Saturday, October 07, 2006


The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. I feel very strongly about this book; the problem is that I haven't decided whether those strong feelings are positive or negative. There are certainly a number of reasons to go either way. The author did an excellent job of capturing what it is to read seriously; the character reads like I do: for pleasure, as a means of escape, and also because it is a necessary part of daily life. We take in words the way other (regular) people take Vitamin C or coffee. The author shows a variety of emotions and thought processes that go along with reading; she forces readers to face the things we would rather not say. Here are some: "Of course I loved books more than people. Of course I valued Jane Eyre over the anonymous stranger... Of course all of Shakespeare was worth more than a human life. Of course" (241). "All morning I struggled with the sensation of stray wisps of one world seeping through the cracks of another. Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes-- characters even-- caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you" (290). I haven't read anything else that is so in tune with what I feel about literature. Well, definitely the second quote; I'd rather not have to comment on the first. I like that she was honest about it. I dislike it for the same reasons. Maybe that kind of thing should be like a secret, only for those of us who actually live it. I also felt two extremes about the plot itself. It was certainly told well, but I felt the final solution was kind of a cop-out. It explained what I had sneered at as inconsistencies in the plot, but I didn't necessarily like it any better. Specials, by Scott Westerfeld. This is the last in a three-book series I started over the summer. I liked the first two a bit more than I find myself liking this one. The writing style is good and the plot is interesting, but the characters aren't as good this time; they have taken an unexpected turn, which seems out of, well, character. This expands on some dangerous ideas about self-mutilation, which were introduced in the last book. It could certainly used as a jumping off point for this topic in classrooms or families. Overall, the series is worth the read. See Uglies and Pretties, by Scott Westerfeld.

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