Top 5 Wednesday: Authors I Want to Write Like

Top Five Wednesday was created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey and is currently hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Check out the goodreads group to learn more.

This week’s topic is Authors I Want to Write Like.

I have been so, so excited for this topic. As an aspiring writer, writing style is something I pay close attention to.  This was a super fun topic for me and really got me thinking about what I admire in authors.


ny42eh4NRoshani Chokshi: Okay, let’s get this out of the way: I love purple prose. I love it. Heavy, heady, overly descriptive, flowery writing. I adore it.  Yes, sometimes it can be too much, but I have a very high threshold.  I’ve only read one of Roshani’s books but I fell completely in love with the writing, separate from the story or the characters (both of which were good, but not as fantastic as the writing).  When I started The Star-Touched Queen I remember being absolutely mesmerized by the quality of the words weaving together. I would go back and re-read paragraphs just to linger on the pretty writing.

“Neither the secret whirring song of the stars nor the sonorous canticles of the earth knew the language that sprang up in the space between us. It was a dialect of heartbeats, strung together with the lilt of long suffering and the incandescent hope of an infinite future.”

– The Star-Touched Queen


13414088S. Jae-Jones: JJ is another writer sometimes accused of overly purple prose.  I wasn’t partial to her book because it was much too slow for me, but I adored the quality of her writing. Yes, it was purple at times, but it was also incredibly elegant and polished, lush and sensual.  Though the story slow, it was beautiful and atmospheric, with a lingering fairy-tale quality.  I also really admired the way she wrote her romance.  It was such a slow burn, and even the sex scenes were written in such a gorgeous, elegant way!

“I surveyed my kingdom. Chaos. Cruelty. Abandon. I had always been holding back. Always been restrained. I wanted to be bigger, brighter, better; I wanted to be capricious, malicious, sly. Until now, I had not known the intoxicating sweetness of attention. In the world above, it had always been Käthe or Josef who captivated people’s eyes and hearts— Käthe with her beauty, Josef with his talent. I was forgotten, overlooked, ignored— the plain, drab, practical,talentless sister. But here in the Underground, I was the sun around which their world spun, the axis around which their maelstrom twirled. Liesl the girl had been dull, drab, and obedient; Elisabeth the woman was a queen.”

– Wintersong


7168230Victoria Schwab: The thing about Victoria’s writing is that it feels absolutely effortless. It’s the sort of writing that makes you feel like you’ve just wrapped a warm cozy blanket around yourself.  She is just an objectively good writer; her prose is neither too purple nor too sparse, she builds characters who feel real, she is so, so creative with her plots, and she writes romance that makes you care.  Also, her productivity is just so admirable? She writes so much and has been writing for so long and she puts out at least one book a year, which is almost unbelievable. I kind of want to be Victoria when I grow up (Victoria is only five years older than me RIP).

“They crashed into each other as if propelled by gravity, and he didn’t know which one of them was the object and which the earth, only that they were colliding. The kiss was Lila pressed into a single gesture. Her brazen pride and her stubborn resolve, her recklessness and her daring and her hunger for freedom. It was all those things, and it took Kell’s breath away.”

– A Gathering of Shadows


3472Margaret Atwood: I’ve only read two books by Atwood (a crime, I know), but I’ve enjoyed both of them (and hey, I’ve been meaning to read more).  Atwood’s writing is just so brilliant and incisive. She has such a clear way of stating universal truths.  Her writing is sensual and detailed, clear and visceral.  Not only do I want to write like her, I want her cleverness and her ability to bend genre conventions.

“She imagines him imagining her. This is her salvation. In spirit she walks the city, traces its labyrinths, its dingy mazes: each assignation, each rendezvous, each door and stair and bed. What he said, what she said, what they did, what they did then. Even the times they argued, fought, parted, agonized, rejoined. How they’d loved to cut themselves on each other, taste their own blood. We were ruinous together, she thinks. But how else can we live, these days, except in the midst of ruin?”

