Friday, 4 September 2015

Read, Reading, Want to Read {5}















It's been a while since my last RRWrR! I have read loads since then, so let's get right to it. Some of these summaries might be a bit spoiler-y, so be warned!

READ:
The Shelters of Stone, The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel | 3-5/5
I talked a lot about this series in my last books post, and I should reiterate that these books are goofy as hell, and I love them. I know they aren't for everybody, because they're very repetitive, and the longer they go the more unreasonably perfect Ayla (the main character) becomes, but here I am. LOVE IT. I'm so glad I finally finished the final book in the series; this was the main reason I re-read them all! In The Shelters of Stone, Ayla meets Jondalar's people, and is officially mated to him, despite some consternation from the tribe. In The Land of Painted Caves, Ayla becomes a religious leader, and there's some drama about Jondalar being quite a big jerk. This last one was pretty disappointing though, and if I took these books seriously I would be really annoyed by it. A solid 30% of the book was descriptions of cave paintings, and the plot was mainly going from cave to cave. It certainly does what it says on the tin. There is a lot I didn't like about this book, and the 'climax' is one of the most groan-worthy, misunderstanding-of-languages terrible pun-like 'relevation' I've ever read. I'm genuinely getting annoyed now, thinking about it! Once again though...do love these books, did spend some time on an Earth's Children fansite trying to figure out if Auel would be writing any more. So, what can you do.
Native Tongue, by Suzette Haden Elgin | 5/5
Oh, I adored this book. I read it all in one day, I couldn't put it down! The premise of this book is that in the 22nd century, the status of women has been reverted to that of essentially property with the legal rights of children, and women have been barred from public life. There are powerful linguist families who act as the government's liaisons between humans and the alien races who now regularly trade with them, leading to a post-scarcity Earth -- these technological advances combined with the state of women makes the setting almost a dystopia-utopia. The book tells the story of Nazareth Chornyak, an especially gifted linguist woman, and the revolution she becomes a part of. It's a lot of plot to take in, but I've been describing it as a bit like the Handmaid's Tale, with aliens and linguistics. Which are basically three of my favourite things! I have been recommending this book a lot.
The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell | 5/5
I loved this book too! I have been very lucky with book choices this year. This book has a similar premise to The Book of Strange New Things, in that they're both about Christians In Space. A sign of intelligent life is discovered on a distant planet, and a scientific expedition, spearheaded by the Society of Jesus, is sent to investigate. The characters are all wonderfully fleshed out and sympathetic, and I absolutely loved Emilio Sandoz, the main character, a Jesuit priest from the slums of Puerto Rico. The alien species they find on Rakhat are wonderful too, and the society is beautifully fleshed out. There's also some consideration of Christian theology that, as someone who knows almost nothing about any of that, I found really fascinating. I don't really know what else to say about this book, I just loved it.
The Judas Rose, by Suzette Haden Elgin | 3.5/5
You know, I had marked this as 5/5 on Goodreads, but as I've been writing this post I realised that I couldn't remember hardly anything about this book. I clearly enjoyed it, but it isn't nearly as good as Native Tongue. The book is hardly a sequel at all, and more a continuation of the themes raised in the previous book. There is more talk of languages, more talk of aliens, and we learn about a government-wide conspiracy that rather complicates everything a lot. There's a big twist at the end too, which actually works quite well. If I sound rather unenthused here, it's because I truly don't remember much more about this book!
Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood | 5/5
I know I keep saying this, but I loved this book too. I can't believe I haven't read it before! The plot follows the main character, Snowman/Jimmy, in a post-apocalyptic setting, as he recollects his life before and how everything collapsed. Something I really loved about this book is the setting pre-'apocalypse' -- while technically a dystopia, it's unsettlingly similar to the way things are going today, with intense class-based segregation and mega-corporations controlling the government, police force, and the food we eat. There's also mass-extinctions, climate change, and a population fixated on beauty and youth. Sounds pretty familiar, right? Margaret Atwood creates such believable and terrifying scenarios, all beautifully written. I highly recommend this book.
Children of God, by Mary Doria Russell | 3.5/5
This is the sequel to The Sparrow, and unfortunately doesn't quite live up to the original. There were parts of this book that I absolutely loved, and I was very happy with how some of the (being very vague here) issues brought up in the first book were resolved. That being said, there was also a lot of complicated family tree type things that were quite difficult to keep track of, and this book is essentially a story about a war with a sometimes-confusing framing device. I also found the new characters they introduced mostly rather interchangeable, but there were a few exceptions to this that I really enjoyed. I do recommend this as a sequel if you've read the first, but it's not quite as impressive a work, I think.
The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood | 5/5
I liked this book as much as I liked Oryx and Crake but in very different ways. Set in the same universe as Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood isn't a sequel so much as an alternate telling of the same events. The story is told from the perspective of two women, Ren and Toby, both of whom miraculously survived the so-called 'waterless flood'. Margaret Atwood does an excellent job weaving the lives of these two lower-class, 'pleebland' women in with the story line of Oryx and Crake, which deepened my appreciation of the first book even more. And reaaaaally reaffirmed how much of a jerk Jimmy was.

CURRENTLY READING:
Earthsong, by Suzette Haden Elgin
In Earthsong, the trilogy’s long-awaited finale, the Aliens have abandoned Earth, taking their technologies with them and plunging the planet into economic and ecological disaster. Devastated, the women decide to take their failed Láadan project back underground, desperately seeking guidance from their long-dead foremothers. The women discover an ingenious solution to the problem of human violence and seek to spread their knowledge—but has their final solution come too late?
Dune, by Frank Herbert
Set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary dynasties are controlled by noble houses that owe an allegiance to the imperial House Corrino, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides (the heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and heir of House Atreides) as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the 'spice' melange, the most important and valuable substance in the cosmos. The story explores the complex, multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion as the forces of the empire confront each other for control of Arrakis.

WANT TO READ:
Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.
MaddAddam, by Margaret Atwood
A man-made plague has swept the earth, but a small group survives, along with the green-eyed Crakers – a gentle species bio-engineered to replace humans. Toby, onetime member of the Gods Gardeners and expert in mushrooms and bees, is still in love with street-smart Zeb, who has an interesting past. The Crakers’ reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is hallucinating; Amanda is in shock from a Painballer attack; and Ivory Bill yearns for the provocative Swift Fox, who is flirting with Zeb. Meanwhile, giant Pigoons and malevolent Painballers threaten to attack. 
Phew, that was a big one! I've been reading a lot lately, even though I've also been working pretty hard and constantly on my dissertation. (Only a few days to go!!!) What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these books?


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