Books, March 2017

Hi world. I have a million things going on this month, so ACTUAL short reviews for once.

Proof, David Auburn *

Automatic bonus points for making me cry, plus every bonus point there ever was for media featuring realistic, humanistic, flawed but in a “you succeeded at character development” way, motivated characters. (The Pulitzer and the Tony weren’t enough, so here’s fake internet points for you!) I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m going to be getting up close and personal with this script over the next few weeks for a class. You can take the grad student out of the theater department, but you can’t take the theater nerd out of the grad student.

Format: play. Genre: character study. Rating: 3/3

Still Star-Crossed, Melinda Taub

You ever read (or watch, or see) something that you just wish that you’d been half brilliant enough to even come up with the concept? Following on after the sh*t-show that was the conclusion of Romeo and Juliet (I had someone try to convince me recently that it’s Shakespeare’s greatest love story and I could only laugh), barely-there side characters Rosaline (who Romeo briefly pines for at the beginning) and Benvolio (the only Montague with both lines in the play and enough sense to not die) are shoved into an arranged marriage to try to smooth over the near-civil war. It doesn’t work, of course, but not for the reasons you expect. I’m such a sucker for the enemies, then enemy-of-my-enemy, then begrudging respect, then hey-you’re-pretty-cool, then FINE I GUESS WE’RE FRIENDS dynamic too. Especially when I can relate to the main character – I don’t want any part in this ridiculous drama either, Rosaline!

Format: novel. Genre: adventure, thriller. Rating: 3/3

Lock In, John Scalzi *

This is my new favorite appearance of neuroscience in fiction by several miles, and that’s before the murders begin. It’s a relatively reasonable extrapolation of what might happen if a sudden pandemic causes widespread locked-in syndrome, and the ensuing throwing of money at the problem. Plus it’s always off to a good start when there’s a dead body by page 3, and half the suspects are kind of robots. The handling of the various (non-comprehensive) ethical issues in the use of what are basically prosthetic bodies is stellar. Besides my professional bias, it was also just a really great story!

Format: novel. Genre: thriller, mystery. Rating: 3/3 and a leading contender for stand alone novel of the year already

Angel Catbird Vol 2, Margaret Atwood and co

Man, I really love this concept, and I adored volume 1. But this just didn’t really do it for me. The story barely progressed and was battling its own unnecessary elements, and several characters who we know are awesome got sidelined or victimized. The art, however, continues to be amazing, and the concept is still great, and the climax it’s building to is intriguing. I’ll come back for the remaining two planned volumes (it’s a limited run series), since I hope they’ll take back off again.

Format: graphic novel. Genre: idea, weird. Rating: 2/3

* contains content suitable for high school and older readers

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