In this book by Jane Hamilton, the Laura Rider of the title engineers an affair between her husband and another woman so she can study it and write about it in the novel she is planning on writing. I thought it sounded perilously like chick-lit, but I also thought it was an interesting premise. As it turned out, it was more the former than the latter, but at least it was mercifully short.
I read the first volume of this bizarre story by the Luna brothers back in 2006, and when I bought volume two the following year, I reread the first trade to remember what the whole thing was about. Well, two years after reading the second chapter in the series, I finally bought volumes three and four, and proceeded to read the whole thing from beginning to end. And what I said before still holds true: Girls is a strange sci-fi and horror story about small-town people, their pettiness, and how they deal with each other when an unexpected catastrophe shakes their world. I don’t want to give too much away, because a lot of the joy of the book lies in figuring out what is going on, but I will say that the dialogue and the personalities of the different characters are pretty awesome, and the characters feel real and are a great example of the way people react to crises. You could certainly do worse than reading this weird but fun saga.
I’m not sure I can blame author Karen Traviss for what this story turned out to be. There are two stories being told in this book. One, in the past, deals with events that took place long before the first Gears of War game. The second one, in the present, happens in between the two games. And still, not much is told or revealed in either one. My guess is that Traviss had her hands tied because the people at Epic didn’t want her to reveal some information that will ostensibly be revealed in the third game of the series, and that made it very difficult to do pretty much anything. Still, the story is entertaining, and the characters feel like the ones I know and love from the game, but the fact that this book was so irrelevant made me a little angry.
Leave it to Sue Grafton to provide some solid entertainment with her awesome alphabet mysteries starring private eye Kinsey Millhone. Good old Kinsey experiences the joys of a close-knit community that doesn’t want to give up their secrets in this chapter of the series, and, as it’s usually the case, the book is a fun ride from beginning to end.
I actually started reading The Company (see below) before I got to O is for Outlaw, but halfway through the book I had to put it down and read something that was actually entertaining before I felt I could continue reading Parker's story. Enter Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, and all my fictional woes were suddenly gone. A shame I keep reading faster than Grafton writes, since I'll run out of books to read soon!
If I said that Aspho Fields was irrelevant, then K.J. Parker’s The Company is as pointless (if not more so) as Traviss’s book. I enjoyed Parker’s Engineer trilogy, but I know s/he (“K.J. Parker" is a pseudonym, and it’s not clear whether the author is a man or a woman) likes to keep a slow pace throughout her novels and sometimes offer excruciating details that are not all that relevant. Still, since this was a standalone novel, I thought the author wouldn’t have too much time to digress and regale the reader with pointless information. And while that is mostly true, the whole book is pretty pointless in and on itself. I won’t reveal what the story is about, but once I finished it I realized it hadn’t really done anything for me. The characters weren’t very compelling and, silly as this may sound coming from a fantasy buff like me, their names were so freaking strange that it was hard for me to feel close to them or even know who they were without having to stop and think about it for a couple of seconds. In the end, I just kept reading, and while the story is somewhat interesting and the moral ambiguity of the main character, General Kunessin, is, as it tends to be the case with Parker’s “heroes”, fascinating, it is not enough to overcome the dullness of the whole thing. At least it’s only four hundred pages.
And that's it for this month. Come back in thirty days to see what I read in June. I can only hope it will be more rewarding than what I chose this time!