Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Twelve by Justin Cronin


This novel is the second in a trilogy by Justin Cronin. I'm kind of in a bind in the sense that I don't want to give too much away - so be forewarned that there may be spoilers here. I found this book as I do a lot of my books - by browsing through the new releases section of the library. I didn't get it to review as an advance reader version or anything like that.

The book starts, almost pretentiously (OK, actually pretentiously) in the format of Bible verses that serve to describe what happened in the previous novel. We then fast forward to brief updates as to where the characters from the last novel are currently and once that is done, Cronin attempts to give us some history of where things are now.

I enjoyed the story, even though it's obviously just filling time until the third installment of the trilogy comes into being. I'm not going to knock it too much, because some of the best movies or stories are the "filler" or bridge (I'm thinking Empire Strikes Back); however, I did have some beefs with this novel. I was constantly flipping around, trying to remember who each character was. Aside from the major characters - Like Amy and Lila Kyle - I often forgot and the names aren't anything special. Furthermore, Cronin seemed to be unsure as to how much time he should devote to each character - which may have been because he had so many main characters that he could and should have been devoting his time to. The book jumps all over the place and through varying times so much that coherence is sacrificed in some instances in order to tell the history, which is unfortunate. There are sections of the story that are so ripe for examination of humanity and what makes people human; however that analysis doesn't occur and where it does occur, it barely grazes the surface.

TRIGGER WARNING: sexual assault discussion

What I also didn't like was Cronin's seeming misogynist treatment of the strong female characters in his novel. Alicia is perhaps the strongest humanoid female. Her blood has been merged with the blood of the other strong female character: Amy, who is a vampire herself. She's a badass; however Cronin feels it necessary to have her captured and not only tortured but continuously sexually assaulted by a sick f*** in order to hopefully gain information from her. He also has Amy acting like a martyr/Joan of Arc (who was badass) but who is also tortured to some degree. Why? Really? Was this necessary? I found it also completely hypocritical on Cronin's part because he developed these stories and the characters of Amy and Alicia specifically because in essence, his daughter asked him to write a novel about strong girls. WTF? Need I say more?

OK, so I did knock it a lot...I did like the writing style and the story is fascinating as only post-apocalyptic novels can be. Perhaps renting it from Amazon if you have a prime membership or taking it out from your library. Th slink for the Passage is below.

Books read in 100 book fiction challenge: 2

Books read in 2013:3

Monday, January 21, 2013

Book 2: Making Babies by Anne Enright

This book doesn't count towards the 100 fiction books challenge that I'm participating in, but definitely counts towards my 100 books in 2013 challenge so I'm going to label it as book 2.

Anne Enright is, apparently, one of Ireland's eminent authors; however I had never heard of her before. I was browsing around in the library and saw this book, picked it up and read it. In it, Ms. Enright has just had two babies in pretty quick secession: a boy and a girl. She had them approximately 18 years after marrying their father, during which she had a mature and lucrative career as a writer. She won the Booker prize in 2007 for crying out loud. This book is made of several anecdotes about her experiences in the early years of having children and is definitely memoir.

I learned something while reading this book: It's often really hard to write about babies because, guess what, they're boring. And when you write a book on them, as Ms. Enright did - while they are infants and sleeping - it gets worse. It becomes disjointed, uncomfortable and downright hallucinogenic in places and, quite frankly, I struggled to get through it. Those feelings were not feelings that I particularly wanted to remember from the first few months after my children were born. I didn't want to remember how I would go to the bathroom and lock the door so that I could get like 5 minutes to myself or how I would just stand in the shower with the hot water running over me because I was too tired to move my hands and arms to wash my hair. The book itself was difficult to read because it didn't flow in a way that made me comfortable. I didn't feel that it came together in a way that was cohesive - too much rambling for me.

Pass on this one

Books read in 2013: 2

Books read for 100 book fiction challenge: 1

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book 1 - Boston Noir

So I picked this book up because I love the city of Boston and have spent a lot of time there in my college years and law school years. I went to college near Boston and then in law school, visited a lot because my husband still lived there. I also spent one summer there interning in between my first and second year in law school. Boston has a place in my heart even though it's not the same as the city that I grew up in. And of course, Dennis Lehane is a wonderful, local author that has written a ton of good fiction based in Boston.

This is a collection of short stories I think edited by Dennis Lehane which was published in 2009. The "Noir" series is published by an independent press in the Bronx that started the series with Bronx Noir (also fantastic) and has since moved onto cities like Detroit, New Orleans and even Istanbul. Each story focuses on a particular neighborhood in Boston - ranging from the North End and Beacon Hill to Southie. Two of the stories have remained with me since I put the collection down. The first was titled Animal Rescue, which was written by Lehane himself. He has such a wonderful way of writing anyway, that all of your senses are piqued and utilized in his narrative, as a general matter of course. In this story, the main character adopts a dog, with somewhat catastrophic consequences. The minutiae of the story don't necessarily make this story - the story as a whole is the model upon which new writers should base their stories. It masters everything from character development, to plot and twists with such mastery and deftness that I was enthralled and uplifted by it.

I also really enjoyed Femme Sole by Dana Cameron. Ms. Cameron's story focuses on the female propietor of a bar in pre-revolutionary Boston. I loved seeing her point of view and her stresses and what the pressures were upon here to find either a buyer or a husband.

All in all, I really enjoyed this collection of short stories and I hope to find more of the Noir series to read.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My 2012 Challenge and My 2013 Challenge

So my 2012 challenge fell flat on its face. I apparently read approximately one-third of the books that I wanted to read. I will read 100 books gosh darnit, I will. And that is what the challenge for this year is, again:

The rules can be found here. Wish me luck!

The Power by Naomi Alderman

If you liked The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, you will want to read this dystopian novel, which has won a number of awards in th...