– The Blind Assassin


tumblr_inline_o940q2meUN1qaqnoq_500Alyssa Wong: Alyssa’s a bit different from the other folks on this list, because she hasn’t written a novel just yet. But she’s written multiple award-winning short stories, most of them dark, most of them strange, all of them lovingly crafted.  Her writing is rich and vivid, but above all creative.  She has a way of pulling out common themes and ideas and writing about them in innovative ways. I really admire her skill, and I read her short stories to learn!

“The world ended with a bang, folding in on itself, the lines of the horizon collapsing like soaked origami. Our parents’ house turned to glass, to fire, to energy sparking ripe and rich for the taking. I drained it, pulling it deep into myself until the house was empty, our parents gone. And then there was nothing but me and my sister, her imprint, her echo.”

– A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers


Honorable Mentions: Daphne du Maurier, Erin Morgenstern, Catherine Valente, Alison Goodman, Katherine Arden

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Fancast: War and Peace

war and peace fancast

I’ve been planning a War & Peace fancast since before I started the actual book! I’ve been playing around with casting ideas in my head for months now, so I’m really pleased I finally sat down and put it all together.

There were some characters who just jumped out at me and I immediately knew who I wanted to cast for them.  However, I thought I should wait until I had finished reading the novel.  Then I was struggling to cast a particular pair of characters so I set it aside again.  But I’ve had some casting epiphanies again recently, and now I have my cast!

Now, obviously, I couldn’t possibly include every single character in War and Peace (I mean, I could, but I don’t want to).  There are going to be some important characters missing (for example, Denisov) because I just didn’t have any particularly inspired casting thoughts about them. Then there are other characters who may seem minor but whose castings jumped out at me.

So let’s get started!


NINA DOBREV AS HELENE KURAGINA

helene

Nina was the very first person I cast.  I think she is absolutely perfect for Helene: she is  gorgeous, with a mesmerizing smile and enchanting eyes.  I would see her gaining some weight to more accurately resemble Helene, who is described as plump, but it’s not like casting directors have paid any attention to that (looking at you, BBC War and Peace).  Nina has this charm and magnetism to her that makes her so damn sexy, which is imperative for anyone playing Helene.  (Helene is my favorite character so she comes first!)


LUKE PASQUALINO AS ANATOLE KURAGIN

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If you want to feel better about certain terrible decisions you’ve made in the past, go take a look at who BBC decided to cast as Anatole in their adaptation of War and Peace. I’ll wait for you to recover from the shock.  Alternately described as a weasel (thanks Rachel), a lizard (thanks Tumblr), and the scrawny nerd from your high school chemistry class (thanks moi), Callum Turner as Anatole Kuragin has got to be one of the worst casting decisions in history.  Anatole is above all hot.  Like his sister, he’s beautiful and charming and sexy; the whole reason Natasha is so drawn to him is because of his gorgeous looks! Now, personally I think Lucas Steele is the best Anatole Kuragin there will ever be in the history of time, but sadly, as he is approaching forty, he’s too old to portray Anatole in an adaptation. But I think Luke Pasqualino would do a pretty fantastic job too! He’s a fabulous actor (check him out in The Musketeers), and he is certainly swoon-worthy.  Plus he and Nina make a pretty pair (and they’ve got the same coloring!).


DIEGO LUNA AS FEDYA DOLOKHOV

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Also one of the first people I cast! There’s something really intense, magnetic, and sexy about Diego Luna that I think would suit Dolokhov really well.  As a character Dolokhov quite odd: part wild, part absolutely nuts, part romantic.  I think Diego could play all those parts and bring them together brilliantly.


ADELAIDE KANE AS NATASHA ROSTOVA

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Addy was the second person I cast! Having seen her on Reign, I’ve witnessed her incredible acting chops.  On that show, she went from naive young girl to badass queen, and Addy acted the hell out of all of that character’s phases. She’s utterly striking, yet has this guileless look about her, along with Natasha’s “full mouth” and a smile that would utterly dazzle you. I also think Addy would do a fantastic job acting out Natasha’s energy.  (Also, Natasha has BLACK HAIR which adaptations always seem to ignore in order to cast her as the ~virginal blonde~ which really annoys me.)


