In the most recent months of 2018, I have been aiming to read beyond my comfort zone. and so DNFs are starting to happen more in my reading experiences. This August was tumultuous in terms of reading especially. Lots of hits and some misses along the way. However, I want to begin with a warning: I am not dismissing the skill of these authors nor am I saying that fans of these books are somehow not lesser than in any way. Simply put, I found their stories to be not something I enjoy or they conflict with some preferences and/or beliefs that I have.
August 2018 DNFs:
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Manan: The main characters are so infuriating. I struggled with the way diversity is dealt with in this story. Can we not have nuanced discourse around occupying more than one community? Like, sure, you can like computers and apps and be Indian American. You can also not like makeup and not be interested in an arranged marriage. But, surely you can do that while loving your culture, without looking down on people who conform to these elements of the culture. It doesn’t make you cooler or edgier. It makes you a butt-head.
I just…it feels like I have heard this story so many times. And, I want us to have conversations that aren’t so tired. But, really, I just dislike these characters. The writing doesn’t do them any favors either.
Mosquitoland by David Arnold: Some people on Goodreads say that David Arnold writes like John Green. The teens in his stories tend to not sound like teens at all, apparently. I disagree. I think David Arnold created an annoying story where it isn’t enough for readers to connect with. Mim has weird reasons for doing things. I felt her way of “honoring” her heritage was offensive and just…insensitive. Plus, the way the sexual abuse is handled in the story was triggering and, frankly, damaging. Don’t get me started on the portrayal of mental illness in that book.
Oh, August, you were cruel at times.
Books I Finished in August 2018:
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas : 4.5 stars. Overall, I enjoyed this story. It did drag sometimes. I also have to point out that masculinity in these books is, you know, messed up. Just the whole “mate” thing seems a bit…clunky. I love these characters (well…most of them, anyway). As an aro ace person, I recognize that I am not the best person to go to when it comes to creating romantic relationships (fictional or real. I suck at both). But, even I noticed that the characters needed more time to connect.
The Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz: 4 stars. I am writing a review of this book. Dude, this book rocked my world. Naguib Mahfouz writes like you’re watching a movie. Sometimes, his expressions feel like something I’d heard before, even though I wasn’t in 1911’s Egypt.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl: 3 stars. A classic children’s book that I have not read up until now. Interesting things that kept creeping up: 1) how similar this story sounded like the Hunger Games. 2) how similar the story also sounded like A Court of Thorns and Roses. I may elaborate on this later. We shall see.
Eye of the World by Robert Jordan: 3.75 stars. It’s a tedious book to go through. Bloated with mostly wooden characters, it is a challenge to follow their journey. And yet, I found myself rooting for this team of kids who make foolish decisions all the time. I can tell that Jordan isn’t going to be chill with these characters. Poop’s going to happen.
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. 4 stars. This book has the most polite dragon ever. I love him and I vote that we protect him and his cinnamon roll pilot Laurence.
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickhwillow Place by Julie Berry. 4.5 stars. This was everything I dreamed of reading in a middle-grade book.
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. No rating. Pratchett is incredible in his approach to this book. However, his style is reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland where the worldbuilding gets a bit too overwhelming for me. I do think Pratchett made some wonderful plot points in the story and he has cool characters that show up. It reminds me of another classic by Garth Nix, Mister Monday.