Cormac McCarthy is one of those authors that I’ve always been intimidated by. As such, I have avoided his books. I will do so no longer. I adore his writing. He crafts a gripping narrative of a boy and his father trying to survive in a world that is destroyed. This form of dystopian story seems like it has been done so much, but this book isn’t about the world. It’s about the characters in it. In developing this story, McCarthy constructs what seems like the barest of settings where the details are slim. All we know is an epidemic occurred. It is their struggle to survive that we care about.
McCarthy creates characters that are real, damaged and all. It is very bleak take on life in such a world, and it is one that I can really connect to. Perhaps that is because it is the most likely type of story for us. Now, I am not saying how the story ends, so don’t mistake this for a spoiler. I merely mean that it is clear that life is nearly impossible in this barren wasteland.
I mentioned my concern of McCarthy at the start, so I want to talk about how wrong that was. The story was equal parts emotional as it was easy to read and enjoy. Of course, enjoyment with this is like the enjoyment you might get from a sad song you hear on the radio. It hits you hard, and all you want to do is listen to it over and over again. 5/5 stars
Rating Break Down Writing Style: 10/10 Plot: 10/10 Characters: 10/10 Ending: 10/10 Engagement: 10/10 Enjoyment: 10/10 Comprehension: 10/10 Pacing: 10/10 Desire to Reread: 8/10 Special: 5/10 Final Rating: 4.825/10 Note, each rating is weighted based on personal importance (see blog for more details).
Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Teen for providing me with an electronic advanced copy (e-ARC) to provide a fair and honest review.
I’m about 75% through Strange Exit, and I am not loving it. I’m going to finish it because I don’t absolutely hate it, and I want to push through it to provide the best review possible. I will say it’s an interesting idea; essentially earth has been destroyed, and there are a ship of humans who had to take it to survive. However, they had to be put in homeostasis which seemed to involve this virtual reality system to help them cope with the trip. It seems like they only took kids, for whatever reason, and, honestly, I don’t quite understand why we had this setup. I guess it’s something to do with re-population and an innate “right” to be saved over adults who’ve had a chance to live their life. Unfortunately, it just feels like a convenient way to write a YA novel.
On that note, I don’t love the writing of this book. It reads very YA but not just in style of substance as well. I don’t mind a YA perspective, but I want depth in my story and characterization. I am mildly interested in what is going on , but to me it just all seems bland. Obviously, I wish I was more excited by the book. Something seems to be going on with the ship, and they have to wake up all of the people in the virtual reality to avoid a major catastrophe. The novel, it seems, revolves around this task, so naturally it’s not an easy task to wake them up. I’m not entirely sure how it all fits together because it seems very convoluted, and what I do understand feels like plot convenience.
I understand the nature of writing is creating, but I a good story should sell the idea and plot naturally (particularly the plot given a specific idea). I feel bad because I am very happy to have been granted this arc. However, it just isn’t a book for me. I think YA readers are probably more likely to enjoy it.
I finished the book, and while I enjoyed the ending, overall my opinion isn’t very high. I’ll admit I don’t read that much YA, but it’s a genre that personally I’ve been trying to explore more to figure out what type of way works for me. I couldn’t connect with the characters, and the most exciting thing about the plot was the idea. Of course, an idea doesn’t write a book. There were some things that seemed convenient for the sake of the plot, the sake of action, and for the sake of emotion. Obviously these are all necessary to develop a new story. However, it just didn’t work for me.
By the end, the plot drove everything. It wasn’t a special accomplishment of the characters. The ending was near, so the characters arbitrarily make progress where they couldn’t before. I will probably read another book by Parker Peevyhouse, specifically because I know one Books and Lala gave a decent rating to one of them. I recognize her name for a reason, so I don’t want to give up on Peevyhouse just yet. It may just be at this novel isn’t that great, or maybe she isn’t right for me. Thanks to the publisher Internet galley forgive me that we reviewed this book. 2.5/5 stars
Rating Break Down Writing Style (7%): 5/10 Plot (15%): 5/10 Characters (15%): 4/10 Ending (1%): 7/10 Engagement (5%): 5/10 Enjoyment (25%): 4/10 Comprehension (20%): 8/10 Pacing (2%): 7/10 Desire to Reread (5%): 0/10 Special (5%): 0/10 Final Rating: 2.38/5 Note, each rating is weighted based on personal importance.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you: be of good cheer! What a terrible way to start this blog, but I can’t help myself. It’s the holidays again! On that note, I have decided to participate in the Very Marry Readathon. This is a very loosely Christmas themed readathon with a series of 5 challenges to meet. It is happening December 15-21 which is okay timing; it isn’t too early and I suppose not during Xmas is good too.
I don’t think the challenges are very difficult. In fact, I am a little disappointed at how easy they are and that there are only five of them. Because of that, I’ve decided to try and complete multiple books for each challenge. I am going to start by listing the challenges, and before I discuss the books I will read for that challenge, I am going to give a list of what I intend to read. Most of these books meet multiple prompts, so it will probably be easiest to discuss that way.
