by Robert Charles Wilson
One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives (Product Description)
The best way to come at this novel is completely blind, not knowing a thing of what it’s about. My complaint about most movies these days is that too much is revealed in the trailers, so much so that the movie in its entirety is often a disappointment. For Spin to really work its magic on you the less you know the better. If you’re not expecting it, the awesome plot and the ramifications for the characters involved will hit you like a jack-hammer to the solar plexus. The good news is, if you read up on the book and know a fair amount before you begin, the intricate story and how it unfolds will still impress you, and engage you to the last page.
At its core Spin is a very science driven story, but it isn't overly burdened by scientific jargon and dense explanations. The scenario is easy to grasp, seemingly plausible (ergo endlessly frightening and exciting). Wilson is a talented writer and his tale is well told, and he doesn’t sacrifice his characters to plot – the way some big budget movies will sacrifice story and characters to special effects. Ty, Diane and Jase are believable, likable, flawed characters, richly drawn. You live through the Spin with them and hold your breath wondering how it’s all going to end. Theirs is a story of friendship, and the bonds that bring us together as children, and keep us together as adults, even when the world is falling apart and the miles and years pile up around you.
For fans of apocalyptic / dystopian books, this is a must read. It’s not only a human survival story, but bravely, with keen insight, explores rich philosophical terrain regarding Earth’s place in a larger unknowable Universe. Are we alone? And if we are not, who is keeping us company and to what purpose? There’s not much more I can say, without giving salient plot points away, and I don’t want to get anywhere close to doing that. Remember, the less you know the better. Take a chance and pick up this book as blind as you can –- I promise you won’t regret it.
A couple of months back, Publisher Weekly magazine released its annual list of the Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Novels of 2010. Here is their picks:
The Bone Palace by Amanda Downum
PW's Verdict: Deadly power games play out in haunted royal palaces, streets thronged with sex workers and political protesters, and sewers inhabited by seductive, amoral vampires.
Feed by Mira Grant
PW's Verdict: Grant (a pseudonym for urban fantasist Seanan McGuire) hits hard in a brutal tale of three bloggers following a Republican presidential candidate through the zombie-infested Midwest.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
PW's Verdict: These searing novels relate the struggles of ordinary people caught up in the machinations of gods at a time of global change when faith, power structures, and the fabric of reality have been called into question.
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
PW's Verdict: Young adult author Okorafor makes a blazing entrance onto the adult fiction scene with a story of love, pain, magic, and genocide in postapocalyptic Saharan Africa. Readers will be enthralled by troubled, fierce adolescent Onyesonwu and her quest to find and destroy the sorcerer who fathered her.
Labyrinth by Kat Richardson
Plot Summary: Harper Blaine was your average small-time P. I. until she died-for two minutes. Now she's a Greywalker, walking the line between the living world and the paranormal realm. There are others who know about her new powers-others with powerful tools and evil intentions, and now that the man who "killed" her has been murdered, the police are also paying close attention. That means Harper has to watch her step while searching for the ghost of her "killer"-who could be a valuable clue in the puzzle of Harper's past and her father's death, as well as a key to figuring out who's trying to manipulate her new powers and why. But with her growing powers pulling her into the Grey, Harper might not be able to come back out.
Jim’s Review: In Labyrinth, Harper is coming fully into her power, is most in danger of losing her humanity, and this second factor leaves her most in danger of losing the reader’s interest. Harper is the central viewpoint character; when she has trouble maintaining her humanity and her relationships, I stop being able to relate to her and care that much less about what happens. As part of the Greywalker series, this book ties up some loose ends, moves the plot forward, shows more of the setting and foreshadows some really exciting events. As a stand-alone novel, this is an action-packed book that’s hard to engage with. I look forward to the next novel in the series, and hope Harper begins getting her humanity back.
You might enjoy this book if you enjoyed:
Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk
Urban Shaman by C. E. Murphy
Staying Dead by Laura Anne Gilman
Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready
Reckless by Cornelia Funke
(note: this link takes you to the downloadable audiobook. Click here if you want a PRINT COPY instead.)
Summary: For years, Jacob Reckless has enjoyed the Mirrorworld’s secrets and treasures. Not anymore. His younger brother has followed him. Now dark magic will turn the boy to beast, break the heart of the girl he loves, and destroy everything Jacob holds most dear...Unless he can find a way to stop it.
May's Review: One of my all-time favorite audiobooks was Funke's Dragon Rider so I was pretty excited to download this author's latest fantasy novel from our Overdrive website. Unlike Dragon Rider which is suitable for younger audiences, Reckless is definitely geared towards an adult audience. Like many re-tellings of fairy tales, this book also explores the darker and more violent themes inherent in some of our favorite and more popular tales.
Despite the "darkness", Reckless was a fairly good story with good pacing and several unexpected twists. While I enjoyed listening to this book, I didn't love it. I think it was partly due to the fact that some of her characters such as Will (Jacob's brother), were never really fully developed so it felt somewhat "clunky" at times. Although I appreciated the not so "happy ever after" ending, I still felt a lot of issues were left up in the air. I'm hoping the sequel will answer some of these questions but until then, this is a decent read to recommend to those who are into re-tellings of fairy tales.