Friday, October 07, 2011


When I finish all my books at the same time, I have to start a bunch of new ones all at once.  This is what leads to these brief, awkward, one-night flings that I have with the things I eventually put down.

Things like The False Friend, by Myla Goldberg.  A library book that caught my eye, this was always a long shot.  The basic plot summary, first page, and even the cover fit a certain template, reminding me of Jennifer McMahon's books (Promise Not To Tell, Island of Lost Girls).  A little girl vanished 20 years ago and a woman today is trying to come to terms with her understanding and memories of what happened to her friend.  In The False Friend, it appears from the beginning that the teenager whose friend disappeared actually witnessed her fall down a well (maybe?) but lied and told everyone she got into a car with a stranger, and then blocked the memory out until one random day in adulthood the truth came back to her.

This is all I got about the theoretical plot of the book before the main character decided to go back to her hometown and face her past.  From this point, we get a lot of pages about her parents, their relationship, how the old neighborhood had gone to the dogs, how those dogs were all college students, her relationship with her brother (who has not appeared in the book yet), etc.

At this point, I'm 10% of the way into the book and I've had about four pages of "OMG, I think I have suppressed memories!" and 25 pages of "her parents are in love but her father is the dominant personality and he's kind of in denial about not being in his prime any more (physically and real estate-wise) and her brother finds her education intimidating...."  And it's not even family psychodrama--it's setup, prequel, backstory.

So, done.

Then there's The Agency: A Spy In the House, by Y.S. Lee, which has the best plot summary ever: in Victorian(ish) England, a school for impoverished girls is actually a training ground for secret agents who will pose as servants in the houses of important people.  I have no idea what the details are, but is that not the best premise ever? 

Sadly, the writing doesn't live up.  I have pretty high expectations for the writing in YA books, and this is just kind of clunky, full of expository conversations where characters inform each other of things they both already know, in ways that don't even pretend to be phrased realistically. 

I'm probably going to read it eventually, because boarding school and spies!  But this is the kind of book that I have to read as a side project in the middle of something awesome, so next I need the something awesome to get into.

Next candidates: A Game of Thrones (you may have heard of it) and Terry Pratchett's Nation, which is not high-profile but universally raved about.  We'll see what sticks first.

No comments: