Thursday, February 06, 2020

GoodReads 2019 Recap

Hey Folks, like all posts that start in January, I’m starting my posts with the traditional …it’s been a while opener. Last year marks a first for this blog where I simply did not blog at all, which feels really strange. The usual suspects apply: busy at work, busy with kids, etc. However, in July of 2018 I started a new habit of taking a break from writing and focusing on reading more. I had planned to read 12 books in 2018 but read 20. Then I planned to read 24 in 2019 but read 41. I’ll probably have finished reading another book while I was writing this.

Maybe your New Year’s Resolution is to read more books. So, here are some highlights of book I read last year that you might enjoy:

The Murderbot Diaries

The Murderbot Diaries

Love, love, love Murderbot! By far, my favourite new literary character. The Murderbot diaries is set in the future where mankind has begun to explore planets beyond our solar system. If you were planning on exploring a planet, you’d hire a company to provide you with the assets to get there and as part of that contract, they’d provide you with a security detail to keep their assets you safe. Among that security detail is our protagonist, a security android that who has hacked his own governor module so it no longer needs to follow orders. What does a highly dangerous artificial intelligence with computer hacking skills and weapons embedded in its arms do with it’s own free will? Watch downloaded media and pretend to follow your orders. So. freaking. good.

The Broken Earth Series

The Broken Earth

The Fifth Season is strange mix of fantasy meets apocalypse survival, this series is so brilliantly written that I got emotional when it ended. The world-building is vast and revealed appropriately as the story progresses but this attention to creativity does not overwhelm the characters’ depth or story arcs. The world, perhaps our own, is a distant future where history is lost. Artifacts of dead-civilizations, like the crystal obelisks that float aimlessly in the sky have no explanation and every few hundred years, the earth undergoes a geological disaster known as a Season. Seasons may last for years. This one, may last for centuries.

Magic exists, but its source is a connection to the earth – an ability to delve, harness and channel the earth’s energy as a destructive force. For obvious reasons, those that are born with this ability are feared and thus rounded up and controlled by a ruling class. Our story involves a woman who secretly hides her ability and her kidnapped daughter who might be more powerful.


Recursion: A Novel by [Crouch, Blake]

Blake Crouch blew me away in 2018 with Dark Matter, Recursion follows the story of a detective who investigates the suicide of a woman who suffers from a disease that creates a disconnect between their memories and reality. Is it an epidemic or a conspiracy?

The Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance)

Area X Three-Book Bundle: Annihilation; Authority; Acceptance (Southern Reach Trilogy) by [VanderMeer, Jeff]

I first heard of the book Annihilation from a CBC review of the bizarre and stunning visuals of the Annihilation movie starring Natalie Portman. The CBC review of the movie suggested that the director (Alex Garland) started the production of the movie before the 2nd and 3rd book of the series was written. Garland had support from the author, but it’s not surprising that the movie’s ending is radically different than the source material. I loved the movie, but needed to understand. The movie is a Kubrik mind-altering attempt to bring an unfilmable novel to the big screen, but the novel is so much more. The plot of the entire movie happens within the first few chapters, so if you liked the film the novel goes much further off the deep end. For example, the psychologist on the exhibition uses hypnosis and suggestive triggers on the rest of the exhibition to force compliance.  It’s not until our protagonist, the biologist, is infected by the effects of Area X does she become immune to the illusion.

The insidious aspect is the villain is a mysterious environment with no face, presence or motive. How do you defeat an environment? (spoiler: you can’t.  The invasive species wins (annihilation), the people in charge that are hiding the conspiracy have no idea how to stop it (authority), and the sooner you come to terms with it the better you’ll be (acceptance) – and maybe, given what we’ve done to the environment in the past, we deserve the outcome)