Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ah, Pessimism

Waste waste waste! I have all this time on my hands and I can't, somehow, find a good book to read. Well, if I'm honest, I'm looking for a PILE of good books so I can read them all at the same time. But still, how hard can it be?

I finished Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett, this morning; now that was good. They're always funnier and more engaging than I can think to expect, though I love the idea of a pregnant pause giving birth to dozens of tiny little pauses, each more uncomfortable than the last. I think I'll have to get the next one, Making Money--it always seems like a safer investment to read about characters you already know and love. Also there are golems.

But I just can't seem to get into The Sweet Far Thing, the third Libba Bray about the realms. It's just SO long, and it doesn't really build, just meanders. Similar things happen again and again. And it's a shame, because you'd think that the potent combination of girls' boarding school/Victorian society drama with epic fantasy empire management would be rich and delightful. I rather like the society stuff (with its tinge of misused magic) better than the fantasy parts. It really should be tightened up, in spite of the fantasy world's new fondness for "lots more" of anything they like.

Brides of Eden by Linda Crew is my other current letdown. It's the novelization of a true story about a small town in Oregon in 1913 or so, in which a charismatic preacher seduces many, many otherwise upstanding young women. This sounds like a pretty good premise, especially the idea of how a bunch of normal, religious young women can be caught up in the fervor. But, 20 pages in, they're all under the spell of the new preacher, and there's no explanation of that fervor. Everyone's just suddenly a swooning fanatic, because "he's so goodlooking." Yawn.

Sold, by Patricia McCormick, is another one that I was looking forward to, but am not getting into. This is the story of a girl in a village in Nepal whose stepfather sells her as a prostitute to the city. I was expecting an emotional drama, but it's much more poetry than prose, and (I suppose not unexpectedly), very depressing. I made it pretty far in, and so far the girl still doesn't know what's happening. There are very, very long descriptions of village life, and of the many sights there are to see whenever she goes somewhere. The descriptions are lovely, but there isn't much going on in the story, and the impending awfulness is just getting to me.

I don't know why I even thought I'd take on Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and Extras will of course take work to get into--Scott Westerfeld builds up his lingo to fast, you really need to get in a good headspace for it.

So I'll finish The Sweet Far Thing, and try something called Bad Monkeys, and Little Girls in Pretty Boxes, which has the dual advantages of being nonfiction and a known quantity. Muddle through, I guess. I wish me luck.

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