Recent Reads

“One Day”- David Nicholls 

I originally found this book recommended among the best of 2010, and was able to read an excerpt on Amazon. I was immediately hooked- something about the universal relatability of that “one night” in college where everything seems different the next day spoke to me, and really made me want to follow Dex and Emma through to their conclusion. It wasn’t always easy- Dexter becomes, at times, completely unlikeable, but the awkward and sometimes horrifying moments in both stories are what adds that indefinable layer of truth to the story. I wouldn’t necessarily compare it to “Harry and Sally”, like many of the reviewers- that is cotton candy compared to the stories told by Nicholls. Harry and Sally get wrapped up in a nice little bow, where it’s never that simple with Dexter and Emma.

Nicholls has created two characters that are truly archetypes for the modern generation: the aimless, boy-man who believes he can get by on charm alone, and the woman who refuses to settle for anything, be it jobs, men or ideals. I could really relate to Emma’s journey through her 20s, feeling aimless and alone and facing imminent “spinsterhood” in the eyes of those around her.

An emotional journey, but not without its gorgeous descriptions of London and Europe, and its truly humorous moments. You’ll want to visit Dexter and Emma again and again.

“Under the Dome”- Stephen King

Despite my all-pervasive wussiness when it comes to watching scary movies, I can read pretty much anything without a problem. This is especially the case when it comes to Stephen King. Even though I’ve been sucked into his more “horror- based” tales like “Cell” and “Salem’s Lot,” I find that he’s at his absolute best when he’s examining the human condition. Such is the case in “Under the Dome,” a novel of a seemingly idyllic small town in main that is suddenly and inexplicably cut off from the outside world by an invisible force.

Once the initial horror of being trapped in the town wears off the townspeople begin revealing themselves as falling squarely into two camps. The cast of characters is large, yet every individual feels vital to the plot. This becomes extremely important as the town’s “Second Selectman,” James Rennie makes a dangerous power grab that will completely turn the lives of the town’s residents upside-down.

It’s fascinating to watch the chaos that ensues, and just when you think things can’t get any worse? They get WORSE. It’s a massive read at over a thousand pages in paperback, but well worth the effort. The tongue in cheek commentary on some modern cultural icons is amusing, and Stephen King proves that he’s still got a great deal of storytelling left in him.

“Life As We Knew It” and “The Dead and the Gone”- Susan Beth Pfeffer

The first two books of a trilogy dealing with (apparently) one of my favorite subjects: The end of the world. These are two of the most plausible that I’ve read to this point: there are no vampires or aliens. Yet. Maybe she’ll throw some into the third book. (I doubt it.)

In “Life As We Knew It”, Miranda is a high school sophomore in a small town in Pennsylvania. The story is told through a series of entries in her “diary,” which start out talking about school, boys, and her passion for ice skating. She mentions that everyone is worked up about the possibility of a meteor colliding with the moon, but isn’t particularly worried. It’s only after the meteor hits and pushes the moon off it’s axis that things start to get crazy. Earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes are only some of the results of the changed gravitational pull, and soon violence and food shortages result. Fortunately for Miranda and her two brothers, her Mom’s seeming paranoia pays off when they find themselves seemingly well-stocked with food and water. As the power goes out and the weather changes drastically, they realize that they’re all in for a hard winter. Which is a DRASTIC understatement.

After the initial shock of the catastrophe, the family works extremely well together to deal with the extreme changes to their lifestyle. Miranda isn’t the “perfect teenager,” going through spells of fighting with her mother and hating being cooped up with her brothers, but she doesn’t hesitate to step up to the plate when things take a turn for the worse. This book is frightening in a totally realistic way, the tone being “we’re afraid to starve or freeze to death or die of something that should be a treatable disease,” rather than “We’re afraid to have our throats ripped out or our brains eaten.” A fantastic piece of fiction for the younger readers.

“The Dead and The Gone” is the second book of the trilogy, and is actually more of a companion piece than a sequel. We meet Alex Morales and his family on the day the meteor collision occurs, as they go about their daily routine in New York City. Being closer to bodies of water, the reader immediately knows that the city is going to be much harder hit than rural PA. Both of Alex’s parents are away then the cataclysm happens, leaving he and his sisters alone and forced to fend for themselves until they can find out what became of the rest of their family. This book focuses more heavily on the Morales family’s staunch Catholicism, and how it affects the way they react to the changes they face. I personally found it a little unrealistic that the young people would be so set in their faith (Sister Bree is so fervent she’s almost out of touch with reality), but that’s coming from a lapsed Catholic. Don’t take my word too seriously. Alex soon realizes, after seeing how dangerous things are becoming for two young women in the city, both due to poor air quality and men who have no qualms soliciting young girls, that his best choice is to get his sisters out of New York and attempt to find safety, shelter and food further inland.

Though the religion subplot didn’t really resonate with me, I again found myself fascinated by the picture that Pfeffer paints of the beginning of the end of the world. The first book drew me in because of how easily I could picture a rural PA town, and the second kept me hooked with its descriptions of New York City. One particularly vivid scene involving Yankee Stadium still elicits a shudder from me. I’m anxious to see how the trilogy concludes.

Currently Reading: “Sacrifice”~ S.J. Bolton

Next Up:  The Mortal Instruments Trilogy, by Cassandra Clare (Courtesy of my fairy godmother over at Bookish), “A Discovery of Witches,” by Deborah Harkness

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2 thoughts on “Recent Reads

  1. I fairly recently read Under the Dome myself. Messed up stuff. But I did like it, despite my not being a huge fan of Stephen King. The whole reasoning behind the dome was a little lame, but I was more concerned with the character development anyway.

    I have One Day in my stack to be read, so I know at least it’s something to look forward to 🙂

    • In the interest of not being too spoilery, I didn’t want to mention the origin of the dome… but I thought everything else was pretty fascinating. Yes, disturbing as hell. Still fascinating.
      I’ll be anxious to read your review on “One Day.”

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