The Selection by Kiera Cass is a modern girl’s nightmare. The premise is interesting enough in a Mills and Boon kinda way – the rich prince wants to get married and allows millions of girls to apply to be his princess. A sort of equal-opportunity marriage race in a dystopian disaster. It’s the reason I love YA novels; I can easily suspend disbelief in ridiculous plots if they are well written and plausible in a new-world-order kind of way.
Don DeLillo has written some amazing books but I’m not sure this is one of them. Players is an interesting book mostly because it was written pre 9/11 and the characters work in the World Trade Center. The wife even talks about how the towers seem temporary: “To Pammy the towers didn’t seem permanent. They remained concepts, no less transient for all their bulk than some routine distortion of light.” Moreover after witnessing a terrorist event on the trading floor, her husband decides to get involved with some terrorists. Talk about life imitating art.
The hype on this one is large indeed (“Before the Hunger Games came…”) and the number of people who love this book even larger (it’s running a 4.2 average on goodreads with over 100,000 reviews). So, pretty impressive. I think there’s even a movie in the pipeline…
Room by Emma Donoghue was an amazing book, narrating the fictional story of an abductor and his abductee from the point of view of their child (who was born into captivity inside a locked box). I wasn’t sure about Normal by Graeme Cameron as the blurb on the back sounded like it might be the same story (minus the child) just told in reverse, from the man’s point of view. It’s actually very different. Room was dark and harrowing; Normal is wonderfully glib, very funny and actually had me rooting for the serial killer. That’s no small feat.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read this with my daughter. I’m not seven years old anymore and so much of the literary nonsense in this book has passed into common usage (“mad as a hatter”, “the queen of hearts” and so forth) and it’s all such a big part of our cultural landscape (“one pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small” – Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit“, in case you were wondering) that I wasn’t sure I’d really be able to appreciate it. I was wrong.
Who hasn’t heard of Gone Girl? It was everywhere last year and because I loved the writing, I’m ploughing through Gillian Flynn’s back catalogue. Dark Places was her second book and written in 2009 (Sharp Objects was her first in 2005 and is high up on my TBR list). Dark Places is a much more harrowing story than Gone Girl because it tries to piece together the murder of an entire family in one night, save for the smallest daughter. The book intercuts from the present day and the surviving daughter’s unwilling acceptance that she needs to find out who actually murdered her family and the actual events of that day, as told from the brother and mother’s perspective. It’s reminiscent of one of my favourite (?!) horror/murder stories, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (itself based on the true story of a murder of one American family, The Clutters).