Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Book Reports

Inspired by Molly's summer book report, I decided to do a quasi one of my own. Here are some of the great books I read this summer (I wish I could say it was on my summer vacation. But there was no such thing. Wah!) Okay, I did go to the beach for 2 days. 

GONE GIRL, by Gillian Flynn

Okay, really late to the game with this one. This was the big book of last year that everyone was reading and talking about. (It's got over 13,000 reviews on Amazon!) Except that it's one that you can't talk about a whole lot without spoiling it. And I don't want to do that. But I did love it. Or at least I liked it a lot. 

Many Amazon and Goodreads reviews I've scanned say that they loved it right up to the ending, which infuriated them.... And while I get that perspective, I don't agree. I thought for a while how Hollywood would have ended it, or if I could think of a better ending, but I think it's one of those books that if you have a strong sense of justice and that people who do bad things should be punished by the law, then you might have an issue with the ending. 

But I could argue that the bad character(s) did get their just desserts in the end--a life sentence of sorts. (Oh, it is hard to talk about this book, without talking about it...)  Suffice to say that it's a story with two conflicting points of view and one of the POVs has a broken timeline and the characters play with your perceptions of what's going on, and it's really good fun/interesting to guess. 

Let's just say that one of the characters (in my non-medically trained opinion) is a sociopath, and the other one isn't the greatest person on the planet, either. 

And Molly... They might call this book a thriller, but it's not scary. You're safe.

I've read that Rosamund Pike has been cast as the wife for the movie version, and Ben Affleck as the husband and let's just say I find that casting very interesting. They are both sufficiently beautiful people (important) and Pike definitely has the acting chops to pull off her character, I think. And Affleck sufficient charm. It will be interesting to see whether Hollywood gives the story a, well, more Hollywood ending. I do feel like the ending will fizzle a bit on screen, if it's not changed in some way... But David Fincher is directing. Can't wait. (But don't wait for the movie. Read the book. The storytelling technique is so well executed.)


Another one where I was late to the game. And full disclosure, Simone is a friend to me and to this blog. Which makes it even more embarrassing that I took so long to read this great story. Too many books, too little time; sometimes I set the wrong reading priorities...

The Haunting of Maddy Clare recently won two RITA awards and also won the Arthur Ellis crime writers award. A book that wins contests in both a crime writers organization (a Canadian one, to boot, where the bias is usually toward the literary) and two romance writers' awards is fascinating in itself.

The book is extremely well-written and it's basically a 1920's set ghost story. The heroine is a temp who gets hired by a ghost hunter, who's also a WWI vet, because the owner of the haunted building (a barn) thinks that the ghost will respond violently if a man sets foot in the barn. The combination of the supernatural elements, the who-done-it mystery (which I admit I figured out long before the characters did...) and the well-developed setting and characters made this a very satisfying read that I gobbled up over two days. Highly recommend.

Now, I need to read Simone's second book (which I've owned since it came out) and Molly talked about on Monday.

No word yet on the movie version casting. :) (Here's hoping, Simone!)

THE FIFTH WAVE, by Rick Yancey

So, this one I wasn't quite so late to the table. And I enjoyed this one too. Big YA sci-fi books like this are sometimes hard for me to fully enjoy because I get caught up in jealousy. ;) And when that happens it's usually jealousy of the marketing and promotion and attention a book got, not the book itself... But if the book is strong enough, I can stop reading like a jealous author and simply enjoy the book. That's what happened to me with books like Divergent, by Veronica Roth and Angelfall, by Susan Ee and with The 5th Wave. 

This book has several POVs and because I didn't read the book all at once, (both Gone Girl and Maddy Clare were interspersed...) I admit that at times I was confused when I picked it up about whose POV I was in and/or why I should care about a particular character. As a writer, I might want to study this book again to figure out why it annoyed me so much when he switched POVs, because normally that's not something that bothers me in a book... But that's a topic for another day.

In a nutshell, this is an exciting, well-told story about humans trying to survive an alien-induced apocalypse. While that premise is not completely unique, it is certainly well-timed (I can be envious about that part). 

Okay, I am going to let my "envious writer" show now... And this is just a comment in general. It's so hard to read a book that has elements that are already in my own current WIP, or in a book already in the can. The less-popular author will always be accused of copying, regardless of which book was written first, and regardless of whether the less-popular author has read or is even aware of the popular book... Sigh. Just a hazard of the trade. But warning to my critique partners... I'm going to need to brainstorm a few things to change the outline for my new WIP that now feel just a little to similar to things that happen in The 5th Wave. Dammit!

Has anyone else read any of these?


Stephanie Doyle said...

Read Gone Girl and did like it a lot. I have different ideas about the ending... I wasn't bothered by it, but I do feel like it was a last minute change by the author. I don't know why... I thought I detected threads that were there that didn't get resolved which made me think maybe the author had a different ending in mind. But I did enjoy it.

LOVED LOVED LOVED Haunting. And thrilled that I got to read such a great book and then turn around and watch Simone win the RITA for it.

Eileen said...

I've read GONE GIRL and am going to read 5th WAVE for school this month. I'll see what I think about the POV switches. Simone's book is on my TBR list. That time period is really fascinating.

I was blown away by the structure and plotting of GG. I wasn't crazy about the ending, but it didn't bother me as much as it seems to bother other people. Perhaps because I was busy trying to pull apart how Flynn did what she did. A lot of other people have mentioned being super unhappy about the ending.

Maureen McGowan said...

I was kind of blown away by the structure of Gone Girl, too, Eileen. And I think the end just seemed abrupt to me. Not to mention making me feel uncomfortable, trying to imagine the future... But then I decided that maybe I was supposed to feel uncomfortable and uncertain about their future...

5th Wave, I really think my problem was putting it down too often... And I was reading on my kindle so it wasn't easy to flip back and get grounded in a section again, after being away from it for a while.

In the end, all the POVs seemed relevant... But I have a suspicion he could have told the story just as well, without at least one of them. But maybe not, now that I'm actually typing that and thinking about it more. It might not have had the same emotional impact if he'd skipped the POV I'm thinking of. (Which was short and only once, I think...)

Other than one pretty big coincidence, how all the characters and POVs fit and tie into one story in the end was actually pretty cool...

I wish I'd written that book. I feel as if I *could* have written that book. Whereas Gone Girl. Less sure. BUT I was so ticked off because ages ago I was brainstorming a he-said-she-said book that, while not the same idea, if I do ever write it, will now always be compared to GG and accused of being a copycat, when I've actually been thinking about it since 2005 or 2006...

Thinking, but no actual execution. I got distracted by urban fantasy and then YA and dropped all my WF and slightly more literary/book clubby ideas. :(

Eileen said...

It's hard to have time for everything we want to write, isn't it? I've got 2 YAs, a mystery series and another Messenger book simmering.

GG and Defending Jacob were the two books I read last year that made me drool with jealousy over how fabulously they were structure.

Anonymous said...

I'm so far behind, the only book I've read (and loved) is Simone's...

will catch up.. will

Simone St. James said...

Thanks guys! Man, I really must read Gone Girl.

Maureen, a lot of people say they figured out the whodunit in Maddy, which I find interesting, because I never actually thought of Maddy as a whodunit. I always assumed a modern audience would pick up at least the basic vibes very quickly. I was really after the unraveling of the layers. To me it's actually a revenge story. Which only proves that no one ever sees a book the way the writer sees it.

I don't care, as long as people liked it :)

Also, no matter what's in the 5th Wave, just write whatever the hell elements you want. Seriously. Just do it!

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