The space probe Voyager 1 left the planet in 1977.
Wow. Maybe as much impact on me, albeit in a slightly different category, as Het achtste leven (voor Brilka). I’m still a bit fuzzy around the edges after having finished it. And as often with those on the edges of opinion (very good, very bad), I’m struggling a little bit with how to put into words what I like so much about this.
Because with the premise, it just as easily could have gone on to be terribly navel-gazing and Philosophical without foundation (ie fake deep babble). A young English woman deciding on going to travel ‘to the wild’ by herself, through Iceland, Greenland, Canada and Alaska. During, she’s often (very) conscious about her privilege, place in the world, safety and future, but not without keeping her eyes turned outwards. And what a beautiful, mesmerising outwards it is.
So, what does happen in this book that left me reeling slightly? It’s the insights, but also the recognisable feelings about living without a buoy, and/or direction. It’s the worries about environment and society and how you seemingly can’t have any impact on it, yet never turns into something completely depressing. And with the conclusion, it all slides into perspective.
Maybe that’s the biggest thing: it offers such a broad perspective that keeps narrowing down, without offering you the light at the end of the tunnel. It just gives you the knowledge about all that’s around you.
The Word for Woman is Wilderness, Abi Andrews, Profile Books 2018
I AM NOT AS I ONCE WAS.
I’m so glad I gave this author another chance. The Fifth Season may have been a bridge too far or simply not the right book at the right time (when you read so many books, sometimes it’s weird to accept that you can’t ‘crack’ one right away), but girl, was The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms the cool, easy accessible fantasy you just might need.
With accessible I mean that the story line is (mostly) chronological, the lines drawn between good and evil are (mostly) clear and that the world building takes enough of a back seat to not confuse you about which surroundings you’re supposed to read a situation in.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms starts with an unlikely hero, a young woman brought to the royal family. But instead of letting her work her way through the fitting tropes, N.K. Jemisin quickly turns it around, and keeps adding little turns to the regular ideas.
What I really liked was the mythology used, and although this is the reason that does make the book less clean cut towards the end, by then you’ll be too enamored to want to give up.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin, Hatchette Book Group 2010
It was definitely better than the second movie, but how hard was that one to beat? This time we’re back to the feeling of a summery, no-need-for-life-lessons Star Trek. And even though the director came from the Fast and the Furious series, not that much races.
As usual, the Enterprise is off somewhere, trying to help out an alien race, when they find someone that needs their help somewhere else. Being good Federation crew, they follow. A villain needs to be added in somewhere, so guess in which ways things don’t go as they should.
This time the movie moves along much smoother, there is less lens flare and random female nudity and flat-falling jokes. It could still do with more speaking parts for women, and it’s sad that a same-sex kiss had to be cut out. But if it’s going to be a trilogy, we leave on a semi high note, else the only way is up.
Star Trek Beyond, Paramount Pictures 2016
I opened my eyes.
Between okay and “why did I put this on my list” non-fiction, I previously had the wonderful Fates and Furies to lift my reading experience up. Now I can add Guardian of the Dead as a delightful breath of fresh air (nothing bad about non-fiction meant, it just has to work harder to blow me away).
This book (a debut novel) did. This isn’t just another YA novel. The usual suspects of love triangle, unknowingly perfect hero(ine) and lack of any friendships/relationships are almost non-existent (the author has a good excuse for the last one). But probably the most exciting thing was the use of Māori mythology. And not in an ‘ Oh, Ah, how exotic and strange’ way, but very much as a part of daily, contemporary life. It shows that there’s more to mythology than another version of Zeus messing up things.
Not that messing up doesn’t happen. Main character Ellie walks into a bite-more-than-you-can-chew situation that might turn into the end of New Zealand as we know it. Throw in frustrations about family, school, and body, add a crush (there is a slightly mysterious love interest), some female friendships and enemies, some unexpected magic and you get a maelstrom of entertainment.
Read it, love it hopefully as much as I do.
Guardian of the Dead, Karen Healey, Hachette Book Company 2010
Finally, after driving all night, Evie arrived.
Ah, wonderful, beautiful, (contemporary) fantasy as it should be. From the To Read list, and worthy of its spot.
