This Week, I Read… (#2)

5 - Passenger

#5 – Passenger, by Alexandra Bracken

Because it was the book club selection that prompted me to read this, I went in nearly blind, only knowing it was YA and featured time travel.  I was prepared not to like it, actually, because time travel is such a touchy subject with me, based on my love of excellent sci-fi and pure loathing for half-assed nonsense “sci-fi.”

So imagine my surprise when I could hardly put it down!  As this is a brand-new title, I’ll keep this spoiler-free, but there are lots of great things I can still say about this story.  The heroine is appropriately confused by the challenges thrown at her, but plucky and determined nonetheless; the hero is swoon-worthy without being a 2-D cardboard-cutout of a person (I actually think he’s better-developed than the heroine, which is not often the case in YA); the way time travel works in this universe is unique and presents obstacles that other time-travel systems don’t have (or in some cases hand-wave through.)

I can’t quite give it 5 stars, it’s more of a 4 1/2, but I did add it to my wishlist for future purchases, if that tells you anything.

6 - Inferno

#6 – The Divine Comedy: Volume 1: Inferno, by Dante Alighieri (translation by John D. Sinclair)

Yeah, that’s my first one-star rating.  I did not enjoy this at all.  I don’t have any issue with epic poems in translation, I luuuurve the Odyssey, for example–but I’d always meant to read the Divine Comedy, hence it being in my TBR, and I’m disappointed now.

I think I would have enjoyed this much more if I had had to read it for classwork, like for a college lit course.  This particular edition has a Notes section at the end of each canto, which was helpful in providing explanation of the historical context of many of the sinners Dante meets as he descends into Hell…but having it explained piecemeal afterwards isn’t as satisfying an experience as understanding the reference myself in the first place.  I got most of the mythological references (except the names Dante appropriated to label his own mish-mash creatures, which bore little resemblance to their original owners) and probably half of the Biblical references; but I understood exactly none of the political-historical references.  I simply don’t know anything about Italian history in Dante’s time, and even less about the history of the Catholic Church then.

All I really got out of it, even after studying the notes, was that Dante didn’t have much respect for some of the recent Popes preceding his era.  And I’m sure that’s just the surface of it.  So, really, I just felt out of my depth.  But now I know, and I don’t have to bother reading the other two volumes.

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