"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Friday, December 02, 2022

World We Make

TITLE:  The World We Make
AUTHOR: N. K. Jemisin

This read just like what it is, the second book of a duology that was supposed to be the middle book of a trilogy, but isn't because reality got too weird. The loose story ends from book one are mostly tied up as are the character arcs, while providing a solid foundation for the future of New York City and the multiverses. But what was delightfully and surprisingly weird inn book one is just the accepted reality now and while each main character gets a pov chapter, most feel a bit rushed. Even the secondary plot focusing on New York's mayoral election seems  Jemisin's prose still sparkles with personality and I'm glad I read the book. It's a fast read and I did enjoy it. I just wish it could've been what it could and should have been.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Noor

TITLE: Noor
AUTHOR: Nnedi Okorafor

In a future Nigeria, Okorafor explores the lasting effects of colonialism and capitalism, with climate change and identity thrown into the mix. AO is a cybernetically enhanced woman who chose her implants and artificial limbs to overcome the limits of her physical disabilities, yet those enhancements make her different, as others question her humanity. Still, she manages to live a quiet life as a mechanic, until a trip to the market turns everything upside down. On the run, she meets a nomadic herdsman who goes by his initials: DNA. He, too, is on the run and the two head north where DNA's people live, and where the enormous windstorm known as the Red Eye can mean certain death.

For a short novel, Okorafor packs a lot into it. Drones are everywhere, Ultimate Corp, supplier of energy, has made itself indispensable, and everything is streamed with or without context, building on our present reality.  As important as the physical journey is, so is the one AO takes as she discovers hidden truths and comes to understand just what she's capable of doing. I don't want to say more and ruin the joy of taking this journey with AO.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Hidden Palace

TITLE:  The Hidden Palace
AUTHOR: Helene Wecker

As wonderful as Wecker's The Golem and the Jinni is, to me, this sequel was even better. The first book was an exploration of humanity. Could magical creatures, one an iron-bound energy being stuck in human form and another a clay being brought to life truly be human? There was a sinister undertone, too, to the first book, with threats to their very existence. In this book, Ahmad the Jinni and Chava the Golem are quietly living their lives, hiding their true nature inearly-1900s New York City. The danger of discovery and possible extinction has lessened considerably, provided they're careful. As the years pass, their emotional lives deepen, leading to more character development. Real world events are worked in seamlessly, such as the Titanic disaster and the start of World War I. 

Characters from the previous book as well as new ones get caught up in the Jinni and Golem's lives, including the daughter of an Orthodox rabbi who has secrets of her own, the son of Chava's friend Anna whohas been haunted by a nightmare since he was a baby, and an exiled female jinni searching for the iron-bound jinni of legend.  Wecker weaves their stories together and brings them to a satisfying ending that is also a beginning. I hope she writes more with these characters I've come to love.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Master of Djinn

TITLE: A Master of Djinn
AUTHOR: P. Djeli Clark

Having seen a bunch of glowing reviews for this, I decided to give it a try, and I'm glad I did. Clark has created a delightful version of Egypt in 1912. Decades earlier, a mystic/scholar called al-Jahiz opened a portal between realms, before vanishing, and now magical beings, including djinn, co-exist with humans in an independent Egypt that has benefited from djinn design and technology. But trouble is brewing. When the members of a secret British brotherhood dedicated to al-Jahiz are all murdered in a mystical manner, Agent Fatma el-Sha'arawi must find the killer and prevent an al-Jahiz imposter from recreating al-Jahiz's work to bring yet more powerful beings to Earth. 

Fatma, a rare woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities, prefers to work alone, but her superior assigns a newly minted female agent to be her partner, which provides a logical way to present info dumps as Fatma fills in her unwanted partner and their budding friendship helps keep things moving along. This is a breezy read and I hope to be able to read more about Fatma and her adventures in Cairo. My volume included the story that preceded the novel ("A Dead Djinn in Cairo"), which is a nice plus.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

The Tenth Circle

TITLE:  The Tenth Circle
AUTHOR: Jodi Picoult

Back when I was still working, Jodi Picoult was popular with our library patrons, so I figured I should give one of her books a try. I chose this one because one of the main characters -- the father -- was a comic book creator and I love omic books. So I bought the book and somehow never got around to reading it. Until now, a decde or so later.

The plot revolves around Daniel Stone, a comic book artist working on writing ann original comic based on Dante's levels of Hell, a subject his college professor wife teaches. A work-from-home parent, he has a strong bond with their 14-year-old daughter, Trixie. Life seems perfect until Trixie tells her father her older boyfriend raped her. From there, things spiral out of control

What once seemed perfect reveals itself to be full of lies and deceptions, all with consequences, from the aftermath of the rape accusation to Daniel's wife's infidelity. Slowly, Picoult peels back the layers until the truths are revealed. There are plot twists, some I figured out and some that surprised me, but this isn't a traditional mystery. It's more a look at a family that seems perfect until the family members are forced by circumstances to look more closely.

I could say more about the characters -- the blurb certainly does -- but the only other thing I'll mention is the comic book within the book, as Picoult got an artist to illustrate pages of Daniel's story of a man literally going to Hell to save his daughter, a knowing nod at life imitating art, fictional though both may be. That, and Picoult's easy prose that makes this a fast, compelling read.