Renée (rogueslayer452) wrote,

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A year in books...

As my contribution to ring in the new year, my first post of 2020 will be doing a brief overview of the books I read in 2019.

The Dark Crystal: The Novelization by A.C.H. Smith
I actually did read this the year before, although I don't think I really finished it and I needed a refresher, so I decided to read it again.

Essentially, this is a nice companion piece that enhances what was already seen in the movie with adding in more details of the world, the story, and the characters. For example, Jen has way more personality in the book that what was featured in the movie. And there's a lot more exploration of the different cultures of species, including the Skesis who have their own language. Much of this was what Jim Henson himself wanted to feature in the movie, but due to budget limitations and production restrictions and other difficulties they were sadly left out, as we see at the very end of the book the notes he gave the author of the novelization to help shed more light into his vision of the world-building. If you're a fan of The Dark Crystal movie, I highly recommend this book because it's a nice addition.

The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer
Perhaps my favorite book series I've read in recent years. I'd wanted to read the first book, Annihilation, after hearing how creepy and bizarre it is from others. And after reading it, I was so enthralled that I went on to the next two books of the trilogy, Authority and Acceptance. There's something so beautiful about this series that is hard to really convey, because yes it's about the creepy and weird and the cosmic eco-horror elements and the ambiguity of everything that occurs in the story, but it's so much more than that. It's the way the story is told. It is written in a style that is both clinical yet poetic at the same time, from the descriptions to the perspectives written differently in each book. It captivated me.

I may do a more thorough review in the near future, because this trilogy really stuck with me long after reading it and I have a lot to discuss about it.

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
Of course after being enamored with The Southern Reach trilogy, I needed to find other books by the author and was immediately drawn to this one just based on the synopsis alone. Borne is perhaps even more bizarre than The Southern Reach, and that's saying something. The world-building in this book is so rich and fantastic and fleshed out, but even with the bizarre dystopian backdrop of a world the main story is about family and parenthood. It's heartwarming, endearing, but also sad and heartbreaking at the same time. I really truly loved this book. I also read The Strange Bird which is a novella set in the same universe, as well, that is just as equally as heartwarming and heartbreaking.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
I think I was spoiled entirely by the movie because this book was completely underwhelming. While there were elements that I thought were interesting, as a whole the book dragged on and was boring. You know it's a bad sign when your eyes just glaze over paragraphs hoping something interesting ends up happening, and sadly that's what happened with this book. In all fairness I'm not going to say it was a bad book, it just wasn't for me especially the writing style which went back and forth between character perspectives but not in the usual way split up by chapters but in the middle of a chapter or passages, which got confusing and I wasn't a fan of. Also I think in comparison to the movie, which I loved, it was lackluster and didn't really have anything to say? Like I understood the point it was trying to make, but it just went around in circles and didn't really do much, which was disappointing. Plus the characters were rather flat and uninteresting, which makes me appreciate the movie even more because I adored them all there since they had, y'know, a personality to them. So yeah, I think this is one of those instances where the movie was better than the book, and you can understand why they took the liberties they did to make it more interesting and magical in terms of the plot and with the characters.

I hear the prequel book, Rules of Magic, is supposed to be better, but after reading this I'm not sure that I'm a fan of Alice Hoffman's writing style to want to check it out. Perhaps I'll just wait for the adaptation that will happen for that one.

Kamikaze Girls by Novala Takemoto
Kamikaze Girls is one of my favorite movies, so of course I would read the novel it was based on. It took a while before I could get my hands on it, but I finally did. And it's absolutely as charming and unique as the movie. There really isn't much more to say other than that.

The Runaways: A Novel by Christopher Golden
I love the show Runaways, and while I knew that this book was more focused on the comics than the show itself I was interested in reading it anyway. I'm not that familiar with the comics, I only know of the basic stuff and from what I've seen/read through fandom osmosis, but this book is something of a stand-alone that even if you aren't that familiar with anything of the universe you can still understand what is going on. I liked it, it was good. There was a point in the book though that I was like, eh, I'm not sure I like this, but it turned out my instincts were right because it was part of the plot. A nice bonus was that it had a little comic at the end of the whole book, unrelated to the actual story, but still it was a nice little addition nonetheless.

Serpentine and Sacrifice by Cindy Pon
This is a YA duology series where it's a fantasy that mixes a lot of Chinese mythology and folklore, wherein the main character discovers that she is half-demon and can transform herself into a serpent. It heavily focuses on the friendship between two girls and has LGBT representation, and while there is a kind of setup of a triangle it never goes in that direction. I liked the second book to the first book because of character development and there being more action involved, though I wish there was another book since I felt like certain revelations towards the end were a bit too rushed, and I wanted more interactions and moments between certain characters. But overall it was a good read.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Despite loving the films I have never really read The Hobbit. I tried reading LOTR but, while I don't doubt Tolkien's brilliance in storytelling and world-building, his writing style just isn't my speed (like, I tend to look at the wiki articles to understand the world and lore he created for Middle-earth, or other books with essays and such on the subject). However, The Hobbit is slightly easier to read. With that being said, it makes me appreciate the films even more because they fleshed out the characters more than the book does (ex: the dwarves have way more established individual personalities in the trilogy than the entire book, and the films give us a closer look to the camaraderie Bilbo had with them, not to mention the further development of Thorin's entire character). However, I don't regret reading the book because I finally got to read something Tolkien that wasn't a struggle to get through!

As Old As Time by Liz Braswell
I'll admit, the only reason I wanted to read this was because I learned that the Beast remains a beast at the end. That was the biggest selling point for me. Aside from that, I quite liked this book a whole lot. If you don't know, there is this "twisted tales" of classic Disney princess that are written with an altered retelling of the story, basically a different take on where the story could have gone had it been done another way. Sort of like a published AU version of what we know, often having a tagline on the book to entice a potential reader of what the story might be about. As Old As Time's tagline was, "What if Belle's mother cursed the Beast?", and that is precisely what happens here. I haven't read any of the other books from this, but this one was very interesting and quite dark, which was surprising.

What I'm currently reading right now: I started reading two books, My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix and Dune by Frank Herbert, the latter is what I'm currently reading and that's gonna be a doozy to finish considering it's length.
Tags: books, rl on the dl
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