Saturday, June 23, 2007

Weekend book reviews

I've finished three books since Friday night: The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde, Austenland by Shannon Hale and Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You by Dorian Cirrone.

TWoLP was by far the most disappointing of the Thursday Next series thus far, and certainly realized my prediction that my patience for Fforde's books was nearing its end. The premise: Thursday next goes to the Well of Lost Plots to hide from her enemies while she's pregnant. The execution: whereas the earlier books in the series were funny and clever, this one seemed trapped by its new setting, as huge chunks of the narrative served only to explain the Well and its inhabitants. The story line itself seemed secondary to the necessary background information at best, and almost an after-thought at worst. From looking at the publication dates of all Fforde's books, it may be fair to say the role of this book was simply to set up his Nursery Crime series. In any case, it was a huge waste of time.

Ditto for Austenland. You may recall I was skeptical about this one from the offset. The premise: a thirty-something Pride and Prejudice fanatic is bequeathed an all-expense-paid vacation to Pemberly Park, a full-immersion Regency Era England experience, by her dead Great Aunt. Her hope is to once and for all rid herself of the Mr. Darcy Fantasy by living in his world for three weeks. The execution: awkward, contrite and formulaic. Shannon Hale's other books are written so beautifully that I'm not quite sure what happened here. Reading Austenland was difficult at times, the language awkward and stumbling. And the reader knows exactly what will happen in the book from the offset. There are no surprises, no twists.

I was pleasantly surprised by the book I read this morning, DiRSWKY. Though this book can only be rightfully described as Brain Candy (it took me less than two hours to read it), shockingly, it had a great message for young adult women. The premise: sixteen year old Kayla is at an art school studying ballet and is denied a plumb roll in the upcoming production of Cinderella because her body doesn't fit the ideal ballerina mold -- she has DD-sized breasts. The execution: Cirrone weaves analysis of the classic versions of fairy tales into the story to make the point that women are expected to change themselves to meet societal and cultural expectations. This is certainly not a new or revolutionary thesis, but definitely one that I think is important to expose adolescent girls to.

Next on the docket for me:

And don't forget, I'm always looking for book recommendations, so don't be shy! Send them along!


Book Cannibal said...

I have to say re: Jasper Fforde that I didn't exactly rip roar through THE EYRE AFFAIR, so I'm not surprised to see your lackluster review of TWOLP (despite what I think is a brilliant title). Or maybe my problem with THE EYRE AFFAIR has to do with JANE EYRE itself?

If you like this sort of mad cap fiction, check out a not very well known book called COSMIC BANDITOS. I read it in college, so I can't totally vouch for its merit, but I still remember it today, and it still makes me laugh, and I've been meaning to replace my copy for a long time. It's about a bunch of stoners and druggies who use the laws of physics (like string theory and the double slit experiment) to raid this South American drug castle or something.

LibraryChristi said...

Did you go buy Austenland? I'm still waiting for it from the library...bah.

I really liked DiRSWKY. Though I am a much slower reader than you, because it definitely took me more than two lunch hours to read (I's been awhile.)