#ReadThemAllThon came to a close yesterday. I didn’t get as much read as I’d hoped, thanks to work and the start of the semester. Here are my final stats (Dratini got to evolve once), and three short reviews (Song of the North, The Girl on the Train, and Lagoon) to wrap up the readathon.
Song of the North by Jules Watson
Well, the book didn’t make me cry. In fact, it left me feeling distinctly indifferent. I’d suggest that if you’re interested in this trilogy, you stop after the first two (which are so good, and definitely worth your time). Don’t bother with the third.
This book is meant to be a conclusion to the story of Rhiann and Eremon, the main characters of the first two books. But Rhiann and Eremon already get a satisfying conclusion in book two. The references to them in the third book are interesting, but it just ends up feeling tacked on. The story arc is extremely similar to the one that takes place in the first two books, and since it’s restricted to only a single book, it ends up rushed and incomplete. The characters are relatively one-dimensional, which is really a shame, because character development was one of the absolute best things in the early books. Minna in particular is a textbook Mary Sue.
I still love Jules Watson’s use of language, and the way she describes life in ancient Scotland. She writes a great romance. But everything that she does well in this book, she does three times better in the first two (The White Mare and The Dawn Stag). You’ll miss out on nothing by skipping Song of the North.Song of the North by Jules Watson
Series: Dalriada #3
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Fantasy
Roman Britain, AD 366. Minna, a beautiful Roman serving girl, finds herself thrust into the wilds of barbarian Scotland with acrobat Cian, a tribeless youth loyal only to himself. Here, they are trapped between Roman scouts fighting to subdue the dark, tattooed Picts, and the Scottish warring tribes themselves.
Caught between these forces is Cahir, King of the Dalriadans of western Scotland, who has watched his power dwindle and his people fall under the Roman yoke.
At Dunadd, Cahir’s fort, Minna hears songs that tell of his ancestors, Rhiann and Eremon, and it stirs dreams and visions within her: visions of Scotland, battles and bloodshed. And despite her loyalties to her Roman upbringing, as the war for Scottish freedom unfolds, Minna struggles against an irresistible call of her blood, a call that reveals a destiny she shares with the wounded king Cahir, and which binds her inevitably to Dalriada and its people.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Ultimately, I was disappointed by this book. I know it’s incredibly popular right now (I picked it based on its place on the NYT Best Sellers list), but I found it underwhelming. I loved the unreliable narrators and the way the different timelines end up coming together (there are three narrating characters in the book, each with their own chapters that take place during a distinct period of time), but the “twist” at the end wasn’t nearly as shocking or unpredictable as the back of the book made it sound, and I didn’t really find any of it particularly thrilling or mysterious.
It’s a quick read, and it definitely has its good points, but all in all I don’t think it’s as fantastic as the hype would have you believe. (Side note—I recently heard someone refer to The Girl on the Train as “the poor man’s Gone Girl.” That could be a good option if you’re looking for something similar in style but higher quality. I haven’t actually read Gone Girl myself yet, so take this with a grain of salt.)The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life--as she sees it--is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
I’m typically not a fan of magical realism or an overly colloquial narrative voice, but somehow Nnedi Okorafor manages to make me love both in this book. Some other highlights include the conception of the aliens, the chapters told from the perspective of wildlife (each of the three sections begins with one of these), the interweaving storylines, and all the the dialogue that takes place in Pidgin English (there is a glossary at the very end of the book, if needed, but for the most part you get the gist of what the characters are saying, even though the vocabulary and grammar are unfamiliar—it’s sort of a fun linguistic/logical puzzle).
As a “book with diversity” (the requirement for the Rainbow badge), this one really knocks it out of the park. The characters are a huge collection of various species, races, ethnicities, nationalities, economic brackets, religions, genders, and sexual orientations. All in all, a really interesting and enjoyable read. Highly recommended.Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, World Lit
When a massive object crashes into the ocean off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous and legendary city, three people wandering along Bar Beach (Adaora, the marine biologist; Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa; Agu, the troubled soldier) find themselves running a race against time to save the country they love and the world itself… from itself.