Movie Game

I’m new to Netgalley and this was my first book that I was approved for. I was quickly intrigued by premise of a teenager obsessed with movies, a mystery surrounding his father, a tragedy from his younger days, but this book just didn’t work for me.

Our main character, Joe, is just a terrible person. He cares about his sister, but only to keep her from interfering in his life. We are never given any indication they have a relationship, and they simply co-exist alone. Their mother is living with her boyfriend and has abandoned her children. Their father is MIA. No idea where he, a marine biologist, has gone. Do marine biologists often disappear for their job? Seems like a job that doesn’t have much intrigue behind it.

Joe and his friends play the “Movie Game” which involves someone saying an actor, next person says a movie the actor was in, next has to name another actor in that movie (I think, I’m not good with these kinds of games) and Joe frequently wins. But to have this be the title of the book is baffling to me. It was the most minor of subplots. I suppose Joe’s obsession with movies was to illustrate his escape from his tragedy where his girlfriend died. They were 14 and it was young love. Of course, anyone who loses a loved one when they are freshmen, has two awful parents will be a giant mess of a person, but I just wasn’t sold on Joe. He was too thin, too much of a stereotype.

There was an absolutely ridiculous plot involving the girl next door that didn’t fit at all. I felt like the author needed certain things to happen (Joe needed to learn about movies from the ’70s, he needed to have a place to escape, he needed someone to help him craft absurd lies, etc) and the author thought, “How can I get all these things to happen?” and he created this neighbor plot. There’s another plot involving a couple limo drivers and a scheme that didn’t work either. Again, it felt forced and wedged into the plot to make a couple events happen.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book. The author made attempts at using figurative language and I rolled my eyes at how bad it was. The mystery surrounding Joe’s father was ludicrous, and I didn’t care at all about Joe. His sister was so much more intriguing, but we didn’t spend much time with her at all.

Morning Star

My gosh. This series. Let me preface by saying I bought Morning Star one year ago. The minute I finished Golden Son, I knew I would be finishing the series. Waiting a year was torture, but absolutely worth it.

This book broke my heart a couple times, made me tear up a couple times (which says something for someone who doesn’t cry at books, ever) and I couldn’t wait to see what happened. The bad thing is that this series is complex, and unique, and full of characters that I couldn’t keep straight one book to another because I had to wait so long in between them. I should have done a reread of the first two. I remembered the general idea, but there are a lot of characters that ran together. Not only that, this book reads like a Russian novel. Characters are referred to by multiple names. First, last, war names, nicknames, and keeping them straight is often difficult. However, with a reread, or for someone who gets to read them 3 in a row, this won’t be a problem.

These are young adult books, but are definitely rated R for language and violence. I have no issues with this. Kids can handle a lot more than we give them credit for. And the violence isn’t one that’s realistic (unless our children are going to battle for Mars anytime soon). And I like that the story is complex and uses high vocabulary. As an adult, I was frequently looking up words on my Kindle. And I recently read that there will be another Red Rising trilogy. I can’t wait.

Wind Through the Keyhole

For the book challenge, I have to read a book and its prequel. What this means is open to interpretation. Is it the first two books in a series? Is it a book and then the prequel that was published after the original? So, my challenge, my rules. I went with the latter here. Instead of reading the Dark Tower books as they were published, I went ahead and read book 4.5 (as SK puts it) between books 4 and 5 even though it was published after the series was finished.

Much like Wizard and Glass, this one is a story about younger Roland. And much to my surprise, it is a story within a story within a story. Did you follow that? We have Roland and his ka-tet, then he tells them a story about the Skin Man, and within the Skin Man story, he tells another story about the Wind Through the Keyhole. This isn’t nearly as confusing as you would think. The story is layered masterfully and doesn’t jump between all three.

I listened to this one read by the author, which was great. He might not be the best speaker, but just having an author read his own words is more powerful to me than another person reading them. This was one of the shorter books in the series, which was a nice break, but still an overall enjoyable addition to the story. King is just the best storyteller of our time.

