• Dan

#Bookreviews #Scifi #Mainstream #Fantasy




I have an eclectic selection of books for this review post. I had put off reading

one book out of fear I wouldn’t enjoy it. Another book is far outside my usual fare. The third is yet another excellent read from a prolific speculative fiction author. So without further ado, on to the reviews.


 


The Power by Naomi Alderman

Synopsis

The balance of power between the sexes shifts when women miraculously gain the ability to discharge electricity, much like electric eels.

My thoughts

I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this book. I had watched some of the Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu and found the show ultimately too depressing to watch. I had read the book by the same name years ago, perhaps while in college. While I had enjoyed the book, my recent experience with the TV show made me suspect I might find The Power too depressing to derive much enjoyment from it. Boy, was I mistaken. I absolutely love this book. Great premise. Awesome execution. I found it well worth the read.

I decided to read the book in light of recent erosions of women’s rights dealt by the U.S. Supreme Court. The women in The Power quickly turn the table on men both powerful and powerless when they discover they can inflict great physical harm on each other and the opposite sex. Alderman shows us a world that does not become kinder and gentler when women seize power but remains just as mean and corrupt as when men ran the show. I appreciated Alderman’s exploration of how power, especially physical prowess over another, is ultimately corrupting. People say that a world run by women would be kinder and gentler. I’ve often wondered if that would indeed be the case. If women possessed political and military power, would they feel the need to be kinder and gentler? Are those traits simply gender roles thrust on them by society that given the opportunity, they’d happily shrug off?

What can the inspiring author learn?

In The Power, Alderman reminds us that science fiction is the fiction of ideas. She takes her core idea and runs with it. The result is a page-turner that’s both exhilarating and thought-provoking. How she accomplishes this is well worth checking out.

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Synopsis

A young woman becomes caught up in the periphery of a Ponzi scheme run by a man she pretends is her husband. In truth, she is compensated to masquerade as his wife in front of investors and in the bedroom.

My thoughts

This is an interesting book. It’s interesting because the characters are interesting. None of the characters are likable. Most are, in fact, despicable, but all are complex, and that makes them human. Mandel is an excellent writer, and this is a powerful book that will stick with the reader long after they have finished it. It’s not a book I would reread, ever.

What can the aspiring author learn?

Want a master class on how to write complex, interesting characters? Then read this book.

Seasonal Fears by Seanan McGuire

Synopsis

Two teens discover they are candidates to become the human embodiments of the summer and the winter, respectively. The only catch? They have to survive until coronation.

My thoughts

This follow-up to Middlegame is less creepy than its predecessor but just as good. McGuire has a knack for stringing words together in lively ways. That’s a good thing because my one criticism of Seasonal Fears is that it is heavy on world-building. The fantastical rules of this urban fantasy world are straightforward and certainly easily remembered by anyone who has read Middlegame. Despite that, the reader is subjected to page after page of explanation by a secondary character to the teenage protagonists. I think the sheer volume of unnecessary world-building slows down the story.

What can the aspiring author learn?

Maguire’s prose is mystical and alluring. It gives her work a tone and voice that’s readily recognizable. How she accomplishes this is worthy of study.

Recent Posts

See All