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February books February 27, 2010

Posted by thejinx in books.
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Dogland, Will Shetterly – Once again, despite this book being published by Tor, there is nothing fantasy or scifi about it.  It’s the story of  a northern U.S. family moving to rural Florida in the 1960s to open a tourist attraction, and the trials of religion and racism that come with their anti-segregation attitudes.

This was more of a story than a novel; cohesive enough to build up to a singular climax and finale, yet for the most part, just a series of primarily unconnected events comprising the narrator’s life at this time of his youth.  The narration by a 5-6-year-old child was a little unusual, and in ways didn’t necessarily seem the best way to tell the story.  Some events he seemed to witness or experience simply so it could be a part of the book, not because it made sense for him to be there in the context of the story.  Also, a lot of very dramatic events were given as straight visual experiences, without any emotional attachment on the part of the narrator.

There are other things I could nitpick about, but it would negate my assertion that I read a book looking first and foremost for a good story.  As it goes, this wasn’t a bad one.  It was entertaining enough to keep me reading through to the end, even though I wasn’t crazy about any of the characters.  It’s not one I would likely read again, though it’s not one I regret reading.

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins – My brother-in-law was reading this when we were visiting family, and after reading about 80 pages of it at the time, I liked it enough to check it out from my local library.  It’s a young adult novel about a post-apocalyptic world in which a young woman from a poor area must go to the capitol at the whim of the dictatorial government to compete in a battle royale against representatives of every other district of the former North America.

Generally, I’m not a fan of the “supreme overlords have such power that they can send innocent people to their death without fear of reprisal” situation, but in this book, it was handled so believably that I never even questioned it.  It’s a short book, which meant it was fast-paced, but the character development was fantastic in that short span.  The narrator is a tough young woman who quietly despises the tyrannical government but nevertheless is willing to fight for her life, someone who suspects everyone yet lets people into her heart, sometimes against her own desires.  Her reactions are incredibly telling and her abilities are excellently portrayed in the book; clearly less powerful than some of the other contenders, yet she’s cunning enough to survive.

This book was, put simply, riveting.  I couldn’t stop reading and blew through most of it in about five hours, and I am – if you’ll excuse the pun – hungry for the next book in the series.

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