Saturn Run

When I walked into my local Barnes & Noble (sorry, indie bookstores. I would visit you if there were one within a 25 mile radius of my house) to find my “first book you see in a bookstore” challenge book. I blocked my peripheral vision so I didn’t end up with a cookbook or an origami book or a how to draw cars book. My only rule was that the first book I saw couldn’t be the book in the middle of a series, and it couldn’t be a book that I had already read. And there on the bottom shelf was Saturn Run. A science fiction book. I hate science fiction. Hate. Ugh.

And rather than spending $20 on a book I did not want to read, I put it on hold at the library. There were a few people ahead of me, so after several weeks, I got the email that this book was ready for download. And because there were people behind me on the reserve list, I got the book for 2 weeks only. It was happening. I had to read it. So, I set myself a 10% daily goal so I would have a little wiggle room. And I was so sucked into the book that I finished my daily goals with no problem. This was an excellent book.

The author, John Sandford, writes thrilllers, namely the Prey series. I had never heard of this guy until I picked up Saturn Run. But he apparently writes pretty decent books. On his twitter page, Stephen King is quoted saying “If you haven’t read Sandford, you’re missing one of the great summer-read novelists of all time.” This sounds like a back handed compliment to me, but if Sandford has it on his homepage, I guess he appreciated it. I believe he has 22 Prey books out.

So, for an author who normally writes thrillers, to delve into science fiction, there must be a little carryover of the original genre. And thankfully for this sci-fi disliking reader, there was. Imagine this book to be a fair combo of both. The story lagged in the middle for me, but once they got to Saturn (I don’t think it’s a spoiler, given the title) the plot picked up the pace. The characters were pretty thin, but with good female roles, so I can’t complain. Finding the “alien race” is one of my least favorite plots in any genre of book, but this book was really not about that as much as the science of getting to and from Saturn (assuming they do…. 😉 ).

I was pleasantly surprised by this one and will be checking out the Prey series at some point. It might take me a few years to read them all, but I am willing to bet they make great audio reads.

 

Generation A

Part of my reading goal for the year was to read any book recommended to me by a friend. This is how I found my way to Generation A. Well, really how I found my way to Douglas Copeland and my library had this copy, so I went with it. A friend recommended several of his books, but this was the easiest to obtain for free.

Knowing absolutely nothing about the author, genre, plot, etc I was really nervous about this book. I don’t like to be out of my comfort zone much. But I’m trying to force myself to do so, hence the friend recommendation. No matter the book, I vow to read it. And what a nice little surprise this one was.

Set in the future where bees are extinct, 5 people in random parts of the world get stung. The 5 people are alternating narrators, each getting their own chapters, and then their lives converge about halfway through. I felt the second half was a little less interesting than the first, but everything comes together nicely in the end. The 5 narrators were distinct enough to keep them separate in my head, but blended well together, also, for reasons I won’t get into.

If this book is representative of Copeland’s work, I will definitely be checking him out further. I’m not sure about some of the recommendations coming up, but I will keep posting about them, good or bad. I know a western is in my future. Ugh.

Atonement

For my book challenge, I had to select a book that takes place in the summer. A quick Goodreads search lead me to Atonement, yet another book I own but have never read. And I have seen the movie, but the only thing I remember about it was that I just did not want to see it at all. But my best friend twisted my arm. And once I finished the book, the movie’s ending all came back to me. I had completely blanked on the entire plot, which is a good thing given the nice little twist at the end.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I really didn’t know what to expect, and when a book gets rave reviews, I’m usually hesitant to jump on board. But this one holds up. I am not a Hemingway fan, really, but I kept thinking about A Farewell to Arms while reading this one. Don’t let that sway you, though. McEwan’s writing style is much more palatable than Hemingway’s short prose. I was completely sucked into this story, and not solely because of the plot. The descriptions and language are beautiful.

I had to give this one five stars, mostly because of the writing, but also, in part, because it really was a captivating story. I kept wondering if Cecilia and Robbie would end up together after all. I wanted to hate Briony, but I mostly felt sorry for her. Being 13 just sucks. She should have known better, but this poor girl was so neglected, that I had to pity her just a bit.