Book Review: February 2016Posted: February 17, 2016
Here are the books I’ve read so far this month:
I haven’t done the literary styling (outfits inspired by books/book covers) in a while, mostly because the books I read recently are not that inspiring or don’t lend themselves well to sartorial interpretation. This month, though, the books are quite interesting, so hopefully I can get back to doing that.
Without further ado, let’s go to the reviews.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead:
In the fall of 1978, Miranda has no worries other than that of a twelve-year-old girl – why her best friend Sal never talks to her anymore, how to befriend the sweet Annemarie and deal with the annoying Julia, and how to help her mother prepare for a game show, The $20,000 Pyramid. It all changes when Miranda starts receiving strange notes from someone with knowledge of future events, who warns her of an imminent tragedy and asks for her assistance in preventing it.
This one is a nice surprise. It’s a middle-school book, so I didn’t think much of it at first, but it turns out to be the best of the three. Yes, technically it’s a time-travel story, but it’s not exactly sci-fi. It’s more about how Miranda navigates this mystery along with everything else going on in her life. The prose is simple but beautiful; Miranda, as well as every other character, feels very genuine, and there are some pretty profound messages too. The identity of the person that sent the notes, once revealed, didn’t surprise me, but the story is so well-written that I didn’t mind. Besides, it’s not the point anyway. 4/5
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North:
This is another time-travel story, sort of: Harry August belongs to a group of people who, upon death, is reborn as themselves, but with all knowledge of their previous life (or lives) intact. So, say you were born in 1930 and died in 2010: when you died, you would be born in 1930 again, to the same parents, and grow up more or less the same, but you would grow up knowing about the fall of the Berlin Wall and iPhones and such. Now Harry learns that one of those people is using their memories of the future to bring about the end of the world, and he must set out to stop them.
That’s an interesting premise, isn’t it? The story, sadly, doesn’t quite live up to it. It’s not bad, really, it’s just kind of slow. I also had a hard time identifying with Harry, because he’s lived through so many lives (well, 15) that he has no relatable human emotions anymore. In the end, the book just doesn’t make me care enough about him or his quest. 3/5
The Golden Age by Kenneth Grahame:
I’m currently translating A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book, and since this book is mentioned as the favorite of some of the characters’, I decided to check it out. Kenneth Grahame is well-known for The Wind in the Willows, but I never have any interest in reading it. This one, which is a collections of childhood stories, seems more my style – Edwardian is one of my favorite historical eras, plus I thought it would give me a break from all the dragging political and social reports in The Children’s Book. It’s a really fast read once you get past the slightly archaic prose (I don’t know if it’s because I’m not a native speaker or not, but I always find it hard to read the classics because the language is so old-fashioned) and some of the stories are cute, but it’s nothing to write home about. 2.5/5
So what have you read this month? Please share!