Today, I thought I’d lessen my review backlog by a bit with some mini-reviews:
2008. Viking. Hardcover. 372 pages.
For the challenge: 2nd Reading
I had enjoyed Brooks’ Year of Wonders (except for the ending), and when one of my cousins suggesting reading People of the Book as part of a Facebook book club, I got on board. As with Year of Wonders, Brooks’ level of historical detail is fascinating. The book follows the history of a beautiful illuminated book, starting with its rescue in 1994 Sarajevo and going back to 15th century Spain. My favorite section was that of Ruti Ben Shoushah in Tarragona 1492.
While the book’s survival is a story of triumph, the stories of the “people of the book” are fairly grim. The clash of religions is in the foreground, and the persecution of Jews throughout European history. The framing story is that of an Australian conservator who has been called in to analyze and delicately repair the beautiful book.
People of the Book is pleasing in an intellectual way, with its careful renderings of times past. The main ‘character’ is the book and it’s the people who are transient, briefly illuminated by their contact with the book and then fading out of view.
Includes: Legends in Exile (2002) and Animal Farm (2003)
2009. DC Comics. Hardcover. 264 pages.
My brother-in-law, who reads graphic novels more than I do, recommended this series to me a long time ago. I’ve since seen the Fables series and spinoffs reviewed around the blogosphere. This deluxe edition is a compilation of two volumes, each with five chapters: Legends in Exile and Animal Farm. The concept is immediately intriguing: characters from fables and fairytales have fled their homelands and set up a community (Fabletown) in New York City. Old King Cole is presiding mayor of the community, with a steely Snow White doing most of the work behind-the-scenes. Some of the animal-characters have changed into human form, such as the Big Bad Wolf, and those who can’t must live upstate out of the view of normal humans (the “mundanes”).
Fables uses this concept for all its worth. It’s a lot of fun seeing familiar characters transformed by their new setting, and also seeing how their lives have played out since the happy-ever-after. Snow White and Prince Charming have long since divorced. Goldilocks is a militant gun-toting radical. Jack (of the Beanstalk) is still making foolish gambles with money.
The story panels offer a good mix of humor and tension, as well as complexity. I loved the illustrations by James Jean that started off each new chapter. I’ve already requested Volume #3 Storybook Love through interlibrary loan.
2009. Scholastic. Hardcover. 391 pages.
For the challenge: 2nd Reading
I raced through Hunger Games‘ sequel almost as fast as I’d read through that first book. Collins knows how to ratchet up the tension and raise the stakes. Also, I love how distinct even the minor characters are. I’m a big fan of Cinna, Katniss’ subversive and masterful designer from the Capitol. Collins also knows how to leave you on a cliff-hanger! I am regrettably number 200-something on the waiting list for the last of the trilogy, Mockingjay. I’m banking on the other library patrons reading through it as fast as I’ve read these first two books.
(All books reviewed above were borrowed from the public library.)