So this last week I’ve read three books, all pretty different. The first was the sweetest, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society , by Shaffer and Barrows, due out late in July. I had no idea that the Channel islands were occupied during World War II. This story tells about the occupation, stories of things that happened tied in with a simple love story. Written in letters, it reminded me of the light but touching story I love in Daddy-Long-Legs, by Jean Webster. I highly recommend it.
My other two reads were both dystopian fanstasy, (yay dystopia! Emy and I had the funniest conversation about our secret obsessions with dystopian fiction the other day. Why is that we enjoy reading about what would happen if all our social and environmental standards broke down?) but they are very different from each other, although I devoured both, so I suppose they are both good in their own ways. The first was He, She, and It, by Marge Piercy, which I have intended to read for a very long time. It explores the idea of artificial intelligence and personhood. Shira’s work with the cyborg Yod is woven together with her grandmother’s story of the golem of Prague. It is obvious from the get-go that Piercy is a strong feminist, leaning much more heavily on her female characters and leaving her men to languish in two-dimensional mediocrity. However, it was a fascinating read because I am always interested in secular considerations of identity and soul, and it’s tied into the mystical Jewish story of the golem, showing that the struggle of man creating life is not a new consideration. It was a hefty read, and I am hoping to read more of her in the future. The second was not something I would normally have picked up, but it was a favorite of a friend, so I agreed to try it. Stephen King’s The Gunslinger was a complete surprise to me. The first 100 pages I sat out by the pool and read a few pages and set it down puzzled, picked it up, read a few more and put it back down. I was confused. Then I hit the second section and suddenly I couldn’t put it down. I read the rest of it before bed. I know now what my bro-in-law meant when he said that Stephen King can describe anything so that you think you can see and touch and taste it. Sometimes it’s disturbing, and you’re a little startled, but most of the time he can evoke an entire world with just a few words and it’s amazing. I will definitely consider reading the rest of the Gunslinger series, although I doubt I will ever appreciate Carrie or The Shining. Surprise to me!
So I guess I lied, I’ve finished 5 books in the last week. I just stumbled on two more books that I have read. The first is a mass market mystery, nothing special, just something I read one evening because I got an advance reader of it. Hide, by Lisa Gardner. It was not spectacular, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it could be. It was a long line-up of suspects, over-development of minor characters as red herring material, and a surprise ending that seems unfair because it was introduced in the last 100 pages. The second was another dystopian novel, Daughters of the North, by Sarah Hall. It was alright. It was touted as having hints of Atwood’s Handmaiden’s Tale but I found that to be a little of an overstatement. Hall is a bit heavy-handed with her feminism, eliminating all male characters nearly entirely, and idealizing an all-woman community in a way that anyone who has lived in a girls’ dorm would be able to refute. There are no relationships, homo or heterosexual, that ring true. The connections of the characters are shallow and hard to understand, and the protagonist’s idolizing of the leader Jackie is confusing and not inspiring. I enjoyed it, but due to content and the pedantic nature of her writing, I would probably not recommend it to anyone but fellow dystopian buff.