“Knight in Paper Armor” is a dark dystopian novel set in the near future, where corporate greed and racism have completely taken over and divided up America (and I assume other countries but they’re never really talked about). We follow Billy, a young Jewish boy with incredible physic powers; able to take away the physical and emotional pain of those he touches, as well as mind controlling them if his darker tendencies get pushed too far. When Billy is finally allowed to leave the facility where he’s being tested on to attend school like a “normal” teen, he meets our female main character, Natalia. Natalia is an immigrant from Guatemala, a fact she has to hide, pretending to be from Mexico instead—though she faces a lot of bigotry for that, too. Billy and Natalia deal with extreme racism from practically the start, their world is brutal in every sense of the word, and the author is not shy about sharing their experiences in great detail. The topics covered in this sci-fi fantasy dystopian are important and very much apply to the world we live in today, but I do not think this book is appropriate for the audience it’s intended for….
I know I say this a lot, but I LOVED the idea of this book. Put the Olympian gods smack dab in New York during the height of prohibition and make them the biggest criminal organization selling booze and running brothels? Uh, yes please! I have recently been on a mafia and organized crime kick so I figured this was the perfect time to finally settle in and read this book, especially since I do love me some Greek mythology. But the story I got wasn’t the one I was expecting, and not in a good way either? Kind of, even now I’m still a bit conflicted.
First of all, I cannot recommend the audiobook narrated by the full cast nearly enough. It’s like one of those classic radio dramas and I am here for it! And now, for the book itself. “The Graveyard Book” is, I think, a book meant for children. But it starts with the murder of the main characters entire family when he’s just an infant, but he’s too excited by an open door and an awaiting adventure to notice. He ends up in the local graveyard where the resident ghosts and vampire (though I think it’s wonderful that Gaiman never uses that word, but we all know what he is) decide to protect and raise the child as their own. Each chapter is a little window into a year of Nobody Owens life as he grows and is taught by the different ghosts and the lessons he learns along the way. Because of this format, the adventure eventually ends before everything is wrapped up. Which is by design as we get the story mainly from a child, after all, but it could be a little frustrating at times.
“The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampire’s” is a bit of a misnomer. You don’t really get a “guide” and there is just the one “vampire”, and the lore around that particular vampire is unlike any I’m familiar with. But that was part of the fun of this book. Or, not fun, as this was an intense commentary on gaslighting, sexism, and racism in Charleston in the early 90’s. Or as intense of a commentary as a white man can make, but I think the point was infuriatingly well made. And while there is no mystery around the vampire, even if it takes these housewives awhile to see it for themselves, the writing was easy and creepy and managed to make me absolutely rage at all the right places. This book really was a look into just how vital the invisible support system of running a household is, the overlooked emotional labor, and just how overtly that gets taken advantage of, in no small part thanks to the burden of hospitality ingrained in each of these women. This was my first book by this author so I was a bit hesitant at first as horror is hit or miss for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed this satirical horror story.
“The Luminaries” has such cool vibes. A mysterious secret society tasked with keeping the Nightmares dreamed up by a sleeping spirit from leaving the forest and being discovered? Uh, yes please! Plus I happened to get this book from my Illumicrate subscription so it’s seriously beautiful. We follow Winnie, an outcast in the Luminaries who is desperate to become a Hunter and reclaim her family's good name. Winnie knows everything there is to know about the Nightmares dwelling in the forest, but that doesn’t mean she’s prepared for some of the monsters she finds, or the scrutiny of Hemlock Falls back on her and her family as a result of taking the trials. Everything about this book sounds moody and delightful, but there were too many little things that added up and, ultimately, spoiled my enjoyment of this book.
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