April was a much more productive than February and March, since I made a point to read several less-than-900-page books, Murakami. (Why am I so mad tho? I read it on purpose, after all.) Now I am only three books behind schedule instead of five. Without forcing this challenge upon myself, I know I would not be anywhere close to 50 books this year. Goodreads has been so helpful in keeping track of my progress. However, I have made it a point not to read any reviews on books prior to reading the books or writing these reviews here. Several times I have found my opinion actually does change with issues pointed out by certain reviewers. I don’t know how common that is, but I think of it as a discussion where I approach subjects with an open mind: willing to hear the other side, and taking into consideration many points while still questioning their validity. Regardless, I don’t have all the time in the world to read many thousands of reviews, so my opinions don’t change that much from their base. Subjectivity is the name of the game. Bringin’ it:
9. The Magician King by Lev Grossman: Why am I struggling to write this review? I was really engaged in part two of Grossman’s series, and of course I want to read the next installment immediately before I stop caring, but it won’t be out for another year or so. Anyway, this book. The tone is quite casual, which I enjoyed continuing after the prior heaviness of 1Q84. We pick up with the snarky protagonist a few years after the first book ends, and he is just as dissatisfied as always. This point of view gets old, and we get reprieve when we get POV back story on another character, spliced in to the present narrative. I enjoyed the back story but it did drag a little bit, perhaps because the pacing was not as much go-go-go as the other. The ending made me so angry. Anticlimactic and teasing and just horrible. Rated 3/5 because I couldn’t put it down despite the negatives.
10. Dearly Devoted Dexter (Dexter #2) by Jeff Lindsay: I had read Darkly Dreaming Dexter (#1) about two years back and enjoyed it, as I had watched the show pretty religiously until after season 6. (We stopped paying for cable around that time to save money.) The first book differentiated from the first season enough to be interesting, and book two is an entirely different story altogether than the show. Despite the handful of stretches in plot that I had trouble finding believable, I read this in 12 hours. The Dexter-isms are always perfect, that cocky, raised-eyebrow wittiness in the heat of a situation that would turn stomachs of most. Plus, I am always down for some good gory details. Alliteration aside, 4/5.
11. Dexter in the Dark (Dexter #3) by Jeff Lindsay: Another fast read, as these books are paced quite nicely for the most part… perfect for a casual weekend read, or for someone attempting to make up for lost time in a book challenge. Same love for the style and feel of all Dexter books, though the subject matter on this one was a little bit of a stretch. I found the supernatural/biblical “antagonist” IT intriguing because, as I’ve said before, I give all books the benefit of temporary belief suspension, but this did not fit in with the Dexter canon at all. His cold, calculating logic – one of the things I love about the character – was pretty much gone for the majority of the book. This made for dragging passages about his struggle with having human-like emotions for the first time in his life. This might have been interesting if it were in a different setting – I’ve always felt Dexter would have had more? any? emotions surface when the truth of his Dark Passenger’s “birth” was revealed to him (and to be honest, I cannot remember what his reaction was during the first book). With his biological brother still on the run, there is a lot of untapped story that would make sense for Dexter to find a little humanity. Big bad IT scaring away an inferior shadow, leaving a void filled by feelings? Okay, Jeff. Whatever. I could speculate on motives, that Lindsay perhaps thought that Dexter needed a bit more of a human touch, a stray from his norm to break what felt like monotony in the author’s brain. I will not go further, and just give this book 2.5/5 stars, hoping the next books in the series are more believable for one of my favorite literary characters.
12. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: My favorite part of this book was the final chapter, “Historical Notes.” It was a fantastic way to wrap up the story, to remind us that nothing lasts forever. The narrative itself was intriguing, believable, though I agree with other reviewers that there were perhaps unnecessarily long moments of teasing by the author. Even after the book ended, Atwood held things back. Yet it made me itch for more, and quite a quick read. 4/5.
13. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: I loved Morgenstern’s flowery descriptions of the fantastical Cirque des Rêves, and it appears she enjoyed them herself. The book is packed with details, making visualization effortless. There are books that I feel are written with the hope, or perhaps the intention, of becoming movie adaptations. I enjoyed so much of the story, but I had issue with several things in hindsight. Long list ahoy: the protagonists’ relationship felt somewhat contrived; the point of the game – the point of the entire story – was a little bit lost on me; the game itself was not a competition in the least; and any urgency in causing the competition to end was thrown in without reason. Always in hindsight I end up hating a book more than I originally thought. You know, I really did like this book. I read it to the very last page in less than a week. My suspension of belief lasted only until I shut the book; then, my brain turned back on and remembered how to think critically. 4/5 initial rating, 3/5 hindsight.
14.Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories by Alice Munro
15. Runaway by Alice Munro