Friday, April 15, 2016

Quick Lit • April 2016

The past four weeks have been the oddest, most bizarro reading weeks in recent memory.  I read about 1500 pages, which isn't all that unusual, but what was unusual was that all those pages were contained in two novels.  But two more wildly, madly different novels I don't think I could have chosen.

One was published in the past year, and is shortlisted for a dizzying array of literary awards.  The other was dystopian, slightly older, also won awards, but involved - oh, this is difficult and embarrassing to admit - vampires.

That's right.  I said vampires.

Well, sort of vampires.  More like bat-people, really, but who am I to parse words in this case?

Today, I am linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy to share short, snippet-like reviews of the books I have read over the past month.

A Little Life is a dark, disturbing, beautiful masterpiece of a novel, though it feels and acts less like a work of fiction and more like an emotional wrecking ball. The story follows four highly-intelligent, creative, and ultimately successful college friends from the time they meet in the dorm through the subsequent thirty-odd years of their lives in New York. Clocking in at 700-plus pages, the reader is absolutely enveloped in the character study of Jude, a psychologically damaged and deeply flawed lawyer, and these people who love him with an intensity and devotion that is both completely understandable and shockingly horrifying. My heart was ripped out of my body throughout the book and crushed between its pages, and I cried myself to sleep more than once in the reading. A Little Life is a book I will never, ever forget. {Trigger warnings - more than I can even list; sensitive types may want to give a wide berth to this book}.

The Passage is a dystopian novel of epic proportions, but somehow still defies being pigeon-holed into the typical commercial fiction categories.  In a nutshell, the end of the world (or at least the North American continent) is set in motion by a scientific experiment designed to extend life.  The testing is, as you would expect, taken over by the military and it - also as you would expect - goes absolutely and terribly wrong.  The first 250 pages lead up to, and slightly past, the end of the world event itself, and the characters and story lines woven throughout those pages are rich and gripping.  Then the book suddenly jumps ahead 92 years, and the action shifts to a new set of characters living in an isolated location amidst the aftermath of the virus.  The middle portion of the book takes a little getting used to as the new setting, new characters, and the new world they are living in are introduced, but it wasn't long before I found myself swept away by the story of their survival and their search for answers.  At 700-plus pages, the author takes the time and makes the effort to vividly bring the characters to life and to delve into subplots, and it is refreshing to see a story like this executed so well.  But be warned, this is only the first book in a trilogy, and one must be willing to truly commit some time to see it to the end.

This post contains my affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting The Postmodern Planet.