I thoroughly enjoy reading Jason Kottke’s monthly media diet posts, so I decided to try something similar with my monthly reading for this year. I thought it would be a good writing challenge and help keep me fresh between longer reviews.
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
I originally read this back in the 90s, sometime after the second book came out but before the third. I remember enjoying it at the time, but for whatever reason I never got around to reading the rest of the trilogy. As part of my goal to finish more series that I started but never finished, I decided this would be the next trilogy/series I tackled.
The Golden Compass definitely holds up. I didn’t remember too much – just the broad strokes of the plot and characters – but what I found welcome about it is that it’s the rare young adult book where the main character behaves like a kid, but she’s also smart and capable in a way specific to children. Lyra Belacqua never feels like a little adult trapped in a child’s body, and the book is all the better for it.
Pullman also has a way with words and a fascination with headier philosophical matters that weave throughout the story without ever overwhelming the plot.
This is a book for kids with stakes that feel real and dangerous and occasionally horrifying. The villains are truly villainous, and the book doesn’t pull any punches. I started reading the second book the day after I finished the first, so I’m already doing better than I did oh those many years ago.
Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski
This is the first book in the “Witcher Saga” proper. The books leading up to this one are short story collections that set up the characters and relationships while also building out the world.
The funny thing is, this book still felt a bit like several novellas stitched together, like the old-fashioned fix-up novels from the golden age of sci-fi. The end result is a novel that still feels fairly episodic. It works, but it doesn’t build to much of a climax.
Instead, it’s a series of stories about Geralt’s ward, Ciri, her early training, and the dangers she faces from the outside world. Geralt isn’t even the viewpoint character for most of the book, with Dandelion, Triss, Ciri and Yennifer all getting their turns at the helm. I like that this book kept things fairly small-scale. I’m assuming the series only builds in scope from here.
REALLY LIKED IT
Unnatural, Volume 2 by Mirka Andolfo
The further adventures of a sexy pig-girl living in a dystopian society who gets caught up in a supernatural conspiracy because of her status as the chosen one in a former life. Yes, you read that right.
For a book marketed on its sex appeal, this volume sure does focus on the main character running and hiding from the villains who want to control her life, all while fighting the spirit of an evil wolf-man that only she can see. Yes, again, I know. I like this series more than that ridiculous premise might warrant, mostly because the art is so wonderful.
REALLY LIKED IT
Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore An alternately bleak and drily funny book about a man who keeps getting reincarnated but would rather spend all his time in the afterlife with his girlfriend Susie, who happens to be an incarnation of death. LOVED IT
Exorsisters, Volume 1 by Ian Boothby and Gisele Lagace
I do like Lagace’s art, which is probably why I keep reading Menage a 3, but where that series has sexy hijinks to keep things interesting, this book includes more than one scene where a character explains backstory to another character who already knows it in an awkward info-dump. The most interesting thing in this series is the revelation that the main character’s mother sold her daughter’s soul to save herself, but the story around it is limp and graceless.