Books

Jul. 2nd, 2017 01:15 pm
netgirl_y2k: (brand new day)
[personal profile] netgirl_y2k
Fates and Furies - Lauren Groff
Everything Leads to You - Nina LaCour
Into the Water - Paula Hawkins
Nimona - Noelle Stevenson
American War - Omar El Akkad
Giant of the Senate - Al Franken
Hunger - Roxane Gay


Fates and Furies, or A Portrait of a Marriage Between Two Terrible Heterosexuals Who, Quite Frankly, Deserve Each Other. Lotto and Mathilde (and the fact that their names are Lotto and Mathilde tells you everything you need to know about them) are an upper middle class couple whose twenty year marriage is based on them having quite a lot of sex and both being mildly dreadful. Lotto (short for Lancelot, fucking Lancelot) is an eternal manchild, failed actor, and playwright so self-involved that he spends more than a decade failing to notice that his wife is rewriting his plays while he sleeps. Mathilde is the chick from Gone Girl, only lacking in any of the things that made the chick from Gone Girl compelling.

The writing is intermittently beautiful, and the rest of the time drips with pretension so thick you can practically taste it.

File under: fuck off.

Everything Leads to You was meant to be a palate cleanser, a sweet lesbian romance. Not unrelatedly, why are most f/f romances so shite? Even without the romance it hit one of the things I hate most in YA: characters who're still teenagers, yet live the lives of thirty year olds. The protagonist in this was still in high school, but she was also a set designer in Hollywood. Aye, right. And most of the book focused on her getting tapped to work on an indie movie. Now every time this indie movie is described you get the impression that all the characters and the writer herself think that this is some sort of cannes festival winning level genius, but everything you see about it makes it seem so twee that it would be laughed out of day one of an intro to screenwriting class.

Oh, and when we first meet the protagonist's love interest, she's homeless. But not real, actual homelessness where it's traumatic, and stressful, and terrifying, the type of homelessness that only exists in not very good novels where homeless shelters are like sleepaway camps, you make lots of new friends, and get cast in a not very good indie movie.

I mean, the spelling and the grammar is all correct, which hasn't always been true of all the f/f romances I've tried to read. But you could also have achieved the same effect by just writing the word MEH in five hundred point font.

Into the Water, or Another Book by that Woman What Wrote The Girl on the Train, was about a suspicious suicide and it was... fine. It got a little baggy in the middle in that way a lot of second novels do when the writer worked on their first book for ten plus years, and then had eighteen months to write the follow up. But while it could certainly have used a bit more tightening up, it wasn't so noticeable as to be a dealbreaker, or even particularly distracting.

It was more overtly feminist than The Girl on the Train, which I liked, but without the oh, fuuuck gotcha moment that made that book such a big hit. The twists here were all fine if guessable. If Paula Hawkins doesn't just want to retire and live off her The Girl on the Train swag then she has a bright future in front of her writing okay-ish thrillers.

My local library has found some money from somewhere to make themselves all fancy (and here I was thinking that the magic money tree only gave out to the DUP and the bloody royals) and as a result now has a pretty cool graphic novel section from which I picked up Nimona, a charming graphic novel about a young girl who apprentices herself to a supervillian, oh, and she can turn herself into a dragon when the situation calls for it. It was funny and lovely, and also seems to have been the thing that finally unlocked whatever it was in my brain that was stopping me from parsing graphic novels.

(That lock picked, I also read and enjoyed the first two Ms. Marvel trades and the first collection of the female Thor, which I'm mentioning in an aside because for esoteric and inexplicable reasons I'm not counting them towards my yearly total. Though this may change if I feel like my numbers need to be artificially inflated come December. Also, I don't really have anything to say about them except that, yeah, I consumed them and enjoyed doing so.)

American War was the first book in a while that I have really, really loved. The basic setup is that the US government has banned fossil fuels (seems unlikely given recent events, I know, but just go with it) causing several southern states to band together and declare independence kicking off the second civil war.

It's not about the war, per se, but about life as a refugee, and the indoctrination of child soldiers, and acts of terrorism, and it handles all of these topics with grace. Highly, highly recommended.

More than ten years ago I bought Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them to give to my sister as a birthday present. Just as I was coming out of the bookshop I ran into a boy who I'd met for the first time at a party a few nights before. Because we were at uni together we decided to go for a quick pint to bitch about our upcoming exams. At four in the morning I crashed through my backdoor; us having hauled the Franken book around a number of bars and clubs for twelve hours, and one or both of us having been sick in the bag with the book in it. And that's the story of how I met my best friend, and also the story of how I had to buy the same Al Franken book twice.

In the years since Franken has become a senator, which I didn't know about because pre-Trump I didn't follow US politics with an ever mounting sense of WTF??? But once I realised he wasn't joking, he really is a senator, this was a read I really enjoyed. It's interesting, and funny without being facetious, and even if it wasn't those things it would still be worth reading for the Ted Cruz bashing.

Hunger is Roxane Gay's memoir about all the weight she gained after being gang raped at the age of twelve and fucking ouch. It's important and raw, and if you can read it you should, but fucking ouch.

I also DNF'd The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend which was about a Swedish tourist opening a bookshop in small town America, which I was expecting to be like a cross between Gilmore Girls and The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and had the charm of neither.
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