Book Thoughts

The Hate U Give Book Cover The Hate U Give
Angie Thomas
Young Adult Fiction
Balzer + Bray
February 28, 2017


I want to start off by saying, don't read my review, go READ THIS BOOK. It's important and timely, and also very well written. Have you heard of it? If not, it's the story of Starr, a black teen, whose childhood friend is murdered by the police one day after they're heading home from a party. She is the only witness, and the story follows the complications that follow.

Man this book hit me in the feels in all kinds of good ways. I adore Starr's parents. Their family life feels real, messy and complicated, but love is always an undercurrent. You don't see that a lot in YA books, where parents are usually out of the picture instead of part of the picture, or terrible instead of awesome. Starr's parents are embarrassing sometimes, but pretty damn awesome.

And Starr oh, you get to see the challenges of navigating two worlds (her poor neighborhood vs. her rich white friends at school), and figuring who she is. She's funny, smart and brave, even when she's scared.

It's a #BlackLivesMatter story that is not patronizing and doesn't opt for magical outcomes. It left me so full of heart and hope, and I am so glad I read it. I'll leave it at that, and wait for you to go read it for yourselves.


Book Thoughts

The Bone Witch Book Cover The Bone Witch
Rin Chupeco
Young Adult Fiction
Sourcebooks, Inc.
March 7, 2017


This YA fantasy reads like a dark fairy tale. There are two alternating viewpoints / timelines. In one, a nameless bard records the story the Bone Witch (Tea) tells him, and starts to comprehend her terrible future plans for the world. In the other, we get Tea's story, and how she comes into power is whisked away from her old life and trains so that she can control it. All the while, I was never quite sure if Tea was the hero or the villain.

Some writers have obvious strengths and Chupeco's is worldbuilding. If you enjoy richly wrought worlds, and luscious descriptions of magic woven into clothing, or complicated social customs, this book is for you. There are pages and pages on dancing and jewelry and food. Tea stumbles as she tries to make sense of this foreign world she is navigating, how she should behave, dress, and speak. The cultures depicted are distinctly non-Western, but neither does she draw from only one cultural reference. The world she paints is big and diverse, which I appreciate.

But you're a fan of deep character interactions, most of the friendship / love story lines happen off the page. I really wanted a bit more on this side of things, but that's my personal preference.

This is not a fast paced book, because it takes it's time as it goes through months and years of Tea's life. The best comparison that came to mind was its "Memoirs of a Geisha" only were a girl learns to control dark magic, monsters, and plans revenge on the world.


Book Thoughts

Parable of the Sower Book Cover Parable of the Sower
Octavia E. Butler
Hachette UK
March 27, 2014


Someone mentioned recently that this is the book for the present times, even more so than 1984 or the Handmaid's Tale. I can see why. This book gave me nightmares.

The book is set in California in the near future (2024). Climate change has made food too expensive even for the well off. There isn't really a middle class, only the destitute, and the working poor. Small towns have turned into corporations where people are paid less than the price to get ahead, and are forced into indentured servitude by the debts this presents. Government policies have made it impossible for anyone to get ahead, and outside gated communities there's a good chance you'll be murdered by either the desperate or the drug addled. Nowhere is safe.

It follows Lauren as she grows up in one of those gated communities, struggling to make sense of the world as it fractures around her. To make sense of it, she creates her own religion that worships 'god as change'.

This word is Lauren's normal, everything she has always known, even though she knows it's only going to get worse. The result is a strange disconnect between Lauren's calm and measured view of the world and all the terrible things that happen. The pace is at times excruciatingly slow, and the story spans years of Lauren's life. This removes a feeling of immediacy to the horrors to come. Combined, these two techniques created an eerie effect as I read the book.

If this were made into a movie it could be shot as a zombie film, complete with gun fights, severed limbs, and cannibals. It is a survival story at its core, as much as it is Lauren's origin story.

This novel feels scarily plausible given the trajectory of world politics today, and this was published in 2000. It's not that bad yet, but it could be. I can't get it out of my head, but I sometimes wish I could.