What I've been reading, December 2019 Edition
Recently, I polished off a couple of extra-long audiobooks. I listened to both of these on Libby, the audiobook app that lets you check out books from your local library. It's wonderful. I've listened to books on Libby I probably never would have read, most notably the wonderfully outlandish steampunk novels by YA author Philip Reeve. Aspiring authors interested in penning sci-fi or fantasy yarns for the YA audience will serve themselves well by reading these works.
So, back to Libby. The good: it's free. The bad: the selection is limited to the audiobooks available at your local library. The annoying: long audiobooks can be hard to finish in the 21 days allotted by the library loan. Popular books will often have many holds, which means if you don't finish the book in 21 days, you might be waiting for weeks to check it out again. Typically, this isn't a problem, at least, for me. But, even I can struggle to finish a 34+ hour novel in 21 days.
This is a vast novel, over 34 hours long in audio format (no, I did not finish in 21 days, and yes, I did have to wait an extra six weeks to listen to the last half). I've read some reviews stating that the novel is a quick read despite its voluminous size. I can attest that I wholeheartedly agree with this assessment. Despite its length, this novel flies by. Tons of gray characters, dropped into a depressingly easy to imagine future world where everything is going to hell.
Without giving away too much, Wendig creates two of his more memorable characters in this novel. First, are the wanderers themselves. What are they? Who are they? What is their purpose? They're just interesting and keep being interesting even when their purpose and fate are revealed. I think his most impactful creation is the vile, downright evil, Ozark Stover. This malevolent bastard goes down as one of the most memorable villains of all time. I rank him just below Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in the pantheon of nasty fucks.
This isn't my favorite Chuck Wendig novel of all time (that goes to the technothriller Zeroes), but it's easily his second-best that I've read and well worth the read.
I almost didn't listen to Jade War after reading Jade City, which left me less than impressed. I admit I only read Jade War because I happened upon it on Libby, and the book was readily available for checkout, i.e., no holds. I'm damn glad I did. Jade War is far superior to its predecessor. Although I still find many of the characters unlikable, most of them are interesting, and most have moments where they are sympathetic. On top of that, several characters have grown on me, and I find them genuinely enjoyable. If you relished Jade City, you'll find more of the same, albeit better, in my opinion, in Jade War. Highly recommended.