This Week, I Read… (#49)

132-light-on-snow

#132 – Light on Snow, by Anita Shreve

  • Read: 11/23/16 – 11/25/16
  • Provenance: Owned (paperback)
  • Challenge: Mount TBR Challenge 2016 (10/12)
  • Rating: 2/5 stars

Billed as a coming-of-age story, I expected the characters, especially the young narrator, to have more emotional impact than they did. Oh, wait, did I say “young” narrator? Because a few chapters in, we find out she’s thirty, narrating the story that happened to her at twelve.

I didn’t balk at that, expecting that something important would be happening later in the story at age 30 as well–only it didn’t. There was no point at all to having the narrator character aged up, especially as the character voice was so astoundingly young.

(I would actually praise Shreve for that, because writing a young character well is not an easy feat. But since she’s not supposed to sound twelve, it’s sort of a problem.)

Just so I don’t harp on the age thing forever, it’s by no means my only complaint. Everyone in the story seems sodden as snow-wet cardboard boxes, and just as thin. Instead of feeling grief or pity or relief for the young mother in the story and her plight, I just felt . . . annoyed. Annoyed that I didn’t feel anything deeper. For all the rich themes about family and isolation the story could have explored, everything here was presented as straight-up fact, as easily accessible as Googling “solitude.” There was no subtlety.

133-beyond-jealousy

#133 – Beyond Jealousy, by Kit Rocha

  • Read: 11/25/16 – 11/26/16
  • Provenance: Owned (ebook)
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

What’s that, Elena? You’re giving a romance five stars? You never do that!

It’s true, as much as I love the genre, I’m so familiar with it that it becomes easy to see the inherent patterns and common flaws. I can enjoy most romances, excepting the most poorly written, but I rarely consider them fantastic.

THIS BOOK IS AMAZING AND I COMPLETELY DID NOT EXPECT THE JUMP IN QUALITY OVER PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THE SERIES.

The epic smashup between Cruz, Ace, and Rachel has been coming for a while now, spaced out as background interaction through the first books. And it paid off.

I haven’t read a lot of menage stories–they’re not something I actively seek out, but they pop up from time to time in other series I’ve read. Keeping in mind my shiny newness to the subgenre, this is BY FAR the best of the lot I’ve ever seen.

There are actual, non-sexual relationships between all three pairings of these three people before they fall into a pile in the same bed. They know each other, they’ve worked together (if anything in Sector Four is “work” the way we think of it, at least) and they’ve had time to really spin up both their hopes and their fears about making the complex relationship work.

It’s not two of them trying to rope in a third. It’s not one of them up for a wild time and making an impulsive (ie, bad) decision.

IT’S THREE PEOPLE WHO ALL ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT BOTH OF THEIR PARTNERS.

How sad is it that I’ve never actually read that before?

134-daughter-of-elysium

#134 – Daughter of Elysium, by Joan Slonczewski

  • Read: 11/26/16 – 11/29/16
  • Provenance: Owned (paperback)
  • Challenge: Mount TBR Challenge 2016 (11/12)
  • Rating: 1/5 stars

DNF @ page 100. I was in the mood for some hard sci-fi, and this tale riffing on immortality, fertility, and genetic engineering seemed like just the thing.

Until every tenth word was “train” or “trainsweep.”

I get it. Worldbuilding is important to sci-fi. But there is such a thing as too much of it. We got the description of what the resident alien species wears, and it includes long trains of fabric, the length corresponding to how old they are. And they get sooooo long that there are specialized robots called trainsweeps that manage the fabric, carrying it and folding it up to get into transports and such. Cool detail that speaks to both the wealth and status accrued with age in their society.

But don’t remind me about it three to five times a page. Don’t make every single character a floating mouth that talks with a train behind them to emote for them. Don’t bore me to tears by describing every petty official’s garments at length.

I JUST DON’T CARE THAT MUCH.

135-beyond-solitude

#135 – Beyond Solitude, by Kit Rocha

  • Read: 11/29/16 – 11/30/16
  • Provenance: Owned (ebook)
  • Rating: 4/5 stars

A much better offering than the previous Beyond novella, with a scope of story more appropriate to the length of the work. Derek and Mia are a much more approachable couple than Noah and Emma, and while both are incredibly minor characters elsewhere in the series, that actually helps here–we get to see how the O’Kane empire works on the sidelines, up close and personal, through their jobs.

And we get to see a firsthand account of how someone gets absorbed into their family under slightly less dire circumstances than earlier major characters. It’s downright charming, at times, how tough Mia is in what she’s willing to put up with to follow her heart–and how tough it is for Derek to watch her struggle, and to struggle with his own urges to be kind to her when he doesn’t have much practice at it.

He’s not replacing Cruz in my heart anytime soon (le sigh) but Derek is a great example of gruff-with-a-heart-of-gold. Definitely worth picking up, even if it’s not as key to the major story line as the novels.

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