Saturday, December 22, 2007
Steven Gould.Reflex. New York: Tor, 2004.
This book is a sequel to one I never read, 1992's Jumper. And having read Reflex, I don't feel like I need to read Jumper. So much of the story revolves around the characters from the first book all the backstory is explained. And it turns out Jumper is being released on Valentine's Day, 2008 as a movie. Kudos Steven. Because if Jumper is anywhere in quality like Reflex, it will make a stunning movie. Reflex is written in a split-narrative, half the time is spent with Millie and the other half with Dave. Dave is the "Jumper" he can teleport himself anywhere instantaneously. Millie is his therapist wife. Dave now makes money working for various government agencies, doing only work that he finds morally acceptable. Both their worlds get turned around quickly when he's kidnapped and held very securely and Millie is trapped in their unreachable (by ordinary means) home without food or water. In the course of getting out of her predicament, Millie finds out she's learned the teleportation behavior and now there are two jumpers in the world, and it is going to be up to her to find a few allies and rescue her husband when the government fails them. The awful tortures and the sense of being caged that accompany each of Dave's chapters make Millie's chapters feel like coming up for air, especially since Dave's chapters can feel a bit dragging and Millie's are all quick tempo and determined. The love between the two characters seems more genuine from her angle as well. Which is good, because in the end this book doesn't feel like so much a sci-fi adventure kidnapping government thriller so much as it feels like a love story. But that could be because I'm a lady and I got what I wanted to get from it. Also, I would like the ability to teleport now. Useful.
Williamson, Debrah. Paper Hearts. New York: New American Library, 2007.
I cried for the first two hours of reading this book. The last two and a half to three hours I got teary a few times, but the worst was over. The main character, Chancy Deel (oh-ho, how clever, how precious!), she just gets to you at first with her waifish post-Dickensian urchinness. And the town of Wenonah, Oklahoma: supposedly 20 thousand people live there, but we meet a grand total of a handful. And all of them ARE THE NICEST PEOPLE EVER, even the recovering drug-addict one, hell-especially him. Chancy's rough life with her drug-addled bipolar mom was terrible on the East Coast, and now that she's found the mid-West everything is changes and everything gets tied up in a neat Lifetime-movie sort of way. She meets "Uncle Max" (which gives the book an untended air of creepiness) a near suicidal man who is about to be put in a nursing environment unless he can think of a way to avoid it. Turns out Chancy and Max can work out the perfect symbiosis. A completely unbelievable but charming symbiosis. The lessons and morals of the book are about as heavy handed as a Lifetime movie too. In fact, was this book supposed to be a Lifetime movie? And here I'm not disparaging the time honored tradition Lifetime movie. They are generally heartwarming tearjerkers, and this book with its idealized characters and Cinderella transformations and prepackaged answers hits all the right notes to fulfill that need. You know the one; sometimes you just need a good cry.
Delson, Rudolph. Maynard & Jennica. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.
The most astounding thing about this book isn't so much that it fulfills the inside flap's truth-in-advertising about the dozens of narrators all telling the story in their own voices. Nor is it the cleverly cute front and back covers. It is that each of these narrator voices is someone you know, or someone you feel you know from too much TV. Which is nice, considering that a major theme of the book seems to be that people are not the special snowflakes they imagine themselves to be. We are all just playing a part. Even our main characters. Maynard, for instance, sounds a lot like me on the subject of September 11th, 2001 (sadly I don't have his old-timey need to be distinguished in dress and manner.) Jennica, throughout the entirity of the story, sounds exactly like my friend Becca's* speaking voice, but not her written or prose voice. And the book- despite some confusing and occasionally longwinded narratives- generally manages to be funny, sweet, biting, and all those other words that we are supposed to use to describe good books. In fact, I liked this book so much that I read the whole author's page just to squeeze the last juicy drop of sweet biting funniness. Good to the dog-poop filled raindrop**.
*name changed to protect the less-than-innocent.
**read the book and win the prize of understanding my reference!