April 2020 — A Wrap-Up

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LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff

You’ll find the review here.

Cover of the book, The Program by Suzanne Young, showing two teenagers dressed in yellow scrubs.

The Program by Suzanne Young

I require more than a bone-chilling atmosphere where teenagers have some sort of sword hanging over their heads or another from my reads these days. This 400-pager failed to deliver that.

Teenagers are committing suicide after becoming depressed, making the issue a global one. Countering that requires putting them into a program that almost lobotomizes them. Given that there are 5 other books and 3 novellas in this series, I’m sure we’ll uncover what’s causing them. But in this book, this is all we come to know. 400 pages of a teenager’s life before and after she enters the dreaded program.

I can safely say this book wasn’t for me. However, it might grab teenagers dipping their first toes into the pool of reading. One of the reasons why this may be is because it is written in an intensely simple language. So, there’s that. And there’s also the fact that I have three more books from this series waiting on my bookshelf. In short, I may be in it for the long haul!

Cover of the book, Puddin by Julie Murphy, showing the two protagonists.

Puddin’ by Julie Murphy

Find the review here.

Cover of the book, Son by Lois Lowry

Son by Lois Lowry

So, remember the previous book in this series seriously ticked me off? This one didn’t um mostly; here’s why:

What I Liked

We get to meet with some of the characters from the other books. They’ve created a kind of haven for themselves where they’re thriving. It was a good payoff, considering the last book just ended on a cliffhanger.

The main character goes through an amazing transformation and the author doesn’t gloss over it. We keep pace with her as she trains to literally climb a mountain and get to her son.

What Didn’t Improve

The author introduces the embodiment of evil without any explanation. It is just there for the protagonist to meet when she gets to the peak of the mountain. At least one other character has met it. But we never find out why it is there on a lonely mountaintop, except that the characters from a previous installment banned it from the village. Where did it come from? Why is it only there? If it survives by feeding on others’ destruction, why pick such a remote place where it’d seldom meet anyone?

It seems like there is a group of places where the cesspool of humanity dwell. What made them into such deviants is never expounded. What confuses the readers is that there are places where there’s no need for such extreme dystopic measures, such as harvesting babies from 12-year-olds, kicking out the infirm, or plucking children with talent from the bosoms of their loving families and offing their parents.

Moreover, there are also places that exist in a less advanced stage of society. They don’t have electricity or antibiotics and survive on the advice of wisewomen and such. So, what is it? A comment on how the world really is? Why did I read this book? Who will like it? I just don’t know!

Cover of the book, The Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley

The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley

A solid installment in the series, even though, it did contain more red herrings than usual, which gave the impression of an-all-over-the-place plot.

We do see some good story development in that Flavia is growing out of the i-hate-my-sisters phase. They, too, seem to be making more of an effort to be nicer towards her.

Dodger is his lovable self, anticipating Flavia’s needs, solving mysteries with her, and even teaching her how to construct a homemade microscope. We also see him discuss the beauty and exclusivity of diatoms in this one.

Because they’re pretty and awesome. Sue me!

In short, I liked this one. Even if did kinda rip off the whole mind-palace thing from the Sherlock series, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

Sherlock house party | Ronnie Gray | Flickr

Go straight to the review of the previous book.

Cover of the novella, Black Dog by Neil Gaiman (Author), Daniel Egneus (Illustrator), showing a black dog fighting an agent of Bast

Black Dog by Neil Gaiman (Author), Daniel Egneus (Illustrator)

This month, I read both novellas in the American Gods series with a goal to put it to rest. Color me surprised, though, when I found out that even though I didn’t like American Gods — the book, tv show, or graphic novel — I am soft on the character of Shadow Moon — the protagonist. He’s a man of few words who doesn’t make hasty decisions and always does his best to do the right thing. What’s not to like, yeah?

In this novella, Shadow continues his peregrinations and they take him to England. Here, he comes across the legend of the Black Dog — or Grim — and is a death omen.

Black Dog by Shaggy-grim | Black dog, Dark fantasy art, Mythical ...

But like most Gaiman stories, this one isn’t as simple as it appears to be. Oh, and Shadow lets us know that he has read, The Hound of the Baskervilles *swoon*!

File:Cover (Hound of Baskervilles, 1902).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

So, I won’t ruin the twist for you or the unlikely agents who come to his aid during hard times. I’ll just say, if you liked Shadow, this is a good story to read!

Cover of the novella, The Monarch of the Glen by Neil Gaiman

The Monarch of the Glen by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman seems to write the creatures from different mythologies into Shadow Moon’s path. This time, he travels to Scotland where he has a run in with the Grendels of myth.

Beowulf Fighting Grendel Stock Vector (Royalty Free) 1331631980

But like always, the real monsters are unexpected! As a sidenote, I don’t remember Grendel being irritated by noise, but it has been a long time since I read Beowulf.

Another great addition to the American Gods series. Now on to the last one, Anansi Boys, which, if I do finish in April, will be reviewed with the next month’s reads! P.S. another sidenote, check out this recent release that’s like a mashup of AG with the Avengers.

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