I know it's been a few days and I promised myself when I started this that I would be more regular, but I got distracted by shiny objects. However, since I last posted, I reached a personal goal of reading 500 books in a calendar year, excluding, as I do on this here blog, anything of a primarily graphical nature or anything I didn't finish. I did finish three books, though, in the last handful of days and since the actual point of even keeping this blog is to keep a log of every book I read, I should probably get on with it.
'Wildwood' is a debut Middle Reader by Colin Meloy. Yes, that Colin Meloy. The one from the Decemberists. And it was a decent MR fantasy novel, but I don't think it would be getting nearly the pre-pub push that it is if the author weren't already semi-famous. And, although it's a decent read, there were several things the author did that are personal pet peeves of mine, so they annoyed the hell out of me and influenced my reaction to the book as a whole. Firstly, Mr. Meloy chose to employ both crows and coyotes as villains, or at least villainous hench-creatures. Neither of these species are inherently evil, but, as long as authors continue to use them (along with wolves and snakes and the like) to frighten younger readers, they're going to have a stigma attached that may never go away. I understand having villainous animals, but not all of the specimens need to be evil. Why not keep with the anthropomorphising and have some be bad and some be good, like humans are? And the other thing that Mr. Meloy did that bugs me is the utter fictionalization of a non-fictional locale. In this case, the areas around my neighboorhood and the nearby urban forests. It's one thing to create buildings or streets or even neighboorhoods that don't exist, but to essentially relegate an entire quadrant of the city to the realm of the fictional is a bit of overkill. So, even though I could have really enjoyed this book, my own preferences got in the way. I'm sure these things won't irritate most people, and I'm probably just too persnickety for my own good, but they were big issues for me, so I couldn't let them pass without mention.
'The Magician King' by Lev Grossman is a sequel to 'The Magicians', which was marketed as a kind of Narnia/Harry Potter for grown-ups. Whatever 'The Magicians' was, 'The Magician King' is more so. It's about magic and power and love and loss and sacrifice. It's got all the best bits of children's fantasy--magical creatures and fantastic quests and even a bit of naive innocence--but it's suffused, too, with very adult emotions and circumstances. So, if you want to escape into a magical world, like you did when you were a kid, but you want a bit more drinking and swearing and sex, these are the books for you.
'A Long, Long Sleep' is a debut novel by Oregon author Anna Sheehan. It's a S-F story that takes as its inspiration the moment when Sleeping Beauty is awakened by a kiss. It's got the action and romance that one expects from YA S-F, but it also has some very well-done stuff about family dynamics and corporate power and even genetic modification. I picked it up expecting a straightforward futuristic love story, but got a lot more than I bargained for. I appreciate a book that makes me think about things, but doesn't beat me over the head with the author's opinions. It would have been very easy for this book to become preachy, so I give a lot of credit to Ms. Sheehan for never letting it do so.