September is over and October is here! Well, it’s been here for over a week. In fact, it feels like October is speeding by. Like soon it will be my birthday and then it will be Christmas and then suddenly it will be the long slog from January to May, my least favorite time of the year. I just want this good part to slow down. To remind myself that there are still nearly three weeks of RIP reading ahead of me, I’ve decided to chronicle what I’ve read so far. I’ve actually read a decent number of books that fall into the RIP categories of mystery, suspense, thrillers, dark fantasy, gothic, horror, and supernatural.
Iron-Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill - I wanted to love this dark fairy tale about a young princess in a kingdom that is in a parallel universe (a common theme, you’ll see) to ours. In this world, there used to be dragons. And there also used to be a powerful god named the Nybbas, who controlled the dragons by controlling their hearts (I think). You see, I read this one over a span of 5 months. I picked up a copy of the book at BEA and started reading it almost immediately. I wasn’t wild about the format of the story, told by a narrator who was fairly far removed from the story. But I liked the concept so much that I kept reading hoping it would get better.
The problem was really that this book was meant for middle grade readers, but the plot was rather complex. This combination of complex plot and more simplistic story telling didn’t work for me. I wanted this book to be so much more than it was. I’m not sure who the audience for this book really is.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt - I have never really reread a book so quickly after reading it, unless you count Harry Potter and Ella Enchanted and A Wrinkle in Time, which I know pretty much backwards and forwards and used to start reading again immediately after finishing them. I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to get as involved in the story or that I would find nitpicky narrative issues that I didn’t notice before. And I did find those things. There were certain narrative techniques that drove me nuts, but eventually, my interest in the story completely erased them. I reread this for my book club and we had a good time discussing the book. Most of the people who attended enjoyed it or at least appreciated it. I also realized after attending this book club meeting that I love reading books about awful people. No redeeming qualities necessary.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – Now I’ve read all three books by Gillian Flynn and, of the three, this book made me feel the most uncomfortable. Sharp Objects is about a young journalist named Camille who returns to her home town to investigate the deaths of young girls who appear with their teeth meticulously removed. Camille’s relationship with her mother is abusive and lead to a lifelong obsession with cutting words into her skin. I would say it is the least enjoyable than the three. I read them in reverse order and by then, you kind of know what Flynn’s typical twist is. Though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it was easy to see who was committing these crimes from the beginning, though I didn’t want it to be true because it is just too horrific. This book gave me nightmares and in general just made me feel awful. I don’t think I could ever recommend it to someone, but it was a quick, engaging read.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - So, I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would! I read quite a few negative reviews after last year’s RIP of readers I trusted who were disappointed by this story after how much it had been hyped. So, with a healthy dose of skepticism, I decided to wait until this RIP to read it and I’m really glad I did! I was prepared for the pitfalls of the story (a plot that seemed guided by the pictures, rather than organically integrating them) and just enjoyed it for what it was. It’s not perfect, but it’s a solid read that kept me entertained for a few hours. I also think the set up for the sequel sounds much more interesting, so I’m actually more excited for the sequel than I was for this one.
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley - I didn’t know that this was a book that would qualify for RIP, especially with a cover like this. This is a book that sounds like something I would love. There is a mystery, it’s quirky, the characters are funny and realistic. And honestly, I can’t even describe what made me dislike it so much, except that it felt… sad for no purpose? The crime is committed for reasons so random, so ridiculous, that it was painful to read. I’m sure there’s something here about randomness and obsession and how things don’t necessarily happen for a reason, but reading this book just left me feeling so bleak and sad.
Books don’t need to have happy endings, but I’m not sure I’ve ever so desperately wanted a happy ending. There are two intertwining storylines and they eventually converge, but they mostly just took me out of the story. I don’t know. I know there are a lot of people who loved this book, it even won the Printz, but I just didn’t care for it.
After this book, I really felt like I needed a break from RIP books, so I took one and read a lot of random things, like Ask the Passengers, which was lovely, and Moonwalking with Einstein, and In the Shadow of the Banyan, which was horrifically sad. Then I started reading RIP books again.
Here (On the Otherside) by Denise Grover Swank – Spoilers below! Such a good RIP cover, right?! Except… not really. This book was so weird guys. And not the good, unexpected weird, like the this really makes no sense, but I’m going to keep reading because I can’t stop weird. I am sure I bought this on a Kindle Daily Deal for $0.99 and I just realized that it is self-published, making it one of the few self-published books I’ve actually read. The whole time I was reading this, I was sure it was going to be a ghost story. Or maybe a fairy story, because there are Celtic love knots involved. Anyway, I’m going to spoil the surprise here, because I can’t leave this one hanging, but if you don’t like spoilers and you think you might read this, STOP READING NOW!
Anyway, there aren’t fairies, there aren’t ghosts, it’s a parallel dimension. But there were so many plot holes in that parallel dimension that it was really hard to take seriously. Like any paranormal YA romance, you run into the issues with the main character being SUDDENLY AND MADDENINGLY in love with the male lead. Also, there were two male leads and it was really difficult to tell them apart. One day, I’m sure I will find a self-published book that I can wholeheartedly recommend, but it’s not this one.
Now, for the books I’m currently reading:
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield – I think I saw John Green mention this book on Twitter or Tumblr and it caught my eye. So far, I’m very intrigued by the mystery and the writing is actually lovely and doesn’t read like most YA books, except for the fact that it is about two young adults. In this story, Becca’s story about how she wants to leave her hometown for something better is intertwined with the story of a local college student, Amelia Anne, is found dead on the side of the road. Somehow their stories are connected, but I don’t know how yet. I don’t even have any suspicions. I borrowed this one from a friend at work who enjoyed it and thought the mystery was well done, so I’m eager to get to the end and figure out how the two story lines are connected.
Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay - This is totally not my usual read, but Memory was lovely and grabbed a few titles at BEA for me when I couldn’t get away from work. This was one of the titles she picked up and sometimes it’s nice when you read something you’d never usually read and this book has some stellar blurbs. I’m a sucker for a good blurb. I’m really enjoying this book. It’s a thriller and it is thrilling. I care about the characters and I can’t wait to see how it plays out. I’m about a third of the way through and I think the action is about to start.
As for the next few weeks, I plan on rereading The Night Circus and Something Wicked This Way Comes as soon as they arrive in my mail box and hopefully one or two more books for RIP. As promised, I jumped headfirst into RIP this year and I’m so glad I did!
(Unless otherwise mentioned in their mini-review, I purchased these titles.)