2017 Reading Round-up #11-15

Uprooted | Naomi Novik

UprootedI’d been meaning to pick up some of Naomi Novik’s original work forever, and I’m glad I finally did (at the urging of several friends). What surprised me the most was how much plot is crammed into a single book, and boy did I miss grown-up fantasy that can move. The characters and their relationships were every bit as dynamic as I’d hoped and I thoroughly enjoyed unraveling the layers of world-building. It isn’t a perfect book, but I’m a bit blinded by my loyalty to the author and look forward to supporting whatever comes next. A-

 

In the Woods | Tana French

In the Woods

This book kicked off my search for compelling mysteries, and its premise offers a lot: a murder detective is assigned to a case in the same place he grew up, and appears to be linked to a traumatic incident from his past. It’s rare for me to be drawn to a more literary writing style, but I have to say, French’s mysteries are laced with gorgeous and evocative images. This book was strongly recommended to me as the necessary first in a series, but with the caveat that the ending falls apart– and it does. My empathy for the main character plummeted and I felt robbed of a real resolution. B

 

Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir | Eddie Huang

fresh-off-the-boat

What started off as research for a spec I was writing turned into one hell of an unexpected delight. Growing up as the child of FOBs has been such a defining part of who I am, and I am entirely cut off from that community in LA. Huang spoke to so many parts of my experience with a nuance and complexity and flavor that I had never experienced before. His thoughts on cultural appropriation versus sharing culture via food are charmingly sophisticated and plain-spoken, which is rare for culture/race discussions these days. While I disagree with some of what he has to say, I sincerely hope more people engage with his work and point-of-view. It is, at the very least, surprising, engaging, and satisfying. A+

Lirael | Garth Nix

lirael

Boy am I glad I came back to this series after stopping after Sabriel when I was a kid. I was incredibly charmed to see the main characters from the first book grown up into rulers and parents. While it starts a little heavy on the teen angst, the main characters do grow and become lovable. It suffers slightly when the ‘normie’ character, Sameth, learns that he isn’t meant to be the next Abhorsen (necromancer). It’s a relief for him, but Nix doesn’t show us where Sameth fits in or what his path is in a satisfying way, but tries to tell us it does exist. That aside, the entire series is worth reading for the brilliant world-building alone.  B+

 

The Ghost Bride | Yangsze Choo

the ghost bride

I was so thrilled to find out this book existed, and unfortunately that set my expectations too high. I found it while researching Malay mythology for one of my own writing projects. It centers around a young woman who has to solve a murder mystery by entering the world of the dead, and winds up in a love triangle in the process. The world itself has brilliant potential, with the living being obligated to make sacrifices to provide their deceased loved ones. Sadly, the characters and their relationships left a lot to be desired, and I didn’t find myself all that interested in the outcome of love triangle and the main character’s choices by the end. B-

 

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