Nancy Farmer : The House of the Scorpion

Nancy Farmer crafts an uncomfortably credible dystopian environment in The House of the Scorpion, mostly with just two speculative elements: viable human cloning (with clones treated as chattel) and an uneasy détente between the U.S. and major drug cartels, with the cartels offered non-interference in exchange for border control assistance. I wanted to not believeContinue reading “Nancy Farmer : The House of the Scorpion”

Steve Hely: How I Became a Famous Novelist

How I Became a Famous Novelist is a tidy, and very funny, example of simultaneous multi-layer cake having/eating. Bitter Pete Tarslaw decides the best way to get back at his ex-girlfriend is to write a chart-topping novel. He inventories the best seller list, discards genre fiction as requiring too much actual work, and decides toContinue reading “Steve Hely: How I Became a Famous Novelist”

Joe Hill: Horns

I started reading Horns with one of those ebook free sample chapters. Hill hooked me with his first four sentences: Ignatius Martin Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke the next morning with a headache, put his hands to his temples, and felt something unfamiliar, a pair of knobby pointed protuberances.Continue reading “Joe Hill: Horns”

Charles Yu: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

I’ve been mulling over How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe for a couple of weeks now, and frankly, I’m not sure I completely get it. But I enjoyed reading it a lot, and I’ve also enjoyed thinking about the author’s choices, and why I can’t quite make coherent sense of them. AlthoughContinue reading “Charles Yu: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe”

Tanya Egan Gibson: How to Buy a Love of Reading

How to Buy a Love of Reading is hard to pigeonhole, since it combines disparate elements and themes: there’s the more-or-less naturalistic coming-of-age story of chronic underachiever Carley Wells, some generalized satire of New York’s upper crust, and some more specific satire of trends in literature-with-the-second-syllable-elided. These facets are drawn together when Carley’s dad commissionsContinue reading “Tanya Egan Gibson: How to Buy a Love of Reading”

Audrey Niffenegger: Her Fearful Symmetry

Note: I didn’t read the book jacket blurb, or anything else about Her Fearful Symmetry, before reading it. As a result I enjoyed some surprises in this novel that other reviewers or copywriters have revealed. I don’t think Her Fearful Symmetry is so dependent on all its twists that it can’t withstand some spoilers, butContinue reading “Audrey Niffenegger: Her Fearful Symmetry”

Louise Wener: The Half Life of Stars

The Half Life of Stars is the novel with which I officially stop thinking of Wener as a the former front person of a band I liked who’s now writing books, and start thinking of her as a novelist who used to be in a band I liked. It’s certainly not perfect — two chaptersContinue reading “Louise Wener: The Half Life of Stars”

Justine Larbalestier: How to Ditch Your Fairy

How to Ditch Your Fairy is a grass-is-greener fable that uses the device of magical entities to examine the unfairness of innate talents. The fairies of the title give the humans to whom they’re bound powers that drastically exaggerate normal traits. Physical attraction, for example, becomes compelling attention from literally everyone of the opposite sexContinue reading “Justine Larbalestier: How to Ditch Your Fairy”