I managed to read 4 books in January which I was quite proud of, though this was mainly because I had flu so was in bed for 4 days. I’m now 2 books ahead in my GoodReads Reading Challenge, woop. It meant I got through all my Christmas books though, so I suddenly feel a little bereft of books! Also known as I have no new exciting books on my still rather full ‘to be read’ bookshelf…
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
World-Building: 8/10 Plot: 10/10 Characters: 10/10
I fell in love with this book from the first word. I think Frances Hardinge may have become one of my favourite authors, I instantly added a few of her other books to my ‘to be read’ list once I’d finished this. She has a beautiful insightful writing style that sucked me in, I devoured this book in a day or two. A dark tale of scandal, mystery and the complexities of family relationships set on a fictional English island in the Victorian era. It centres around themes on evolution, natural history, religion and the extremes of human ambition. As a dendrophile I loved that the plot centres around a tree! It’s filled with complex, flawed and very real characters, especially the protagonist Faith whom I grew to greatly care for and identify with. I can’t really say much more without giving spoilers, so all I have left to say is go buy/read it now! Also it’s definitely worth getting the illustrated edition, so beautiful and I adore Chris Riddell’s work.
The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
World-Building: 7/10 Plot: 6/10 Characters: 6/10
I am a huge fan of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian fiction Maddaddam Trilogy so when this speculative fiction, set in America following economic collapse resulting in anarchy and the intervention of corporations to restore civilisation, I was determined to read it. All her books are arguably a little strange but this one goes to the next level, perhaps a little too bizarre for me. It involved sex teddy bears, sex robots and Elvis Presley impersonators. The main characters, a married couple, are living in their car facing violence and starvation. But they can leave this behind if they sign up to be part of a new social experiment. But once they sign up, they can never leave. A more light-hearted approach to societal collapse than the Maddaddam trilogy and The Handmaid’s Tale. I didn’t like the main characters, but you’re not really supposed to. However, I’m still glad I read it, it was entertaining and centred on themes of the darkness of the human pysche. Stuff like that fascinates me.
Clariel by Garth Nix
World-Building: 10/10 Plot: 8/10 Characters: 5/10
A prequel which only makes sense to read if you’re up to date with the rest of The Old Kingdom series. I adored the Abhorsen books as a teenager so, even though it took me a while to get round to it, I had to read this book. I had a few frustrations with this book in that Clariel is an impetuous self-centred teenager and there seems to be little plot just a tumbling on of events over a few chaotic days. But I realised this is the point of the book, it’s as much about setting the scene and overloading on the world-building with one small story as being another female protagonist story in the The Old Kingdom.However, many of the potentially interesting characters felt flat and under explored. And yet this is probably one of the more realistic fantasy YAs I have read as, just like in real life, characters make the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons and face serious consequences as a result. No bed of roses here! The demons are pretty awesome. Still a must read for Abhorsen fans but I’m really looking forward to reading what I feel will be a ‘proper’ Garth Nix novel in the form of Goldenhand, featuring my favourite character from the series, Lirael.
I also read Children of Time (amazing book!) in January, which I wrote about in my last booky blog here.