2017 Reading Roundup #16-20

Originals | Adam Grant

Originals  I generally steer clear of anything like self-help books, but after being exposed to some of the ideas in Originals via podcasts and articles, I decided to give it a go. The reason I dislike self-help books is two fold, 1) it’s typically decent advice that doesn’t merit a whole book and thus becomes self-parody partway through 2) they never acknowledge how much of success is related to factors outside of the reader’s control, because if the reader doesn’t believe this one easy trick will fix their life, they won’t feel good and people won’t buy the book. So what I respect about Originals is that it acknowledges the limitations of making assertions without data, so even when points are supported anecdotally, they’re fairly presented. Secondly, Grant acknowledges the messiness and uncertainty around the issues about which he is writing. He clearly states that women and people of color are at a disadvantage when trying to make changes in a system when they see flaws, etc. Moreover, not one aspect of the bookfeels like obvious advice. Sometimes, human nature works in counterintuitive ways, which means working with people/organizations involves counterintuitive strategies. This was at the core of what I got out of the book about non-conformity: it was reassuring that my unusual ways of dealing with decision making, creativity, human relationships, etc, are often advantageous without my knowing it. I of course learned a lot of ways to improve as well, but as someone who always felt reaching her goals would involve changing a lot about herself, I found myself relieved by almost every chapter. A

By Nightfall | Michael Cunningham

By Nightfall This book is a paint-by-numbers piece of literary fiction by a male author with one twist. It’s about an older man in an artistic field coming to grips with his mortality, whose relationship with his wife is stale, whose daughter in oh-so-incomprehensible and angry with him, etc, etc. Themes include: is he unambitious to be satisfied with only moderate success? Art and death, how about that? Beauty, man, it sure is compelling. So naturally the next thing to happen is that he becomes infatuated with someone young and flighty and brilliant and beautiful, but tragically destined to burn bright and die young. The twist: the gorgeous thing is a young man! His junkie brother-in-law, who he smooches a couple of times. At the end we learn that he has literally no clue about his wife’s inner life because she says she wants to leave him and he cannot fathom that she was also unhappy in their marriage. It’s like someone cobbled together a book out of male novelist tropes from The Toast. C+

The Art of War | Sun Tzu

art of war I read this book so I could say I had, and that’s more or less all I got out of it. And some laughs, I suppose. If I’m being respectful, I acknowledge that it is a treasured part of Chinese history, and understand how almost spiritually important it is to them as a culture. But it is baffling to me that people read this in business school and the like. Right now there are hundreds of MBAs out there with a bunch of random trivia knocking around their brains about how to conduct a land war on ancient Chinese terrain. Which I suppose is kind of surreally funny, but hardly seems worth it. Every lesson contradicts some other and the majority of the book is a) be competent, b) don’t be incompetent, c) simply never get in a situation where you’re at a disadvantage or likely to lose, and if you are, see a) and b). It was interesting to note which points the author tried to fuse the idea of The Path with his tactics, and where he just went with ruthlessness and “all’s fair in love and war”. It’s telling how spiritual purity sneaks into justification for war since forever. F

The Likeness | Tana French

The Likeness Again, I’m totally beguiled by Tana French’s writing. I cannot even fully explain what wraps me up in these mysteries so deeply now that I’m on the other side. The plot of this one is that a detective bears an uncanny resemblance to a corpse and goes under cover as the murder victim to figure out who killed her. The emotional dynamic between the main character and the murder victims close friend circle is tense and interesting, even though I had a hard time believing the premise could realistically be pulled off. The book is haunting and creepy while being very grounded in the world of the Dublin murder squad. Despite its one plot flaw, I am definitely committed to reading the rest of Tana French’s series, and looking forward to getting lost in the delicious writing. B+

Some Girls: My Life in a Harem | Jillian Lauren

Some Girl I figured given how much sex workers tend to serve as props in film and tv, that it would be a good idea to read some work by someone who had actually lived that experience. It helped that the story also involved politics, intrigue, and the Sultan of Brunei. I really appreciated the humor and candid language, especially given the author’s journey after she left Brunei for the last time. I can’t say the perspective or insights were especially enlightening, but they were entertaining and I did feel I got to know the heart and mind of someone who I wouldn’t ordinarily get to hear from. B


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


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


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-


2017 Reading Round-up #6-10

Hallucinations | Oliver Sacks

Hallucinations Oliver SacksSacks’s writing is just as engrossing and charming in Hallucinations as it is in Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. I’ve always been drawn to stories of the weird things brains do and how we interpret them, but hallucinations in particular feel almost like a literary device shedding light on some aspect of those who suffer from them. More importantly, I appreciate Sacks treatment of his subjects as people rather than medical oddities. It’s clearly a big part of the reason for his success and makes the process of reading feel more like learning and less like gathering meaningless trivia. A