NATALIA DYER AS SONYA ROSTOVA

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Originally I was going to cast Sarah Bolger for Sonya, but I’ve been liking Natalia’s performance on Stranger Things, and I think she could really give Sonya a lot more depth than the character is usually allowed to have.  Don’t get me wrong, I still think Sarah Bolger would do a fantastic job, but it would be interesting to see Natalia branch out into a period drama like this, and I think she has a particularly interesting energy that would really lend Sonya more complexity.


KIT HARRINGTON AS NIKOLAI ROSTOV

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Nikolai is described as stout and dark-haired, so Kit fits that description perfectly! This is probably somewhat of a weird casting decision, but I think Kit’s got that perfect combination of intense and adorable that makes up Nikolai. Plus we’ve seen Kit pull off brotherly affection and brooding misery, and both are needed for Nikolai!


EDWARD HOLCROFT AS ANDREI BOLKONSKY

andrei

I had an extremely difficult time casting Andrei because, like many people, I think James Norton was absolutely perfect in the role on BBC’s War and Peace, like he was born to play it. However, I think Edward could give him a run for his money.  He’s got this sharp, rugged, serious face which I associate with Andrei, and in the only performance I’ve seen him in he’s played intense rather well.


OONA CHAPLIN AS MARYA BOLKONSKAYA

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Okay, so Oona is not exactly plain like Marya is described, but she’s also not traditionally pretty. She’s got some striking features and gorgeous eyes, though.  I also think she would be fantastic playing someone as religiously devoted as Marya.  Plus she and Edward look like they would play off each other really well.


CHARLOTTE SPENCER AS LISE BOLKONSKAYA

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Poor Lise, Andrei’s ill-fated first wife! Tolstoy spends a lot of time talking about her pert upper lip and how even at rest you could see some of her teeth.  I tried to find an actress with that feature who wasn’t Felicity Jones, and I think Charlotte somewhat fits the bill.  She’d have to dye her hair dark to match Lise’s looks, but otherwise I think she could do a great job in this minor role.


ELOISE SMYTH AS MADEMOISELLE BOURIENNE

mdmbourienne

Oddly enough, this casting was inspired, meaning I didn’t have to think too hard about it.  It just came to me. Eloise hasn’t done much besides Harlots, and I’ve only seen her in an episode or two in that, but Bourienne only has a minor role anyway. She’s beautiful and blonde and flirts with Anatole. I think Eloise can capture that playfulness to her.


HELEN MCCRORY AS MARYA DIMITRIYEVNA

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Helen is perfect for this role, in my opinion! She’s gorgeous and has that fierceness required to play Marya D.  And she’s so elegant; she does really well in period pieces!


KYLE SOLLER AS PIERRE BEZUKHOV

pierre

I’m still not too sure about this casting – for a long time I considered Howard Charles for the role, but thought he looked too old. The thing is, Pierre is always described as large and ungainly, and it’s such a huge part of how other people see him and how he walks through life.  But BBC War and Peace’s choice of Paul Dano was spectacular, despite Dano being so diminutive.  So I thought I stopped trying to find someone frighteningly large and just focused on finding someone who could play guileless.


JOHN BRADLEY WEST AS PIERRE V.2

pierre2

Rachel and I were chatting about this very post when she randomly came up with John Bradley West for Pierre and he was too perfect not to add here! Not only his physicality, but his demeanor, I think he could portray both Pierre’s naivete as well as his self-righteousness.  But seriously, his physicality is perfect for Pierre. He would be so incredible!


DANE DEHAAN AS BORIS DRUBETSKOY

boris

I don’t have much to say about this as I don’t have much to say about Boris.  He’s kind of a sneaky, ambitious character who I didn’t find particularly likeable.  He’s also rumored to be having an affair with Helene, so there’s that.