Evie’s father is ill, terminally. This means she has to prepare for inheriting knowledge and subjects she never knew about, and which have a lot of pull on the less-than-human creatures in this world. But what and why and can her father please just cooperate instead of ignore everything?
Coming apocalypse(s), mythology and comic books are mixed into a story that’s coloured half in gray tones, half in the most vibrant colours in existence. It’s attractive and enticing, with a woman you easily root for at its centre.
Discord’s Apple, Carrie Vaughn, Tor 2010
Van sommige films neem je gewoon aan dat je ze vast wel eens gezien hebt. Voor mij is één daarvan Ever After: A Cinderella Story. Nineties, romantische comedy? Drew Barrymore? Vast! Nou niet dus. Gelukkig is dat nu eindelijk recht gezet.
Ever After is weer een versie van het Assepoester-sprookje, maar deze keer met extra ruggegraat. Schoonmoeder Anjelica Huston (altijd fijn om te volgen) doet het er maar mee. En daar doet ze haar best voor ook, met dochters/stiefzussen als ammunitie en collateral damage.
Zo valt het heel mee met de mierzoetigheid en wijze levenslessen en is de film niet meer en niet minder dan een aandoenlijk plezier om naar te kijken.
Ever After: A Cinderella Story, Twentieth Century Fox 1998
In the days following the holocaust, which came to be known as the Great White, there was death and madness.
Finally some oldskool fantasy-ing. That’s not on the book of course, I just feel that you can only read so many unlikely-hero-in-medieval-inspired-settings stories before starting to compare them. At least contemporary and/or urban gives you a spot-the-similarities option.
Anyway, Obernewtyn. Recommended by a patriotic Australian who said that if I wanted more (fantasy) female authors in my life, that I couldn’t ignore Isobelle Carmody. Carmody started writing at a young age and this book shows that it’s not just for children, but also by a child. The sentences are simple, the hints and messages clear. It takes a while to get to the plot, but if you hang on there is an entertaining world to be found. With an unlikely hero.
In a post-apocalyptic world there are mutants, Misfits. You don’t want to be one, because the Council doesn’t like them. Main character Elspeth, already on the low side of society as an orphan, is discovered to be one, and shipped off to Obernewtyn, where the master is interested in curing them. Or so they say.
Nasty characters, strange friends, telepathic animals and hidden plans to take over make up the more colourful, appealing side of things. Combine that with an eighties cover and a traditional map, and you have your shot of easy-breezy-as-it-should-be fantasy for the month. If I’m going to stick around for the other six books of the series? Not sure yet. There is a To Read List to work through, after all.
Obernewtyn, Isobelle Carmody, Penguin Books 1987
There’s two points of critique from me, for this movie. One: why wasn’t it entirely drawn like some scenes and the credits. Two: if this is a Mexican based story, why were the voice actors of the main characters not Mexican?
But if you want a shot of colour, life and love on a gray (winter’s) day, The Book of Life is definitely for you. Sometimes it feels like an animated version of Moulin Rouge, with the use of pop songs and references. It once again shows that how you dress a story, any story, is a large part of the appeal.
Two boys and one girl are the best of friends, they grow up together. But both are in love with the girl, and supernatural creatures use them as pawns for their entertainment. What will happen, who will survive, who will she choose? And why does the Land of the Remembered look so awesome?
Visit for the looks of things, stay for the happy feeling it will leave you with.
The Book of Life, Twenty Century Fox Animation 2014
The book begins with a plane crash.
Sometimes it’s very on the nose (for someone who calls herself an intersectional feminist), but I’m very pleased that Libba Bray unapologetically laces this story with lessons about racism, sexism and feminism. I was looking for another book by Bray, but any will do if you want to discover the style of an author.
Beauty Queens on their way to a pageant end up in a plane crash. While they slowly discover that they’re worth more than their looks, the sponsor and producer interject commercials and hostile take overs to make sure the reader still remembers her place.
It’s a parody, a complaint, an educational pamphlet and a book stuffed to the brim with girl power. Just when it gets a bit too much, it adds heart. A smart read for both girls and boys.
Beauty Queens, Libba Bray, Scholastic 2012