As much as I love analyzing stories, it’s sometimes a challenge to take the time to do a detailed review of every single book that I read; last year alone, I read over 100 different books, and while this year has been a bit slower it’s still over the 50 mark. That said, I thought it might be fun to do a quick overview of the last five books I’ve read, with my thoughts on each:
Chimpanzee – Darin Bradley – With the USA’s millennial generation currently drowning in student debt, this book, much like the Circle, is a dystopia perfectly crafted for our time. There’s some interesting science fiction ideas in here, but what really matters are the big themes, which are masterfully plotted and executed. Chimpanzee is one of the leaner, meaner and more interesting dystopic books in some time. (And by the way, what a great cover!)
2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke – Not going to get into the whole book vs. movie debate, but I will say this: the book doesn’t get nearly enough credit. While the movie’s genius is in its openness to interpretation, the book’s genius is found in its specifics. Exploring the beginnings of humanity and ending with its possible future in a realm beyond understanding, it doesn’t get much more epic than this.
Saint Odd – Dean Koontz – I was surprised by just how much I loved the initial Odd Thomas book. Odd himself was a quirky, likeable character, and his town of Pico Mundo felt real. That said, I haven’t been as fond of the direction the series took after that point. I really enjoyed the third book, Brother Odd, but the other ones took a track that was different than what I expected–not necessarily bad, just different–and I missed the Pico Mundo town folk from the first and second book. The Annamaria storyline never quite clicked for me. Saint Odd brings us back to Pico Mundo, and in many ways back to the beginning of the series. Interestingly, what’s strange about Saint Odd is how small the scale is; whereas the previous books have been building toward some sort of epic, metaphysical conclusion with the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Saint Odd never quite goes there, and delves into the supernatural far less than its predecessors.
Overall, I have mixed feelings, but my affection for the Odd Thomas character is no less strong, and it’s both enjoyable and saddening to accompany Odd on one last journey back to Pico Mundo.
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates – A brilliant, heartbreaking and vulnerable piece of writing that may very well revolutionize the conversation on race in the United States. I’ve been reading Coates’ articles in The Atlantic for some time, but this book takes is writings to an entirely new level. Probably one of the most important works of this year.
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini – Okay, I’m really floored that I didn’t read this sooner. One of the most profoundly emotional stories I’ve ever read, this is a brave story written by a writer who truly knows its subject matter and has something he wants to say to the world. Can’t recommend this enough.
So now, fellow readers, how about you?
What’s the last book you read?