Salvage the Bones

Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward, has got to be the most beautiful book I have EVER read. It oozes female empowerment. My favorite passage comes at a part that really upsets me. Skeetah is readying his dog, China, for a dog fight:
“He is reciting something, and he is saying it so fast that it sounds like he is signing it. China White, he breathes, my China. Like bleach, China, hitting and turning them red and white, China. Like coca, China, so hard they breathe you up and they nose bleed, China. Make them runny, China, make insides outsides, China, make them think they snorted the razor, China. Leave them shaking, China, make them love you China, make them need you, China, make them know even though they want to they can’t live without you, China. My China, he mumbles: make them know, make them know, make them know.”

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Throughout the novel, Ward draws similiarities between China, an all white pit bull who has just given birth to puppies, and Esch, the female protagonist who, at fifteen, has just discovered she is pregnant. Both females learn how to “make them know” in this novel about hurricane Katrina. China, Esch and Katrina wreck devastation and wield strength in a way that few female characters do.

My winter project might be to read Mythology by Edith Hamilton and then reread Salvage the Bones. Esch is reading Mythology in class, and she compares herself to Medea, a comparison that I do not get, and I want to.

-A

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The Lost World

The Lost World by Michael Crichton

Dinosaurs and Michael Crichton, AM I RIGHT? Not a lot can go wrong here. I enjoyed the sequel to Jurassic Park, but I didn’t love The Lost World as much as its predecessor. It was almost too similar to the original, and more like a rehash of what had happened in the first. Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler do not return, which made me a little bit sad. Ian Malcom does return, even though I definitely thought his death was implied at the end of Jurassic Park. Anyway…

We learn about a lot of new dinosaurs in The Lost World, Chaos theory, how extinction effects evolution, and of course the raptors return for another star performance. There are definitely ways to poke holes in the plot, but I think it’s best to take this book at face value for what it is. It’s a fun, fast-paced adventure read, and it’s inspired me to finally sit down and read The Sixth Extinction.

-M

Luckiest Girl Alive

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

It’s exhausting when books try to be Gone Girl. Queen Gillian Flynn already did that, and it can’t be done again. I assume the Luckiest Girl Alive has been compared to Gone Girl so often as a marketing ploy/con, so I won’t fault Knoll for it. But her style is so similar to Flynn’s knife-sharp writing, and she does adopt Flynn’s “cool girl,” that it paled in comparison. Just don’t believe it.

FIRST OF ALL, this book should absolutely come with MULTIPLE trigger warnings. Anyway. I was distracted while reading this because I couldn’t figure out who the intended audience was. It was like a mashup of sinister-female-narrator/trauma-YA/Devil-Wears-Prada. The main character is TifAni FaNelli – GOOD LORD – who fortunately goes by Ani for most of the book. She’s supposed to be a mega-bitch/ice queen/Amy Dunn-ish type girl. But like…I didn’t actually find her to be that mean or bitchy? Mostly just selfish and shallow.

I didn’t have much sympathy for Ani. I just didn’t buy it. I could sort of understand how her past led her to become the unpleasant, superficial gal that she turned herself into, but her transformation wasn’t that intuitive. Basically, after everything she went through I would have expected her to react in the completely opposite direction. Not to mention that she was basically equally as awful when she was a teenager pre-trauma.

I was mildly irritated by the Luckiest Girl Alive, but it did keep me interested and reading. And there are TWISTS. The chain of events was VERY Lifetime movie, but without the cheesy acting – so less fulfilling. I’m only recommending this in the vein of ‘omg can you believe this.’

“Joyland”, or Stephen King doesn’t like women

I just finished my first Stephen King novel, Joyland. And in October, the month of his birth!! I don’t really like him. He doesn’t seem to like women very much. First of all, the girlfriend in the beginning’s BIG DREAM is to have a clothing store. Okay, that’s fine. I’m sure some people really do want that.

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But that, added to the description of the librarian as a “beanpole with huge bespectacled eyes”, as well as the oft used “c word”, left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Sorry King fans. The librarian part really reminded me of my favorite part in It’s a Wonderful Life, when Clarence tells Jimmy Stewart that his wife is “no, it’s too bad, I can’t tell you. She’s a….a…LIBRARIAN!” God the horror (just to clarify, my friend is a librarian and I’m sups jealous).

