I actually read 2 1/2 books this week: an ARC of As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti, Terry Pratchett’s The Long Earth, and Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove. The first you can’t get until January of 2018, but even then, I don’t know if you should. The second, I very much regret that I can’t recommend, and the third, I think that there might be something wrong with you if you haven’t bought and read it yet. Here’s why:
Book Review: As You Wish…Not Quite
This book, about a small town in the middle of the Mojave Desert where everyone gets one wish on their 18th birthday—a wish that always comes true—and a main character who’s seen how wishes have broken the people around him, and thinks that it just might be possible that one can’t actually wish for happiness, had a cool premise but too much swearing for me. I’ve developed a general rule that I’ll tolerate about 20 swear words in a book; it’s got to have a really strong hook (i.e., good style, lots of action, unique character(s)) to compensate for the profanity, and even then…. I didn’t finish it because nothing had hooked me by the 20-swear-word limit.
So I’ll give that feedback to the publisher through NetGalley, and tell you that you might enjoy reading it if you don’t mind profanity. I personally think that I, like you, am spoiled for choices when it comes to books these days, and if profanity’s not my thing, then there are plenty of books out there without it that I’d rather spend my time and money on.
Book Review: The Long Earth: so Very, Very Long
Before J.K. Rowling came along, Terry Pratchett was the U.K.’s best-selling author. After she emerged, he was bumped down to second place, but not for lack of talent and effort. He wrote, by my count, 145 books, with 85 million copies of them read around the world in 37 languages. He’s been awarded 10 honorary doctorate degrees and countless awards. His talent and skill cannot be refuted, even by those outside his chosen genre of fantasy and science fiction. I first became acquainted with him by reading his The Wee, Free Men, part of the Tiffany Aching series. “Charming” and “witty” are terms that don’t even begin to describe this book. One of my bucket list items is to read all of his books.
That being said, reading (or rather, listening to) The Long Earth was a chore. It strives to answer the question of what would happen to the human species if a discovery was made that there are infinite parallel Earths out there, none of which are inhabited by other humans, nor can be traveled to with any kind of metal, and on which various other species have evolved. I found none of the wit or pacing or “hard sci fi” that I’ve come to adore in other Pratchett books. Like one Amazon reviewer said: “In truth there is very little Pratchett in this book. There are many MANY exciting and fascinating concepts that would have made this pure awesomeness. There is endless potential here for further stories based on the universe, but this one does nothing except showcase the place.” I totally agree.
But I won’t stop reading Pratchett’s other books.
Book Review: A Man Called Ove: So Good
In case you’re one of those few who haven’t heard about this book, here’s what it’s about in a nutshell: a curmudgeonly old man is prevented from killing himself multiple times by neighbors who are needy and people to refuse to obey the sign that restricts parking in the residential area of his small neighborhood. It’s like the movie Up, only with more people that are adults, and more character. Take this paragraph for example:
For more than fifteen minutes he stood waiting for her at the station in his tight-fitting suit and his new-polished shoes. He was skeptical about people who came late. “If you can’t depend on someone being on time, you shouldn’t trust ’em with anything more important either,” he used to mutter when people came dribbling along with their time cards three or four minutes late, as if this didn’t matter. As if the railway line would just lie there waiting for them in the morning and not have something to do.
Every sentence in this book is imbued with characterization and style; every word is a brushstroke in the painting of Ove as not only a curmudgeon, but an (spoiler alert!) orphan, a loving husband to a wife who was paralyzed and rendered infertile by a drunk driver, a principled man, a hard worker, a dedicated Saab driver, and one of those loyal-to-the-death-but-you-wouldn’t-know-it-to-talk-to-him kind of people.
And, unlike most adult-genre books, especially ones about old people, something interesting or amusing or soulful on almost every page. The pacing and plot weaving are impeccable. It’s truly a treasure to read.
That’s why I’m doing a giveaway of one copy of A Man Called Ove! Click here to enter for a chance to win. If you’re already following me, comment on this post to be entered.
Note: I got a free advanced reader copy of As You Wish from NetGalley, but I purchased The Long Earth and A Man Called Ove. All opinions contained herein are, of course, my own, and should be taken as such.