Showing posts from March, 2014

The Price of the Stars

The Price of the Stars Debra Doyle and James D. MacDonald, 1992 Premise: Beka Rosselin-Metadi has no interest in being part of her famous family. She’s a brilliant spaceship pilot, and she’s happy working the trading lanes. But when her politician mother is assassinated, she’ll have to get interested in the politics of the galaxy. It’s the only way to stay alive, and bring her mother’s killers to justice. I wanted some solid space action, and I got it! This book started a little slow for me, but it picked up. For one thing, apparently I didn’t read the back closely enough and it threw me that it’s sci-fi with magic . Once it gets going, though, the authors handle both the spaceships and the magic well, ending up with something akin to a more hard-edged Star Wars-type world. I picked up this book for the cover. Look at the cover! Isn’t it awesome? Beka is great fun. Tough and prickly with only occasional sentimentality, she’s interested in getting the job done. She spends a g


Wintergirls Laurie Halse Anderson, 2008 Premise: Lia has a problem. She thinks it's that her father and mother hate each other or that her stepmother is always on her case. Or that her best friend is dead. The way Lia looks at food and sees numbers, the way she gets around adults plans for her, that makes her strong, right? This isn't the type of book I generally read. If you'd told me that I would be swept away utterly by a book which portrays the mental state of someone suffering from anorexia, I might not have believed you. But this book is amazing. The style is evocative and appropriately chilling. Lia is completely sympathetic and her feelings are comprehensible, even while the reader despairs of her decisions. She lives in a world more and more unconnected from reality. And then she starts to see things. Maybe. Maybe not. In Cassie's words: “You’re not dead, but you’re not alive, either. You’re a wintergirl…” Lia eventually has to decide whether

Orphans of Chaos

Orphans of Chaos John C. Wright, 2005 Premise: Amelia and her friends go to an unusual school. The hardly ever leave and it seem like they’ve been there an awfully long time. Will they ever discover what their true backgrounds are? Do I care? Warning up front: there will be spoilers of a sort for this book. I wish I'd known more going in, or known enough not to go in. Don’t read it. Just. Don’t. I came close to not even finishing this book. I just... it’s terrible. It’s boring and unpleasant and I hated it. But here, let me explain a couple of the specific subjects I took issue with. 1) Women. I believe and have experience that corroborates the fact that men can write perfectly believable and sympathetic female characters, but I did not find that to be the case here. The main character, Amelia, starts out as a fairly stereotypical tomboy. She has little use for the only other girl of her age, who is more stereotypically female (her name is even Vanity). She has a fe


Fingersmith Sarah Waters, 2002 Premise: Susan Trinder was raised a thief, in a family of thieves. An older male friend convinces her to go in on a scheme to swindle a young gentlewoman out of her fortune, by posing as a maid. Think you know how this story goes? You’re wrong. “When I try now to sort out who knew what and who knew nothing, who knew everything and who was a fraud, I have to stop and give it up, it makes my head spin.” - Susan, page 117 Fingersmith is a maze of lies, tangled history, pornography, madhouses, jails, thieves, murderers, and passion. Susan tells her story in the first person, but doesn’t give away much of what’s to come, just enough to darken her story with a great deal of foreboding. It’s an uncomfortable story in many ways, full of unhappy people acting out their unhappiness in desperate acts and hurting everyone around them. It’s completely compelling from first to last, though. Sue and Maud (the aforementioned young lady) are the main characte

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang Kate Wilhelm, 1976 Hugo Winner - 1977 Premise: David’s family has lived in the valley for generations. Many members of the family go out, work in vastly different fields, but they remain connected to each other. When rumors begin of coming disaster, the valley becomes the last hope for them all. This is a unique story that also manages to capture a sense of the common bonds of humanity. It is split into three sections, with three different view-point characters, separated by generations. The writing is lovely; the characters are complicated and sympathetic. There were a couple of future-science things that made me think: “wait a minute, I don’t think that’s how that works”. Like the best books of its type, though, it’s the social and cultural ramifications of the developments that are interesting and important, not whether it’s scientifically plausible. This book is the story of the survival of the human species, and what physical survival