The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
Genre: Space opera
This book was such a lighthearted welcome relief to all of the heavy stuff I’d been reading. It felt like watching a progressive sitcom set in space, and while I can see on Goodreads there are some (mostly male) reviewers who totally didn’t appreciate it, for me it ticked some very fun boxes. I thought the alien species were particularly well done and imaginative, and the story was enjoyable without ever getting really down.
Genre: Weird dystopia
Amatka is quite unusual. I read it in a day when home sick, and at the end I desperately wanted someone to talk to about it. Alas! I’m a fan of Tidbeck’s short stories, and I enjoyed Amatka while also puzzling over it. There are some criticisms that the characters are distanced and I think that is the point, but I agree it would have been better to see why the relationship was developing between Vanja and Nina as it didn’t really feel natural. The ending, for me, turned all of what had been building on its head. I think a lot of readers struggle to make sense of the ending, but for me I was left questioning my own sympathies; who was actually the “bad side” and who the good?
Friends With Boys
Faith Erin Hicks
Genre: YA graphic novel – high school drama ish
I really loved the illustration style of Friends With Boys and enjoyed Maggie’s story and the unfolding of her attempts to find her place in the school. It felt a little aimless though, with one major plot point going unresolved. Fun light read.
This One Summer
Genre: YA graphic novel – growing up
I’m a bit ambivalent about this one. Again, gorgeous illustrations, and some really interesting themes explored but I found Rose to be quite difficult to empathise with. Windy was super fun and while younger than Rose, seemed less self-absorbed. I have some concerns with the way one of the plot points was presented—I’m not denying it would play out that way IRL, but I would have hoped Rose was given more critical perspective of her own damaging internalised misogyny. Ultimately I’d want teenage girls to read this and learn why Rose’s perspective was sexist, not just see it play out almost unchallenged. Anyway. It is what it is.
In Real Life
Genre: YA graphic novel gaming
I appreciate Doctorow’s intentions with this novel. Anything that prods the privileged child to think about right and wrong and how disadvantage shapes our opportunities and choices is a good thing, IMO. I do think the resolution was a little too simplistic and white saviour-esque, will kids pick up on that, probably not.
The Hate U Give
Genre: YA Race and racism
I loved this book. It was so good, and I wish every teenager would read it. It dives headfirst into the issue of Black deaths at the hands of trigger happy cops. The protagonist is the sole witness to the killing of a Black teenager at the hands of a white cop. So very good and gave me a lot more insight into that issue. My fave from this month.
The Prey of Gods
Genre: Science fiction
SUCH an ambitious novel! It’s set in South Africa, the characters are wildly diverse and imaginative and interesting, and the world-building is fascinating (the dik-diks made me cackle with glee). I didn’t have much of an emotional connection to the characters for the first half of the book, they kept doing kinda awful things but I started to connect with them after that. I think Stoker was my favourite character, but I really enjoyed Nomvula’s journey too. There was so much going on that I think it did unravel a little bit at times but it was still super cool and I’m impressed at the chances Drayden took. Much better to take risks and give it your all rather than writing something safe and bland. Looking forward to reading more of her work. One of my faves this month.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Genre: Memoir / hiking
Strayed seems to have copped a lot of flak in Goodreads comments and it struck me as I was reading them how some people really have no sense of empathy. I mostly enjoyed Wild, and the problems I had with it stemmed from some moments where the author displays a lack of self-awareness. A lot of the comments are slut-shaming and someone thought Strayed hadn’t had enough of a bad time to warrant writing a memoir. Le sigh. While reading it I discovered that one of the things I love about reading books is getting to know people: whether they be real people or imagined characters. So I empathised with Strayed in the early chapters and laughed at her naive stupidity regarding her lack of preparation. To the naysayers, she was prepared enough to be carrying iodine, eh? I probably got a bit turned off at “Queen of the PCT”—IDK, by that point I was looking for a little humility and self-reflection. So I guess my reaction to the book overall is mixed. I’d love to read a memoir by a WOC who’s done some extreme adventuring, any recs?
Love Minus Eighty
Genre: Science fiction (a bit Black Mirror without the depressing awfulness)
This was a slow burn for me but I grew to really enjoy it. At first I struggled because of the world (remember that Black Mirror episode where you can block someone and actually not see them in the streets? Yeah a bit like that). I HATE the thought of living in a world like that. And at first the characters annoyed me. BUT. Veronika and Rob (and strangely, Lycan) made it all worthwhile. The bridesicle premise is pretty cool but don’t think about it too hard. One of my faves from this month.