Jacquotte Delahaye may or may not have existed. That has never stopped anyone from spinning a good yarn. Or in this case an average yarn but loaded with enough pirate pizazz to make you overlook its shortcomings. Almost.
I am being too critical? I don’t want to be. I LOVE pirate stories. And female pirates are a delightful rarity I’d read about any day.
But then as an author and a reader, I am rather fond of well written books, and it is impossible not to notice that this one could have used some more …well, at least editing. It stands to mention here that I read a Netgalley ARC, so it may not be the final version, but then again Simon and Schuster usually provides perfectly print-ready ARCs.
I mean, this book has been edited in a sense that there are no typos and grammar snafus. But there are a lot of repetitions, sentences like so-and-so felt they could not find the words that felt right or clunkers like father’s mother’s tongue. Or usage of the word Lothario in 1655, just ever so slightly nearly 50 years before it originated (based upon a character in The Fair Penitent, a 1703 tragedy by Nicholas Rowe, if you care, since the author, editor, and publisher do not).
This book had obviously taken a lot of work and research. It just needed more.
Also, it’s no ballad. Not poetic, no musical accompaniment. It’s a saga or a folk tale or a legend, but it isn’t a ballad. But then, this isn’t the one for details or definitions.
The thing is, it’s such a fun story. It has everything you want it a fun pirate book, all kinds of adventures. But the writing is so notably basic. Short simple sentences, nothing to dazzle you.
It reads like a book sold on a premise rather than style. And of course, it would sell: this book and its author check every minority representational box there is. I mean, it probably sold just based on “gay pirates.” For those who did not get enough with “Our Flag Means Death”, this is a real treat.
Except, OFMD is cleverer, funnier, and has Taika Waititi. This novel has a very young, very tough (almost unbelievably so) protagonist who gets a LOT done in a very (almost unbelievably so) short time.
Also, just so we’re clear: I’m all about representation in fiction. I love it. I think there should be more of it. Definitely more gay pirates of all races. I am absolutely all for it. I’m just saying one shouldn’t be so dazzled by it as to overlook mediocre writing.
Mind you, it is still fun. Oodles of fun. While dramatic scenes are a mixed bag, the action ones are great. It’s all wham, bam, kill it, ma’am.
So overall, the book is very entertaining. Someone should probably go make a movie out of it right now. It’ll probably make the story even less realistic and who knows what that writing will be like, but hey … pirates!
We may never know if Jacquotte Delahaye existed. But you kind of wish she did, don’t you? And now that there’s an entire book imagining her into existence … well, that’s sort of like a life, isn’t it? Books are magical like that.
Don’t go in expecting fine literature, just have fun with it. Thanks Netgalley.
Being a huge fan of Alderman’s work, I was very excited for her new novel. It took me a moment to get into it, but once I did, I struggled to put it down. It’s a hefty volume, but then again, no one’s ever said the future would be light.
In fact, in Alderman’s vision, it is quite dark, basically apocalyptic. And the three mega-moguls who more or less own the world, do nothing to improve it, but are quite interested in saving their own skins and surviving no matter what. While those closest to them have a very different idea about …well, the future.
And so it goes. The epic power struggle. Who will win, morals or money? Read the book and find out.
Here’s the thing with this novel for me: it read long but amazingly well. One of the best books I’ve read all year, easily. Stupendously clever. Alderman is definitely carving out a niche for herself in science fiction/dystopian genre, first with the power and now this. I love clever books. There are enough dumb ones out there to make you appreciate it. Alderman has terrific ideas, and her writing is superb. The worlds she writes come to life three-dimensionally and stunningly.
But then, after the book is done there’s some distance/perspective, you realize that the grand concept here is actually rather simplistic or at least reductive. It casts the general population as wildly dumb/gullible/malleable/manipulatable/etc. which …well, isn’t far from the truth. But the novel’s solution for it is … kind of basic. And the timeline for it isn’t all that realistic either.
It seems that for a novel so very clever with details and logic and rhetoric, it would come up with something a bit more sophisticated then “tweak the algorithm, tweak the people, save the world” sort of thing. And Alderman actually seems aware of it in the end, going by the very last chapter. It’s like a dark pessimistic/realistic cheery on top of a hugely optimistic, pro-environmental, pro-world message.
