Wednesday reading, 3 February 2016

Last book finished: How quickly my opinion of a book changes! I loved the opening couple of chapters of The Magicians by Lev Grossman. The world building was lovely, the characters intrigued me, it promised complexity and an exploration of tropes. I was so excited. And then…I felt like I was pushing through to finish. Quentin’s manpain grew irritating to such a staggering degree that I was rolling my eyes at him. I’ve read characters like this too often. It’s a trope that’s grown stale for me. I couldn’t empathise with him. In fact, the only character I really felt anything for was Eliot: he was just as troubled, but there were hints that his issues were deeper than existential ennui and he reached a turning point in the novel that made me pleased for him. No, he’s not all better now, but it felt like he wanted to find a way to be better. My irritation with all the characters, but particularly Quentin, was particularly frustrating because there were interesting things to explore in the book. Through the world of Fillory, it broke down and analysed elements of the Narnia stories (and derivatives) in a way that felt fresh and interesting. That’s something I love in my stories! The problem was that my frustration and dislike for most of the characters overshadowed the world building and plot. I’m in two minds about reading the second book in the trilogy, although people have assured me it’s less manpain-y and the descents into drink, drugs, and debauchery are much reduced.

Thankfully, I had The Martian by Andy Weir to make me happy. I watched the movie at the theatres last year so I knew most of what was going to happen, and yet I was still on the edge of my seat as I read. Now, that’s the mark of some good writing! The aspects of the movie that I particularly loved – solving everything through science and problem solving! Mark’s cheerful optimism! – were even better in the book. In short, I loved it.

Current read: Still working on Russian History: A Very Short Introduction. This will always be my status.  

I just got Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold yesterday and I read the first chapter last night. I can’t help squeeing and hand flailing from joy over it.

And my Kindle isn’t a romance after all. It’s Interim Errantry by Diane Duane. It’s so good to sink into new books by favourite authors.

Next read: If it arrives before I finish Gentleman Jole, then it’s Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane. If I eat the LMB too fast, I’ll probably go for Karen Memory at last. And I’ve got a new short on my Kindle by KJ Charles to read when I’m finished with the wizards book.

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2 thoughts on “Wednesday reading, 3 February 2016

  1. I completely agree with your assessment of The Magicians. I read it soon after it came out, and I still haven’t gone back to read the sequel. Quentin’s self pity was more than I could take. I did feel the book took a bit of an upturn at the end, though it never did regain the allure of the early chapters.

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    • I have a hold on the sequel at the library, suspended for a couple of weeks. I’m hoping that will propel me to read it, because I’ve been told that the sequel has a lot less unnecessary Quentin angst and I wanted to explore some of the ideas raised more.

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