Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sept 10: Silent Land, World Without End, Fuse (Book Reviews)

-I can't believe I never reviewed Silent Land!!! I feel like I did, I really do, but I can't for the life of me find it.

Here's what it says on the back of the book: "When Jake and Zoe are buried under a flash avalanche while skiing in the French Pyrenees, they miraculously dig their way out from under the snow—only to discover the world they knew has been overtaken by an eerie and absolute silence. With their phones cut off, and the village evacuated of every living soul, the young married couple begin to witness strange, unsettling events neither one can ignore. And as the days wear on, they are forced to confront frightening possibilities as they attempt to survive and escape the silent land they now inhabit."

And here's the post Meredith wrote that made me want to read it. I'd never even heard of Graham Joyce. Just goes to show you how many books there really are in the world.  

I think I can't do this without spoiling anything, but just in case, be warned: SPOILERS MAY BE BELOW.

Parts of this book TERRIFIED me. The crows, the silence, the reverse claustrophobia of feeling like you're the ONLY PERSON ON THE ENTIRE PLANET- these are regular things that scare me in day to day life, but Joyce writes them so vividly that on more than one occasion, I had to turn the book off and take a few deep breaths.  This isn't real, this isn't real.  I turned it back on pretty quickly. And other than a few moments of complete terror (for me, I don't know if regular people will be afraid of the things that I was) it wasn't a 'scary' book, per se.

I will say that there's a scene where Jake and Zoe are riding a ski lift and I was so scared that I actually cried. It's the being alone.  While I'm as claustrophobic as the next person, I'm even more scared of empty, wide open spaces.  Like Open Water (did you see that?!?! Shudder.) or being lost in space, just floating around.  Even a huge field where I can't see anything else is enough to get my heart racing. 

I wasn't surprised, I figured out what was going on pretty quickly, but strangely enough, I don't think this took ANYTHING away from the story.  It's not a Gone Girl type mystery. I guess I'm trying to say that this book, at least, wasn't about the ending (the COMPLETE, SOLID, DEFINITE ending, which is getting more and more rare, have you noticed?) it was about Jake and Zoe and their lives, and how they reacted to these strange circumstances, and how much they love each other. 

This book made me want to read more Joyce, but I haven't, mainly because I can still feel that terror, and I'm scared to feel it again :( But I will.  One day. 

-World Without End is the sequel to Pillars of the Earth, one of the very best books I read in 2012. I never reviewed that one, because it took me almost eight months to get through the book, and when I was done, I just wanted to leave that world for a while. But then I dove right into World Without End, so what does that say about it?

Here's a snippet from Amazon: "In 1989 Ken Follett astonished the literary world with The Pillars of the Earth, a sweeping epic novel set in twelfth-century England centered on the building of a cathedral and many of the hundreds of lives it affected. Critics were overwhelmed--"it will hold you, fascinate you, surround you" (Chicago Tribune)--and readers everywhere hoped for a sequel. 

World Without End takes place in the same town of Kingsbridge, two centuries after the townspeople finished building the exquisite Gothic cathedral that was at the heart of The Pillars of the Earth. The cathedral and the priory are again at the center of a web of love and hate, greed and pride, ambition and revenge, but this sequel stands on its own. This time the men and women of an extraordinary cast of characters find themselves at a crossroad of new ideas--about medicine, commerce, architecture, and justice. In a world where proponents of the old ways fiercely battle those with progressive minds, the intrigue and tension quickly reach a boiling point against the devastating backdrop of the greatest natural disaster ever to strike the human race--the Black Death. 
Three years in the writing, and nearly eighteen years since its predecessor, World Without End breathes new life into the epic historical novel and once again shows that Ken Follett is a masterful author writing at the top of his craft."

These aren't the types of books I typically read. They're historical fiction, and I know VERY little about history, I dunno where I was going with this statement.  It's just not my usual cup of tea. And when Ericka first recommended Pillars, I thought it was some sort of scifi/fantasy, doesn't it sound like one? Pillars of the Earth.

But it wasn't, obviously.

I will say that Pillars was vastly better than World Without End, but you don't need to read one to read the other.  In fact, it's not even really a sequel, it's like two hundred years later. World has a lot of the same plot points as Pillars, a lot of the same angst and worry (bad guy gets away with SO MUCH, good guy separated from his lover by unfairness and bad luck), but without the wonder and amazement (for me) of the actual BUILDING of the cathedral.  He builds a bridge, which I found much less fascinating, and by the time he gets to fixing the tower, I just didn't care.

The Black Plague, however, was RIGHT UP MY ALLEY. I devoured every singe word about it, I couldn't get enough. I've always had a soft spot for community health and epidemiology  and patient zero and the like, and this was EXQUISITE as far as all that nerdiness is concerned. 

The fact that just a few short centuries ago, people didn't understand that you have to WASH YOUR HANDS!?!?! HOLY CRAP!!! Blows my mind.  Blows. My. Mind. Thank God for Florence Nightingale and the nerds who finally figured out germs, can I get an amen?

Long story short, if you're interested in this sort of thing, it's great. If you want to give historical fiction a stab but you're not sure it's for you, I'd read Pillars instead, it's just better. 

-Fuse is another sequel, this one to Pure.  Here's the back of the book:"We want our son returned. 

This girl is proof that we can save you all. If you ignore our plea, we will kill our hostages one at a time.

To be a Pure is to be perfect, untouched by Detonations that scarred the earth, and sheltered inside the paradise that is the Dome. But Partridge escaped to the outside world, where Wretches struggle to survive amid smoke and ash. Now, at the command of Partridge's father, the Dome is unleashing nightmare after nightmare upon the Wretches in an effort to get him back.

At Partridge's side is a small band of those united against the Dome: Lyda, the warrior; Bradwell, the revolutionary; El Capitan, the guard; and Pressia, the young woman whose mysterious past ties her to Partridge in ways she never could have imagined. Long ago a plan was hatched that could mean the earth's ultimate doom. Now only Partridge and Pressia can set things right.

To save millions of innocent lives, Partridge must risk his own by returning to the Dome and facing his most terrifying challenge. And Pressia, armed only with a mysterious Black Box containing a set of cryptic clues, must travel to the very ends of the earth, to a place where no map can guide her. If they succeed, the world will be saved. But should they fail, humankind will pay a terrible price . . .

Pure was vastly better than Fuse, but Fuse was really good. I actually don't have much to say about it. I still liked Bradwel, I REALLY liked El Capitan and his attached brother (I can't remember his name!!! It starts with an H), I learned to like Partridge's girlfriend a lot (can't remember her name either) but the whole time I was reading it, I was like 'this is a waste, this is just filler until she gets book three out.'

Here's hoping book three is really good.

I will say that I thought the whole stealing the plane and flying to Ireland was dumb. I mean, really? Give me a break. The more I write about this book, the less I like it.

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