I’m going to just come out and say this upfront: this is a weird book. Absolutely gorgeous in terms of writing and its literary finesse, but the story is… odd. In short, “The Lightning Stenography Device” (or LSD for short, ha) is about a thought to text device (basically you think instead of typing, taking away all hesitation from getting words on the page) that has managed to write a story while a pair of writers was asleep. Which is cool! These stories somehow predict the future! Crazy, right? Except this sparks an insanely long, prose filled philosophical debate/discussion on who is doing the writing—basically a debate of religion and who, or what I suppose, is God. That debate takes up about half the book I’d say, and it’s interspersed between the 4(ish) characters we are introduced to via their own sections. These sections highlight someone’s experience of using the LSD and the “story” it tells before it ends with a head scratching epiphany that would be so incredibly beautiful and satisfying if it didn’t take so damn long to get to.
“Borne” is my first foray into the work of Mr. Vandermeer. I didn’t get this book because I had heard anything about him, or his popular series, or the movie that’s being made of one of his books. I was at a bookstore and this cover grabbed me and I have no regrets about that. But being unfamiliar with the author’s other work, I can’t say if “Borne” is the best he has to offer, or if his other series are his shining achievement. I will say that this book has some incredible prose, made me rethink how scary bears should (or shouldn’t) be, and just where the line should be for science-fiction, science-fantasy, or just plain fantasy.
“The Time Traveler’s Wife” is one of those books so many people told, nay, demanded I read. All said it was fabulous, and I believed them. The premise sounded interesting, especially since I am an unapologetic fan of Doctor Who. A time traveling man in love with a woman who has to live life linearly with, and without him? I am hooked! Or I wanted to be. Which is why this review is hard. I did not love this book, in fact, I barely liked it. So buckle in, this is going to be a long review.
***I received a free copy from Penguin's First To Read Program in exchange for an honest review***
I am new to Donaldson’s work, I know of him by reputation only and that others greatly enjoy his fantasy worlds, but form this particular book, I don’t see it. In reading the synopsis and drooling over the cover, I was thrilled to be able to read an early copy of the book as he is such a well-respected author, but those good feelings were wiped out pretty quickly as the first 60% of the book was like pulling teeth to get through. It’s a convoluted “magical” setting with laws and rules that are never well defined, and a world that feels small and simplistic with two warring nations that have been at war so long, the cause is nearly forgotten—though the brief explanation felt like a bad Romeo and Juliet retelling—all the people know is that some slight was caused a millennia ago, so obviously they still fight about it. Even when the main character, Prince Bifalt, has his mind expanded, the world never managed to feel whole, and therefore remained small and petty, populated by a slew of characters that annoyed me literally every step of the way.
I don’t think I need to give an introduction to what “The Handmaid’s Tale” is about. It’s been around since 1985 and is now a Hulu series, so chances are, you’ve at least heard of it. In short, it’s heralded as the feminist warning of a dystopian future where women have every single one of their rights taken away. They are used, and abused, regulated to roles of either procreation or house maintenance. They cannot leave their house and walk wherever they want, their clothes become habits, and are color coded to fit their roles. Life for women under extreme Judeo-Christian beliefs is terrible in Atwood’s book, there’s no doubt about it. But, despite the acclaim this book gets, this is one of those books that was made better when it transitioned to the small screen. Just because your book is a comment on societal trends, and is meant to be a warning for the future, does not mean you can simply ignore important story elements.
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