As previously noted in a post last week, I went abso-blinking-lutely hatstand whilst on holiday and decided to read like a dervish whilst in Scotland.
Part of this disturbing and wholly regrettable chain of events was down to my participation in Good Reads‘ “50 Books In A Year” challenge and needing to keep pace with the remorseless demands of that near-Herculean task, but much of my enthusiasm for it stems from the realisation that I spent a great amount of my youth reading and very little of my adult life has found time for books.
To me, this seems like a crime and a sad state of affairs best addressed by dipping not a toe but my whole, oversized foot into the cool, clear waters of literature before I end up devoting my waking hours entirely to games, blogging and not watching television (seriously, there’s so much nonsense masquerading as programming latterly that I probably consciously watch five hours of TV a week).
So, to the books.
I first read “Summer Knight” by Jim Butcher, which is the fourth book in his “Dresden Files” series of novels about modern-day wizard/P.I. Harry Dresden. It was such fun that I promptly hopped on Amazon and bought “Storm Front”, the first Dresden novel and winced only slightly at the long list of Dresden Files novels that I should probably think about catching up on.
Thereafter, I raced through “Allison Hewitt Is Trapped” by Madeleine Roux, which is a very entertaining, page-turning tale of a post-zombie apocalypse journey made by the titular character across a United States beset by the walking mostly dead and human beings who are scarcely any better. It’s told in blog format – the power/working wireless connection issue is promptly and convincingly dealt with – by a narrator who was a bookseller and now finds herself wielding an axe and trying to keep friends alive in the face of all-consuming horror.
Highly recommended if you enjoyed Mira Grant’s “Feed” or Max Brooks’ “World War Z”.
The only real downer in my reading week was Suzanne Collins’ much ballyhooed young adult dystopian fantasy, “The Hunger Games”, which failed to connect with me on any level. I disliked the way that Collins went out of her way to riff on the ‘kids-fighting-kids’ plotline of “Battle Royale” and then didn’t have the courage to actually make Katniss Everdeen actually (OMG – SPOILERS!) really kill anybody hands-on (OMG – SPOILERS!) during the titular gladitorial contest. It’s an unforgivable cheat, really, which reduces the emotionally charged notions at the heart of the plot to an anti-septic, at-arms-length episode of “Total Wipeout” with more dead pre-teens and intermittent fireballs.
That’s without even considering the absurd detour into Doctor Moreau territory which arrives – more or less from nowhere – towards the end of the novel.
Perhaps the film will find a way to fix the shortcomings in the book, but as I won’t be seeing it, you’ll have to advise me if the film makers manage that particular uphill battle.
I dipped into David Wellington’s “13 Bullets” but haven’t really continued with it since the end of last week – it hadn’t done enough to grip me by page 80, which I reached through a sense of duty as much as a desire to continue. If you like your Vampires in the modern day and feral with it, you might enjoy it but I found it a bit dusty and oddly cliched – essentially like at DTV Steven Seagal flick with a decent budget. To make up the numbers on my book challenge, I should probably see if it clicks with me a little more, but I have my doubts.
The book that I’m working through now is Charles Stross’ dizzying tale of near-future MMO heists and internet crime, “Halting State”. Dude has 3,000 ideas a minute and the lion’s share of them are present in this book. It’s almost guaranteed to blow your mind at least once or twice – Drone Cabs! VR LARPing! Cops who LifeStream record everything! – and is itching (itching, I tells ye!) to be made into a high-end Channel 4 series or an uber-budget Chris Nolan flick. I’m enjoying it quite a lot – can you tell?
More books and digressive thoughts thereon to follow – whether you like it or not…