Read a book set during the holidays.
Read a book with a Christmas/holiday color on the cover.
Read a book with S-N-O-W in the title (or the authors name).
Read a book by the fire.
Read a book just because you want to!
Mr. Dickens and His Carol 271 pages, 4.21 hrs
A Christmas Carol 238 pages, 1.5 hrs
The Afterlife of Holly Chase 400 pages, 5.27 hrs
The Book of Lost Things 339 pages 5.79 hrs
Watership Down 478 pages, 9.21 hrs
The Silence of the Girls, by Pat Barker 336 page, 5.66 hrs
Woman on the Edge of Time (Maybe) 417 pages, 7.9 hrs
Before the Coffee Gets Cold 208 pages, 10.5 hrs
Total Reading Goals: ~50 hours and 30 minutes, 2687 pages
These times are adjusted for 1.9x reading speeds (except for #8 which I intend to read physically and approximate by page count and my reading speed).
1. Read a book set during the holidays.
This is the prompt that really makes it Christmas themed. I am very excited to be reading the Afterlife of Holly Chase. The only reason I haven’t read it sooner was because I knew I wanted to read it in December. A Christmas Carol is my favorite Christmas story; I love it! The Afterlife of Holly Chase is a take on that story following a woman who never followed the advice of her three ghosts. I don’t know if it is going to be a very good book, but I feel pretty confident I’ll enjoy it, at least in part, for its concept. In the same train of thought, I am reading Mr. Dickens and His Carol which is the story of how Dickens came to write A Christmas Carol (fictionalized). I am also going to reread A Christmas Carol again. I recently found the Classics Illustrated hardback edition, and I’d love to listen while I read through it.
2. Read a book with a Christmas/holiday color on the cover.
This is, I think, too easy. They consider this red, gold, white, green. Honestly, if I was making this a rule, I’d make it so red and green both had to be on the cover, but it isn’t. In any case, I have several books that easily meet this criteria (of red, gold, etc.). The Book of Lost Things is red and white. This is a book I was planning on reading this month anyway! The Afterlife of Holly Chase is red and maybe gold, and A Christmas Carol also apply’s here. Pretty much all the Christmas Carol related books work here, including Mr. Dickens and His Carol. If I have time, I will also read Woman on the Edge of Time which also gold and red.
3. Read a book with S-N-O-W in the title.
This means I can read any book that has the letters needed to spell SNOW in the title, and it also includes author names. I thought this was an easy one, but I am realizing now it is actually harder than I realized. I am going to read Watership Down which is another book I wanted to read this month anyways. This is a classic, and I’ve just heard such great things. I had another book I wanted to read here but decided to replace it with other books of interest. I’ve already mentioned Woman on the Edge of Time. I got excited for it initially because I thought it had S-N-O-W. Sadly, it is missing the S.
4. Read a book by the fire.
Because I am going to be listening to audiobooks for almost all of the others, I am going to make this read a physical book by the fire (virtual or otherwise). I am going to read Before the Coffee Gets Cold (because it doesn’t have an audiobook, at least where I can get it). This copy is actually in the States with my mom (I live in Ontario Canada), and I won’t have it until the last 2 or 3 days of the readathon. It’ll be a fun added challenge to do it over two or three days (as opposed to pacing myself and reading throughout the week).
5. Read a book just because you want to!
Most of these meet this category as it is. Although, I am going go further and to aim to read The Silence of the Girls. I really wanted to read more books, but I just don’t have the time. Then the Silence of the Girls comes fresh off of A Thousand Ships which inspires me to read more Greek mythology retellings. In fact, it follows another female character featured in A Thousand Ships (i.e. the Trojan War). Woman on the Edge of Time and A Christmas Carol are two more books I am reading just because I want to.
I’ve created a TBR of 8 books (with a few more in mind if I have time), but several of them are short. I actually cut out two books because I knew I wouldn’t have the time. It isn’t the end of the world if I don’t finish my TBR, but it still is stressful which is why I trimmed it down. I haven’t decided on a fixed schedule. Although, I definitely want to start with the Christmasy books (Holly Chase, Mr. Dickens, and Christmas Carol).
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a great week for reading. Well, it wasn’t bad. I finished all but two of my books, which is still 5 novels. I don’t know if they all satisfied the challenges. I don’t think I ever read by firelight. Maybe I listened to an audiobook with a candle in the background. That is okay though. I finished several books, and I am still finishing Before the Coffee Gets Cold. However, I dnfed Watership Down. I just wasn’t getting into it. I do think that was almost entirely situational, so I still completely intend to return it. I just decided it wasn’t the right time. It was a highly anticipated read, so the fact that I wasn’t connecting made me want to stop and reread it without the rush.
I left this feeling disappointed, but this is my fourth month doing a readathon. I knew I would probably push myself too hard eventually. That is okay! I still read a good bit of books. I just really underestimated how time consuming the holiday season would be from traveling, to visiting with family, to end of semester grading and work.