China Rich Girlfriend (Crazy Rich Asians #2) | Kevin Kwan China Rich Girlfriend

I read the first book in this series, Crazy Rich Asians, largely because the title made me think of home. I didn’t expect to fall in love with a book almost purely consisting of romantic intrigue, but I. am. addicted. I’m so invested in Astrid’s well-being, and the author was smart to center the drama around Rachel’s new found family, since her perfect relationship with Nick has limited interest even if I’m rooting for them. I was surprised at my interest in Kitty Pong’s story, even if I could see the twists coming. I’m looking forward to part three as well as the film. A

MonstressMonstress, Vol. 1: Awakening | Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda, Rus Wooton

I bought this book largely because the artistic style is just so beautiful. I was warned about how dark the story is, and while is gloomy and edgy, I found it a little forgettable.  This is probably the result of my usual inability to connect with graphic novels the way I do with regular books. Unlike other visually striking graphic novels, the sheer creativity and gorgeousness kept me interested and I don’t regret owning the volume. So for the low time investment, I’ll give it a B+.

Shrill | Lindy West Shrill

This is a book I know I’m going to read more than once in my life. I got it from the library and then went out and bought it. There were selections from every passage that I wanted to shout from the rooftops and then also send directly to so many people I know– “This! This is what I mean, articulated funnier and better than I could say it.” There’s a lot of ell-oh-ell-feminist stuff out there right now, and Lindy’s voice just soars above the pap because she actually has something to say. But even apart from the stuff I expected (real talk on fat phobia, abortion, rape jokes, trolls), her personal stories about losing her father and her relationship with her husband, were beautifully told and moving. A+

Saints AstraySaints Astray | Jacqueline Carey

This sequel is much weaker than the original, which was doubly disappointing given the fact that our gutsy leads now get to have international adventures instead of being stuck in sad dystopia town. But unfortunately the boy-band subplot just didn’t do it for me and I found the conversations between the main couple to be tiresome and repetitive. It still gets points for a fun training-to-be-secret-service-types sequence, a few side characters, and the greater plot resolution. I love how Carey can scale up a story and make me believe the future of a dystopia really does lie with her lead (whose simple resolve I still love in a similar way to Phedre’s). B-

2017 Reading Round-up #1-5

I’ve decided to continue my tradition of doing mini-reviews for books, but this time, chronologically as I go! Also, I’m going to start giving letter grades, since the star system has never worked for me, but I would like to give a more concise rating.

Santa Olivia | Jacqueline Carey

Santa OliviaIn my endless search for modern fantasy, I finally returned to Jacqueline Carey, given how high quality the first Kushiel’s Legacy trilogy is. And while this is nowhere as rich a world, I can safely say few authors can make me care about a dystopian lesbian “werewolf” superhero origin story. Fewer still could make me care about boxing. While the story occasionally drags before we get to the climactic fight, it does set up a conflict that will definitely make me come back for the sequel. As expected given the author, the main romance is totally adorable, and as usual Carey brings a realism to all the relationships that elevates the writing above its genre. B+

The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl #7) | Eoin Colfer

Since I picked up the books again, this is the first installment of Artemis Fowl that hit me Atlantis Complexemotionally. If I had been in writing the books myself, I would probably have done something similar at this stage. Namely, having the emotional consequences of being a criminal mastermind who grows a moral conscience actually hit Artemis hard enough to incapacitate him. Most people don’t change for the better in one perfect step, and often the pendulum swings pretty far before it settles down to a reasonable place (if ever). The price of this fantastic concept is that we get “split personality” Artemis, Orion, an incredibly cringey character who has to exist for laughs in the middle-grade world, but who I could have done without. The return of Juliet to the story, and her and Butler’s subplot was a fun addition as well, even if the execution did not quite live up to the concept. B

Between the World and Me | Ta-Nahesi Coates

Between The World and Me

I picked this up because, like a lot of people, I felt more than a little skeptical of the optimism of the post-civil-rights-movement-America, that told me progress toward equality was a one way march, that every day things were getting better. (What I observed about groups of people led me to believe that in all struggles for equality, those who had to make space or share power react very badly to having to do this and will cling to power.) Coates conveys the pain of living on the short end of this stick poetically and I learned a lot. That said, some people suggest it be required reading for anyone who thinks racism is over, but I disagree. It’s definitely written for a mind that is already open and empathetic to the premise that being black in America is profound disadvantage. A