Now M has much more King experience than I do, and she has said that Joyland is far from his best, so maybe I need to give him a second chance. But I don’t think I will because I do not like to get scared. I will, however, read Stand By Me, a movie I love and one that I just learned was written by the King himself.

-A

The Year of the Flood and Oryx and Crake

I am over 100 pages into The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood and I cannot figure out when in comparison to Oryx and Crake it takes place. I can’t even tell if we are supposed to be able to figure this out or not.

Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy (of which Oryx and Crake is the first installment followed by The Year of the Flood) tells the story of a dystopian future in which much of humanity has been killed off by a supposedly man-made disease. Animal splices, the result of DNA mixes, run rampant.

Sidetracking, I would KILL for a rakunk. I know we are supposed to think that this future world is awful and that we as humans are bad for mixing the DNA of other animals, but when Snowman describes his childhood pet, a mix between a rat and a skunk, all I want to do is buy one. Sorry.

Anyway, Oryx and Crake follows the story of Snowman, one of the few surviving humans left after the disease has taken out anyone infected. The Year of the Flood is about Ren, a “young” trapeze artist (read stripper) and Toby. I think that the two novels are taking place at the same time, but I am not 100% sure, and it is distracting me from fully enjoying the book.

One more sidetrack, I have this problem when I read Margaret. I keep thinking her “young” characters are 10-15, and then I find out towards the end that they are closer to 30. Not sure if this is due to my extreme youth (hair flip emoji) or to Margaret’s extreme non-youth, but I wonder if I’m the only one who has this problem. Probably.

The MaddAddam Trilogy is definitely worth the read. It will leave you wondering what path we are going down as a species and whether or not we wish to continue.

-A

We Were Liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

I was in the mood for a fun, quick read and I’d heard about We Were Liars quite a bit. So I committed four hours of my life to this one. UGH, what a mistake. Basically this book reminded me why I stopped reading YA at 17. I think maybe the overdone angst in YA is too much for me and hard to take seriously.

We Were Liars
is about
rich
teenage cousins who
are beautiful
and call themselves
The Liars.

Did that annoy you? Because 1/4 of the book is written like that. I couldn’t quite figure out how commas were being used, and the narrator had a tendency to use ridiculous, long-winded metaphors to describe herself and her headaches. If I had to sum up this book in one word: MELODRAMATIC. I guess this was supposed to be edgy and experimental?

We Were Liars features a HEAVILY recycled plot: rich girl wants to date ‘poor’ but interesting and forbidden guy but can’t because of family. It’s also about the privileged Sinclair family who somehow own a private island off the coast of Massachusetts where they spend their summers. I guess this family is supposed to be interesting because they are rich???

I actually finished this book in a rage. It was mainly so awful because it hypes you up but then the end is like REALLY?! Kind of like watching one of the bad/stupid M. Knight Shyamalan movies. At least it was short.

-M

Pet Sematary

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

I’ve read a few Stephen King books…The Shining, 300 pages of It, Misery, etc. His books are fun to read and all of them are chilling and creepy, but none of them disturbed me and actually scared me like Pet Sematary. This one was legitimate, pure horror. King himself wrote in the introduction that he went too far with this one, and he be right.

Pet Sematary is the story of the Creed family: Louis, a doctor at the university, his wife Rachel, and their two young children Ellie and Gage. They move to Ludlow, Maine to a cute house on a busy road. There’s also an intriguing path cutting through their woods. You see where this is going. From what I’d heard about the movie version of Pet Sematary growing up, I expected many little ghost pets running around the neighborhood, somehow wreaking havoc in small, potentially amusing ways. It was not that. There’s one resurrected pet: Church, the Creed’s black cat. Church comes back a little greasier, smellier, and dopier than he used to be.

Like most of King’s books, Pet Sematary has a slow build and has a few pacing issues. It’s not actually scary until the end, at which point it’s terrifying. But Church resurrected is a creepy, sinister suggestion of what’s to come throughout the book. Pet Sematary is about a lot more than dead pets, which is probably what makes it so horrifying. It’s about love and lose and the lengths we’d go to save the things we love.

-M