September rewind

This is a look back on the books I read in September. It was a pretty good month. Seven books, go me. I quite liked most of them. It was a brilliant month really.

Fire by Kristin Cashore
Yes, Fire, Graceling, I don’t know. I uh, yes. I liked Graceling a lot, surprisingly much. And I was very exciting about this book. Also you know creepy monsters who are so beautiful people can’t stay away, sounds kind of cool. And I like underdogs. Essentially this book takes place before, probably 30-40 years before Graceling, in a country across the mountains, called the Dells. The Dells do not have gracelings, they do however have monsters, extremely beautiful humans and creatures. The human monsters have the ability to read the moods and thoughts of others, and can control them. The main character is Fire, who is a human monster. Her father Cansrel spent most of his life in a very disturbing relationship with the old king, severely influencing him and they pretty much fucked over the kingdom. Now they are both dead and Fire is asked to help uncover a plot against the new king, Nash. It’s okay, the plot is interesting enough, I liked Fire, and I liked some of the characters, mainly Archer and Brigan, because at least Archer was interesting, I mean he’s clearly an asshole, but he had layers. I think Fire made some very responsible decisions. She knew she couldn’t have kids, no matter how much she wanted them so she prevented it. She was a bit whiny though. And she is more vulnerable than the main character of Graceling, Katsa, but yes. The book moves sort of slowly and then suddenly everything happens at once in the last 40-ish pages, that’s annoying. Also, and I might be severely overanalysing this, but I feel like there is some victim blaming in there. Fire is essentially so beautiful people can’t stay away from her, and they want to rape her. Cashore isn’t really apologizing rapists, she seems to clearly find it reprehensible. Still the characters keep telling Fire that men can’t help themselves, because she’s just so pretty, and it just felt a bit wrong to me. I sort of liked the book and I want to read the last one, but yes, weird.

Animal Farm by George Orwell
I really liked this. I liked how insidious the “government” was when they changed the commandments, changing every rule to just fit into the way they need it to be. I loved that I read this without actually knowing very much about the Russian revolution (I feel slightly ignorant in saying that), and now I want to read history books. I feel like I should get Marx books. Anyway. It was really cool, I liked it. It is about a farm where the animals have had enough of the subjugation from their farmer (a.k.a. the Tsar of Russia) Mr Jones. So the animals revolt and they do their own thing. And it starts out being all cool and good and awesome, and they are friends and they make good food and a lot of grain, and it’s all good. Then it all goes to hell. The pigs start to go all fascist dictators and they do it insidiously and creepily, and it’s friggin’ awesome. I loved it.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
It was surprisingly good. I hadn’t expected it to be as good as I thought it was. Don’t know why, I’m just very judgemental I guess. It’s about two people, Aria and Peregrine, and set in the future. Aria lives inside a protected dome called Reverie, where people are protected from the horrors of outside. Peregrine is a Savage, who lives outside. When Aria’s mother disappears Aria gets into trouble trying to find her and is thrown out. Meanwhile Peregrine wants to get in to find his nephew, who was taken by some of Aria’s people. The character development is interesting, their relationship with each other is interesting and it develops slowly and sort of beautifully. The world-building was good, and I like that there is this weird electrical storm thing in the atmosphere that is never actually explained. It’s great. Anyway, I liked it, I might read the others too, eventually.

God Bless You, Dr Kevorkian by Kurt Vonnegut
This is a collection of short stories that were originally 90-second interludes for the radio. The idea is that Vonnegut is “killed” by Dr Kevorkian and is just on the brink of dying. There he speaks to people from history, who are obviously dead, people like Adolf Hitler, or presidents, or just random people. It’s really weird, and I really liked it. I don’t know what it is, it’s just really cool. The stories are so weird, and the way he wrote them makes them still look like a radio segment, he signs off, he greets his listeners, it’s really hilarious.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
This is a book that I think I got because it was cheap on Kindle, because that’s how I live my life. I buy books based on their cheapness on Amazon. I also bought it because it’s based on a Norwegian fairy tale and how often do you hear that? It’s a fairy tale called East of the Sun, West of the Moon, which is very similar to my favourite fairy tale; the White-Bear-King-Valemon. This is about a young woman who doesn’t have a name, everyone just calls her the lass. She lives in Norway and a long, cold, unyielding winter is gripping the nation. The lass can understand animals and one day a huge polar bear asks her to come with him, to live with him for a year, and in return her family will be rich. She goes with him, and lives with him in a palace of ice. In the nights a strange man sleeps next to her. One night she looks at him and he tells her he has been cursed by a troll queen and the only way to break the curse was to live with a woman for a year without her looking at him. Now he has to go east of the sun and west of the moon to marry the troll princess. The book is fun, the folklore is cleverly used and the story is interesting. The ending seems a bit rushed, but overall I really liked it. It was cool.

Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
Another Vonnegut, because I might be obsessed. He wrote really simplistically, and it’s really clever, and it’s also really hilarious. He is extremely funny. The book seems sort of slapdash, according to the narrator Eugene Debs Hartke it is mainly written on slips of paper or napkins. It’s the story of Hartke, a teacher and Vietnam Veteran who is fired from his college job and takes a teaching job at the prison on the other side of the lake. The story isn’t told chronologically and we slowly get told what happened to get Eugene fired. He was telling jokes and trying to educate his kids, which is obviously horrible. Therefore he has to teach at the prison, where there is eventually a breakout, which we hear about through the whole book. Eugene is an odd person who neither masturbates or swears, but who seems to have little qualms with killing people and cheating on his wife. It’s extremely weird, and the disjointed story telling makes it very interesting. Also, he’s a cocky weirdo, he refers to the prisoners tearing down a Vonnegut statue during the prison break. For that alone I have to love him.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Oh my God I love it. I don’t know why but it took me a while to get into it, but when I did I was so excited. It’s so good. I like dystopia, and this is a fine example of the genre. The book is about a boy named Todd, the last boy in Prentisstown. Prentisstown is a town with only men and boys. All the women have died from the Noise germ, released by the inhabitants of New World. Suddenly Todd discovers a whole in the Noise, just absolute quiet. His foster fathers make him run away, without really explaining anything. Todd runs back to the swamp where he found the quiet and he meets a girl. They run away together, and Todd’s world pretty much falls apart as all the lies he has been brought up on are revealed. It’s really good. The writing is really interesting and the aesthetics are cool, because of the way Ness shows the Noise, it’s amazing. Aaron is freaking terrifying, Viola is an amazing badass. And all the Manchee feels, trying to not spoil it. It’s friggin’ amazing.