I was going to hold off reading this a week because I start a readathon Sunday, but I’m ahead of schedule and couldn’t resist. Hopefully I finish it before then because I’d rather not stop and read a bunch of books in the middle of this one. First impression: very intrigued. I love time travel but am confused. I’m worried the concept may be a little too l convoluted, but still early. I side well see if it clears up
Finished Reading 12/13/19
In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a fascinating idea with fairly good story to back it up. My initial confusion was cleared up as Thea Lim lays out the world we are in. A flu pandemic has begun (early 1980s), and if people want to afford a treatment, they can travel forward in time to work off their debt to this company. What unfolds is mildly dystopian story about a world driven by consumerism and fear where people lose their basic human rights. We follow our main character, Polly, as she tries to return to her love.
While it made sense in the end, it still feels a bit convoluted. It all seems like a very specific and round about way of addressing these issues. It reminded me a lot of Never Let Me Go but with a twist on the mechanics. It was a lovely story. Lim did a good job making me care for our main character. Unfortunately, I never quite got passed the necessary step of accepting this world as real, and that is most likely an effect of this convoluted idea. It makes for a good story.
My main reason for reading this was the time travel–perhaps my favorite thing to read about. This story though, could have worked without it. Granted it, it makes a lot things easier. Still, why have it? Why is this system in place? Why is the story set in the 80s instead of the present? Even as she is propelled forward, she only goes into the 90s. It isn’t as if we are seeing her in our time. Part of me wonders if it was a plot convenience orchestrated to avoid many of the pesky technologies that exist today.
I feel like all I’m saying are negative things about this book, but let me be clear. I really enjoyed it. I think it is a good book, if flawed. My initial instinct was to give it 4 stars, but I’m finding myself finding a lot more negative things to say than I anticipated. Therefore, I think it is more of a 3.75/5 stars. It is still a pretty good score!
I absolutely adored this novel. First, the way the story was told didn’t feel like I was reading a YA novel. Of course, I may have a misconception of what it means to be YA (Ariel Bissett definitely has a more broad definition), but to me, YA is way of looking at the world. We are looking at the world through Glory’s viewpoint. That allows us to see how she perceives the world. In a way, that will be a contorted frame of reference, but what I liked about the story was that what we saw of the real world felt real. It felt like the adults were acting like adults. All the while, Glory is trying to understand them, but that doesn’t stop them from acting in adult ways. All that is to say, King doesn’t hold back. She gives us a complete and real world.
The story is about a young girl who is graduating high school, all the while living with her mothers death at a young age. In comes the dead bat, this weird thing that changes Glory’s life forever. I won’t go any deeper on the plot because it is best to go in knowing less. Although, I don’t think it is a spoiler to say that this a story about coming of age, the symmetry of history and the tragedies of the future. In a way, it is a dystopian novel about what the world could become.
The beauty isn’t just the fascinating premise but the philosophies that King is able to explore with it. Now, imagine that through the eyes of a teenage girl. It is profound and makes you think. It is weird. You don’t know what is real and what is imaginary, and that creates a dark fear for Glory and for the reader about whether or not Glory is of sound mind. All of that alters how she approaches this phase of her life. What’s more, it will decide if and what her future will be.
I loved this book, and I look forward to reading more A.S. King. The subject, premise, and form of story telling is just the kind of weirdness I want to read about. It feels different from the average novel, and I think that can be seen by some of the negative feedback on Goodreads. That said, the weirdness inevitably holds it back from resonating quite as deeply as a more traditional story. I don’t know if it is fair to dock it stars for that because I love that this weirdness exists. Still, I leave it feeling like it isn’t quite a 5 star read. It’s still the best YA I’ve read all year and one of my new favorites. 4.5/5 stars, rounding down.
I am loving this book. I had a rough start because the novel wasn’t the traditional dystopian novel, and I even had to double check Goodreads to make sure I wasn’t confused by what the genre was. I think that speaks to how original this story is. It starts at this sort of boarding school where we are following the point of view of one of the young students attending the school. The trick is, this isn’t a normal boarding school, and these aren’t normal students.
Ishiguro reveals details about this dark future bit by bit. The story follows this woman and those around her as they grow. Along the way, it is easy to become deceived into thinking this is the world as we know it, but we are constantly reminded that there is something off. As our characters grow, they attempt to make a life for themselves in this future that isn’t quite life as we know it. The details are minimal but just enough to unnerve us.
Finished 12/12/19 (just after midnight)
I really should be in bed. That was my intent, but then I realized I couldn’t go to bed, not until I finished this book. I am so happy with this book. I started it worried I wouldn’t be able to follow what I was expecting to be a literary novel, given its Noble Peace Prize. However, that did not impede on the readability. I’ve already given a rundown of the novel above. Having now completed it, I stand by what I said. It may start confusing, but Ishiguro brings the story full circle by the end of the novel in a heartbreaking and compelling character driven story that simultaneously works to reveal the dark reality of this dystopian world.
This is without a doubt one of my favorites of the year. I loved the concept, the themes, the writing, and the plot. It all worked so well, and I hope to reread it again eventually. 5/5 stars.