Sunday, June 19, 2011

Will Grayson, Will Grayson (by John Green and David Levithan)

YA on the Kindle is a bad idea; one night of breastfeeding and this book was done! I enjoy John Green, so I knew I would enjoy this, about two guys named Will Grayson. I liked the focus on gay teenage boys (only one of the Wills is gay, but there are a number of gay characters that feature heavily in the plot).

I wish the depression stuff had been handled with more depth; I think the issue is that Green's half is better written than Levithan's half, and it's Levithan's Will who is depressed. There is some discussion of how depression is a real thing and often misunderstood by teenagers, but it's underexplored, I think.

Overall, worth reading if you like YA (especially John Green's stuff).


Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Imperfectionists (by Tom Rachman)

Recommended by Jenfu after I enjoyed Goon Squad and damn, books go fast on my Kindle app while I'm nursing. (I also re-read Persuasion in between Goon Squad and this). I need some recommendations for longer books, because otherwise I'm going to go broke! Or someone needs to explain how to borrow friends' books on my Kindle. That's a real thing, right?

Anyway, another novel from multiple perspectives, set at an English-language newspaper in Rome. Very similar in feel to Goon Squad, although less "literary" feeling. I really enjoyed it with one caveat, which is (spoiler) Something Bad Happens to an Animal. I can't really handle that at the best of times, not to mention when I'm hormonal. But otherwise, a really good (and sadly very fast) read!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A Visit from the Goon Squad (by Jennifer Egan)

Really engaging, with some terrific chapters and amazing characters. Loved the linkage between the stories (even if ultimately I wished the stories were a little less linked, ala David Mitchell, so I could get a Noreen chapter or a Rolph chapter instead of more Bennie and Sasha). But that's just me.

I really loved some of the chapters, like the safari chapter (which I read first in the New Yorker) and the Powerpoint chapter (which could have been gimmicky but had surprising depth). It edged towards cartoonish at moments for me (like the chapter about the General) and I would have also preferred more realism. Again, that feels like me projecting again!

So for what the book is as opposed to what I wanted it to be, it is a really great read. I actually am looking forward to re-reading it, picking up more of the links between the chapters and the characters.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean, by Susan Casey

This one has been on my "to-read" list for a while and, again, a breezy non-fiction book seemed like a good option for reading while nursing. (Although literary fiction is turning out to be fine too; I'm almost done with A Visit from the Goon Squad.)

This book alternates between talking about big wave surfing and about the science of climate change, salvage operations in different parts of the ocean, and other ways that "rogue waves" are affecting the world. There's a lot of scary prediction about climate change causing more rogue waves, tsunamis, and earthquakes, and I didn't enjoy those parts as much because I prefer to be in denial about that stuff! (Actually, feeling there's nothing I can really do about it, and knowing that we're screwing up the planet, it's just incredibly frustrating.) But I wouldn't call it a flaw in the book, necessarily. You do get the idea after a while though.

The pacing is slightly off at points. For instance, when we're following the big wave surfers (which is totally my favorite part of the book, and takes up about half the narrative), one chapter ends with the surfers (and the author) all speeding to Mexico to catch a huge wave in, like, 2009. The next chapter begins, and suddenly we're in Alaska in the 1960s. Like, what happened to Mexico? I don't mind alternating the perspective, but there are instances where ending on a semi-cliffhanger throws off the flow of the book.

Anyway, overall, I really enjoyed it!