But the thing is, you are not really aware of any of that while you’re in the novel (and what you do notice, you don’t much mind), and that’s purely because of Alderman’s skill as a writer. So it is an enormously engaging, enjoyable reading experience. Albeit one with arguable logistics. As opposed to The Power, which was sense through and through. Either way, recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
I haven’t been reading much science fiction lately and striking out with the few I have, but this slim novel was a welcome reminder of what the genre can do.
In a world reshaped by climate disasters, off the coast of West Africa, the population is surviving in enormous, socioeconomically striated towers. Three very different characters from different levels find themselves coming together to investigate what initially seems as a breach and turns out to be so much more.
Dystopia weaves around mythology to potentially forge a new path for a world that has lost its way. You may call them dreamers, but they are not the only ones. For what is the world but a dream collectively agreed upon. And what worth does that agreement hold if it cannot be revisited and rewritten when change arises and new perspectives are offered.
A striking, dare I say, poetic worldbuilding takes this book a long way. But then it is also exciting, character driven, and compelling in the way that’ll have you turning page after page toward its resolution.
A thoroughly enjoyable read. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
Much like its predecessor, this is a very clever book. Only wherein The Last Equation went in for math, The Stars is all about quantum physics. It’s as fascinating as it is dizzying, but ultimately rather exciting.
Much like its predecessor, this is essentially a murder mystery, albeit one of the highest literary order and one wrapped in science.
One might argue that it is rather wrapped in science, but for me it was a plus. I’m tired of formulaic mystery thrillers that populate the market these days, and it’s a pleasure to see someone deviate from formula. Especially when that someone has the chops to do it, as Nova Jacobs clearly does.
The setting is the character here in a huge way. It was definitely what attracted me to the story. Switzerland, Geneva, CERN laboratory. And a writer of Jacobs’s skill brings it all to life with transporting vividness.
Much like its predecessor,. the story took a while to get going. It’s dense, heavily scientific. You have to appreciate those thing,. or you won’t care about it. If you do, though, it’s an excellent puzzle of a tale that’ll surprise you until the very end.
Beautifully written, character driven, and (yes, I’ll say it again because not enough books are these days) so clever, this was an enjoyable read. Not the lightest or the easiest and somewhat slow, but ultimately rewarding, this novel takes you to a different place and makes you reconsider everyday things through a different lens. What more can you ask for? Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
Just when you thought all that could be done with the haunted domicile of some sort scenario had been done, comes Barzak’s novella and shows you that even all-too-familiar themes can excite and engage if done right.
My favorite thing about this story was the writing. So lovely, so lyrical, it draws you into the tale, the place, the time. For those who like me enjoy their scares literary and their literature scary, this fit the bill just right.
Is the place haunted? You bet. But the best part is, the story itself is haunting. You won’t want to put it down, and at just 100 pages, you won’t have to. Recommended for genre fans of discriminating tastes. Thanks Netgalley.
I like a good cult story. So much so, I’ll even give a random self-published kindle freebie a try. And in this instance, it turned out surprisingly good. As in, the quality of writing and presentation was well above and beyond the typical random self-published kindle freebie. Kudos to the author.
The writing is what drew me in, strong, competent, engaging. There is definitely a cult at the center of this story, too. A focal point of the narrative, really. Overall, the novella is creepy and unsettling in all the right ways.
I am surprised by the low ratings and reviews on here. In my opinion, the book deserves more. Objectively speaking, though, it is moodier and more cerebral than most genre fans go for. A lamentable fact that.
But anyone looking for a compelling, dark quick read on a literary side of the genre spectrum, check this out. Recommended.
I’ve heard of Stuart Turton a lot; his books are popular enough to always be checked out at the library. So when this one, his latest, showed up on Netgalley, I grabbed it. And read it and read it and read it some more. It took days to get through, and I really did try to like it, but in the end, it just wasn’t fork me.
I’d like to think I’m aware enough and objective enough of a reader/reviewer to be able to tell when the book is a dud or when it just isn’t my thing. This one seems to be firmly in the latter category.
Reader/book chemistry is a very real thing, and the nicely titled The Last Murder at The End of the World and I just didn’t have much chemistry.
Intellectually, I appreciated it. The story is smart and original, something that’s difficult to find in modern clichéd mystery thrillers. The fan of dystopian fiction in me was delighted by the setting. The fan of character-driven sci-fin in me appreciated the meditation on life and intelligence, organic and artificial, and the value of it—a theme tightly interwoven throughout the narrative. As a reader and a writer, I appreciated the language.
