This Week, I Read… (2019 #15)

48 - This Shattered World

#48 – This Shattered World, by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

  • Read: 4/3/19 – 4/9/19
  • Challenge: Virtual Mount TBR (16/48); PopSugar Reading Challenge
  • Task: A book by two female authors
  • Rating: 4/5 stars

The good: Damn, that’s some USDA Prime anguished romantic tension. The story is stuffed full of reasons to get weepy from start to finish, and the stakes are always high and always feel real. This only took me six days to read because I suddenly have no free time, not because it’s ever slow, plodding, or dull. It’s not.

The meh: It’s been long enough (over two years) since I read the first in the series that I didn’t even connect what was happening here to the events in #1 until Tarver showed up. Even then, it never snapped together for me.

The bad: Those short dream sequences between every chapter made no sense for most of the story, and when I finally did get context for them, I was still annoyed by how they interrupted the pacing. I don’t think it was a useful stylistic choice to make them so frequent and so choppy.

Overall? I enjoyed it, though like at the end of the first book, I wish the world-building had a bit more depth. I plan to read the final book sooner than two and a half years from now, at least.

49 - 5 to 1

#49 – 5 to 1, by Holly Bodger

  • Read: 4/9/19 – 4/10/19
  • Challenge: Virtual Mount TBR (17/48)
  • Rating: 2/5 stars

Shallow and gimmicky. Sudasa’s POV being written in free verse didn’t do anything to enhance my understanding of her. Okay, so she likes poetry and that’s important to the story in the end (sort of) but I don’t think it justifies the loss of everything present in Contestant Five’s POV chapters. He felt much more real simply due to the extra time and word count spent on him–Sudasa felt like a prop.

When so much of the actual plot relies on her NOT being a prop in this elaborate marriage ritual in a strange dystopian society, she needs to be an actual character, and I never thought she was.

Another consequence of more than half the page count of the story being in verse was that this was a fast read, and not in a good way. I spent just under three hours reading this, and an idea this (potentially) complex, this rich with interesting moral quandaries to navigate, simply doesn’t have space here to be fully developed.

50 - The Lacuna

#50 – The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver

  • Read: 4/10/19 – 4/11/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (33/100)
  • Rating: 2/5 stars

DNF @ page 77. It had to happen eventually, that I truly wouldn’t enjoy (or even finish) a Kingsolver novel, even though I’ve had good things to say about most of her other work.

However, I simply couldn’t get into this one. There’s a distance involved with being detached from a narrator who is already almost completely detached from his own life–Will, “the boy,” is so uninteresting as to be almost entirely non-existent. Lots of interesting things happen around him, and as always, I love and appreciate the quality of Kingsolver’s detail- and nature-oriented prose; the schools of fish, the secret tunnel, the screaming monkeys. (That’s the extra star on this rating–even if it’s a DNF, it’s still got some gorgeous language and imagery.)

But as soon as Will was relocated to Mexico City and all that nature fell away, I lost interest. His struggle between finding jobs or remaining in school, his conniving mother’s demands…I just didn’t care. I had no connection to him. I also had very little idea, even more than ten percent in, where the plot was headed, at least beyond following this bland protagonist through his life. In some cases, that would be enough, but I wasn’t looking forward to it here.

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