Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

It is long past time for me to update my reading list. I know of three book that I haven't written about yet, and I've got the feeling that I'm forgetting one more. I've been reading quite a bit, but it hasn't all been great literature.

The Good:
I really enjoyed this book. It isn't a cheery type of book and there isn't a happy ending, but it is very well written. The language is beautiful and the story is completely engrossing. I couldn't put this book down. It has a couple of twists/mysteries in it, which I always love. I love a book that keeps you guessing until the very end. This book is a novel inside a novel. "The Blind Assassin" is a novel published posthumously by the narrator's sister. So in some chapters we have the narrator telling us the story of her life in early 20th century Canada and in other chapters we have excerpts from the published novel. The story itself focuses on the lives of two sisters growing up in a wealthy, but dysfunctional, family outside of Toronto. Family is a major theme of the novel but it delves in to communism, war, revolution and economic depression as well. A really good novel, over all.

The Bad:
This wasn't a bad book. It had its good moments, but overall it was really weird. I love, love, loved Marilynne Robinson's book Gilead so I had high hopes for this novel as well, but no such luck. Robinson tells the story of two sisters, abandoned by their mother (she commits suicide) and left to the care of their slightly senile grandmother. When she dies they fall under the care of two old spinster aunts that simply cannot deal with the responsibility so they call in a long lost aunt who prefers the life of a boxcar riding vagrant to living in an established home, but decides to take the job of mother to these two girls anyway. The family is SO dysfunctional and sad. The younger sister is finally driven away to live with a kind teacher and the town begins to demand that the older sister be removed from the home as well. Instead of losing her last remaining charge the crazy aunt takes the girl on the road with her and they become hobos....never telling the other girl that they didn't actually die in the fire that engulfed their house the night they ran away. (Of course they set the fire.) It was just weird and depressing and too wordy. I don't recommend it.

The Ugly:
I love Odd Thomas. He is one of the purest, sweetest, most lovable characters in literature. As a twenty something fry cook with psychic abilities he gets himself into some unlikely situations...usually involving aliens or sadistic mad men trying to destroy the world with nuclear bombs. Koontz' writing is so clever and witty and easy to read. If you are squeamish or opposed to a few supernatural forces in your books you might not enjoy the Odd Thomas series, but I'm betting you just might find Odd's character so intriguing that you can overlook the "ugly" things that are happening around him. I highly recommend an Odd Thomas book. I think there are 4 of them.

You can see all of my 2009 Reading List and the reviews of each book here.

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