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Week #33: Holiday reading round-up

31 August 2014
Posted in: Books | 5 Comments

52 weeks of reading and writing
Five books in 16 days is no big deal. But five books in 16 days while on holiday might raise some eyebrows. I’m quite puzzled myself—it must not have been a very exciting holiday if, on average, I read a third of a book every day.

As chronicled in my last post, the first 10 days saw me through 1.3 books, so the other 3.7 books were gobbled up in just a week. As holidays go, it wasn’t a bad one, so the mystery remains. Anyhow, here’s what I read and what I thought of them:

1 & 2. The Dead of the Night and The Third Day by John Marsden

As I said in my previous post, these are the second and third books in the Tomorrow series. Based in the 1990s, they tell the story of bunch of teenagers forced by circumstance to become an impromptu guerilla outfit when Australia is invaded by an unnamed enemy. I read the two books back to back, so they feel like one single novel to me. The first book, When the War Began, was stunning and while book 2 was slow to start, it picked up and raced along, as did book 3. Both books relate how Ellie and her five friends struggle to remain undiscovered by the enemy forces, stretched to their limits trying to survive while determined to strike a blow for their side.

The series is narrated by Ellie one of the leaders of the group. It is remarkable for its positive portrayal of girls—not just in a position of a leader, as in the case of the narrator, but also the other girls, in terms of their voice and their matter-of-fact participation in the group. I won’t say much about the story as they would be spoilers, but I would highly recommend anyone interested in young adult fiction to read them.

3. Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner:

Wow. Well, how does one start? A clever book, funny, heartbreaking. Maggot Moon is deliciously layered and the protagonist Standish Treadwell is as endearing as they come. He’s a fifteen-year-old boy, but he can’t read or write because he’s dyslexic. But who needs reading and writing when you can be as affectionate and intelligent as Standish? When you can see what everyone else can’t and feel what others dare not? When you have Gramps and Hector in your life? And then Hector gets taken away and what’s on the other side of the wall takes on ominious proportions.

It was an eerie coincidence that I was reading the book while in Germany, surrounded by its history. The book is set in a dsytopian England called the Motherland, very remiscent of Nazi Germany. And the way the Motherland are going to prove themselves to the world is by putting a human on the moon. This is a powerful novel. Keep a tissue handy if you’re going to read it. What am I saying: you MUST read it!

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green:

Arguably the most talked-about and read book this year? I won’t say much about it because all has been said and done (though I don’t agree with some of the stuff). It was a good YA novel, though not astounding as I was led to believe. My biggest beef with it was that the teenage protagonists in the book don’t sound their age. They sound like adults. Otherwise, it’s a good story, a decent read.

5. Ghost in the Machine by Ed James:

This is a self-published police procedural novel, the first in a series based in Edinburgh. Being an Ian Rankin fan, I love stories based there, so that was a plus. The story is told from the point of view of Detective Constable Scott Cullen, as he and his colleagues invesigate a series of murders of women by a man who seduces them on the Web and then lures them out on a face-to-face date and then, you guessed it.

This appears to be the first in a promising series, even though the “self-publishing” shows sometimes. It’s well produced—no typos jumped out at me or any such thing—but it could have been tightened. For example, repeating in conversation something that has already been described earlier; the fact that the autopsies of the bodies make no mention of the blow to the head that the women recieved; the flatness of some of the characters. It was also slow and the suspence level was pretty low. However, it wasn’t a disaster and I wouldn’t say no to reading another.

~PD

5 Responses

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Nice write up. I have not read any of these books but do plan to read The Fault in our Stars this year.

  2. Gargi says:

    Great list. Haven’t read any of them!
    >> the teenage protagonists in the book don’t sound their age. They sound like adults.

    Doesn’t this seem to apply to a lot of YA books these days?

    • Payal says:

      Hmm, you might be right! But what I specifically didn’t like is that they sounded like the kind of smart-alecky adults who are always trying to impress with what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. I guess I wouldn’t have minded if they’d sounded like “normal” adults, whatever those might be!

  3. […] 2. Maggot Moon (Sally Gardner): I wrote about it here. […]

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