Friday, January 04, 2008

The lesser books of 2007.

Just to get the rest of the 2007 reviews rolling, I thought I would do a round up of the books that remained to be reviewed that I didn’t really enjoy.

The Mystery: Case Histories by Kate Atkinson- This book certainly worked ok as a mystery, but the detective’s back story was unwieldy and the coincidences that drive the plot became increasingly transparent as the book went on. Other than the description of the detective’s beautiful dead sister who wore perfect 1940s clothes to dress up her drab life, I don’t remember much.

The Steampunk, sans steam: The Iron Council by China Mieville- I enjoyed Perdido Street Station and this book is set in the same world, after PSS, I think. Hard to tell really, because it was so boring I couldn’t pay too close attention. Since this book involved golems, puppet shows and a giant train, you’d think I’d like it, purely in a fangirl way, but no. The numerous battle scenes lacked all tension and too many characters seemed to stretch Mieville’s ability to mete out distinctive characteristics that don’t seem false or overdone.

The Birthday Gift: Mortified edited by Dan Nadelburg- MattMo got this for me for my last birthday. It is a compilation of embarrassing stories from the authors’ past straight from middle school and high school diaries and notes with some commentary by the grown-up authors. I read through the entries quickly because they all blurred together into one exploitative clusterfuck. Why are my peers so obsessed with how dorky they were when they were kids. We were all like that in some way; middle schoolers are never cool. Though it may be great to share our misinformed views with our friends and loved ones (vulnerability makes us more loveable, doesn’t it?), I think it shows a lack of creative ability to simply reprint some marginally silly artifacts and then plead with the audience to reject (and then embrace) the ghosts of Starter jackets past. Then again, people need to pay the bills. It's too bad when it shows.


moonlight ambulette said...

I hope you were wearing umbros and big bangs shallacked stiff with hairspray when you were reading that Mortified book.

moonlight ambulette said...

I hope you were wearing umbros and big bangs shellacked stiff with hairspray when you were reading the Mortified collection.

Do you think an obsession with the dorkiness of times past is indicative of a current interest in "being cool" that feels all too close to that same old jr high self consciousness that admitting to the said dorkiness is supposed to absolve, and that's what gets tiring about the many Mortified spin-offs?

Anyway, my friend Sara had an essay in that book. I assume hers was totally the best. RIGHT?!

moonlight ambulette said...

Oh good, I'm glad I left the top part of that comment twice. GOD I AM SO EMBARRASSED WHY DOES EVERYONE HATE ME

Amanda said...

Thank you thank you thank you for the caveat about Mortified! I was thinking of picking it up and waffled on my decision, then read your review. I agree...there is nothing more tedious than endless tales of awkwardness. I wrote a short essay on my blog a few
weeks ago about growing up in a nerd class. It made me laugh but I doubt anyone else would be
inspired by it. I briefly considered the potential awesomeness of a book like Mortified when I saw it on the store shelf but you are so right--too much simple retelling of what is essentially common experience without enough critical thought = borrrrrrring!

Carrie said...

Moonlight: Everybody hates you because you have glasses.

Amanda: I liked your tale of nerd class because you were telling it, interpreting it, not just showing me some diary entry...