YAY! What do y’all think? If you’ve read War and Peace, do you think my casting choices fit? Have you watched BBC’s War and Peace? Let me know in the comments!

 

End of the Year Book Tag

ENDOFYEARBOOKTAG

I was tagged for this by the lovely Steph at Lost Purple Quill! Thanks Steph! I haven’t done a book tag in forever. (I’m also pretty certain someone else tagged me for this as well at some point…I’m SO BEHIND on things I’m tagged on.)

ETA: OMG, I just realized why I thought I was tagged for this before! I was, way back in September, by Rachel! I can’t believe I didn’t remember this at all.  My answers are totally different!

1. Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

I don’t usually like to leave books hanging for a long time, so nothing aside from what I’m reading now! I am determined to finish The Bloodprint before the end of the year, though it’s turning out to be one hell of a slog and I have to force myself to read it.

2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

Hmm, not particularly, although I am finding myself partial to a particular brand of historical fiction at the moment. I’m currently reading The Dark Days Club, which takes place in Victorian London, and I don’t want it to end! I’m finding it super cozy and charming.

3. Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

I don’t believe so…Jade City just came out so I’m really excited to get my hands on that, but I don’t think there’s anything else at the moment. Not that I would remember if there were!

4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

You know what I’ve been realizing? That planning out what I’m going to read has kind of been bumming me out.  Like, it’s fine to make vague plans of what I want to read in the future, but to structure it strictly like I did for the past two months really took the joy out of it. One of my favorite things to do, when I’m on the verge of finishing a book, is go through Goodreads summaries on my TBR to rediscover a book I want to read. That way there’s a bit of a surprise in it for me!

That being said, I would really love to read The Hate U Give, which I have waiting on my Kindle at the moment! Everyone and their mother has read this, it’s being turned into a film (actors have already been cast!), and I think it’s still on the NYT bestseller list. I really need to get on this.

5. Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year?

I doubt it. I’ve just read too many awesome books this year! I’m sure I’ll enjoy The Hate U Give, but I don’t think a contemporary will take the place of my favorite book when I’ve read some incredible fantasy books this year.

6. Have you already started making reading plans for 2018?

Vaguely! As I said, I’m trying not to plan too strictly.  I know I’m definitely starting Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles in a buddy read led by Chelsea at Spotlight on Stories, which I’m very excited for.  And I think Chelsea wants to read Jane Eyre around then, so I’ll likely join her in that. I also really want to read Libba Bray’s Diviners series.  Oh, and the sequel to The Traitor Baru Cormorant is coming out, so I’m planning a re-read of the first book before the second, since I’ve surely forgotten everything, and I think Rachel is planning on reading it with me!  LOL, I realize this is already pretty strict planning…alas. I’m still super excited for these reads.


I suck at at tagging and I think this meme has made the rounds already, so do it if you like, and do ping back to me so I can read your answers!

Reread, Rewrite, Burn Tag

I saw this post on Rachel’s blog, and I’ve been meaning to take a go!

THE RULES:

  • Randomly choose 3 books
  • For each group, decide which book to burn, which one to rewrite, and which to reread (like Marry, Boff, Kill).
  • Repeat until you completed three rounds (or six) (or however many you want to do).

REREAD: A Chalice of Wind.  While Balefire is not my favorite of Cate Tiernan’s works (I think I got bored halfway through the second book), I recall enjoying it somewhat. It also had some interesting plot points about witchcraft in New Orleans!

REWRITE: Poison’s Kiss was a book with such enormous potential! It’s about a young girl trained to be a poison maiden – or a “Visha Kanya” as they were called in Ancient India.  The Visha Kanya allegedly had blood and bodily fluids that was poison to others, but in Poison’s Kiss the protagonist (Lord, I can’t even remember her name!) just has to kiss someone in order to kill them. There’s a boring and predictable romance and the protagonist herself is just so boring. This is the sort of book I’d rewrite as an adult novel, because it really needs more violence and sex to make it interesting.

