Since I’ve found that I read faster than I can get around to writing full reviews of each book, I prefer to do mini reviews that reflect my gut reactions rather than being too analytical. All titles are linked to their Goodreads pages.
Lexicon by Max Barry
I was intrigued by the idea of a science fiction thriller based on the concept that words can be used as weapons to persuade and destroy. In this world, people can be organised into segments and controlled (compromised) by specific combinations of obscure words. The wielders of these words are the Poets, members of a secret organisation that controls knowledge and use of the words. Emily and Wil appear to be on opposite sides of a conflict within the organisation, but nothing in this world is what it seems. One of the things I loved about this book was that it gave me lots of “a-ha!” moments when I could connect the small clues and figure out key plot points. I won’t give too much away, but the way the book is structured and told from the perspective of two different characters is significant to the story and makes it even more exciting. There is suspense, conspiracy, romance, danger, interesting explorations into the power and structure of language, along with well-developed characters and a satisfying conclusion. I loved it.
The Disappearance Boy by Neil Bartlett
There are books that are character-driven, books that are plot-driven, and books that manage to be both. This one definitely tries to be character-driven, which means it should feature interesting and engaging characters with compelling stories to tell. Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of them and found them annoying and uninteresting. The second person narrative really put me off and left little room for my imagination. The narrator was so busy telling me exactly what to think and pay attention to that they didn’t give me the chance to become immersed in the story. A really disappointing read for a book that seemed promising.
Nasty Women by Various Authors
I consider myself to be liberal and open-minded, but this collection opened my mind even further and gave me new perspectives I hadn’t considered. I didn’t connect with all the essays, but each one definitely had a distinctive and unique voice behind it and wove an intricate tapestry of what the world is like for women in 2017. My favourite was Jen McGregor’s ‘Lament: Living with the Consequences of Contraception’. In addition to speaking to the reader, she also spoke directly to the Depo-Provera contraceptive she was forced to stop using due to health reasons. Some elements of her story are very similar to my own, and I could feel her struggle through her words. A fantastic collection I would highly recommend to everyone.
The Jungle by Pooja Puri
I was lucky enough to get a signed copy of this book as I bought it at the Society of Young Publishers Conference in Edinburgh a few months ago. The cover really drew my eye and the plot sounded intriguing. I can’t say that it was a terribly engrossing story, but it was well written and easy to read. Rather than a complex plot with a satisfying ending, this book presented a fictional snapshot of life in the Calais refugee camp. It’s about the people more than the politics and the struggles they face having run from one bad situation only to find themselves in another. By the end of the story, most of the characters were essentially in the same place as they were at the beginning, but maybe that’s the point. It illustrates the endless cycle of the refugee crisis and the shattered hopes and dreams of those who find themselves in such desperate circumstances.