Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
I was pretty surprised when the world ended in a terrible plague in the first chapters! There is no traditional plot line, but the characters are wonderful and rich and interesting. There is no “main character,” either, more of an ensemble cast whose stories all intertwine in some deliciously clever ways. No one wants the end of the world to go down the way St. John Mandel describes, but if it absolutely has to, it was at least nice to see that some of us survive and maintain hope. Keep that immune system strong, y’all.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I really didn’t know how it ended until the end and I was totally surprised. I think I might have been the only person on earth who hasn’t read this or seen the movie? The gist of it is: two insane people have a relationship and it’s messy and a trainwreck and as a result is super-fun to watch. I’m ashamed by how much of Amy’s writing resonated with me because that probably means I’m a sociopath. Unreliable narrators are kind of my favorite.
Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals by Patricia Lockwood
There were parts of this collection that I didn’t feel passionately about, poems I read (most out loud) and just seemed like I wasn’t getting the point. Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to read them. But THEN there were poems that effing socked me right in the gut and made me turn back a page to read them again because they were so beautiful and true. So maybe some of the poems were two stars, to me, and some of them were five stars, and because I will definitely go back and read this again at some point we ended up with a three star review.
Bluebeard’s Egg by Margaret Atwood
So many shitty relationships and beautiful metaphors. I was in the mood for short stories and it was a great introduction to Atwood because her prose really shines in this format. She doesn’t waste words. This was published the year I was born, but at age 32, it seems to me to be really fresh and pertinent. I think if I had read this when I was 19, I would have thought I “got it” but I really wouldn’t have.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
I think I need to take a break from dystopic future settings after this one. I felt poorly for Snowman, but it was hard at times because he is cranky, dirty, possibly a little crazy, and definitely a complainer. Hard to love a guy like that, and even when we go back in time and learn more about him prior to living in an abyss, he’s still no charmer. So when he loses his best friend and the girl he loved (who he first found in underage porn he watched incessantly online with aforementioned friend)… I can only summon so much sympathy for him. Let’s hope the future doesn’t go this route either.
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
This book is sad! I don’t know what I was expecting from Rowling, but a real-life, non-magical, almost hum-drum story about a man who dies of a brain aneurysm was not it. But what is magical, of course, is that this completely normal town full of people who think they are special but are, in actuality, not at all is the revelation that – wait! – we are all special to someone(s) and the removal of one can change the course of many people’s lives. I ended this book with the thought that Rowling had a LOT she wanted to share about privilege and snobbery. The glimpses we get inside characters’ minds in Vacancy remind the reader that having money doesn’t make you good or admirable – it just makes you rich.