BURN: Sharp Objects. Sorry, Gillian Flynn. I did actually like this book, but alas.


REREAD: Kissing the Witch, for sure! I read this book such a long time ago that I don’t remember any of the stories. I think I would appreciate it more now.

REWRITE: The Sea of Monsters, I guess? I loved the Percy Jackson series, but I really hated the portrayal of Hades and Persephone, so I’d rewrite it and change that.

BURN: Neverwhere. I’m not a fan of Neil Gaiman, though I do think this book was one of his more palatable works.


REREAD: The Final Empire.  I don’t know if I’ll ever re-read this entire series one day, but I really want to. I remember upon finishing it being absolutely floored by the genius of the plot. Everything came together so brilliantly in the end.

REWRITE: Rebecca. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Rebecca, but I could definitely see myself writing a different version of it. The main plotline is pretty straightforward, but with different characters and different settings the story itself could radically change.  I could set it in Cairo or something and have some fun with it.

BURN: The Mysterious Benedict Society. I had to read this for a Children’s Literature class in college and I didn’t like it. It was touted as “the next Harry Potter” or something, but it is…not. It’s really boring and basic.


REREAD: Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth is always a treat.

REWRITE: The Blind Assassin. I kind of want to re-read this too because I’ve forgotten a lot of it (I read this like…six years ago?), but I remember I really loved the fantasy aspects of it. The realistic aspects of it were fine, but I wasn’t as into them. I would rewrite it to be entirely fantasy, probably.

BURN: Living Dolls. There was nothing particularly wrong with this book, but it’s just so basic. If you’re at all familiar with advanced feminist theory, this book isn’t going to tell you anything you don’t already know.


REREAD: Dreams of Shreds and Tatters. This book is so good and so creepy. It’s inspired by the tale of the Yellow King, which is a vaguely Lovecraftian tale that was actually written before Lovecraft and served as his inspiration (yes, I know calling it Lovecraftian is anachronistic and makes no sense).

REWRITE: The Penelopiad. I like this book a lot, but it’s not particularly great at its representation of women, oddly enough! I’d definitely rewrite it and portray the women in more complex and humanizing ways.

BURN: The Kingdom of Gods.  This is the only thing I’ve read by Jemisin that I did not like. It just feels so messy, going from subplot to subplot without anything really connecting them. And the main character was super annoying.


REREAD: The Diviners, for sure. Y’all, it was such a good book. I don’t even remember anything but little snippets of it, but it was creepy and funny and thrilling and gave me Jazz Age goodness with a side of Great Awakening conspiracies.  Now that the whole series is out and finished, I’m definitely planning to read the whole thing! Probably some time next year.

REWRITE: Monstress. I love this graphic novel, but if I were to rewrite it, first off, it would be a regular old novel, since I can’t draw to save my life, and second, I’d rewrite it to suit my tastes more. Which means, no talking animals or whatever they are.

BURN: Dreams From the Witch House. This book is a collection of Lovecraftian short stories by women.  It was fine, but unfortunately most of the tales were forgettable. Also, I don’t know why I’m so drawn to Lovecraftian things when I know I get frustrated by weird fiction. It’s always so vague! I hate vague endings!


This was so fun! I’m not going to tag anyone but do link back to me if you do this!

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I’m Thankful For

top5wedfloral

I haven’t done Top 5 anything in a while, but I thought I could give this week’s Top 5 Wednesday a shot! The topic is Top 5 Books You Are Thankful For.  It ended up being…a little demoralizing.  Let me explain. When I first saw the topic, my mind immediately jumped to books with f/f pairings, just because this has been on my mind lately.  In particular, YA books with f/f pairings. But as I went through my list of books read this year, I realized that none of the books I’ve read this year feature any prominent f/f pairings.  There is a thread on Twitter that recently talked about how few f/f books there are in YA and in fantasy, particularly compared to m/m, and f/f books tends to be sidelined as “special interest” or something.  All of which is to say: please, please, recommend f/f books to me! Preferably fantasy, but I will take contemporary as well! Give me recs guys!!!

