Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction (?)
Where I Got It: Bought it for my Kindle
Why I Read It: Hello! Stephen King + time travel = must read
My Rating: 4.5 stars
Brief Description: Jake Epping, a schoolteacher in Maine (of course!), is approached by his friend Al with a very strange proposition: Al has found a portal back in time to the year 1958, and he wants Jake to go back and prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Although Al has attempted to do this himself, his health is failing and he cannot complete the task. Reluctantly, Jake agrees and embarks on what turns out to be a long strange trip that has consequences far beyond what Jake could have ever imagined.
My Thoughts: My description was very bare bones so believe me when I tell you this hardly scratches the surface of all that happens in this epic novel from one of our modern storytelling masters. King finally wrote a book that people who “don’t like Stephen King” can enjoy and figure out why the man sells millions and millions of books. In fact, many of the reviews I’ve read of this book were from Stephen King virgins who professed their surprise and delight at how much they enjoyed and got involved with this story. The book is about much much more than the prevention of the JFK assassination—although that is what propels the story forward (or perhaps backward I should say). This is King at his best—telling a whopping good story with a big old beating heart at its center (not literally) that elevates the book from a “time travel adventure” to a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking story that will leave you emotionally wrung out. It is exciting, funny, scary, romantic, sci-fi historical fiction like it has never been done before (and probably won’t be again). And if you’re not a King newbie, you’ll love this book too. Look for some of our old friends making a cameo in the Derry sequences!
Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood
Genre: Fiction, Dystopia
Where I Got It: Paperback Swap
Why I Read It: I haven’t read an Atwood book in a long while and the reviews of this one sounded interesting
My Rating: 4 stars
Brief Description: Set in a future dystopia after something very bad has happened, our hero Snowman seems to be one of the last humans alive. His story of how this world came to be and his role in it comprises the book.
My Thoughts: Yeah, yeah yeah … I’m not telling you all that much. But my thinking is: Why should I try to describe it when Margaret Atwood has done such a good job telling the story? Atwood has created a fantastic dystopic tale that should be discovered as she’s written it—with Snowman living in his own personal hell and thinking back on how he came to be there. Usually when you read a dystopia, the story takes place primarily in the horrible new world that has been created. What makes Oryx & Crake different is that this tells the story of how the dystopia came to be (the most interesting part, don’t you think?). In other words, Snowman is giving us the dystopic back story, and it is wildly imaginative, disturbingly plausible and (to be honest) just plain fun. I got really caught up in this book and had a hard time putting it down. You can bet I’m going to be reading the companion book, The Year of the Flood. I also think this would make a kick-ass movie, and I can’t believe it hasn’t been done yet. (Or has it and I just missed it?)
Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Where I Got It: Bought it
Why I Read It: Someone who read a review I wrote on Amazon said I should read this book. So I did.
My Rating: 4 stars
Brief Description: A man searches fruitlessly for his twin brother, whose been missing for 10 years. A new high school graduate embarks on an adventure with her former history teacher and ends up in an abandoned motel in the middle of Nebraska. A young college student receives shocking news and ends up being mistakenly pronounced dead … so he decides to just go with it. The fates of these three people run parallel throughout the book before crashing together in unexpected ways.
My Thoughts: Reading this book is akin to throwing the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in the air and having it assemble itself before landing, with all the pieces fitting neatly together. It was a nifty little trick that Chaon pulled off in this book, and I was impressed. I will admit that I struggled while reading to figure out what the heck was going on … how exactly did these three seemingly unrelated stories fit together? Chaon keeps the puzzle pieces up in the air for most of the book, but when it all starts fitting together, there is an “aaaah” moment that made it a fun and satisfying reading experience. If you enjoy intricately plotted stories that have sinister and dark undertones, this is the book for you!
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