I’ve been reading. In no particular order…
1, 2 & 3) Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy, by EL James
I wanted to like these books. First of all, everyone else does; secondly, the novels are based on fan fiction erotica of the Twilight characters; and do you really need another reason after that last one? But there’s nothing grey about my opinion here: this trilogy is majorly disappointing.
The plot: an innocent young coed (based on Bella) enters a BDSM relationship with a powerful and dark man (based on Edward). SO. MUCH. POTENTIAL.
But, sadly, James doesn’t fully commit to the BDSM (that’s bondage/discipline, dominant/submissive, sadism/masochism for those not in the know) experience, and what should be a sexy, modern, edgy book comes across as painfully adolescent and thus, downright creepy. It’s hard to get excited (that IS a double entendre) about a woman getting whipped on her clitoris with a riding crop when said woman can’t call her nether regions anything other than “down there” or–I’m not kidding–“the apex of my thighs.” OH NO SHE DIDN’T!
If the tone wasn’t bad enough, by the middle of the first book James completely abandons the BDSM angle in favor of a traditional love story…Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
0 stars (out of 5).
4) The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits
What a pleasant surprise! A truly, refreshingly, unique book! One word of caution: this story is a bit Inception-y (you know, a world inside an alternate reality with characters from other realms…) so this is not a novel to read before bed. It takes a certain amount of focus to follow the twists and turns.
The plot: a young woman is a rising star in the psychic world, and her jealous/aging mentor inflicts psychic warfare on her. Enter subplots of mysteries involving dead mothers, missing film reels, and underground feminist extremists. I realize this synopsis doesn’t make any sense, but that’s the very nature of the telepathic phenomenon! However, I promise all becomes clear in the end…
4 stars (out of 5).
5) History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason
This is a familiar story (boy from nothing becomes man with everything), but it is told with so much originality it sucks you in from the first page.
The plot: a poor young man living in Amsterdam uses the lessons his savvy French mother bestowed upon him (and his natural physical beauty) to climb the social ladder. What makes this novel fresh is that somehow, the dashing Piet never comes across as sleazy. In fact, he goes to great pains to be nothing but genuine, which certainly is part of his secret to success. Furthermore, this historical fiction work gets marks for openly addressing the oft-overlooked but overwhelmingly common episodes of homosexuality amongst the “straight” men of the upper class. Indeed, the frank telling of Piet’s sexual encounters with both men and women very much make this story rather original.
4 stars (out of 5).
6) The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
A little bit spooky, a little bit fantasy, a little bit sad, this emotional read will make you wonder and weep.
The plot: an aging and childless couple living in Alaska build a snow child. When they wake the next morning to find the snow child toppled to the ground, they take note of the strange footprints in their yard. The couple begin to see things they can’t explain, and the reader is left wondering if the couple have lost their sanity in the snow, or found sanctity in it, or both.
This book is imaginative and emotional. A wonderful debut novel from Ivey.
4 stars (out of 5).
7) The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
Wow, wow, WOW! This is a must read. the best book I’ve read in 2012. I can’t even say anything because this book is EVERYTHING. Smart, irreverent, historical, magical, amusing, moving…you get where I’m going.
The plot: a young woman follows in her beloved grandfather’s footsteps and becomes a doctor in a war-torn Balkan country. She embarks on a journey to solve the mystery of her grandfather’s death by solving the mystery he was investigating…the deathless man. Of course, you can’t understand death without understanding life, as Obreht so beautifully and unexpectedly expresses in this novel.
I’m currently reading The Expats by Chris Pavone. I have no idea what I’ll pick up after that, so if you have any suggestions please pass them along in the comments!