July has been a blur of my son’s baseball games (20 plus in the past month) and fun weekend trips. In between, I’ve managed to get some reading done. Most of the books come recommended. Only one, not so much.
In no particular order:
Occultation by Laird Barron. Laird’s second collection is as breath taking and original as his first. Themes and style are built upon instead of recycled. Scenes in “Mysterium Tremendium” flat out creeped me out and gave me a nightmare or two. I can’t remember the last time that’s happened to me while reading fiction. Laird continues to write and fill his weird and dire stories with a cast of damaged memorable characters, and the atmosphere is so finely crafted, it’s physical. One of the most important collections of 2010.
The Passage by Justin Cronin. Yes, the big beast of a summer book, loaded with hype and industry agita. For once, a publisher got it right, though. Cronin clearly is paying homage to 70s King and The Stand in particular. But there’s plenty of nods to other works, and Cronin can flat out write. It’s a sprawling epic with memorable, complex characters, settings, and of course, cool beasties.
Chew Volume 2: International Flavor by John Laymon and Rob Guillory. The second installment of the fun graphic novel featuring the cibopathic detective (he gets psychic vibes from chewing/eating all manner of…things….) Tony Chu. It’s a lot of fun and irreverent. This second volume doesn’t have the same punch, same energy, but it’s a solid continuation of a story I will continue to follow.
Temporary Monsters by Ian Rogers. A fun novelette that features a private detective, Felix Renn, attempting to suss out if some of Hollywood’s most famous actors are really vampires and werewolves without succumbing to the The Black Lands himself. This has an almost joyous B Movie feel without ever succumbing to wink and camp, while being quite clever and well written.
Sarah Court by Craig Davidson. Not quite available from Chizine Pubs (look for it soon, mid-August, I think; I got me an early copy at readercon), but one of my favorite books of the year. Interlocking stories involving a group of five families who populate a block named Sarah Court, in Ontario, close to Toronto. Brutal, funny, heartbreaking stuff, with bonus weirdness thrown in at the end. The overlapping arcs more than satisfy: they manage to be shocking, surprising, while at the same, feeling inevitable. Davidson piles on the despair of broken lives and dreams, and yet reaches for this skinned-knee sense of hope that’s genuine, and rare.
Transubstantiate by Richard Thomas. An ambitious first novel with loads of energy and big ideas. It’s the post-apocalypse meets LOST meets GHOST IN THE MACHINE meets Chuck Palanhiuk. Thomas does a nice job juggling the seven POVs and story threads.
Feed by Mira Grant. The short of it is I had a like/hate relationship with this novel. The Good: FEED has an undeniable energy to the pace and proceedings. The world building, in terms of how folks deal with the zombies/viral outbreak is very good good too. The author clearly knows her stuff when it comes to tech and virology. That aspect of the novel is very impressive. The Bad: In my opinion, the politics read too much like a white/middle class/suburban dream. The dueling candidates were broad brush stereotypes (including a head scratching–to be kind–choice to represent the only female politician in the book as a breast-enhanced bubble head) and the political generalities failed as satire (if that was indeed the intent), and they failed at insight. Politics plays a huge roll in this novel, and for 2040 USA, I wanted more than good-guy/bad-guy politicians and social/cultural homogeneity. The Ugly: Too many times the cliched dialogue read like a bad imitation of Army of Darkness Bruce Campbell.
Ultimately, I was entertained, if not consistently frustrated with the novel.
Still time to my summer left, and looking forward to reading The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (Amiee Bender), Kraken (China Mieville), The Third Bear (Jeff Vandermeer), The Driftless Area (Tom Drury), and A Book of Tongues (Gemma Files).