Hello friends! It’s been awhile, as I’ve been busy with a move to a new apartment, but I always make time for reading. Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:
Station Eleven, by Hilary St. John Mandel. This is a re-read; I read it originally when it first came out, before the TV series based on it came out. I love a good dystopian novel, but this is one of my favorites. End-of-the-world stories are usually full of tropes, but this one is refreshingly original (besides the virus-kills-most of humanity-trope to begin with). It consists of alternating timelines before and after the Georgia Flu kills 99% of humanity, and begins with the death of an actor onstage: Arthur Leander, playing King Lear. Arthur dies that night, the night before the virus sweeps through the nation, and the world, but a lot of the flashbacks have to do with Arthur and his life, the people around him, and how they intersect and connect in the aftermath. Twenty years after the end, The Travelling Symphony travels through sporadic towns and communities, putting on plays, mostly Shakespeare, and playing classical music (“Because survival is insufficient”). Part of this group is Kirsten Raymonde, who had played one of Lear’s daughters as a child in Arthur’s last performance that fateful night. Kirsten is obsessed with a rare comic book that was written and drawn by Arthur’s first wife, Miranda (though Kirsten doesn’t know this). The comic, called Station Eleven, is itself symbolic of the survivors in the aftermath of the flu: like the people of the Undersea, they miss their old home and only wish to return to it. The book is what I consider a literary dystopian novel; if you’re looking for lots of action and explosions and such, you won’t find it here (though there is a sinister Prophet, who is also connected to Arthur). What you will find is a story about art and memory and home and regret and just a really great book that I can’t recommend enough. I haven’t seen the series–has anyone seen it, and would you recommend it?
Recursion, by Blake Couch. Blake Couch is one of those authors who writes crazy stories about mind-bending subjects, like alternate universes and parallel timelines (such as his book Dark Matter, which I read a few years ago). This one is about memory, and how our sensory perceptions of memory are so vital; the characters in this book can actually travel into a vivid memory (with the help of a super-tech “memory chair”) and relive the moment physically, change it so the outcome is different, and continue living along that new timeline. The way the event originally happened becomes a “dead memory.” Yeah, mind-bending. I’m not finished with it yet, I’m about three quarters done with it, but it’s enjoyable, even if I’m totally confused sometimes, lol. It’s fun, but what I call a “junk read.” I won’t remember a darn thing about it a few years from now, whereas I remember so many moments from the book above, scenes that will stay with me forever.
Jedi: Battle Scars, by Sam Maggs. My latest Star Wars read, and the latest published, just last week. I just started it, so I don’t have much to say on it right now, except that it’s based on the video game characters of Jedi: Fallen Order. I’m not a gamer, but I’ve always wanted to know more about the story of Cal Kestis and the Stinger Mantis crew. I’m such a ding-dong about video games that I didn’t realize there was a whole story involved, a story that’s a part of the canon lore, and not just characters slashing things with lightsabers, lol. This story takes place between the events of Fallen Order and the upcoming sequel to the game, Jedi: Survivor. All I know is that in this book the group encounters a defecting stormtrooper, and the Inquisitor the Fifth Brother. That’s all I need to know and I’m in. 🙂 I still won’t be playing the video games, but I’m glad I at least have the opportunity to get to know these characters in a book.
What have you been reading? Have you read any of these books, and what did you think? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!