Anyway, I didn’t mean to turn this into an essay on the state of the YA market. Despite the aforementioned blow, I did manage to find five books I am thankful for, and for various reasons! In no particular order:

20764879A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab: Aside from being a spectacularly written book with incredible tension and a romance that makes me giggle (a rare thing), A Gathering of Shadows also features Lila Bard, an absolute tour de force of a character. So often women with magic are reluctant to use their powers or stumble into them. Not so with Lila.  Lila actively seeks out her power. She is not frightened by her abilities; she is impressed by them. She wants to be the most powerful of them all, so she trains as hard as she can, even when others tell her not to. She takes ridiculous risks and she’s full of herself and she’s not frightened of anything. She is an absolutely incredible woman, an incredibly written female character, and I am so thankful she exists.


31123249Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali: This was one of my favorite books of the year.  Ali writes about Muslim community with such grace, such love, such complexity! In Ali’s book, Muslims were real and human, lovable and flawed, loving and cruel.  Ali wrote about a niqabi who also happens to be an outspoken badass – talk about flipping the stereotype of oppressed Muslim women right on its head! The narrator is witty and engaging, and the writing is high-quality. I am thankful this book exists because it is such a great example of diversity in literature done right.


33574143The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Probably one of the stranger books I’ve read this year, but also one of my favorites! It’s a novel of manners a la Jane Austen with a touch of magic (telekinesis, to be specific). At its heart, it’s a romance. However, what drew me to it was the elegant writing, the prettily crafted world, and the compelling main characters.  The moment I finished this book I was inspired to write a novel of manners of my own (Egyptian inspired, in my case). So, I am thankful this book exists, because without it, I wouldn’t have my current WIP, which is one of my favorite projects that I’m working on.


29396738Monstress by Marjorie Liu: This one’s a little different, since it’s a graphic novel. I don’t normally read those, but I was drawn to Monstress.  Let me quote the Goodreads summary at you so you understand why: “Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.” I mean. Need I even say more? This book is absolutely wild, so freaking original, with that overwhelming epicness that so many fantasy books strive for but don’t achieve. I am thankful that something this original exists.


16235Sister of my Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: Not only am I partial to f/f relationships, I am super fond of friendships between women. Sister of my Heart features one of the most beautiful, intimate, and enduring friendships between two women that I’ve ever seen.  Two girls, Anju and Sudha, from different worlds, grow up together, close as sisters, and their love for each other goes beyond anything.  There were so many beautiful scenes in this book, but the one that I remember most clearly is Anju watching Sudha look at the moon. Sudha is topless, but her hair is covering her chest, and Anju is thinking she is beautiful.  There were of course flaws in this book, and I’m sure if I went back and looked with a more critical eye I would find them. But I don’t want to. As much as I want to go back and reread this book I’m afraid reading it now, with my more critical eye, might ruin it for me. So I am simply thankful this book has given me such a beautiful and powerful female friendship to think about.

Book Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

18498558Title: BIRD BOX
Author: Josh Malerman
Release Date: 2014
Pages: 262
Publisher: Penguin Books
My Rating: ★★★★☆(4/5)
Review on Goodreads

I both love and hate dystopic fiction. I love it because it’s a fascinating exploration of survival. I’m always intrigued by how humans manage to survive without technology, without society, without order. Does the social contract break down? Where do people get food? What becomes important in a new world? Is survival enough?

I hate dystopic fiction because it’s depressing as fuck, and Bird Box certainly delivered on that.

