Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch. I read this in two sittings and made Jason read it too. Then I recommended it to my book club as a fast summer read, not intending to make it our pick to discuss for the month, but we did end up with it for our May book. This book is part mystery, part thriller, part sci-fi, and even though there was plenty to discuss, ultimately a light read. The basic premise is that the main character goes out for a drink, leaving his wife and fifteen-year-old son at home, gets (abducted and) knocked unconscious on the way home and when he wakes up to a world where his wife and son don’t seem to exist. Twists and unthought-of things abound, even after the basic reveal of what is happening comes about a third of the way through the book. It reminded me–not in plot or subject, but in a if-you-like-that-kind-of-thing kind of way–of The Martian, by Andy Weir.
I Found You, by Lisa Jewell. Ugh. I was sucked in by wanting to know what happened/why/who was who in this book. (From the publisher’s description: “Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory.”) I actually really enjoyed the first third, or maybe half, of the book. But then when things started to be revealed, it pushed all my hate-it buttons–situations that start out innocent enough and spiral way out of control probably being the main offender here. I am often drawn to books with seemingly separate storylines that inevitably overlap at some point. Too often, though, the overlap is a groan (too obvious, too far-fetched). This one, for my tastes, was both too obvious and too far-fetched. I think other people could like this book, but it was not. for. me.
American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang. I picked up this graphic novel at a Little Free Library. This book also has three separate and seemingly unrelated storylines, but the way they come together is unpredictable and really well done. (I think, actually, they wouldn’t have even had to come together and I would have still enjoyed each story separately.) The artwork is colorful and simple, and the themes are rich and complex (racial identity and stereotypes, adolescent angst).
Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders. I had heard about this novel on a couple of different podcasts and had heard that the audio version was helpful in understanding what is happening. I put both the book and the audiobook on hold at the library, and they became available within a day of one another. And boy am I glad. The novel is in such a unique format, like nothing I’ve ever read before, and it took both the audio and print version for me to get how the format worked. The novel all takes place in one night, a few days after Abraham Lincoln’s eleven-year-old son, Willie, died. It is told through newspaper and book clips (I’ve been meaning to look up if these are actual sources or fiction as well) and then also through the voices of the ghosts who are in a sort of purgatory (some newly arrived, some long dead, almost all not realizing they are dead). To give you an idea, the audio version has 166 different narrators (some quite well known). I didn’t love this book, but I did really, really like it and would recommend it if only for the experience of reading something completely different.
The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny. Um, this is another in the Inspector Gamache series, which I really like so much, and I don’t know what more to say about it. It was a good one–not the best of the bunch, not the worst.
A Wind in the Door, by Madeleine L’Engle. The second installment of the Wrinkle in Time Quintet. I really enjoyed it and look forward to my kids reading this series with me. I probably didn’t like this one quite as well as the first, but I will definitely keep reading the series.
Dreamland Burning, by Jennifer Latham. I loved this YA novel. It is in two parts. In present-day Tulsa, Oklahoma, seventeen-year-old Rowan finds a body on her family’s property. In alternating chapters, we hear the story of Will Tillman (also seventeen) in 1921. Even though both stories are given equal time, the main story is what happened in 1921 (Will is telling his story as Rowan is also uncovering Will’s story). The story centers on the racial climate (think Jim Crow laws and the KKK) in Tulsa. The book is a good blend of mystery and historical fiction, and I recommend it.
Abandoned this month:
Ill Will, by Dan Chaon. Oh my goodness. I am so glad I put this one down. I got about two chapters in and realized I already hated all the storylines (see my above rant about situations spiraling out of control). I should have known from the flap description. I actually went online looking for spoilers, and that was even more confirmation that I would have haaaated this one.
The Gene: An Intimate History, by Siddhartha Mukherjee. I read probably forty pages of this before I had to return it to the library. I do actually plan to return to it someday, so the only reason I put it on my abandoned list is because it happens to be in the photo. This month just wasn’t the right time for this book for me.