Adult Novels I read in March 2018 – Reading Wrap up

I know we’re about half way through the month at this point but I’ve been drowning in work. Also I’ve been dragging my feet about writing some of the negative reviews that are gonna come up in this wrap up. Thankfully my March Comic and YA/Middle Grade were… a lot nicer than this one is.

  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
    • Rating: 4.25/5
    • Thoughts: I know everyone says this about every mystery but that goes double for this one – GO INTO THIS MYSTERY COMPLETELY BLIND. After The Mysterious Affair of Styles, I wanted to pick up another Christie audiobook. This one was one of her most well known mysteries, AND it was narrated by the same person (though I suspect most of the ones my library has are. Which is great because he really is a wonderful narrator). And Y’ALL there is a REASON that this one of the best mysteries. I’m pretty sure I went straight onto twitter and screamed about this right after I read it. It’s a TRIP. It’s SO GOOD and the twists are super well done. Even though I kinda figured it out as we approached the end, it was more like a “no it couldn’t be that…. but there are these clues…. and these clues here…. it couldn’t be….” and then it happened and ARGH!!! There’s a couple weird pacing moments in the book, which is why it’s not a 5 star, but I still absolutely loved this. While I think this is a phenomenal mystery, I don’t think this should be the first Agatha Christie Book you pick up. And Then There were None probably works best for that. But if you like mysteries and especially Agatha Christie I HIGHLY recommend this book.

