Another Five Books, 50 pages
Posted April 9, 2017on:
It’s time for another installment of five books 50 pages! This is where I grab 5 books that I’m kinda sorta intrigued by reading just the first 50 or so pages. The goal is that hopefully at least two will really stand out as something I want to keep reading. I’m going into these books knowing barely anything beyond them other than the back cover blurb. But I have high hopes! Last time I did five books 50 pages I discovered a book that ended up being one of my top reads for 2016.
The contestants this week are:
Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Nine Fox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
Cold Iron by Stina Leicht
Dear Sweet Filthy World by Caitlin R. Kiernan
What was YAY, what was NAY, and what was MEH. Let’s find out!
Luna:New Moon by Ian McDonald. This book came out last year, and already has a sequel out. It’s the April book for my local book club. We’ve been on the Moon for a few generations now, people go there because there are job opportunities. The businesses are run by 5 dynastic families, who have made alliances through marriage, backstab each other, etc. There seems to be something really cool going on with marriage contracts. Main characters in the beginning are Adriana Corta who is the leader of one of these dynastic families, and her grandson Lucasinho. 50 pages in and the story feels like Game of Thrones landed on an already sexed up Space Opera. You know, this book might be really good. Might. But 50 pages in the story and characters didn’t grab me.
Will I continue reading? Jury is out until April book club meeting. If folks say the novel gets really good later, I’ll go back to it.
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson – Everyone says this book is awesome, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Tons of fantasy tropes right out of the gate – abusive feudal lords, enslaved people, someone who wants to start a rebellion, etc. When we get to the city there are more fantasy tropes – thieves and the lone female thief among them who has no idea she has magical powers, creepy as fuck royal interrogators, threats of being sold into prostitution, and someone who isn’t who he seems who is going to pull thief girl out of the streets and show her how to use her powers. Tropey, but I like the magic system, it’s based on minerals and metals that you ingest. I like that the magic is connected to the environment and what the magic user has available. Also, did I mention the creeptastic interrogators?
Will I continue reading? I’ve put it down for now. Not sure if I’ll go back to it. First 50 pages felt weighed down by the standard fantasy tropes.
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee – I’m a terrible person. I bought this book because I fell in love with the cover art. It’s also a pretty damn fun book so far. Opens with a huge action scene which feels very thrown into the deep end. Lots of jargon that doesn’t mean anything to me yet. No clue what the phrase “calendrical mathematics” means, but I sure do like the shape and taste of those words. Lots of very cool animal, bird, and insect signifiers, they are sort of like a coat of arms but have more contextual meaning. The prose feels very musical, the prose style and story telling style feels a little like a mash-up of Seth Dickinson and Benjanun Sriduangkaew. I made the mistake of reading Ninefox Gambit just a few pages at a time here and there and that didn’t work for the way my brain works. When I pick this up again to finish it, I’ll be sure to read it in large chunks.
Will I continue reading? Absolutely!
Cold Iron by Stina Leicht – I bought this book shortly after it was published, and was immediately intimidated by it’s door-stopper-ness. Even worse, every time I looked at the cover I thought to myself “military fantasy. Bleh”. But? Stina Leicht, and everything I’ve read of hers, I’ve loved. Five books 50 pages was the perfect time to pick up this book, because I was only committing to 50 pages, not what appeared to be 900 (and ends up is only about 600. Super thick high quality paper!). I was hooked in the first chapter, which, as this is a Leicht, I should have expected. An epic fantasy of sorts, twin heirs Suvi and Nels are protecting their kingdom from power-hungry family members, invaders, and who know what else. The invaders fight with muskets and disease, and when was the last time you read a fantasy novel that included vast discussions of innoculations and biology? Nels is broody, his personal bodyguard/spy/assassin Viktor is snarky AF, I want to join up with the Waterborne, and Leicht has already written the sequel. As she always does, Leicht writes characters you immediately become invested in. Cold Iron is some solid awesome.
Will I continue reading? As of the writing of this post, I’m nearly halfway through the book. By the time this post publishes I’ll probably be nearly done. This book is freakin’ awesome.
Dear Sweet Filthy World by Caitlin R. Kiernan – This is Kiernan’s 14th collection of short fiction. Reading her work reminded me of being an undergraduate art student. We received a small amount of class credit for attending the MFA Art shows that were on campus. My response to the vast majority of those art shows was “I don’t get it”. It could have been the context, it could have been those particular MFA students, it could have been that I was a dumb college kid. I was vividly reminded of that time in my life while reading the first 3 stories in this collection: I just didn’t get it. This collection is not the MFA show for me, I didn’t even make it 50 pages in. But, take this in context: I also usually fail spectacularly at understanding and enjoying poetry, and there is lots of beautiful poetry out there. Just because I bounced off of this collection pretty hard doesn’t mean others won’t enjoy it.
Will I continue reading? Nope.
In the end:
Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald – meh
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson – meh
Nine Fox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee – Yay!
Cold Iron by Stina Leicht – Super Yay!
Dear Sweet Filthy World by Caitlin R. Kiernan – nay
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?
The books I meh’d – should I go back to them another time?