This was a really weird reading month. I had a really good start to the month, and then I totally crashed during the last week and a half. I blame the really bad DOTS hangover I had. Seriously, I stayed up till 3am on Tumblr looking at gifs. Why can I never be a casual fan?? Anyways, so most of these were read near the beginning and middle of the month.
Descenders Vol. 1 by Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen
You might have seen me mention this one in my March wrap up but I had only finished the first issue. Well I finally bought the first volume and I ended up liking it. It’s kind of lacking in originality in terms of character and there’s basically only one female that’s important to the story so boo (throws tomatoes at the book) for that but the artwork is stunningly fluid and it’s just a fun, fast-paced space odyssey that’s hinting at more of an epic plot (we haven’t even met the main bad guys yet) in later volumes. I do think if you like the redemption type of character or a C3PO type of character, you’ll like this one.
Rabbit hole by David Lindsay-Aire (Play)
This is actually the first play I’ve read in a long time probably since I read A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams and I thought it was excellent. It delves into one family’s grief a few years after the death of their son and how they are trying to lead a normal life. It was so fascinating seeing these people start from thinking they are accepting their grief but instead spiral out of control (sorry I’m sadistic). I thought the concept was if not original, totally well layered and executed. I love how it touches on the different ways people cope with grief and how it really delves on the fact that people think there’s only one right way to grieve when there are so many ways people cope with loss.
When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka
This is really good if you want an introduction to Japanese internment in the ’40s from a fictional perspective. It follows a woman and her two children from the time they learn they need to be relocated to a camp to when they are released. There’s a lot of similarities to Night by Elie Wiesel. WTEWD is written in third person perspective which was a great choice. I think if it were written in first person, it would have been really melodramatic. It’s already really repetitive (it constantly repeats certain emotions the characters face) and had a few missing opportunities for depth and character which is why I say it’s good for an introduction but it was still heartbreaking in many places and reminds you that while America condemned Germany for the atrocities done, this was happening..
A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (Mini Review”)
This book has been getting so much buzz especially since it’s a piece of genre fiction that’s won a literary prize (that never happens). Do not go into this thinking that this is action-packed or has anything resembling a plot. The plot in question revolves around a woman named Rosemary who joins a space crew that essentially punches holes into space to create shortcuts to different parts of space. Their next gig is to go to a planet at war and create a shortcut there, their hardest job yet. Chambers seems to forget she even put the plot there in the first place. But this book is all about the characters and their lives which everyone has been praising left and right. To me, the character arcs have their moments and then not. Chambers does a great job of slowly adding to a character’s depth and establishing sweet relationships between an ensemble cast but there were moments of dialogue and character that just feel like a Hallmark card gone too cheesy and just didn’t have the depth that it promised me. It just seemed like it didn’t know whether to be literary or your standard scifi cutesy romp. It felt very episodic in the sense that you follow these characters on a daily basis and doing basic things like eating together which might sound boring if the worldbuilding had been lacking and it wasn’t. She puts in so many different species and each of them have their own customs and habits that are so fascinating to read about. For example, Sissix is a member of the crew whose species has 3 families in her lifetime and does not see her biological children very often, if at all. It really puts being a human and our values into perspective. What is so important to us seems slightly ridiculous to other species and just makes you reevaulate your own values. It’s worth a read just for the worldbuilding.
Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas & Abby McDonald
Oh geez. Every single review of this book commented on the mind-blowing and shocking
plot twist but it wasn’t all that mind-blowing or shocking..Or maybe it was since I guessed it but then thought nah, that’s too easy so I dismissed it and then it turned out to be true..
Murder mysteries rely a lot on keeping you in the dark about how someone committed a murder. You know that big reveal at the end where someone rapidly explains how the murderer did it. But this one had no explanation for all the clues they gave me. Maybe that wasn’t the point but it felt as if I was reading about someone putting pieces together on a puzzle and then suddenly the person leaves halfway and I’m left looking at a half-finished puzzle (which is really bad for my OCD, just saying). My other gripe with this book was that there’s suppose to be an unreliable narrator. The reader doesn’t know really whether the main narrator is the murderer or not but there’s really no hints of unreliability in the narrator which really disoriented me because I thought the story was suppose to be about the criminal justice system twisting an innocent person’s words and the repercussions of that but then it just kind of slapped me in the face with the supposed fact that she was an unreliable narrator near the end. Too little, too late if you ask me.
However, the writing was really polished and instead of being overly cheesy in any other author’s writing, it was only somewhat cheesy. I think she does a really good job with adding flashbacks at the right time to add a sense of character and layering it with present day scenes of the criminal trial.
The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh (Play)
This was darkly funny but also really, really disturbing and brilliant at the same time. The synopsis is weird. It’s basically about a man who lives in a totalitarian state who is
arrested and interrogated for his short stories that somehow coincide with some murders that have been happening in this town. It’s not really even about the repercussions of living in a dystopia; it’s more about how we interpret and create the stories we tell and the absurdity of interrogation. It’s also a frame story where the main character’s short stories are actually told throughout the play and I think that’s where most of the brilliance lies. They’re very subversive and dark stories of tragic childhood pasts and the violence that emerges. Their endings always managed to surprise me. I think this one and Rabbit Hole were really good reintroduction to plays and I’m excited to read more.
How did your April reading month go? Any 5-star reads? May is an exciting month because the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes comes out and The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson aka my contemporary queen. I’m currently reading The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh; I’m not very far in but it’s good so far. I’ve been anticipating this sequel so much and it’s actually here!! It seems like only yesterday I read The Wrath and the Dawn and was moaning about how I had to wait a year to read the sequel and here I am reading the sequel..