  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
    • Rating: 3/5
    • Thoughts: This book seems pretty… divisive. It won a couple awards the year it came out, but I know a lot of people who either down right disliked it or felt indifferent. I….. fall into the latter category. I think there are some really interesting concepts to this book. The magic in the story is a ton of fun, and I really enjoyed the world building and the characters went along with it. I also really loved the build up to the ending of the book. But…. this book touts itself as a “magic vs science” and I gotta say like…. the ”science” part was hella boring. I had NO interest in the main character in that, with the world building and concepts being incredibly scant. It really doesn’t succeed at it’s main premise. I also really could not get into the writing style of this. It was… fine at best? But it didn’t really help the book much either. Also, I really dug the relationship for the first three quarters of the book, and then it pulled a Strange the Dreamer on me and I absolutely could not STAND it. It got better with time, but there were parts of that romance where I was just straight up making angry faces while reading it on the train. It was still interesting at least – I think it suffers from having a really strong half in its magic discussion and a really weak half with the sciencey stuff. I can’t say I’d recommend it though. Maybe tentatively? if you want to give it a try?
    • Also pet peeve: The person who wrote this is a local to the Bay Area I get it but also there were parts of this book that felt almost cringey in how much they felt the need to point out their EXTRA BAY AREA KNOWLEDGE. It’s like yo it’s fine you really don’t need to do this.
  • The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
    • Rating: 1/5
    • Thoughts: We did…. we came to my first…. negative review….
    • Firstly: content warning for rape, sexual assault, murder, genocide, the whole she bang. I am not fucking around with this it is GRAPHIC. Please please just skip this review if any of that discussion is potentially triggering. A lot of these warnings I go into depth with in the review because it is the main conceit why I did not like it.
    • So like. First off I bought this book WAY back when it first came out in 2009. Yeah. it has been sitting on my shelf for that long. I finally. FINALLY picked it up and it…. GOD I wanted to like this book okay. I really wanted to! And you see how I rate these. It really does not take a lot for me to like a book or find merit in a book. It’s not like this book is completely devoid of anything good. This book could have had a lot going for it. I think the premise is interesting and creative, and there are some really good characters. But…..
    • Look I can’t sugar coat this. One of the main characters is a sex worker. You first meet her and she is being sexually violated as a form of entertainment. It is supposed to disgust you. But the writer definitely does not do a good job at that. He writes some of these scenes almost like he’s trying to get a rise out of you, that you are ~supposed~ to be attracted to this but HORRIFED by that. Which is so fucking bad if that was his actual intention because WHAT THE FUCK. I can’t tell if I’m being too sensitive here but fucking GOD DAMN. And it doesn’t get better from there. You have to endure SO MUCH. You have to watch this woman be treated like absolute garbage throughout the book, and it is not addressed NEARLY enough for any of it to be at all…. okay’s not the right word. Justified? Considered discussed like a nuanced issue at all  I get it the world is disgusting and all that shit but this is A LOT. It is a LOT and I could barely stomach it. The only reason I’m not instantly fucking TRASHING this book is because I don’t know how much of this I’m reading into and potentially missing and how much of it is just. How it actually is.  I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about this book and honestly I don’t know if I want anyone TO read this book. Not a lot of people mention it in the goodreads reviews, which is why I’m not… throwing the novel in a landfill
    • Also just like. The writing isn’t that great? It’s okay. It’s kind of clinical at times, (which really DOES not help with the paragraph above) and moves about the pace of molasses. It picks up a lot at the end but BOY you really have to sift through a lot of garbage to get there. It also just… follows too many characters. I get why, it was to tell the story he wanted to, but I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on plot wise for a good half of the book.
    • I also….. really don’t think the author wrote about Bangkok that well. Half of the time it was fine, the other felt like the author just really wanted an interesting setting and picked one off the map. It wasn’t the WORST I’ve read, but I just recently came out of reading Want by Cindy Pon, which has some GREAT setting writing, so I’m a bit more critical of it.
    • It’s hard to talk about this book. It has been a REALLY long time since a book as made me this angry. A lot of authors and booktubers I know like this book though so? Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the wrong one. I don’t know. I hated this book. No amount of interesting premise was ever going to erase me having to go through what I had to read for this. Fuck.
    • I don’t have energy to discuss the racism I found either. It’s pin pricks compared to the shotgun shell of Emiko and sexual violence.
    • Don’t read this book. And if you do, don’t talk to me about it. I’m done talking it.
  • On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee
    • Rating: 3.75/5
    • Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book! This book was pretty similar to All the Birds in the Sky in that seemed pretty divisive – and I found this to be a pretty dang good read. The plot isn’t something to write home about, in fact I’d say it is a tad aimless, and the world feels pretty standard as far as post-apocalyptic worlds go. There are two real stand outs in this novel: the main character and the writing. Fan is a really really lovely and compelling main character – and I loved watching her learn about this new world she’s been thrust into and the people she meets along the way. The writing in this novel is…. exquisite to say the least. The narration this book takes almost makes the story feel like a fable and that SUPER worked for me. The prose was bittersweet and contemplative, making each action and description seem all the more poignant. I don’t think this will work for everyone. As I said before, the story construction left a lot to be desired. But it was a really lovely written book with a great main character.
  • Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
    • Rating: 3/5
    • Thoughts: This was…. it was okay. A lot of the appeal I think of this book is the whimsy, the world the story takes place in and the way the novel is written (ding ding ding it’s an epistolary novel.) And most of that just… didn’t work for me. I think the way the novel is written made the universe really difficult to decipher. Valente’s prose is beautiful as usual, but I think in comparison to On Such a Full Sea, it wasn’t enough to carry this story on. (I think mainly because instead of a character focused piece, there’s a lot more emphasis on plot). That being said, I LOVED the ending of this novel. It really helped tie together the experience into something that I think the right reader would enjoy. For me though, the beginning and the middle of the novel were not enough for me to  like this book. Appreciate for what it is, sure, but not enjoy. I think the weakness in this novel to me is the story construction though, which I don’t think will come into much play for the rest of Valente’s books – so I can’t wait to check them out!

Phew I did it! I finished writing this incredibly long wrap up. April is a hella busy month for me, so fingers crossed I can get the same amount of books checked out that I did this month. Otherwise, you’ll at least have a shorter wrap up to look forward to.

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