Wednesday, June 4, 2014

50 Book Challenge - May Books

I read nothing but magazines in April, but I had a spurt of book activity in May. Still pretty behind on the 50 Book Challenge, but I can catch up. My reading spurt is continuing - I've just finished my first June book and started another.

This is a story about a midwife in New York in the 1800s, a woman who rises from extreme poverty to great wealth, but then comes unstuck by an infamous moral crusader. Loosely based on a real woman known as Madame X, this is what the kids call a ripping yarn, though it does start to drage a bit in the last third of the book. Overall, though, I really enjoyed it and it kickstarted a good spate of reading for the month.

I didn’t realise this was a YA novel until I started reading it. I generally hate YA novels. However, I was curious enough about where this was going to keep reading, and it was very easy to read. It’s about a teenage boy who receives a series of cassette tapes from a girl who has recently committed suicide, where she names and shames every person who did anything to her that eventually led to her taking her own life. It’s kind of meh. I am sure it will be made into a movie with some pretty young people and a hip-but-angsty soundtrack and everyone will go bonkers for it. It’s that sort of story.

I don’t want to say much about this – it’s one of those stories where it’s best to know as little as possible about going in. The most I will say is that it’s a dysfunctional family tale. I ploughed through the first half really quickly but the second half dragged and bored me a bit. It was a good story but just went on a bit too long.

I have had this on my ‘to read’ list for a really long time and I don’t remember why. In fact, I think having it on my list was what led me to read a couple of the Inspector Lynley novels last year (and then give up and just watch the TV show). Right, so. This isn’t about Inspector Lynley; instead it’s about a child who becomes involved in a crime in another Inspector Lynley novel (With No One As Witness), and how he got to that point. I haven’t read the other book, but I think I will. The story itself is really grim and says a lot about the plight of the disadvantaged. My problem with it was that it was relentlessly repetitive. I get that it was meant to show the endless grinding down of this kid and how it led him to the choices he eventually made, but the key word there is endless. Over and over again the same things happened and it just got a bit tedious after a while. The language was a bit twee too – the author is American, and it is fairly obvious she ‘researched’ how people of colour in London interact and speak to each other rather than ever actually being around any of them and hearing them for herself. It sounds real, but kind of ‘fake real’, you know?

Did Not Finish

I read 5 stories and could not bear to go any further. I get the impression that B.J. Novak has deliberately written a bunch of pointless, meaningless pieces of garbage to see if everyone would pretend to get them, and then in a year or so he can smugly come out and say, ‘You idiots, they’re not meant to make sense! I’m so much smarter than everyone.’

1 comment:

  1. Oh dear. I had that BJ Novak book on my list but think I'll take it off.