Sunday, February 12, 2017

Book Review: Graphic Novel Kick Ass Girl Trio

Being a short month, Book Club decided to read a short book - or rather a graphic novel. We tried to find a few kick-as girl stories, and voted on Snapshot of a Girl. I decided to read all three we voted on though, but as usual, found that graphic novels aren't really my medium.



Snapshots of a Girl
By Belden Sezen
2015
176 pages

This autobiographical collection follows the author as she accepts and comes out as a lesbian. I got the simple, but not deeper message, and was a fan of only half the artwork (the cartoon styled ones, not the more realistic figures). So, just meh.




Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy
By Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke A. Allen
2015
128 pages

I've been meaning to read this for awhile: who wouldn't love strong female characters hanging out at camp?! Well me apparently. It was just a bit too weird. Probably I'm just getting old.




Nimona
By Noelle Stevenson
2015
272 pages

Evil nemesis fighting noble knight and corrupt institution mixed with quirky shapeshifting sidekick equals fun times, right? I didn't much like this one to start but it grew on me. The ending wasn't disappointing, and even though I only half liked the art, I did like the humour. A worthy quick read.

Book Review: Ragged Company

Years ago, I read Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese and it changed my life. I had another of his books on my list for years and finally had time to read it!

Ragged Company
By Richard Wagamese
2008
376 pages

Four homeless friends decide to shelter from a particularly cold winter's day by going to the movie theatre. There, they happen upon a gentleman, who at first moves away from them, but who, over the course of the book and multiple random meetings at the movies, becomes a very good friend. This of course comes in handy when one of the ragged company finds a $13 million winning lottery ticket on the street, because you need ID and thus an address to claim such a fortune! The book tells the back stories of all the friends, as well as their present issues of dealing with such a lifestyle change, and their journeys to overcome their inner demons.

This book has a simple premise, but is very sweet, and poignant, if a little rough around the edges. I enjoy Wagamese's writing style, and got so into the characters I cried at three different parts (twice on an airplane, yeesh). I did think it went on a bit too long and that the last quarter dragged a bit, but it wrapped up well with a happy and hopeful ending. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a not-super-depressing-or-gruesomely-traumatic read. Let me know if you end up crying on an airplane when Timber tries to find his wife...

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Book Review: Station Eleven

Every year, my university picks a book to study - everyone (this year around 800 students as part of classes, plus misc staff and faculty) reads it and the author visits in March to do readings and workshops. All very exciting. I've read the book every year I've worked there (well, skipped last year, oops) and this year was looking forward to it because people raved about the book!

Then I heard it had Shakespeare in it. Not a huge Shakespeare fan (I'm just not that smart or cultured).

Then I realized it was dystopian fiction. I HATE dystopian novels! Why? First of all, everyone dies. Which is sad. So then I think about losing the people I love and I get sad. So then I dream about death and I get depressed. Reading about everyone dying is soul destroying and the world is depressing enough - I don't need to get more depressed by reading for fun. Second, bad stuff happens when society breaks down and people are left in a lawless state. Like horrible terrifying gruesome stuff. Have you read The Road by Cormac McCarthy? There are a couple scenes from that book that still to this day haunt me, 10 years after I read it they still crop up in my dreams. Horrible violent stuff. Why would I want to read about that? Depressing. Gruesome. No thank you.

But the author is coming in March, so I gave it a go...

Station Eleven
By Emily St. John Mandel
2014
352 pages

An actor dies on the stage of King Lear, a child actress watching from the wings. That night, a flu flies into Toronto that eventually kills 99% of the people in the world. Fast forward to twenty years later, the child actress is now an adult, and part of a travelling performance group. They reach a settlement only to learn a prophet has taken charge, and not in a good way. The book flips between the present day post-flu world and the past, tracing the lives of many interconnected characters, who all have a part to play in the future.

Is that vaguely interesting? Besides the horrible death and gruesome gross dead body stuff, well...man, I hate dystopian! The writing is very accessible and easy to follow, and I even liked the plot lines from the past. But it was just so depressing learning about the new normal people had to deal with in the post-flu world. And I could think about is the loss. And death. And that stupid quarantined plane the entire time I was flying back from Toronto a couple days after finishing the book. Dammit, like I needed another book haunting me.

The ending was good though. Almost happy. Hopeful. So there's that.

Was it a good book? Yes. Would I recommend it? Of course! Will I be reading a dystopian novel ever again? Not if I can help it! I'm glad I read it before the author comes, as I wouldn't have read this otherwise. And it got me thinking (even if it was haunting, depressing, thinking) so I guess that's the whole point, right?