For the last few weeks, I've been reading from the list of 2011 Nebula Awards Nominees. I got through 2 more - one of which is my predicted pick for the winner for Best Novel (but didn't actually win), and the other is the winner in the Young Adult category (but not my pick).
Recently Finished Reading
The Freedom Maze, Delia Sherman. Thirteen-year-old Sophie isn't happy about spending summer at her grandmother's old house in the Bayou. But the house has a maze Sophie can't resist exploring and she meets a strange inhabitant there. When she makes an impulsive wish, she slips 100 years into the past, to the year 1860. Once she makes her way, bedraggled and tanned, to what will one day be her grandmother's house, she is taken for a slave.
This book held me from beginning to end (the premise of time travel back to slavery reminding me of Octavia Butler's Kindred). The pace was fast, the plot well developed, and the vivid descriptions of Sophie's life after she time-traveled and became a slave, along with that of the other people on the plantation (slaves & masters) really brought it home. There were many lessons to be learned by Sophie, yet, not once did this book feel preachy. It gave a good insight into how a plantation worked, as well as the lives of the slaves from their perspective.
But some of the details felt a bit contrived. The fact that Sophie conveniently got a dark tan before she traveled back in time, which was the reason she was mistaken for a slave. And the appearance of a "creature" who is the cause of her time-travel - I just didn't get why he appeared to her ... nothing much about it and the connection to the family is explained. Still, the story was entertaining and thoughtful at the same time, and I enjoyed it. (Amazon| Goodreads)
The Kingdom of Gods, N.K. Jemisin. For two thousand years the Arameri family has ruled the world by enslaving the very gods that created mortalkind. Now the gods are free, and the Arameri's ruthless grip is slipping. Yet they are all that stands between peace and world-spanning, unending war.
This is the final book (#3) in The Inheritance Trilogy. I haven't read the other 2, but this reads like a stand-alone novel. I'm not a huge science fiction reader either. In fact, I get quite lost and overwhelmed when the World building gets too complex (I'm thinking about Mieville here with Kraken & Embassytown), but this book was just the right amount of crazy, and I loved it! The characters are deep, complex, and intense; the World building is crazy good - gods, godlings, power, magic, people who have it and have abused it, and people who want it and more. There's quite a few different story-lines happening, which threw my attention this way and that, but it totally worked for me. Also, Sieh, the "trickster god", is a character that I won't forget anytime soon! And the ending ... loved it!
One other thing I noticed - these gods & godlings mate with just about every damn body - they're quite polyamorous. In the World that Jemisin created, these supreme beings can take any human (and non-human) form, and their love is about companionship - so brother/sister, multiple partners, sex with offspring ... it's all there, although not the focus of the book at all. Overall - happy I read this, and will read more from Jemisin. (Amazon| Goodreads)
Currently Reading and Next
The Boy at the End of the World, Greg Van Eekhout. Fisher is the last boy on earth-and things are not looking good for the human race. Only Fisher made it out alive after the carefully crafted survival bunker where Fisher and dozens of other humans had been sleeping was destroyed. Greg van Eekhout brings us a thrilling story of survival that becomes a journey to a new hope - if Fisher can continue existing long enough to get there. (Amazon| Goodreads)
Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, Genevieve Valentine, Kiri Moth (Illustrator). Outside any city still standing, the Mechanical Circus Tresaulti sets up its tents. Crowds pack the benches to gawk at the brass-and-copper troupe and their impossible feats: Ayar the Strong Man, the acrobatic Grimaldi Brothers, fearless Elena and her aerialists who perform on living trapezes. War is everywhere, but while the Circus is performing, the world is magic. (Amazon| Goodreads)
I enjoyed having reading from the finalists for a book award, but I'm looking forward to having a little less structure in the next few weeks.
- Linked to It's Monday, What Are You Reading @ Book Journey.