But then there were the unignorable facts that I didn’t much care for any of the characters and found the plot, especially the murder mystery itself, to be excessively, exhaustively convoluted. That made the novel drag for me and it the end, outweighed the pluses. I’m uprating it some for the cleverness. User mileage may (and I’m sure, will) vary. Thanks Netgalley.
Wildy strange and rather mesmerizing, The Plastic Priest is a tale of psychological unravelling done right. And right in this instance, is kind of sort of from zero to sixty in no time.
The story follows an Episcopalian female priest in a small, ugly, narrowminded town full of small, ugly, narrowminded people. She is fairly stuck there, in that place, in her job, the inherent limitations of both constantly getting in a way of her wanting to do good.
So she decides to try something new, a form of community outreach. And ends up meeting someone who changes her entire life by making her reexamine her belief system and her raison d'être.
The novella takes a turn around midpoint, going from realism to … something else. Surrealism? Either way, it’s a fascinating and harrowing psychological journey, and the author takes you on it expertly. Ninety minutes of thoughtful, thought-provoking weirdness was the reading experience here, So, recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
“Mommy fiction” is so popular these days, across genres, that even … um …daddies are jumping on it?
The thing is parenthood is a terrifying concept. It has been explored tritely in a variety of thrillers and brilliantly in some darker, scarier ways like Katrina Monroe’s latest.
And now Clay Chapman in adding to that pile, with a tale of very unconventional mothering of a very unconventional child.
Southern Gothic is nature and tone, this novel is practically swampy with eeriness. A humid sot of a nightmare. The mommy here is Madi, who outside of raising a kid, has never made much of her life after getting knocked up as a teen. Now Madi’s back where she came from, Virginia, getting by on reading palms. Even her daughter has moved on, going to live with her more-situated-in-life dad.
Madi meets an old crush of a hunky fisherman with sad eyes and proceeds to help him try to find his young son, who went missing as an infant.
But if they do find him, what sort of a child would he be? And, perhaps more importantly What Kind of Mother would Madi be to him?
I’m a fan of Chapman’s work, his last two books were very, very good. And this one is noticeably less so. Going by other GR reviews, I’m not in the minority here.
WKoM is wildly uneven and not overly engaging. Chapman is a very good writer, that much is obvious and can be seen in this novel, too. It’s the plotting that drags here. For one thing, there’s barely enough of a plot for an entire 300-page novel. It’s more like one sustained watery nightmare. For another, I didn’t really care for any of the characters. The pacing was slow, but the book read fast, if that makes sense. Lots of dialogue, low word density per page, that sort of thing. And then toward the end, it did that weird thing where every chapter sort of read like the last one, but there was always one more after that. And then when you really thought it was done, there was an epilogue, too.
So overall, not Chapman’s best, regrettably, and mostly worth reading only for the quality of the writing, not the story. Unless you’re really into the smothering mothering experience. Maybe the next one. What kind of a book would that be?
This was an easy choice for me. I requested it the moment I saw it on Netgalley. I loved Ladies of the Secret Circus, and In love books about movies, particularly scary ones.
So I was unprepared for the uneven slog this novel turned out to be in reading. And subsequently finished it with very mixed impressions. Now I’m going to try to sort them for this review.
1.Way too long. Read long too, which is never great.
2.Way too many chicklit / women’s fiction vibes. Like WAY too many. No surer way to tank the book for me. The romance is tolerable, but so much of G’s perspective was just tediously girly. Which is …yeah, she’s only 22, but still…
3.Wildly overburdened with plot elements. The author had clearly gone in something like high concept via kitchen sink approach. That’s actually the plus and the minus of the novel at the same time. Overall, once you finished it and consider it in retrospect, it’s rather impressive. But while you’re in it, it often comes across as messy.
I mean, historical fiction, movie making, romance, demons, vampires, time travel, alternate realties, fantasy, magic, realism, magic realism …whew.
Kudos to the author for pulling it off but it was an effort to get there in the end.
Overall, an interesting read. Took me a long time (for me) to get through. And definitely the sort of book I appreciate more with the rearview mirror perspective than I did while reading it. Conceptually fascinating. Strange, indeed, but likely to find an audience. Thanks Netgalley.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.