Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Guess That'll Show Me!

As promised (albeit late) here are a few rambling, random thoughts on books I recently read.

The first was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Now, this book was recommended very strongly by several Purgatorians of my acquaintance, but I was reluctant to read it for two reasons.

First, it’s YA, which is normally not my thing. I mean, there are great YA books out there, but most of the time I find them a bit…thin? Not meaty enough? Not sure how to describe it. Fluffy? Ah well.

Second, I knew the book was written in present tense. (ie: “I walk down the hall, I see the boy, I light my hair on fire” as opposed to “I walked down the hall, I saw the boy, I lit my hair on fire”) To most people, this would seem to be a fairly minor difference, but for some reason, present tense books give me the squicks. It’s just not right, y’know? (apologies to anyone who writes in present tense. The flaw is mine, not yours)

So I went into this one with a sense of “Ok, I’ll try it and see how it turns out.” Within a page, I forgot it was in present tense. Within ten pages, I was hooked so thoroughly that I finished the book in a matter of a few hours. (realize that I am capable of reading a normal-sized book of 300-400 pages in three hours, if uninterrupted) It’s a phenomenal book that never succumbed to the “Twinkie” effect. (Twinkie = something mostly air and carbs, no real substance) ((Again, not a reflection of YA, just of how my brain reacts to some of it))

And I realized that this book in particular proves the theory that, if you do it well, it will sell. You have a book about vampires? Do it well, make it your own, and you’ll find an audience for it. You wanna write about artistic sculpture out of dung beetle droppings? Well… I wouldn’t buy it, but if you do it WELL, I’m sure someone would. Not only did Suzanne Collins do her book WELL, but I’ll be looking for the sequel, Catching Fire, due out September 1st.

Second book that caught my attention recently was Naamah’s Kiss, by Jacqueline Carey. It should be noted that I am a HUGE fan of her original Kushiel books. Yes, all six of them. It’s one of those series that I continually go back and re-read, sometimes even just to find a few paragraphs in one place that I dearly love, sometimes to read the entire book.

So, given that I’m a fan of that particular world, I was a bit leery of the “same world/new characters” idea. I knew that Naamah’s Kiss centered around new people in a world long past the heroes/heroines I had come to love in the Kushiel books. Did I want to get attached to all new characters? Would the world still be as rich and vibrant as it was originally, or was it merely sticking New Character X into Established World Y and shaking? I’ve seen it done badly so I was naturally skeptical.

And I shouldn’t have been. Yes, it’s the same world, but it’s also not. Time has passed, the world has turned. The characters I loved have passed into legend, but their legacy lives on. And the new characters captured my imagination, and I found that I actually cared what happened to them for their own sakes, not as an extension of the first books. I’ll be looking for the next one here, too.

So, there are my deep thoughts for the moment. I have some other blog posts in mind for the future (Maybe even a *gasp* series of them!) on series and my thoughts on how to make one, and how to break one. I’m getting some input there from some of my other writerly type friends, so it’ll be a bit before I pull all that together. (honestly, I’m trying to wait until the Torchwood mini-series airs here in the U.S. so I don’t spoiler it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet)

I didn’t write today, instead choosing to work out this blog post. Yeah I know, bad Kari, no donut. But my goal is to break 20K before (WELL before) the end of the week. Yeah, 20K isn’t much, but as much as I’ve been fighting this one, it’s gonna feel huge.


sue laybourn said...

I can't wait for Torchwood, then you can have a brilliant blog which I'll look forward to, because there's no one else around these parts who's even heard of Torchwood let alone watched it.

WendyCinNYC said...

I keep reading that Hunger Games is awesome. I'll have to give it a try. YA isn't usually my thing, either, but one of my favorite books from last year was YA, so, yanno, open mind and all that.

BeshterBooks said...

Glad you liked Naamah's Kiss. I adored it myself. I will get around to reviewing it, once things quiet down in RL.

jyantes said...

I am forced to read seven YA books a year for work. Normally, I handle it much like taking off a band-aid - read them all in one huge mess and the pain is less. This past year there was a surprise in the mix, The Book Thief. It was absolutely amazing. There were moments when I just had to stop and glory in the sentences and thoughts. They were breathtaking.

I must admit that I am a Gaiman addict. The Graveyard Book is well deserved of all of its awards. The last few pages are stunning. As well, Blueberry Girl is a rather unique wish for the daughters of the world.