Black Sun Rising | C.S. Friedman Black Sun Rising

Oh man, what a JOURNEY. A friend is reading this trilogy aloud to me as a weekend drink-wine-and-cackle-at-overwrought-fantasy-nonsense activity, and let me tell you, no writer has approached the sheer stringy-haired dungeon master tone of Brad Neely’s ‘Wizard People’ voice as this series does. My friend pitched me this as the series that convinced her that if being gay was wrong, she didn’t want to be right, because of Idiot Itinerant Warrior Priest Damien Kilcannon Vryce’s (really) reluctant/hopeless crush on Science Fiction Vampire Gerald Tarrant. Friedman sets up a (DEEPLY) unnecessarily complicated premise in which Geraldo is the prophet of Damien’s church but also like fallen angel-type because they’re on an alien planet that responds to human will and is Totally Not Magic and Geraldo set up the church to use the collective will to synthesize a god to allow them to leave the planet because they crash-landed. Then the church decided magic was evil and because Gerald did magic he was going to be condemned to hell so he made a deal with hell to become a vampire so he could live forever and see if the world’s worst thought experiment would work. So now he’s a Neocount (YUP) and magically genetically engineers (only black) horses presumably because of his commitment to the goth fantasy aesthetic. This all occurs, I shit you not, 900 years before the book begins. Long story long, A+ for giving me hours of bleary late-night laughs, F for literally everything else.

The Next Big One | Derek Des Agnes

The Next Big OneA couple of Thanksgivings ago I was in London visiting my adopted fake son, Andrew, with Andrew’s nemesis, Kathleen. Andrew’s friend, Derek (and his girlfriend and boyfriend) were kind enough to host/tolerate our weird American turkey ritual, and then Derek became an internet friendquaintance. Cut to a couple years later, I read his book, and it is one of the better mystery/thrillers I’ve read in a while. It’s about a journalism student, Ben, covering a viral outbreak who stumbles into a greater conspiracy. Apart from the fact that I spent most of the book preoccupied with wanting someone to just intervene and save Ben from his neurotic self, it was an enjoyable read. The world felt authentic, the story moves quick, and the writing is entertaining. Bonus: genuinely diverse cast of characters. A-

2016 reading roundup | fantasy

Final post for my 2016 reading roundup! Now I have to come up with new content to post. I saved fantasy for last, since it can compete with sci-fi for sheer volume I read per year, and is further complicated by containing bits of several series. And while my love for the genre persists, I this year’s showing was less impressive.

Howl’s Moving Castle | Diana Wynne Jones

howlsmovingcastle2I’m really inviting hate here, but this book felt very much like a Neil Gaiman novel, but more effective. The best part of the writing is that humor and whimsy, and its meta acknowledgment of the tropes of fairytales. Occasionally the characters personalities grated on me (as trope, inequality in romantic relationships bugs me, especially when one character is falling for another over the course of a whole book and the other just sort of reciprocates at the last moment). But I was still very invested in how each mystery and misunderstanding would unfold. Of course, world building and side characters were also fun.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child | Not J.K. Rowling That’s For Sure

What the fuck did I just read? This play is a rollercoaster of bizarre from harry_potter_and_the_cursed_child_special_rehearsal_edition_book_coverstart to finish. Before I read it, I clung to a shred of hope that I would feel that spark I did with the books. Cedric was the only death (apart from Harry’s ‘death’) that made me cry in the books, so I was predisposed to forgiving the insane plot to save him. But this made no damn sense and the characterizations (particularly Ron) were so strange. Also, they should have just had Albus Severus and Scorpius fall in love. It was time.

Wildwood Dancing & Cybele’s Secret | Juliet Marillier

wildwoodWildwood ended being the second book about Transylvania and vampires I read this year without knowing that’s what I was getting into. I enjoyed the core story about a witch’s curse setting into motion a subtle plot that helps the main character fulfill her destiny without her realizing it. Unfortunately, both the story and the protagonist were bogged down with Tati’s subplot about falling in love with a not!vampire, both of whom were weak characters.

After Sarah recounted the plot of Cybele’s, I decided to cybelegive it a go since it was available as an audiobook from the library. I vastly preferred this to Wildwood, mostly because of the setting (Turkey) and historical context. Apart from the fact that once again a Marillier heroine chose the wrong boy, I felt uncomfortable with the plot twist about who the villain was. It was Dan Brown-esque, for one thing, and I don’t love the trope of feminazi villain. It had a lot of charming Marillier trappings, and was a pretty read. It’s hard not to compare everything she writes to Sevenwaters, but I found this duo fell short of her best.


