The week in review: Supersize edition

Summer ended with some high drama and a jam packed few weeks. I was going to update last week but then there was Annihilation at the summer rewind festival, so, chocolate popcorn won out.

oscar isaac
I forget his name but this actor is in that movie which makes this photo vital and relevant.

A Place for Us is a very very solid novel and was just what I needed to get out of my slump. I love a modern multicultural family saga, love shifting viewpoints, parent child strife…this hits a lot of buttons for me. My only quibble is it could have been a little tighter. With an edit it would have been perfect; as is it’s great.

Maybe I should have known what I was getting into with Ghosted. The very idea of someone driving themselves crazy and trying to get to the bottom of why a guy isn’t calling her back annoys me to no end, and that’s the whole premise of this book. If someone isn’t getting back to you, they don’t want to talk to you, and any other mindset just encourages stalking and delusional thinking. I did sort of like that this main character had an usual job and a wide group of friends, but she was really self absorbed and annoying. It really killed it for me when SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER a character whose marriage ended because she absolutely didn’t want kids finds out she’s pregnant by a guy she’s not in a relationship with and, of course, of course(!!) doesn’t even consider not keeping the baby. Abortion? I must have just made up a word that doesn’t exist. I’m starting to think that a surprise pregnancy might just always be a bad plot point, but I know that surprise pregnancy without the character even considering options is a dealbreaker for me.

Things went way up from there with Eternal Life. I have a lot of fondness for Dara Horn even though it’s been quite a while since I read something of hers. Why did I wait so long? This was amazing. The idea of living forever tends to appeal to people in theory, but in reality it would be terrible, and this novel really captured that beautifully. It also weirdly captured the specific burden of being loved too much; I loved Rachel so much myself, so I get why Elazar couldn’t let go of her. This was a heartbreaker for me.

I’m still not sure how Bad Man ended up on my stack. Maybe I should have known that an author who’s described as “reddit horror sensation” is not going to be my thing, but I try to keep an open mind. I absolutely love horror movies, but I’ve read very little horror, so I’m trying to branch out. I think I’ll stick to Shirley Jackson for now. First of all, this book has no business being 400 pages. So much pointless detail, so many dumb red herrings, completely tedious characters. Totally nonsensical ending that does not hold up under any scrutiny at all. I hated this.

I was trying to confirm where I heard about The Brief History of the Dead, and I fell down the rabbit hole digging up this excellent Twitter thread. I love love love the premise of this novel. There is a place, The City, that exists between life and death. After you die, you exist in The City until there is nobody still alive on earth who remembers you, then you die for real. Cool premise right there, but then there is a global catastrophe, until there is exactly one person left alive on earth, so everyone in The City is connected through her. I loved this concept! It alternated chapters between The City and the ones on earth, and I preferred the City ones a little bit; the ending was a little bit of a letdown although I can appreciate that the author was in a bind there. Those small quibbles aside, I loved this and am so glad it ended up on my radar.

I had high hopes for Vox. Anything that can be described as, “like Handmaid’s Tale, but not by Margaret Atwood,” is right up my alley. The premise here is that it’s the not so distant future, and American women are now forced to wear counters on their wrists that shock them if they say more than 100 words per day. I feel like there are a lot of guys who get a semi just thinking about that. Sadly, this book is pretty badly done. I do want to give credit for a minor character’s suicide attempt which was a very innovative and well done scene, but other than that, this was pretty bad. The big problem here is that the writing feels very lazy. It annoyed me to no end that Jean had twin boys who barely existed in the book. Why give your main character these kids at all? The Jean/Enzo storyline was so cheesy and cringeworthy and I can’t believe that the line about, “we don’t use this kitchen for cooking, at least not food” made it into the book. I’m like, embarrassed for it. The ending felt very rushed, as if she got tired of writing, and I don’t even remember how a major plot point got resolved, or did the author forget to resolve it? Either way I don’t care. This was a real dud.

So everything good has been sad and everything else has been bad, so I needed something guaranteed to be enjoyable. Luckily, I have a reserve list for just such an occasion. You absolutely cannot go wrong with Beatriz Williams! The Summer Wives is really hitting the spot here. Summer books are always a hit for me, and I love ones with class struggles, jumps back and forth through time, I always love when characters are movie stars…this one checks a lot of boxes for me. I love that she’s created her own universe in her novels; Miranda is related to the Schuyler sisters, but you don’t have to read anything else to enjoy this one. I can’t wait to see how this ends, so I’m going to get back to it right now!

 

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