The Blondes, Fates and Furies, And Again, The Fifth Season

Some strong reads in the last few weeks. I want to get Fates and Furies out of the way because I basically hate-read it. I just didn’t get what the big Story was. While I liked Mathilde’s backstory and some of her choices in the second half, I just couldn’t get over how fusty and edge-less it felt to me. Not enough rock ‘n’ roll for a story about young people in the West Village in the late 1990s… maybe because that’s where I lived when I was that age and it wasn’t anything like this book.

The Blondes by Emily Schultz, on the other hand, had depth and weight and resonance and really spoke to contemporary life and society while also offering up a suspenseful plot and characters who weren’t necessarily likable but who felt real. I also loved the conversation it was having with The Handmaid’s Tale, which I recently re-read. Basically, Hazel is knocked up with her married professor’s baby in a world where women with blonde hair are going psychotic and attacking people like rabid zombies. The story plays a lot with time and goes to some very dark (and interesting places).

Speaking of time, I’m now officially in love with NK Jemisin after seeing what she did with time and point-of-view in The Fifth Season. I should know better than to start series that aren’t finished yet, but the premise of this one–a world that suffers constant cataclysm from unstable tectonic plates–grabbed me good. What a story! Every time I thought she was going lapse into genre tropism, she’d surprise me with a twist. And the emotions were so deep and poignant and painful and true that I was profoundly moved at the end. And dying for the next one.

Lastly, And Again by Jessica Chiarella didn’t wow me but didn’t disappoint me, either. The characters are all terminally ill people who have had their souls? selves? transplanted into their own clones. Great, great premise, and the plot moved along. My only issue was that I felt like the character voices were hard to distinguish at times, and I was getting the three women mixed up. But once I got them sorted, about 2/3 of the way through, I started to enjoy the book. Overall I liked what she was doing and the book portends well for her writing career.

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