The Historian | Elizabeth Kostova

the-historianI totally forgot that this book was about Dracula until I started reading it. I would have put it down after the disappointment of Sunshine, but I found myself thoroughly entertained. So much so, that I checked reviews to make sure it wasn’t outrageously popular and I just missed it, and that’s exactly what happened. Something about the mystery and the mood Kostova evoked was compelling enough that I even went along with the anti-climax. I’m someone who loves a lot of gothic sensibilities, but find myself less-than-impressed with many of things that describe themselves as such. So it was all the more pleasant to find an exception in The Historian

The Magician King & The Magician’s Land | Lev Grossman

I finally finished the sequels to The Magicians, and am upset that I let myself wait so long to do it.the-magicians I let myself believe people when they said they weren’t worth the time, but as flawed as these books are, I found and enjoyed so much in them that I simply cannot see anywhere else. Yes, sometimes the pacing is strange and there are some patterns with characterization that need straightening out. But at its core its about people whose identities are very tied to certain fantasy series from childhood, and is a realistic representation of what it is like to approach life from the lens of someone who think9780670022311_MagicianKing_CVF.indds in those terms. It’s the level of meta I want to engage with constantly, and allows me to appreciate that the author started out as a critic.

Apart from the occasional overly edgy line, they’re also genuinely funny. Janet’s emotional arc was incredible, and Eliot will always be my favorite. Even Quentin, who was as annoying as people said he was, grew in a satisfying way. I was surprised at how well I liked Julia’s journey with Reynard, and also how much I needed to confront Ember and Umber for their BS. As world-building goes, this series approaches the rare glory of Harry Potter, with less whimsy but fantastic bite.

lost-colonyArtemis Fowl: The Lost Colony & Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox | Eoin Colfer

It was a total joy to return to Artemis Fowl, which also merits a comparison to Harry Potter in how formative it was for me. (I am forever seeking clever modern fantasy, and am forever disappointed in recommendations.) I was worried about returning to the series, since many of my friends and I gave up on it for losing its way, but the low time investment combined with the genuine charm they still have made it worth it.

Seeing the reversartemisfowltimeparadoxcovere-Holmesian structure to Artemis’s schemes was a great nostalgia trip into the beginning of my predilection for the Tony Stark/Dr. House rude genius archetype. I also enjoyed the introduction of the world of dogmatic demons, which felt very Douglas Adams, and look forward to the antics of the rebelliously sweet No1, now that he’s joined the team. Aside from one of the villains being a bit cartoonishly evil for a kids’ series that is about moral gray areas, I totally respect where Colfer is taking the series. I decided to save the final two books for 2017, since a little middle-grade goes a long way.

2016 reading roundup | graphic novels

My takeaway from this year’s adventures in reading comics was: I’m largely not going to ‘get’ the massively influential or popular stuff, but sticking to the couple of series I know I enjoy is quite rewarding.

The Killing Joke | Alan Moore

So, I’m sittingkillingjoke in my living room, talking to my roommate about comic books. She’s a big fan of the bat family and I like hearing her opinions on the goings on of the DC universe. I make curmudgeonly comments about Christopher Nolan’s political conservatism; she begins to rant about how overrated The Killing Joke is, on top of which, the recent animated adaptation, she says, takes a mediocre story and makes it worse! Alan Moore himself don’t consider it to be among their better work. “Oh,” I respond, “well it’s too bad I borrowed it from the library today just to find out what all the fuss is about.” And this, my friends, turns out to be a better plot twist than what I found in The Killing Joke.

Sex Criminals, Volume 3  | Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky sexcriminals_vol3-1

I was worried this series would lose its charm as it got weirder, but it hasn’t. It’s still delightfully real, and while  I was not totally on board with how it broke the fourth wall, I appreciated the emotional honesty. It is also just refreshing to read something progressive enough that an ace character is a given, not something to search for between the lines. I usually find it difficult to stay invested with such long gaps between volumes, but I am so glad I have stuck with this one, and look forward to seeing where it will go.

The Wicked + The Divine: Fandemonium, Commercial Suicide | Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie

I’m glad I accidentally waited until I could read two volumes back to back, because graphic novels are a slightly unintuitive medium for me, and this allowed me to get into the story more. I am definitely raising this series in the ranks of graphic novels I care about, just under Sex Criminals. Pop-stars as gods is just a great idea to begin with, and I really hope we get to see more international cultures’ reverence/devotion/obsession with their equivalent celebrities come into the story. The plot is no longer as slow-moving as it had been in the past, and I’m beginning to get a sense of where it might go. Hopefully, given the release structure of comics, it isn’t forced into rushing a conclusion.

