Happy Bookish New Year! May it be joyful, prosperous healthy and filled with great reads.
Before I introduce the first completed book of 2020, yes I’ve already got one, I wanted to mention some good reads of the end of 2019. Two books were actually standouts for my end of the year reading forays.
It’s a visual novel that tells the story of Bras. The story isn’t linear and it jumps back and forth…except in each chapter Bras dies. Wise, with warmth and heart,it had a very interesting structure, it is a story about moments that may define us, feelings, life and death.
Live every day as if it were your last. We saw Bras in many moments, we saw his friends, his life…and him dealing with it. Story rich. It’s relatable and wise, spoke to me so much, beautifully done. For me, there’s much love for storytelling here and this is definitely one graphic novel worth reading. It’s coming out in hardcover in April – I can’t wait! It it’s a beautiful read and I seek stories like this. It had lots of heart. It’s memorable.
SLEEPING BEAUTIES BY STEPHEN AND OWEN KING
I am not interested much in whether or not this is typical King and whether there is more Owen in it or not. As far as I’m concerned, I may not even like “typical King”. So, I’ve read this without any King bias. I seek stories well-told, stories with a heart, stories with interesting premises, ideas, thoughts or emotions that grab me. While I wouldn’t say it had a heart and not everything fit my preferred style, it had a good concept and I liked it overall.
It’s about a what if situation – what would happen if women fell into a deep sleep and disappeared from this world and about the chaos that ensues when it happens. Great idea and for the most part, good plot but one that sometimes does veer towards excess and sensationalism.
The world building is detailed, showing and talking about how the sleeping flu affects the world not just USA – riots, plane crashes among other things. Utter chaos.The attitudes of men left behind in the rising chaos. There are behaviours that ring true. I like attention to detail, often therein lies the devil. It fleshes out the situation and makes it more believable.
The first part is compellingly detailed, we see the unfolding of the apocalypse and its implications and how the characters deal. The pace is really good for me. Once the apocalypse unfolds sufficiently, the story moves into two planes: the world of men and the world of vanished women in the new Eden, created on the ruins of the world of men. That was a great idea to show certain things, among others to highlight the differences between how men and women might go about things when left alone and what happens in each world. We get pov of the animals, also for a reason. Evie, is indeed a very interesting character. I love the ideas and the build up to the finale.
The final part of the book is a bloodbath and seems like from a typical American movie, a showdown. the men go at it all out. But in the end
“who cleans up the battlefields after the shooting”?
And is it only a typical American movie ending? The Kings point to the universality of men fighting it over,by having Evie evoke, for one, the story of Troy. Epic battles- but aren’t they senseless ? And this is what this battle brings to mind too with Evie at the centre, the bone of discontent, the tragic emissary. She suggests, instigates, insinuates, provokes, tempts -but she brings out what’s already there.
I like that it has so many characters. They are essential to the story but they aren’t likeable or interesting to me, the portrayals aren’t compelling enough, they didn’t RESONATE. I didn’t really care about them except for Clint and Jared. Frank was good too. I like that the story takes time to introduce us to them so we get to know their various backgrounds and their situations. It makes the experience more complete and fleshed out. We get a very complete picture of the story and unfolding developments. What omniscient narrators do, is to me actually better done by shifting perspectives that can show better. I enjoy a variety of characters when they meaningfully contribute to a story and a variety allows an author to navigate various sides of the story and show it in full. I think the characters here ticked that box, though I didn’t like most of them. I don’t like the vernacular either..it’s excessive. Their inner voices aren’t the most interesting for me because most of the characters are not really sufficiently interesting but still they are alive and vivid . At the centre of it all is Evie who enters the story in what I think is overly sensationalist fashion But she is good character, she brings out and highlights vices, uses them but also good things sometimes. She was sometimes tackly but nonetheless I’ve found her interesting. Other than Clint and Jared and Frank, I was most focused and interested in her.
I liked the story and concepts, the overall pace was just right for me. One thing I really don’t like about it is that it definitely lacks finesse for me. Does everything need to be said? Can’t there be more subtlety? And then things like Eve’s entrance seems even a little tacky to me. Also, some things felt redundantly graphic. Ideas are for me strong here, as is world-building but not always treated with finesse. However, ideas that made me think were very much there. And that, along with the detailed wodbuilding as well as pacing is what in the end made it compelling.
All in all, this is an original and well-intentioned story, interesting premise, detailed storytelling that thanks to many characters can be told as completely as possible. It will stay with me..it’s not perfect, in fact I’d say the writing is not my preferred style but it is an interesting premise that has its flavour and in the end for once I feel like I can agree wth a blurb: to me, like some of those blurb comments stated, the story felt like at least a nod of appreciation towards women.
PS. I like to think those father-son moments between Jared and Clint felt genuine for a reason, I did like them, but most things for me lacked the sort of sincerity I seek.