Sunday, May 13, 2012

quick comments on recent reads

The False Friend by Myla Goldberg

Lured by The False Friend's synopsis, I expected the novel to be something that it's not. It is short, spare, and well-written. The novel deals with childhood bullying, the unreliable nature of memory, and how difficult it is to know those closest to us. Its revelations are myriad, but they come from unexpected quarters. I have to admit that I found The False Friend unsatisfying. I found the protagonist increasingly unsympathetic and the ending unsatisfying (even though I understand why Goldberg ended the novel the way that she did).

Feed by M.T. Anderson

Set in a dystopian future where the internet is hardwired to everyone's brain. Anderson incorporates interruptions by targeted advertizing into the narrative to help readers understand the experience of being plugged into the feed. If I had been reading Feed, I would have skipped over those sections, limiting the annoyance factor, but I listened to the audio version, which forced me to fully experience these tics in the narrative. Feed is a cautionary tale, much darker than a lot of the books that have been pushed out during this craze for dystopian (young adult) fiction.

Miss New India by Bharati Mukherjee

A bildungsroman that explores the theme of "the New India" (a descriptor I find a bit perplexing). Anjali (Angie) Bose runs away from home and an arranged marriage assisted by an expatriate American teacher who believes in her potential for a better life than small town Gauripur can offer her. Angie travels to Bangalore where she muddles along, though a series of increasingly unbelievable amount of plot twists, almost in spite of herself. The highlight of Miss New India is its cast of secondary characters.

Moonstone and Moon Rise by Marilee Brothers

I only read the first two installments of Marilee Brothers' Unbidden Magic series even though I had a review set of all four titles (Moonstone, Moon Rise, Moon Spun, and Shadow Moon). I found Moonstone to be a somewhat standard teen paranormal romance: nothing to write home about, but interesting enough to continue with the series considering the fact that I already had the next book at hand. Moon Rise, however, opens with a serious series fiction infraction: the love interest from book one (who, I might add, was a more interesting character than the protagonist herself) is inexplicably missing in action allowing both author and protagonist to cultivate a new love interest more in line with the second installment's storyline. I hate when authors do this: throwing out all the work they did getting their readers invested in a relationship. I finished Moon Rise--which, I should add in Brothers' defense, does end with a teeny bit of explanation about the absence of Moonstone's love interest--but I had no desire to continue on with the series.

Perfume: The Story of Murderer by Patrick Sueskind
translated from the German by John E. Woods

I've been meaning to read Perfume for ages. It was first published in 1985 and I've had a copy on my bookshelf for at least four years. An olfactory-genius serial killer in 18th century France. The pacing is slow (sometimes excruciatingly so), but the language (particularly Suskind's ability to put smells into words) is wonderful.  What I found most interesting  were the descriptions of craft of perfumerie: the process for making absolutes and the like.
disclosure: I received a review copy of Moonstone and Moon Rise from Bell Bridge Books via NetGalley.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read Feed yet, but it sounds like a modernized YA version of Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner, which has these amazing sections intended to represent information overload.