Reviews of the books I’ve read in the past 3 months in tasty 100-word parcels.
Marvel Comics The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Eric Shanower & Skottie Young
This is a graphic novel adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I adore this story and I’m happy to say that this adaptation is not a disappointment. What I really like about this is that it follows the original book by Baum pretty well, including little details I loved such as the characters putting on green goggles before entering the Emerald City and the trip to see the Good Witch of the South at the end of the story. The illustrations are so pretty and it opens with a little prologue on The Wizard of Oz and Baum’s history.
Flashforward – Robert Sawyer
I picked this up at a charity shop because I watched and loved the ill-fated t.v. show of the same name. This is not like the show at all, except the premise. Due to an experiment at CERN, the consciousness of the globe jumps forward by 20 odd years. It is very much an SF story, with theories on time and consciousness sparking philosophical ideas on fate. It is not, like the t.v show, a mystery that needs to be solved with nefarious goings-on. The stakes are lower due to the huge jump forward and the stories are smaller, limited to and centring around the scientists at CERN.
Exit West – Mohsin Hamid
There has been a lot of hype around this book recently and I just don’t think it lived up to it. Set in an anonymous foreign country that eventually becomes war-torn, Exit West presents the question: what if you could just walk away from the mess of ideological war through a magical door? It’s beautifully written with the kind of language you’d find in a fairytale – but because of that the stakes felt really low. Hamid doesn’t delve deep enough into the characters and I felt like the latter half of the story was somewhat rushed, told as an epilogue.
Winnie-the-Pooh – A.A. Milne
Winnie-the-Pooh was one of my childhood favourites – I used to listen to it on audio cassette. It is (surprisingly?) centred around Christopher Robin – the book opens with the narrator “reminding” him about his adventures with Winnie-the-Pooh and his assortment of toys in the Hundred Acre Wood. Positives: Whimsical stories, songs by Winnie-the Pooh, a bear of Very Little Brain and lots of humour. Negatives: the hero-worshipping of Christopher Robin is grating and by the sequel (The House at Pooh Corner) I was a little bored – is very much a children’s book. Oh and we don’t meet Tigger till the sequel!
Fishbowl – Bradley Somer
This book was trying very hard to create a great conceit but it didn’t quite make it. It opens with a grandiose description about how all of time and history is contained in a box – the building that the book is set in. The book then takes you through stories of various characters, some interlinked, some who just pass each other. We witness 30 minutes of action across 300 pages – this is supposedly representative of the human experience. Also Ian the fish’s fall from the top floor seems to just be a quirky addition to the story; fun but irrelevant.