Saturday, June 27, 2009

Snuff--Chris Palahniuk

Genre: Fiction
Year Published: 2008
Pages: 208
Rating: 3/5

"One dude stood all afternoon at the buffet wearing just his boxers, licking the orange dust off barbecued potato chips."

I have to admit, I felt a little dirty after I read this book. Palahniuk's detailed description of the waiting room where 600 men wait to make history by having sex on camera with an aging porn star is enough to give anyone the willies (no pun intended!). The characters are repulsive and loathsome, and yet somehow sympathetic in how pathetic they are. There is a little bit of a mystery weaving through this book, regarding the porn star's child, given up for adoption two decades or so ago. There is also a little bit of crime thriller, as we begin to suspect that someone is going to die on camera. While guessing at the ending is fun, I doubt anyone could predict what actually happens in the climax (ha ha! No pun intended, again!).

This book is graphic and raunchy, and not for the easily offended or grossed-out. But it is a quick and interesting read, and not quite like anything I've read before.

Book a week #: 25
Date Read: 4/14/09

The Lightning Thief--Rick Riordan

Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Year Published: 2005
Pages: 375
Rating: 4/5

"Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood."

This is a very clever and engaging young adult novel about a sixth grader who discovers he is a demigod. Although this does explain his ADHD, dyslexia, and inability to make it through a school year without getting expelled, it brings on a whole new set of problems, as Percy needs to flee the gods and monsters who want him dead, save his mother's life, and stop the gods from launching a major war at the summer solstice.

Any fan of Greek mythology will enjoy Riordan's integration of the gods, heroes and monsters into today's modern world. My ten year old son recommended this book to me, and I think I enjoyed it as much as he did.

Book a week #: 24
Date Read: 4/13/09
Challenge/s: Young Adult

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy--Douglas Adams

Genre: Sci-Fi/Humor
Year Published: 1979
Pages: 215
Rating: 5

"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun."

Douglas Adams was brilliant, and his books are hilarious. Impossibilities abound. Plot twists are ridiculous. Characters are stereotypic. Yet it works, beautifully. This is the first book in his five-book-trilogy (an impossibility in itself--who else could pull it off?) and it's a great read. Arthur Dent, of England, is forced to defend his house from being demolished for a highway bypass, but this becomes less important when he finds out his close friend, Ford Prefect, is actually an alien journalist, and that the planet earth is about to be demolished to make room for a hyperspace bypass. Luckily, Ford is a writer for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and the pair escape on a Vogon warship. The rest of the book is a series of bizarre coincidences that explain what the Earth was really for and who was really in charge, AND provides the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. Then they all nip off for a bite to eat and...well, that's in the next book in the trilogy.

Book a week #: 23
Date Read: 4/11/09
Challenge/s: Read it Again, Series

Dragons of Spring Dawning--Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Genre: Fantasy
Year Published: 1985
Rating: 5/5
Pages: 352

"Why look, Berem. Here's a path...How strange."

This is the final book in the Chronicles series, and it leads to the final battle between the companions and the Dark Queen's dragonarmies. Tanis has to escape Kitiara, who believes him to be a captain in the Dark Queen's army, reunite with his friends and flee the city with Berem, the Green Gemstone Man, who is the key to winning the war, though no one knows why. Meanwhile, Laurana is appointed general of the Knights of Somania, and with the return of the good dragons to Krynn she brings hope and inspiration to the people. Unfortunately, she is tricked by Kitiara into trading herself for Tanis' freedom, not knowing he has already left on a ship with Berem. Raistlin abandons the ship--and his brother--when it is capsizing, using the dragon orb to go to Palanthas hoping to learn more and grow in power. With Laurana prisoner of the Dark Queen, and Raistlin gone, all appears to be lost for the good people of Krynn. Will the companions be able to salvage any hope?

As always, the plot is captivating, the characters enjoyable, and the writing good. This is one of my favorite fantasy series of all time.

Book a week #: 22
Date Read: 4/10/09
Challenge/s: Series, Read it Again

Paradise--Toni Morrison

Genre: Fiction
Year Published: 1997
Rating: 4/5
Pages: 352

"They shoot the white girl first."

I have yet to be disappointed in Toni Morrison. This novel centers around a town founded by freed slaves who were rejected in other towns, immersed in its own history and fully self-sufficient. But there is an underlying current of unease. The town has split into two factions of founder's descendants, and debates are raging. The children are different, moved by the civil rights movement and other signs of the times. Outside of town is an old convent, which has somehow become a boarding house for women hurt, lost, or rejected. They live together trying to create their own eden, a place where they can be who they are and heal. But the tension in the town only grows when faced with these brazen, strange women, and in the end misunderstanding erupts into horrible violence.

I can't say I truly understand what happens in the end. Like other Morrison books I've read, reality verges into something else, something religious and other-worldly, and I'm still mulling it over in my mind. Somehow this doesn't detract from the book, but adds to the overall feel.

Book-a-week #: 21
Date Read: 4/3/09
Challenge/s: TBR (Alt)

Dragons of Winter Night--Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Genre: Fantasy
Year Published: 1985
Pages: 395
Rating: 5/5

"The great Hall of Audience of the of the King of the Mountain Dwarves echoed with the triumphal announcement."

The second book of the Chronicles series begins with the return of the hammer to the dwarves, reuniting the tribes. Tanis is still struggling with his human/elven selves, manifested in his love for Kitiara versus Laurana.