Thursday, April 2, 2015

Best Books Of March

I read 7 books in March 2015. Here’s a recap of my favorites:

Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood

The main character of Atwood's riveting novel calls himself Snowman. When the story opens, he is sleeping in a tree, wearing an old bed sheet, mourning the loss of his beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death. He searches for supplies in a wasteland where insects proliferate and pigoons and wolvogs ravage the pleeblands, where ordinary people once lived, and the Compounds that sheltered the extraordinary. As he tries to piece together what has taken place, the narrative shifts to decades earlier. How did everything fall apart so quickly? Why is he left with nothing but his haunting memories? Alone except for the green-eyed Children of Crake, who think of him as a kind of monster, he explores the answers to these questions in the double journey he takes—into his own past, and back to Crake's high-tech bubble-dome, where the Paradise Project unfolded and the world came to grief. 
With breathtaking command of her shocking material, and with her customary sharp wit and dark humor, Atwood projects us into an outlandish yet wholly believable realm populated by characters who will continue to inhabit our dreams long after the last chapter. This is Margaret Atwood at the absolute peak of her powers.

Review: This is one of my favorite novels ever, and it’s the first book in one of my favorite trilogies ever. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read it since it came out. I’ve been in a reading slump recently, so I picked it up again because I knew that I would enjoy it. I still love it as much as I did the first time I read it.

The story follows Snowman as he struggles through a post-apocalyptic world. His job is to protect a group of genetically engineered humans who are known as the Children of Crake. Through flashbacks, the story shows how Snowman unwittingly helped Crake—his best friend—create the plague that destroyed the world.

This book is amazing. Like all of Margaret Atwood’s novels, the writing is beautiful and the characters are complicated. Every time I read one of Atwood’s books, I’m in awe of her talent.

There are so many things that I like about this book. Crake is an unusual “bad guy.” He’s funny and charismatic and (somewhat) likeable, even though he does horrible things to people. I love his complexity. He definitely has some good qualities and some really, really bad ones. He’s my favorite character in the book.

Another element that I love is the role religion plays in the story. The Children of Crake are genetically engineered by Crake. When they start asking Snowman why they exist, he creates a religious mythology where Crake is a god-like figure. Crake destroys the world and creates a new one in its place. He’s a god to some people and a villain to others. I think that’s really interesting.

Even though the story deals with serious subjects, it’s surprisingly funny. The humor comes at unexpected moments and catches the reader off-guard. Some of the dialogue between Snowman and Crake is hilarious.

Like all of Atwood’s novels, this one is character-driven. There isn’t much of a plot. It’s all about the people, their lives, and their pasts. The lack of a fast-paced plot doesn’t bother me because the characters are interesting enough to make up for it.

Now that I’ve reread Oryx and Crake, I have to go reread the rest of the trilogy.

The Gunslinger – Stephen King

Set in a world of extraordinary circumstances, filled with stunning visual imagery and unforgettable characters, The Dark Tower series is King's most visionary feat of storytelling, a magical mix of science fiction, fantasy, and horror that may well be his crowning achievement.  
In The Gunslinger (originally published in 1982), King introduces his most enigmatic hero, Roland Deschain of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting, solitary figure at first, on a mysterious quest through a desolate world that eerily mirrors our own. Pursuing the Man in Black, an evil being who can bring the dead back to life, Roland is a good man who seems to leave nothing but death in his wake.

Review: Stephen King is the master of creepy books, and this one is no exception.

The Gunslinger is book #1 of the eight-book Dark Tower series. It follows a Gunslinger, Roland, as he tracks his enemy through a harsh landscape that is very similar to—and very different from—the American west.

The imagery in this novel is stunning. It’s so vivid and so bizarre that I had to keep reading. I couldn’t get enough of this world, and I’m excited to read the next book in the series because I need to see more of it.

The writing style is another of the book’s strengths. This series was inspired by a poem, and that clearly shows. The writing is more poetic than the writing in Stephen King’s other books. It’s beautiful, and strange, and eerie, and I love it. I read most of The Gunslinger in a few hours because the writing is so captivating. I didn’t want to put the book down and take myself out of its world.

My only issue with this novel is the confused and unsettled feeling that it creates in the reader. I don’t mind this feeling for a little while, but if it goes on too long, I start to get annoyed. The confused feeling lasted through the entire book for me. I know that this is book #1 of a giant series, but I wanted more backstory and more explanation. A lot of characters are mentioned briefly, and their significance to the story is never explained. I was so interested in this world and these characters that I wanted to know more immediately. The lack of backstory quickly became frustrating.

It was frustrating because I love the characters. They are all broken and imperfect. I’m looking forward to finding out what happened to them in the past and what they do next.

If the rest of the series is anything like this book, I know I’m going to enjoy it.

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

Review: I went into this book knowing very little about it, and I’m glad I did. It wouldn’t have been nearly as awesome to read if I’d been spoiled. The plot has so many twists that it’s impossible to predict them all. I’ll try to keep my review completely spoiler-free.

Gone Girl has a simple premise: Amy goes missing, and her husband Nick is the prime suspect. That’s where the simplicity ends. The plot, characters, and story structure are very intricate.

My favorite part of the book is the characters. They are all extremely well-developed. Nick and Amy are devious, manipulative, and unlikable. I had to keep reading because they become more shockingly nasty with every page. The story is told from alternating first-person points-of-view, so the reader gets to see the plot from both Amy and Nick’s perspectives. I love this because the characters have different interpretations of the same events. There’s no way to know for sure which character is telling the truth about what really happened to Amy.

Another great element of the story is the role that the media plays. The media creates their own versions of Nick and Amy: Nick is a heartless murderer; Amy is an innocent victim. The media’s versions of the characters aren’t quite accurate. It made me think about real life and how the people involved in murder cases are presented by the media.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, so it’s hard to come up with criticisms. I did find it difficult to get into the story. The beginning has a lot of character development and not much else. It took about 200 pages for the story to really grab my attention. After that, I couldn’t put it down.

If you like mysteries or books with fascinatingly horrible characters, I’d recommend Gone Girl

All the Things = 21 books.

I’m currently reading = The Waste Lands by Stephen King. 


  1. Fascinatingly horrible is a great at to describe Gone Girl! (I hated the book. Its the only one I DNF'd last year!
    Beth x

  2. Hmmm, I should read a book by Stephen King soon. Can you believe that I never read any of his? I'll start with Under the Dome... although the TV series kinda bored me lol. Anyway, thanks for sharing this little wrap up of your favorite books of March ^^

    1. I haven’t read Under the Dome. I started watching the TV show, but I got bored with it. I think my favorite Stephen King books are The Stand and The Green Mile.