Monday, October 23, 2017

Things I've Read Recently (59)

If you're new around here, Things I've Read Recently is a series of posts I do that are basically mini-reviews of books that I either forgot to review, didn't have enough to say for a full review, or just didn't want to do a full post about for whatever reason.

Want by Cindy Pon

Published: June 13th, 2017 by Simon Pulse
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 323 plus acknowledgements and an about the author.
Part of a series? No, standalone. Which is kinda neat, really.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

Thoughts: I saw someone say that if you liked Six of Crows, you should read this. I did not like Six of Crows that much, and I actually think this does some of the same things that I didn't like, so... that's probably still accurate, and also tells you if you think you'll agree with my opinion or think I'm ridiculous. There are things in this I think are done exceptionally well, things I thought just didn't work for me, and things I thought were problematic. Let's get into it.

We'll start with what just didn't work for me. Similar to Six of Crows, actually, is that a lot of this book is set-up. It's a lot of talking about what they're doing to do, and not actually a lot of doing. This just doesn't work for me as a reader. I don't easily connect to books that do that. I also struggled with the writing style - something about it, and I really don't even know what, just didn't work for me. That's going to be entirely subjective, obviously, and honestly isn't even really a fault of the book because I know other people like it. It's just not really my thing.

Things I thought were actually bad things - there are two queer characters in this. (Not a bad thing obviously.) We don't learn that they're queer until page 263 of 323, and they've apparently been together for two years and are both major characters. I just... that doesn't work for me. Also, they're the only queer characters, and there are a lot of characters. There aren't even like background queer characters. The future is queer, baby, why not show that?

I also noticed there was a distinct lack of fat characters. There's one character described as "plump" (...and then immediately shown eating) and it's solely a character who is one of the upperclass who have too much. If you think that only people who are rich are fat, you have a problem. And if you think that people who are food insecure and struggle to get enough to eat can't be fat, you have another problem. Food insecurity and poverty and oppression make people fatter. And, in our society, fatness makes you more likely to be poor and oppressed. (Vicious circle there, huh?) If you're writing a book that is largely about class and privilege... you should know this.

It's incredibly not my lane to talk about the intersection of fatness and being Asian, but I am going to link here to an article. And after reading that, I will say perhaps introducing your only fat(ish) character (who's there for like two pages) and then saying no one in that scene besides the (poor) main character would know what it's like to go hungry... raised some red flags. I'd worry about recommending it and accidentally hurting someone, honestly.

So, there were some things I had concerns about, but overall I'm mostly just kind of meh on this one, and it's mostly a matter of these just not being so much things I enjoy, the voice and the way the plot comes about and takes a while to get going. I thought the setting was really cool, the entirely POC cast is awesome, the plot is theoretically great but it kinda takes forever to get there, and it's not like I can't see how anyone would like this or anything. If you think you'll like this, you probably will, and I would still recommend it, but it's just one of those things where it's not really my thing.

The One Hundred Nights of Hero

Published: September 1st, 2016 by Jonathan Cape
Genre: Fantasy Adult Graphic Novel
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: Goodreads say 224 and the pages aren't numbered so, that.
Part of a series? This can be read either as a standalone or as a follow-up to the author's previous book, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): From the author who brought you The Encyclopedia of Early Earth comes another Epic Tale of Derring-Do. Prepare to be dazzled once more by the overwhelming power of stories and see Love prevail in the face of Terrible Adversity! You will read of betrayal, loyalty, madness, bad husbands, lovers both faithful and unfaithful, wise old crones, moons who come out of the sky, musical instruments that won't stay quiet, friends and brothers and fathers and mothers and above all, many, many sisters.

Thoughts: This was a recommendation of a friend (thanks Bree!!) and I'm really glad I randomly asked for book recommendations that day on Twitter. I didn't know much going into this, but it's a really interesting book. The art is really cool, and there's a sense of humour I really enjoy while still taking seriously the things that need to be serious.... seriously. It's weird and neat and queer and the moon is bisexual(!) and I don't really know what else to say besides I really liked it and I recommend it.

Side note, I will say until this got here I didn't realize how big it is. It's like the size of a textbook. Seriously, it was like a challenge to read this because I threw my back out and it's really really heavy.

The Traitor's Tunnel by C. M. Spivey

Published: June 2017
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Binding: E-book
Page count: I don't know how many pages this would be, but it's a novella so it's only 10 chapters.
Part of a series? It's a prequel to From Under the Mountain, which is the first book in the Trident Chronicles series.
Got via: I bought it.
Amazon

Summary (from goodreads): Witch-blooded robber Bridget has made a reputation for herself in the capital city, but she's not interested in the attention of the Thieves' Guild--and she's not bothered by the rumors of urchin kidnappings, either. With winter coming, she's looking out for herself and no one else.

Until she picks the wrong pocket, and recognizes her estranged brother Teddy.

Young craftsman Theodor arrives in the capital ready to take the final step toward his dream career as Lord Engineer of Arido. His apprenticeship with a renowned city engineer comes with new rules and challenges, but it's worth it for the exposure to the Imperial Council.

While spying on her brother, Bridget overhears a secret meeting that reveals a cruel plot. After more than a decade apart, Theodor and Bridget must reunite to stop a traitor whose plan threatens not only their city, but the whole empire.

Thoughts: Fantasy isn't my thing at all and especially not adult fantasy. This is very, very much not my cup of tea. But it is still a really well made cup of tea and now I'm dropping this metaphor before it gets away from me. It's not my thing, but it's a really cool world, the writing is great with two super distinct voices between its two POVs, and it's really neat to see such queer fantasy. Also, it was like two dollars, so not really a big deal if you don't like it. It was also a good length for me to read on a computer as it was satisfying to finish, but didn't drag out too long. I also hadn't read the other already published book and it was just fine figuring things out and not hard to follow around or anything. Definitely recommend this one.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Published: May 30th, 2017 by Simon Pulse
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 380 pages
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Thoughts: This is mostly really cute. It does have a fair amount of somewhat standard light/romantic contemporary YA tropes and some of those tropes are things I'm not real fond of. Like, while I love that Dimple is a girl interested in the STEM fields, I think most of the book doesn't really focus on that, focusing instead more on romance. Dimple has a habit of punching Rishi in the ribs and I really don't like that in books.

The book also lacks in fat rep (how likely are the odds that two girls who randomly met through a school program and decided to become roommates would be not only the same clothing size but the same shoe size? Seriously not a fan of that trope) and it had one major transphobic remark and an arophobic moment. There were just definitely microaggressions going on. And I personally was not that drawn into the voice, just because third person POV doesn't usually do it for me, and it was a little more removed. I didn't connect as much as I would have liked.

But overall this is cute. If you like contemporary, you'll probably like this. It's pretty typical for this kind of summer romance book, with some extra depth added from the wonderful rep of Dimple and Rishi. Other people have talked about that much better than I could, so I won't try, lol. Overall, it's cute and I know a ton of people love it and will love it, but some things just didn't work for me.

I seem to hate everything that other people love, though, so take me with a grain of salt. I'd still recommend it, just my personal tastes didn't make me love it.

This was a really mixed bag of reviews, huh? Thanks for reading anyways!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

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