Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts!
I read The Hunger Games series, all three books before seeing the film. I absolutely loved them, and this led to me reading more YA books that weren’t quite so good…
But I also discovered some new favourite series – the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons, The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett, the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. I discovered some really enjoyable, underrated books such as The Silver Linings Playbook (which I’m sure is now more popular due to the film). I re-read some older favourites – Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses trilogy, The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, some Bill Bryson.
I finally got round to reading (and really enjoying!) some of the more popular books that I’d been meaning to read – The Passage by Justin Cronin, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.
But I also read a couple of books that I really didn’t enjoy. Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Admitting to not enjoying either of those almost makes me feel blasphemous… but I just didn’t get along with them at all. I think The Scarlet Letter is the only book I’ve ever wanted to throw across the room. I really looked forward to reading Let The Right One In but spent the majority of it feeling rather queasy… I also read the infamously Goodreads-wide hated Save the Pearls: Revealing Eden, which made me feel rather sick for a completely different reason.
I founded this blog at the end of August, which is when I started reading ebooks – I’m still not sure what I think of them. I can see their uses, definitely, but I much, much prefer the feel of a real book in my hands. Since I started this blog, I have made 95 posts (not including this one), 29 of which are book reviews. I’ve gained 220 followers on Google Friend Connect, and over 500 on Twitter, as well as discovered some fantastic fellow book bloggers!
I’m actually finding it really hard to write this post, because there are so many books and aspects of blogging that I want to write about, but I don’t want to turn this into an essay, and it would also take forever! Overall, I would say that I think it’s been a great year, reading wise. I read a wide range of genres, found some amazing new books/series/authors, and also found ones I know to steer clear of.
I think I’ll also just take the time to send a small shout out to some of my favourite book bloggers – Kelly, Kat, Ara, Aloi and Deneé – I visit your blogs regularly, and try to comment frequently. But there are so many others I love to visit, I would list my whole blogroll on here if I could…
The society in the book doesn’t seem too changed from our own. There appears to be more of a continental emphasis, e.g. the countries are called England-EU, Finland-EU etc, but apart from casual space travel it doesn’t seem too different. There are so many theories about the definition of ‘science fiction’ compared with fantasy, but the commonly accepted one seems to be that sci-fi is what could happen, whereas fantasy never could. In that case, I would say that 2050 seems far too early for this casual space travel, but it’s really hard to query the plausibility of sci-fi!
Roberts has a very fluid writing style, and the first half of the book (narrated by Gradisil’s mother Klara) was an account of her life as an ‘Uplander’, from her childhood to Gradisil’s late teens, and was some very effective world building. Yet as soon as the story switched to Gradisil’s half, it became much less interesting; it almost feels as though the two halves could quite easily be two different books. Whilst the eponymous character never provides the narration, we see her from two different sides: as a child and a teenager, from her mother; from a young woman to middle aged by her cuckolded husband. This has the effect of keeping Gradisil at a distance from the reader, as she is to all the loved ones in her life.
Yet for all the effective techniques that Roberts has used, there are some downfalls. The beginning of part two of the book, where narration by Slater (who becomes more and more entwined with the story) begins, was just a complete information dump. Too many facts and figures and information about technology was introduced in a matter of pages, and I quite honestly found all but one or two of Slater’s chapters really dull. I don’t even think his POV chapters were completely necessary.
The changes in spelling as time progressed, whilst showing changes in society, annoyed me. First it was the dropping of ‘c’, then ‘h’, then ‘ng’ became a strange symbol. I really can’t stand this in books, hence why I dropped Feersum Endjinn by Iain M. Banks. It worked for Flowers for Algernon (which is a fantastic book, by the way) because it was a very effective way of portraying Charlie’s rapidly increasing IQ. Here, however, it really isn’t necessary and just bugged me.
Overall, I did enjoy the book but it honestly felt like it could have been two novels, or perhaps a novella – covering Klara’s story – and a novel. The two halves were rather disjointed, and I enjoyed Klara’s half more, despite Gradisil barely being in it. It was nice to read some low-key sci-fi though, something a bit more easily imagined.