Posts

Showing posts from June, 2018

Book Review: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Image
First line: Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond.

I had to grit my teeth to get through this book. (All 209 pages.)

I'm ashamed to admit this since a surprising number of folks online and in person have cited this novella as one of their favorite books, but I found everything about this brief read to be agonizing -- the plot, the narrative style, the characters -- it and I just did not connect.

I went in expecting to love this book given its reputation and subject matter. Achebe depicts the story of a Nigeria broken by white colonialism; our hero is deeply flawed and stubbornly committed, living in a world with problems triply complicated by the unnecessary influence of white colonizers. Achebe's narrative style is straight-forward and clear, even as he articulates a world deeply foreign to modern audiences.

I suspect I didn't understand this book; I'm also not a huge fan of tragedies (I loathe Hamlet) so Okonkwo as a character didn'…

Book Review: The Hunger by Alma Katsu

Image
First line: Everyone agreed it had been a bad winter, one of the worst in recollection.

Unlike most of the planet, I didn't like Katsu's debut novel, The Taker. Which I was bitter about, because Katsu impressed me with her potential.

With The Hunger, I got the novel I always wanted: taut, moody, dangerous, atmospheric, and creepy.

I don't know where to start with my squee-ing. It helps that the premise -- supernatural take on the Donner Party tragedy -- is just so delicious. Katsu doesn't speed through the trip, and through the early days we learn how fractured these people were, and the many demons that chased them. She takes her time to give the characters space to breathe, and we're rewarded with rich plot threads and deeply flawed and oh-so appealing characters.

For history sticklers, this book will surely aggravate, as Katsu takes some wild liberties with the histories of the Donner Party members: victims of sexual abuse, secretly gay, murderer. But I uh-dore…