Tuesday, October 06, 2009

No Excuses, No Apologies

Is there anything more boring than a blog post about why you haven't posted to your blog in a while? Thought not. So.

Catching Fire was pretty awesome. There's almost always a point at the beginning of a sequel where you're kind of adrift. You're reading it because you liked the first one, but it's a whole new book, so you're kind of adrift in new-book land. There's the awkward hop-step when entering any book, like trying to get on a moving sidewalk. But with a sequel, you already read the first part of the story--you know the characters and the author. So you aren't expecting the ground to change--like stepping from one moving sidewalk onto another. Not smoother, and in fact, maybe a little rougher. This effect is often intensified by Backstory and Exposition, which can be awkward and painful if you just came off the previous book--like the time a few weeks ago I told Brenda the same anecdote about my clever packing innovation (inflated sandwich bags!) twice in two days.

So there were a few pages at the beginning of Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire (sequel to The Hunger Games) where I didn't quite know what the vibe was, or when we were going to get into the meat of the story, and I was worried for us, the author and me. But then bang, here it comes, and whoosh, we're off on a train tour and starvation mode and survival and PTSD and all kinds of very real, complicated treatments of the fallout of good action adventures. Start with The Hunger Games--this stuff's worth it.

In a painful labor of--well no, not love, determination, maybe? I'm reading Dawn Rochelle, which is a collection of FOUR Lurlene McDaniels books about a character with cancer. All her books are about a character with cancer. I had a strong memory of the first one in this series, Six Months to Live*, and I wanted to reread it, just to see how it held up. Not great, is the answer. If you want to make an 11 year old girl cry, this is the book for you; if you are a lover of the English language or finely expressed emotions, not so much.

But I didn't go the easy route--no, I had to check out the four-in-one volume. And since each book is 120 pages, then dammit, I'm going to finish it. I've already read Too Young to Die and So Much to Live For. I only have the 120 pages of No Time to Cry left to slog through. Maybe this will be inspirational. At the very least, I will be Someone Who Follows Through.

Children of the Dust, by Louise Lawrence, is another post-apocalyptic book that I picked up recently. It was interesting; it told the story of a nuclear holocaust through the lives of three generations in one family--a girl who lives through it (for a little while), a relative who is born in a bunker and meets the outside world, and a future generation, where the bunker people emerge to meet up with the mutants who have adapted to the new world. It wasn't bad--it was interesting in a thoughtful way--but it wasn't compelling at all, and I won't tell anyone they must read it. I also felt that, while the ending was appropriate to the story, some of the developments that happen at the end are a little pat and therefore flawed.

Anyway, that's where I am. I'm going to do something fun next and read A Hat Full of Sky, by Terry Pratchett, and then some of the other piles and piles of books that are stacking up around me. Don't worry about me, team, I'm still out here going through all these books for you.

*Point of order: at no point in this book is the main character or anyone else told that they have six months to live.

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