Pretty Deadly | Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Ríos

The art is pretty, but I have the same problem with it as I generally do wMARVELCoverTemp copy.indtith graphic novels: I don’t feel like I’m experiencing the heightened emotions I’m supposed to be feeling as I read. The images scream “WHOA PLOT TWIST LOOK AT THAT”, and I’m thinking “Uh-huh, okay”. The overarching effect is that I feel like someone is trying to manipulate my emotions via blunt force, which is already grating, but they’re also really ineffective at it, which is exhausting. I keep thinking if I read more I will adjust, but it hasn’t happened yet. 

Sandman, Volume 1: Preludes & Nocturnes | Neil Gaiman

sandman-vol-1Gaiman’s very hit or miss for me, and this was a miss. There were a couple of arcs that worked for me, like the one in hell and a bit of the Constantine stuff, but I don’t feel compelled to  finish the series. As with everything well-known that I read, I’m just happy to finally have a semi-informed opinion.


2016 reading roundup | recs from friends

As I was creating categories for my posts, I realized a group of books were emerging as ‘miscellaneous’, in terms of genre. Many of them were among the most challenging to get through, and all of them were recommendations from friends, so I gave them this post. Several of the books I sorted into other categories could go here, but catch-alls gotta catch-all:

Await Your Apply | Dan Chaon

This book wayras pitched heavily on a plot twist, a good portion of which I guessed at early. But as a person who believes strongly that figuring out the plot doesn’t ruin a story, I have to say my lukewarm feelings toward the story don’t come from ‘spoiling’ it for myself, but from a distaste for the characters. From a sad, desperate man searching for his shitty, delusional brother, to Lucy, the quintessential teenage-girl-as-written-by-adult-man, I didn’t care what happened to any of them. They all could have been redeemed if I felt I could trust the book to be saying something true and necessary about schizophrenia, but instead mental illness was used as a crutch for a plot twist, like in a Hollywood horror movie. That isn’t always a bad thing, but since this novel has literary fiction aspirations, I think it’s a worthwhile criticism to make. I did think the ending was fairly well crafted, and became somewhat drawn in at the last moment, but were it not a such a high recommendation, I would never have read that far.

Night Film | Marisha Pessl pessl_night-film

Marley recommended this book because it is a mystery unfolding around a cult film director, with the caveat that the final 30 pages are to be ignored. I completely agree with her on that last part. This book completely sucked me in with the ‘is it supernatural or not’ mystery, and even though it is 600+ pages long, it never drags and I tore through it. I found the each of the noir-lite characters bland, and the mystique around both the film director and his dead daughter quite cheesy at times. But I so rarely find compelling mysteries, so Night Film still remains one of the better ones I’ve read.

Waiting for the Barbarians | J. M. Coetzee

This book came as a recommendation from a friend who said it’s one of his top 3-5 of all time, so I feel guilty about just how much I couldn’t stand it. It’s actually a little insane how much the explicit politics of the book conflict with my reading of it. The main character is a magistratwaiting-for-the-barbarians-by-j-m-coetzeee of an unnamed (white) Empire in some made up land of brown people, and spends the book struggling with conflicted feelings about his people’s abuse of locals. The microcosm of this feeling is focused on this blind native woman who he has a weird fetish for, and takes in and ritually bathes for some reason, and doesn’t sleep with, until he does. Her point of view is totally opaque to him, because he’s just such an awful person he can’t empathize with her at all, despite being fascinated and infatuated. The book is supposed to reflect what it’s like to be part of a society that is oppressing others but also entangled in it and victimized by it, which as an American, I thought would be interesting, but I honestly was just disgusted the whole time. I can’t believe it won a Nobel prize.

Sunshine | Robin McKinleysun

This book came passionately recommended by three long-time friends and I was disappointed to find I did not like it. The main character was profoundly uncompelling and annoying. She felt like grown-up Lyra from His Dark Materials, but somehow even less special. Also, I am mystified by the sex scene in the middle of the book: sudden, unnecessary, and totally without practical or emotional consequence. Again, some decent world-building, but in an era of a thousand books and shows where magic is real in modern times, it wasn’t especially mind-blowing given how thin the plot was.

Lexicon | Max Barry lexicon-max-barry

Yet another female lead in the school of Sunshine and Lyra that I could never quite bring myself to care about (while the male lead is boring until he very suddenly isn’t). Nevertheless, Like Night Film, this was an entertaining and compelling read, if not nearly as intellectual as it thinks it is. Reading it shortly after Snow Crash highlighted very clearly how similar the core ideas are. I finished it quite quickly, because the central mystery benefits from the alternating narrator structure. It would be a real waste if it were never made into a film, since the pace and visuals almost scream out to be adapted.