying even after I managed to somewhat successfully ignore it and took away some enjoyment from the overall reading of the book. However, if you are able to look past that (and I was mostly successful) then it's a nice little read with great messages. This author isn't afraid to tackle tough subjects and I believe he does so with sensitivity and insight. This would make a great gift for that introspective friend (or a great addition to your own collection). I'd say it was a solid 7/10 because while it was a really nice book it didn't blow me out of the water. (The best graphic novel remains The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins.)

 

Source: Sweet

 

 

What's Up Next: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

 

What I'm Currently Reading: it's 1 day til Christmas...do you think I'm reading?

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-12-23 18:26
The Last Dog on Earth
The Last Dog on Earth - Adrian J. Walker

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

Hmm, bit of a tough one, I don’t really know why it took me so long to finish it, because it’s not a particularly long book?

The topics are both hopeful (a man who embarks on a journey with his dog, to help a child he doesn’t want anything to do with at first, with their relationship developing along the way) and bleak (a maybe not so unbelievable future, unfortunately, considering the current state of affairs in the world, with political parties rising to power and starting to test people to see if they’re ‘of the right type’, rounding up people and putting them in camps ensue...). Probably not the kind of thing I’ve wanted to read recently, which may explain in part the lull I was in regarding this novel, but the latter theme is interesting nonetheless!

So. Great moments throughout the book. Having both Reg’s and Linekeer’s narratives side to side. The dog’s musings about life, what it means to be a dog, how he perceives the world (the smell of fear or grief of happiness, etc.), how he sees us humans and is both awed yet unable to comprehend us. The dire landscape of London, or rather what’s left of it, after a series of attacks coupled with the raise to power of the ‘Purple’ political party. Reg’s progress, from agoraphobic to forced out of his cocoon to actually choosing to stay out, and why he retreated so from the world.

However, I still never really connected with the characters in general. At times they’d have reactions that made me pause and wonder how they had survived so long in such a city, because let’s be honest, ‘fight or flight’ is OK, but ‘stay where I am, paralysed with fear, while bullets fly around me’ is not exactly conducive to long-term survival. I also wished we had had more of the bigger picture, instead of snippets about what happened to the world/London. (I know that wasn’t the focus, the point was the characters and their developing relationships, but it still bothered me.)

Although I do tend to agree with Lineker regarding how people who acknowledge how shitty they are, are the ones who may become the kindest, whereas the monsters keep thinking of themselves as being better, and never question themselves. It... makes sense.

Conclusion: As mentioned, possibly it wasn’t the right moment for me to read this book. I didn’t really enjoy it in spite of finding good, interesting points in it. But I don’t even really know why. I’d say, clearly a matter of ‘in the eye of the beholder’ here, rather than plenty of faults on the novel’s part.

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review 2017-12-17 13:18
London: Orbital (The Change #1)
The Change 1: London: Orbital - Guy Adams

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

(For some reason, when I requested it, I thought it was a graphic novel. Probably because of the cover. I really like that cover.)

This was a fast read with good and bad sides, and I’m very much undecided about it.

The quick pace gave a sense of urgency to the plot, and made the events all the more gruesome for the characters involved: some you don’t get to know that much before something happens, but at the same time, in a post-apocalyptic setting where whatever caused all the surrounding may still be around, it does make sense. Can’t have kittens and flowers and all the time in the world, it’s gritty, and it shows.

I liked this first episode’s depiction of a ravaged Greater London, and very likely world in general. There isn’t much information at this point about ‘the Change’, although it’s heavily hinted that whatever it was, those who saw it died, so now nobody really knows. There’s a lot of gory stuff going on, too, as people along the way get picked by... well, what’s following Howard, basically. The way that was depicted conveyed the feeling of horror well enough, and made those parts of the story pretty frightening?

On the downside, the quick pace I mentioned previously was also a two-edged sword. For one thing, it made things confusing. It’s difficult to have a story that unfolds quickly without revealing too many details in one go, but at the same time keeps interest fully up by still giving out enough answers; for me, at this point, I was just lacking that extra bit of information. And with Howard missing his memories, it’s one more point of view that cannot bring answers to the many questions raised throughout the novel, so in the end I had a hard time keeping my attention up.

The pace also made it hard to connect with the characters, which is something that often jars with me in post-ap stories in general, anyway: characters clicking with each other very quickly because ‘we’re all in this together’ vs. ‘the world as we knew it has ended, how can I trust just about anyone I meet?’

Conclusion: There are interesting elements in here, but the story left me more confused than curious about the final answers, and I couldn’t really care about the main characters.

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