The Bone Clocks

I fling open my bedroom curtains, and there’s the thirsty sky and the wide river full of ships and boats and stuff, but I’m already thinking of Vinny’s chocolaty eyes, shampoo down Vinny’s back, beads of sweat on Vinny’s shoulders, and Vinny’s sly laugh and, God, I wish I was waking up at Vinny’s place in Peacock Street and not in my own stupid bedroom.

Even though his motives are getting more familiar with every book you read by him – does this man love time travel and parallel worlds – I can’t ignore a David Mitchell offering.

As per usual, there’s seemingly random people connected in seemingly random ways, throughout time and space on earth. It all starts on the thin line between ‘Is there something out there’/people’s delusions, but – as Mitchell does – it erupts into some very fantastic science fiction closer to the ending. Don’t bother with this story if you prefer your stories doubting, this author likes to jump around over that line.

But there’s just something about how he creates his characters and their surroundings that makes me want to follow along. So, yes, carry on, doing what you do. For the time travel/’consider this afterlife’/’it’s all connected’ fans, you can’t go wrong with this author.

The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell, Alfred A. Knopf 2014

Of Things Gone Astray

Mrs Featherby had been having pleasant dreams until she woke to discover the front of her house had vanished overnight.

For a few months, I’ve only read books from my To Read list. It’s satisfying to see the number go down, but now there’s mostly nonfiction and yet unavailable books, I gave myself the freedom of going to the library without a list. Yes, wild, I know (I still managed to find two books of my To Read list, but it’s not about that right now).

Of Things Gone Astray got my attention with its cover, and the description was appealing enough for me to ignore it being a collection of stories (pro: there have to be at least a few that are nice. con: the nice ones will never last long enough).

Even though it’s a collection of different characters, some of them slowly move into each other’s orbit, making it feel more like a world building from different angles than completely stand-alone stories. I feel like this made me like the story more, making it a bit more eerie than playing connect-the-dots.

Still, it’s not a novel that will stay with me forever, it was different and random enough to be something weird and quirky in my reading. A bit like a pause, maybe.

Of Things Gone Astray, Janina Matthewson, HarperCollins Publishers 2014

Acceptance

Just out of reach, just beyond you: the rush and froth of the surf, the sharp smell of the sea, the criscrossing shape of the gulls, their sudden, jarring cries.

And the Southern Reach Trilogy is done. As it looks like I haven’t reviewed the previous novels, I’ll just judge the entire trilogy in one go. It’ll be easier than just Acceptance, the last (and biggest) novel.

The Southern Reach Trilogy is an eerie set of books you’d best ignore if you like your conclusions clear and your clues obvious. In these three books, especially the first one, a lot of uncomfortable weirdness builds up, but Jeff VanderMeer doesn’t give you a breather.

There’s an unfamiliar place where life functions along different rules. It infects, it controls, it changes the research teams that enter, and no-one seems to be able to understand if it’s aliens, the planet itself, or something they can’t even think of.

The first two books are small ones, just enough to give the reader the creeps without feeling like you’re being brought along for a ride to nowhere. Acceptance might mean that the people involved are accepting, but the reader will have to do without a clear answer. The creeps stay though, just in a lesser amount.

Acceptance, Jeff VanderMeer, HarperCollins 2014

Happy Valley

13 x 58 min.

Laat ik maar voorop stellen dat deze titel zeker weten ironisch is. Happy Valley is een detective in een klein dorpje met zoveel criminaliteit dat het niet verwonderlijk is dat het zijn eigen politiebureau heeft.

Happy Valley posterHoofdrolspeler is Catherine, en zij en de actrice die haar speelt (Sarah Lancashire), zijn ook de USP voor deze serie. In plaats van weer een nukkig supergenie als leider te hebben, is Catherine zo verdomde menselijk dat het regelmatig ongemakkelijk wordt. Niets van wat zij meemaakt, lijkt geschreven voor goedkoop scoren of om haar karakter snel als eigen te beschouwen. Wat ze ook doet, er is een magnetisme waardoor je blijft kijken.

Het is een grauwe serie, maar door de onderwerpen, niet door kleurgebruik. Per seizoen (twee), is er een rode lijn, terwijl tussendoor Catherine politiewerk en leven op de best mogelijke manier wilt doen.

Ik ben niet vaak van de detectives, ze herhalen zichzelf snel, maar met Happy Valley krijg je zoveel mensen er bij dat de boel nergens vertraagt of gaat vervelen.

Happy Valley, BBC 2014

 

Clariel

Old Marral the fisherman lived in one of the oddest parts of Belisaere, the ancient capital of the Old Kingdom.

I’m pretty sure that Garth Nix is my favourite male fantasy author. Even when I’m a bit ‘hmm’ about some of his stories (for a younger audience), I’ll always appreciate his style and world building. This time it wasn’t any different.

Clariel is part of the The Old Kingdom series, but doesn’t fit into it chronologically. Not having read any of the series for a long while, this was kind of convenient for me. Just remember the necromancy, anything else can be new knowledge.

It being a (kind of) prequel also means that there’s not complete freedom to move and develop. Because of this the reader gets the slice-of-life option, things ending up before the (more) exciting and terrifying.

But I am a Garth Nix fan. I’ll read all of it.

Clariel, Garth Nix, Harper Collins 2014

The Girl from the Well

I am where dead children go.

And the third book of the ‘no more than two hundred pages’ theme that I seem to be working with the past few weeks. I feel like 1) it could have been even shorter (just a bit, to tighten it a little, and 2) this one would have been more appealing, extraordinary, without a sequel, but it’s clear that there’s one coming.

The girl from the well in The Girl from the Well is just one of the main characters, a ghost who looks out for abused and murdered children. So why did she gravitate towards the alive Tarquin, and his cousin Callie? And why isn’t the only creature?

The Girl from the Well uses Japanese mythology and turns the trope of the Chosen One inside out. It does so with some horrific elements, because the girl didn’t end up in the well for pleasant reasons, nor is what she recognises in Tarquin very pleasant. But besides that, Tarquin is still a teenager in high school, and Rin Chupeco keeps that nicely balanced.

If you like your ‘quick summer reads’ with some horror dolloped in, this one’s for you.

The Girl from the Well, Rin Chupeco, Sourcebooks Inc 2014

De bijen

De oude boomgaard lag ingeklemd.

Dit was stukken vreemder dan ik had verwacht, alleen al omdat ik verkeerd had herinnerd dat dit non-fictie was/zou zijn. Gelukkig was het een positieve verrassing.

In De bijen zit de lezer in een huif. De hoofdpersoon is een bij, iedereen is een bij, behalve de spinnen en wespen en andere nare vijanden. Elke bij kent haar plek, maar met Flora 717 gaat het mis en blijft het misgaan. Flora 717 vraagt zich namelijk dingen af, heeft geheimen, en verandert van functie(s).

Zo bloeit het verhaal op als een sprookje met een rauw, donker randje dat dreigt de boel te besmetten. Of de lezer hier iets van leert? In hoeverre het biologisch correct is? Wie het weet, mag het zeggen. Maar vermakelijk, spannend en gruwelijk is het.

De bijen, Laline Paull, De Bezige Bij 2014