So much for my next post being something different, turns out my real life is boring as hell to write about. So here’s another wrap-up of my last month’s reading. As before, all books link to their Book Depository page.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: My feelings on this one are kind of mixed, because I expected to love it, wound up merely liking it, and as a result am not entirely sure what to say. There are flaws. I feel setting the story so near in the future was a misstep, and the idea of a regime like this taking over a whole society within one generation is highly implausible. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the situations presented in this book aren’t far from the realities faced by woman all over the world today, and I thought this book did a great job of challenging those realities in an interesting way.
77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz: I know a lot of people love him, but Dean Koontz is hit or miss for me. This time I found myself disappointed due to the fact that this book was marketed as supernatural horror when it reality it’s science fiction. Not that science fiction can’t be scary, I just felt a little let down when I found out what was really going on. That, and that fact that Koontz felt he could let his back story rest on generic “Indians”, without even bothering to Google a couple of tribe names or anything. There was also a throw-away line about PTSD being invented by psychiatrists, and these lazy little slights kept pulling me out of the story.
Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice: I expected this one to be much more controversial than it was. At the end of the day, it was a very reverent and traditionally Catholic story about Jesus’ childhood. I did find myself annoyed about the author’s note at the end, where Rice brags on and on about how much research went into the novel, when in reality there isn’t anything here you couldn’t learn in a freshman level Intro to Christian Theology class. If you’re looking for something revolutionary, there isn’t much here, however, the book itself is well written and a surprisingly quick read. There’s a sequel depicting Jesus’ adolescence, and I definitely plan on checking it out.
The Book of Hard Things by Sue Halpern: This one failed the 100-page test. It’s one of those “hard stories about the hard people who live in hard places”, and the most innovative thing about it is that it takes place in upstate New York as opposed to somewhere in Appalachia. The characters are flat, the plot is cliche, and after the first hundred pages I was just skimming to make sure I was right about the ending, which is a shame, because Halpern’s writing style was simple and clean and very pleasant to read.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad: I expected to appreciate this early critique of colonialism, but not necessarily to enjoy it. However, Conrad’s prose was beautiful, even haunting in a couple of places. Obviously there are problematic elements, but I still find myself thinking about this one even though I read it towards the beginning of the month. I definitely plan of checking out more of Conrad’s work.
Letters from the Earth by Mark Twain: This short story collection was the highlight of my reading month. It was everything I was hoping to get from Christ the Lord and didn’t. In the title story, Satan pays a visit to Earth and writes letters to the other angels about the odd religious ideas humans have come up with. All the stories are biting, sarcastic takes on morality and religion, specifically Christianity. This book will definitely not be for everyone but, depending on your sense of humor, it may very well be worth the read. I personally adored it.
Todd, the Ugliest Kid on Earth Volume 2 by Ken Kristensen and M.K. Perker: Yes, I read volume two after disliking volume one so much, mainly because I owned it already. This one was slightly better, and I actually found myself laughing a few times. However, this series still isn’t anywhere near as controversial or outlandish as it believes itself to be, and I have no intention of picking up volume three, should that ever become an option.
Hellboy: Wake the Devil by Mike Mignola: This is volume two in the series, and while I felt the story line was a bit rushed, I was glad to learn more about the main antagonists and see some buildup towards the final showdown. Hellboy has such a great vibe. Elements of vintage and pulp come together seamlessly, and I love the bold artwork and hyperreal colors.
This month was a fantastic reading month, mainly because things have been incredibly slow at work lately. However, the holidays are nigh, and I’m sure the next couple months will be a bit more hectic. My plan is to have at least one other post before next month’s wrap-up, but honestly, things just aren’t going that great, and it’s more fun to escape into other people’s stories than reflect back on my own. So yeah. Hopefully you didn’t come over here hoping for some positivity.