I loved this book’s concept, which had notes of Lovecraftian horror all over it. Basically, there is something – some creature, some unknown, just something – outside. When you see it, you go mad and start tearing yourself apart until you die. Nobody knows what it is or where it came from or what it wants. Or how to stop it. But it’s trapped the survivors indoors, and if they venture outdoors they must have their eyes shut at all times. There are certain passages which were absolutely seeped with Lovecraftian influence – characters talking about our minds having a ceiling and the unknown creatures being beyond that ceiling, beyond human capacity to understand…it’s juicy, creepy stuff.

The narrative is centered on Malorie as she and her two children row a boat down a river attempting to find better shelter. The story is told in alternating timelines, between Malorie in the present and Malorie in the past, with a ragtag group of survivors who have holed up inside a house together and are just trying to survive. Even ordinary scenes in this book drip with tension; I was completely sucked in. When reading this book the world around me ceased to exist. There were some scenes that had my heart racing with anticipation. There is plenty of gore, but there is also a ton of psychological horror, building on the fear of the unknown.

I have some criticisms. The dialogue I found was often stilted, a bit unnatural. Malorie’s ragtag group of survivors were difficult to tell apart. There was Tom, the leader, and Don, the combative one, and then…a bunch of other people who were just there. In horror novels like this it’s important for characters to be distinct and interesting, and they weren’t. We don’t know what these people look like, what they did in their old lives, how they think and feel now. And there is zero diversity – all the characters are white. I felt like they were all cardboard cutouts, not characters but plot devices, there as a means to an end. Even with Malorie, I felt like I had a hard time getting into her head and getting a sense of her as a person. I felt her fear and desperation, certainly, but everyone in this world is afraid and desperate – what more is there to know about her?

Otherwise, I loved this book. I could not put it down for a moment, and it made my 90 minute commute feel like 10 minutes. I missed my train stop when reading the ending, because it was just so damn intense! I had been in an utter reading funk lately, and this book wrenched me out of it. Highly, highly recommend this creepy, intense, and thrilling read!

Thanks to Rachel @ pace, amore, libri for the recommendation!

Stage Corner: Come From Away

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On September 11th, 2001, when the planes crashed into the twin towers, U.S. airspace was completely shut down.  This meant that 38 planes with 7000 coming into the northeast needed to be diverted: they ended up in Gander, Newfoundland, a small town with a population of less than 7000 people.  As the planes touched down, everyone in Gander needed to scramble and assemble to deal with this influx of temporary refugees that has unexpectedly landed on their doorstep.

It’s a strange concept for a musical, and certainly not one you would anticipate being this hilarious, energetic, and heartwarming.  Come From Away manages to create a stunning balance between the tragedy of 9/11 and the hilarity of this wacky situation.  The sung-and-spoken soundtrack moves from energetic Irish folk inspired music that makes you want to get up and dance to quiet, contemplative pieces.  Yet it is never abrupt or jarring.

Gander welcomed the refugees with open arms, even as they scrambled to find food, clothing, blankets, and shelter.  Small, memorable details are based off interviews with the actual passengers who were stranded in the small Canadian town for four days.  These details lends the show a touching intimacy and authenticity, along with an urgency that makes this compact 1hr40min show seem even shorter.

Come From Away also doesn’t shy away from the realities of 9/11 for people of Middle Eastern origin.  One of the characters is an Egyptian man who is immediately a target of extreme suspicion.  This culminated in a humiliating strip-search when a flight attendant refused to board the plane with him.  I liked the light touch here – the show didn’t gloss over it, but neither did they bang us over the head with it.

There’s a lot packed into this short show.  People die, fall in love, and break up, a female pilot tells her story, a rare Bonobo chimpanzee gives birth and loses her baby, and there’s even time to incorporate the reunion of Gander and their passengers ten years later! It is an incredible feat: a testament to human compassion, a reminder of human prejudice, and a subtle nod to the current refugee situation.  It’s great, hilarious, heartwarming fun!

(Also, I saw this with my friend, and upon exiting, her first words were: “I loved that.  Not as much as that show that was on steroids, but still a lot!” She means Great Comet! I didn’t even hint for her to say that. I’m so proud!)