This Week, I Read… (2018 #11)

39 - Greywalker

#39 – Greywalker, by Kat Richardson

Clumsy, chunky action broken up with long bouts of worldbuilding exposition. I’m not saying a great paranormal/urban fantasy book won’t have any, but this one definitely delivers it in long blocks that can be hard to digest–some of the ideas piqued my interest, but the rest became a mush that didn’t seem consistent (although I can’t tell if that was reader error, because I was getting bored by the end, so maybe I missed something key to my failed understanding of the climax.)

A main character with any personality would have gone a long way towards rescuing this. Coming out at the end, I feel like I could describe two of the supporting cast (specifically Quinton, the jack-of-all-tech, and Cameron, newborn wobbly vampire boy) better than I could tell you about Harper. She’s bland. She has a ferret named Chaos, which is a brilliantly clever name, but other than that… she gets beat up a lot? She’s terrified all the time?

I have no interest in reading the rest of the series after finishing this.

40 - The Giver

#40 – The Giver, by Lois Lowry

I read this in a single day, coming awfully close to a single sitting, which is a rarity for me even with such a short book.

The language was clear, simple, and direct in the best possible way. I was impressed with how smoothly the world-building went, and not simply because I’m already familiar with so many dystopian settings–this had original points that I found both beautiful and terrifying, and the nuances were conveyed naturally through Jonas’ exploration of his expanded role in the community.

I did feel like it came to a climax rather quickly, and I understand the criticisms leveled at the work that say it’s an oversimplification of a complex societal issues–and it is, but no more so than any other dystopian works I’ve read, and it has more of a cohesive story and more compelling characters than some (yes, Fahrenheit 451, I’m looking at you.)

Do I agree wholeheartedly with its ideology? Not entirely. Was it a hell of a ride anyway? Yes, yes it was.

41 - The Word for World is Forest

#41 – The Word for World is Forest, by Ursula K. Le Guin

Davidson is the worst. The absolute worst. And that’s really the flaw here–one man has been designated to represent the vilest qualities humanity has to offer. He’s sexist, racist, imperialist, paranoid, and and downright gleefully homicidal. He has no redeeming traits whatsoever.

The core messages of environmentalism and anti-colonialism wouldn’t be hard to spot over the course of this story, even without Davidson’s heavy-handed depiction, and it’s the lack of nuance there that bothers me most. Other aspects fare better: I appreciate the contrast between him and Selver at the end, when Selver claims they are both gods, because Davidson was the one who first taught them murder, and Selver the one who learned it.

I loved the wide swings in tone between chapters, as the POV cycles through whoever is best suited to tell the next arc of the story. That made this a real page-turner, as I anticipated who might be next, and what we might learn.

I do wish we’d gotten to spend more time with the Ashtheans and their culture, because what little there was fascinated me. But I do see that this plot wouldn’t have supported a much longer book–Le Guin is adept at trimming excesses and getting to the point.


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