October as a reading month was pretty much expected. Some novels, a graphic novel, a play and a short story so just the usual for me. But I’ve got a lot to say about these books so enjoy!
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
I should actually watch some of the plays I read being performed because that’s how it was meant to be consumed but I guess I’m content with just reading them right now. I decided to read an iconic play from the 50’s. ARITS follows a black family from Chicago who have just come on a huge inheritance from their recently deceased grandfather. The play grapples with the characters’ polarizing desires as to how this money should be spent. Of course, these desires are just a platform to reveal these characters’ pride, aspirations and sense of justice which in turn reveal how those values suffered when faced with the racism and racial segregation of the ’50s. Besides weaving these themes with a deft and effortless hand, Hansberry asks, Is this fight for equality worth it when you can’t change people’s ingrained prejudices? I thought this was so eloquent and quietly powerful.
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
This is the sequel to the book An Ember in the Ashes which I gave a 4 stars when I first
read it. ATATN continues right after the first novel and Laia and Elias are still on the road to breaking Darin out of Kauf and Helene is tasked to kill Elias. This sequel was not quite as good. What is as good as the first one was the way Sabaa Tahir handles plot and suspense. The plot is not over the top gratuitous but it’s enough to keep me really engrossed in the story. I think she also writes suspense pretty well. What doesn’t work as well for me is the characters. We get an additional perspective from Helene in this book so we could get a glimpse of what was happening in the Empire while Elias and Laia were on the run and although I found her plight sympathetic I could not for the life of me feel totally invested. I also thought Laia felt so bland because her character was so focused on Darin, Darin, Darin. Elias was definitely the most sympathetic character but that’s an obvious choice because he goes through so much shit in this book. I thought the first book resolved the love triangle but plot twist it’s not resolved and just really annoyed me. There was also a plethora of YA tropes in this one like the “I-have-to-stay-away-from-you-because-I-will-only-end-up-hurting-you” trope which just makes me want to shake someone. Overall, I will continue with the series if only for the plot; I think the ending really opened up a lot of possibilites for the sequel and I am quite excited.
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
This was actually a reread for me and although I didn’t like it quite as much the first time; this book still has a special place in my heart. This is the third book to the Gentlemen Bastards series by Scott Lynch, which remains my favorite adult fantasy series. And this installment is my favorite in the series. You know a book is special when you are left in awe of how this author manages to give you such an immersive experience with amazingly imaginative worldbuilding and characters that you love with all your heart. I’m still eagerly awaiting the fourth book in this series which was suppose to come out in September but is now once again delayed (it’s been delayed like twice already) until 2017 because the author is getting married. Rude. Jk. But still. I now know the pain that Patrick Rothfuss/George RR Martin fans feel. It hurttttss.
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
I can see how incredibly important this book is in the history of AI science fiction. It is basically a bunch of interconnected short stories exploring Asimov’s created laws of robotics with different characters and time periods. This book is, above all, a book of ideas and philosophy so everything else is used as an extension of those ideas. And although these ideas are fascinating, it doesn’t make a compelling story and I just found myself bored.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
I also finished the sequel to Six of Crows this month and it was fabulous. You can read my review here.
Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
Boxers explores the Boxer rebellion that took place in China from 1899-1901 through the eyes of one Chinese boy named Bao. It’s a good introductory and sometimes humorous take on themes like Western colonialism in terms of religion and the concept of the antihero and how everything basically sucked during this time. The artstyle is very simplistic and almost cartoonish but it doesn’t detract from the horrors of the story. There’s also a little bit of magical realism thrown in. But the story itself drags and is actually a little too conventional when it comes to Bao’s story, you know the underdog who gets bullied but becomes the hero blah blah and is ultimately, just meh.
The Ostler by Wilkie Collins
Wilkie Collins is considered one of the first suspense writers which I can definitely see. He has such delightful turn of phrases and really makes you stop in the right places for the full effect of whatever is happening in the story. The Ostler is considered a ghost story and a really creepy one at that. I highly enjoyed it and I definitely want to read some of his full-length novels now.
Let me know what you read in October, if you’ve read any of these and also if you have any recommendations for historical fiction, please comment because I really want to read some in November but I have a surprising lack of them in my TBR.