The Reading List # 4
I think this reading list is the most mixed bunch so far, so I’ll just get on with it!
The Scar, China Mieville
There’s a bit of a story behind this choice. In second year of university we did a genre fiction week, discussing why science fiction and fantasy aren’t studied at school. The set text was an 800-page fantasy novel: China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station. I was dreading it, as I would never select something like this, but stuck with it and was more than impressed. Browsing at the library a while ago, I spotted this other Mieville book, and just had to give it a try. The Scar is about a character called Bellis Coldwine, who has been exiled from New Crobuzon, and finds herself living on a floating city run by pirates. They are all on a hunt for a forgotten people and a wound in reality.
Yet again, Mieville has converted me to his favoured genre and blown me away with his writing. The descriptions are exquisite, and the world he creates is so well-crafted that I found it easy to suspend reality – it feels as if you are reading of a world you know. There is no time wasted, though – the story is never lost to huge passages where the author is trying to construct a world. It just works. It’s another long one, about 750 pages, but I’d definitely recommend giving Mieville a try, especially if you’re a fantasy fan already.
After the Fall, Charity Norman
Five year-old Flynn falls from a balcony on holiday and is rushed to hospital. This novel tells of that night in hospital, and the lives of Flynn’s family leading up to this event. I was totally drawn in by the line on the cover describing the book as similar to Jodi Picoult – I’ve said on here before that I’m a huge fan. I can understand the comparison so far as the fact that the story flits between two periods in time leading to a climax, but that’s where the similarities end.
The McNamara family clearly have issues, but these issues were far too overplayed. There were a few too many dramas to draw me in completely. I also felt that the final climax or conclusion was rushed over, which was a shame after having spent so long building the tension. There were some good descriptions, especially in the chapters set in hospital, but I wasn’t wowed.
Fashion Babylon, Imogen Edwards-Jones and Anonymous
This book covers six months in the life of a fictional designer, with all of the events based on real stories from ‘industry insiders’. It’s a light-hearted, humorous window into a fashion world, and is a good escapist read. I originally read this when it first came out, on holiday, and that’s the kind of book it is. If you want an easy read, and something light-hearted and a bit trashy, this is what to turn too. The only thing that was a shame is that it’s dated very quickly since release – names of places and celebrities are used, so these nods to celebrity culture were only relevant for a short period. Worth a read if you want trashy escapism, but it won’t change your world!
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
Nick Dunne’s wife, Amy, disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary, giving way to a great thriller exploring what may have happened. This really was the book of the summer, so I was looking forward to reading it. This book has all the ingredients for a winning thriller: strong characterisation, multiple viewpoints, suspense, manipulation and twists. The story is gripping and it’s a page-turner. I’m not sure it deserved quite the amount of hype it did get, as I think there are a couple of issues with the plot, or parts where huge jumps are made, but overall I really, really enjoyed it.
So that was this reading list’s mixture of styles. I’m racing through books at the moment, so it won’t be long until the next!
What have you been reading recently?