My resolution last year was to be much more active on the blog, and to try to write at least one post a week. Well, I failed in that, due to various pressures at work and having to move house, but I did far better than previous years (35 posts vs. 1 post)! My resolution for 2012 is to get a weekly post, and then try to improve upon that. How hard can it possibly be…?
Anyway I thought that, since everyone else is doing it, I would become a sheep for the end of the year and sum up my 3 favourite books of 2011. Two of the were published this year, and one is a novel which I have discovered belatedly (that’s probably cheating, but I don’t care. Them’s the rules).
First up is Delirium by Lauren Oliver. It’ll come as no surprise to regular readers that one of Oliver’s novels has made the list, as I’m becoming embarrassingly fan-girly, but she does write brilliantly. It was a tough choice between this one and Before I Fall, but this one won because I’m so excited about Pandemonium, the next installment of the story, due out in March. The date is marked in my work diary, and it might also be on pre-order. Ah, the joy of working in a bookshop! The story of growing up in a state where love is seen as a disease, Oliver has created a worryingly believable dystopian world, in which Lena and Alex fight back when they make the fatal error of falling in love, just days before Lena is due to undergo ‘the cure’. It’s brilliant, and the film rights have also been optioned by Fox, so fingers crossed for a worthy adaptation.
The Invisible Bridge is a bit of an epic read by the fabulous Julie Orringer. Long-listed for the Orange Prize 2011, it tells the story of Andras Levi, a Hungarian-Jewish architecture student who arrives in Paris is 1937 to study. It is obvious from even this much that it is not going to be an entirely happy and easy read, and indeed some of the novel is rather harrowing, as Andras, his family and Jewish friends are torn apart by World War II, specifically by the fact that he and his brother are drafted into the Hungarian army to fight for Hitler. Orringer makes the irony of this clear, but without being melodramatic, which is a welcome change to some books about the World Wars. The writing, especially about the multi-layered relationships throughout the novel, is excellent, and the ending is happy without being overly sentimental. Highly recommended.
I’m not quite sure why it took me so long to get to American Gods, as at least 3 people have been nagging me to read it for years, and it turns out that I should have listened to them sooner. It’s an immense feat of imagination, as we’ve come to expect from Neil Gaiman, and was over far too quickly, even at over 650 pages. The basic premise is that America is the battleground for the gods- the old gods that have been brought to America with its immigrants, and the new, the gods of the media and consumerism and so forth. These two groups do not live easily with one another, and eventually only one group can survive. Shadow, an ex-convict released a week early to attend the funeral of his wife, is recruited by a mysterious stranger on the plane back home. Mr. Wednesday wants him to become his assistant and is willing to pay generously. It soon transpires that Wednesday is a god himself, although it took me a shamefully long time to work out which one. I rocketed through the book, and only slowed down when it was reaching the end (and that was mainly because the words were blurred- crying on the Metro is so embarrassing.) I’m so glad that I finally listened to American Gods’ cheerleaders, and have definitely become one myself.
Three very different books, which is probably why I liked them in combination. Honourable mention should also go to The Hunger Games trilogy, which I loved; I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett which, for some reason, I enjoyed much more than some of his adult books; Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James, which had some brilliant period detail, and was a lot of fun.
Now I’m off to drag Mr. Mouse off to the pub. Have a lovely New Year’s Eve!