Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

I need to reread the end of Andy Weir’s The Martian. It kept me up late on a work night. Around 1:00am, I decided to start skimming or else I’d risk falling asleep at work. The timer on my Kindle said there was approximately 45 minutes remaining and I hesitated. The train portion of my commute is roughly 45 minutes so I thought: Perfect. I can finish on the train now. Then I thought: I can’t wait until I’m on the train. What if I can’t read then? Sometimes Metro is too packed to hold a Kindle. This book could not wait. read more

Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers’ The Circle follows Mae Holland’s rise at the eponymous tech/social media company. Though Mae views the Circle’s many amenities as selling points, there is a darker element to them: she is expected to spend the vast majority of her time on campus, with her fellow “Circlers” as her primary social network. Mae doesn’t mind, of course. The Circle offers top-notch gym and recreational facilities, health centers, shopping, clubs, events, parties, more events… There are even dorms to stay in if she works too late or if there is an event. At one such party:

Annie was refilling Mae’s glass from a bottle of Riesling that, she said, was made on campus, some kind of new concoction that had fewer calories and more alcohol. (31)

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Review: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

If it were possible to enjoy a book through sheer force of wanting to enjoy it, I would have loved The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. I’ve only read one of her other books, Fingersmith, and it became an immediate favorite.

Back to The Paying Guests.
For a good week, I considered posting it as a So Bad, I Read It For You, because there were moments when I was desperate for a spoiler-laden summary. Plus, I thought it might be fun to be stubbornly contrary and free myself from the no-touch-spoilers tap dance. In the end though, The Paying Guests isn’t “so bad” and earns a regular review. While there are stylistic and character choices I dislike, I can see where they hold value. Waters’s prose is solid, even if her characters are flat, and the book is 150 pages too long. read more

Review: The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

I’m adding Richard Flanagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish to my queue (for next year, not this year). The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a show of real skill, but I suspect Flanagan’s other works are better. Narrow Road took 12 years to complete. Something I see in my own writing, and have seen in other works, is that a story curdles when you take too long to finish: the side plots become muddy and focus is lost. The portion of this book built on the war and POW camp earns a 5 of 5. The other half, well… we’ll get to that. read more