Here’s part one of book releases I’ve been looking forward to in 2022.
Extasia by Claire Legrand
Releasedate: 22. February 2022
Why I want to read it: the author also wrote “Sawkill Girls” which I liked, and it’s a YA horror with a religious cult, overthrowing patriarchy and sapphic protagonists.
Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong
Releasedate: 5. April 2022
Why I want to read it: Vuong’s other poetry collection was stunning and real, with big themes like grief and war, but drawing from very personal experiences
Inheritance: a visual poem by Elizabeth Acevedo
Releasedate: 3. May 2022
Why I want to read it: I love Acevedo’s poetry and way to tell stories already. Never know quite what to expect in terms of format, which is great.
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
Releasedate: 3. May 2022
Why I want to read it: sapphic romances, especially by authors I already know can write well, are always worth a shot
Book of Night by Holly Black
Releasedate: 3. May 2022
Why I want to read it: a more adult, dark fantasy with thieves, secret societies, magic with consequences and murders. I don’t think I’ve ever read a bad book from Holly Black.
Siren Queen by Nghi Vo
Releasedate: 10. May 2022
Why I want to read it: an unusual book for me to pick up, but a lot of people seem to like this 30s Hollywood story with a Chinese American protagonist who has to navigate dark rituals and folklore in what seems to be somewhat of a fantasy book with sapphics.
We’re doing a summary post of some books I really liked. They all deserve a full review, but this is what they’re getting.
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson (The Masquerade #1)
I genuinely loved the morally-gray (maybe even simply wicked) female protagonist. You are on her side because her island is taken over and controlled under an empire that believes heavily in eugenics, ruthlessly changing the society as they see fit and placing the kids in terrifying boarding schools. And Baru plays the waiting game for revenge for her family which they murdered, as the colonizers clothe her and educate her in what they see fitting. There’s lesbians, an island, politics and so much blood spilled. Definitely a brutal fantasy, but more so in the cultural impact and strategies than the wars of high fantasy. It’s very much debating morality of if ends justify means, as Baru gets to find out how far she is willing to bend and betray to get in a position of power. 4 out of 5 stars because it’s a bit long-winded in its writing.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (The Locked Tomb #1)
The tagline for this book seems to be lesbian necromancers in space, which would be correct. It’s very much a love it or hate it type of book, because you’re thrown into the plot and have to start paddling to keep up with the characters. It does a great job turning into an unusual fantasy book even though it’s set in a fairly usual setting of deadly competition. The writing and character personalities are fantastic, as well as the well-hidden system behind the magic – not to forget the enemies to lovers (maybe) of the main characters. I want to reread it already. 4 out 5 stars, because it’s confusing in the beginning and you have to commit, even if it’s well worth it and I adore it.
I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells (John Cleaver #1)
I was definitely looking for morally-gray characters, and this is a fun take on sociopaths (not that that’s what you call it anymore). It’s about a guy who is obsessed with serial killers and how they think, but doesn’t want to let himself become one. It’s also a paranormal story with demons, of which the protagonist suspects his neighbour is one. This guy’s poor mom, trying to help out, but not being able to. 4 out of 5 stars, yet I have not retained so much of it, I have to admit. It was just an interesting read, which was just horror enough.
Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science – and the World by Rachel Swaby (science, biography, feminism)
Reaching for the Moon by Katherine G. Johnson (biography, science; space)
Goddess of the Hunt by Shelby Eileen (poetry, mythology, lgbt; ownvoices aromantic-asexual)
The Perfect Assassin by K. A. Doore (high fantasy, lgbt; asexual mc, lesbian assassins)
Slayer by Kiersten White (urban fantasy, vampires, supernatural boarding school)
A Vampire’s Redemption (The Inquisition Trilogy #2) by Casey Wolfe (fantasy, vampires, lgbt; m/m romance)
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey (fantasy, sci-fi, political, lgbt)
The Hidden Girl and Other Short Stories by Ken Liu (short stories): the author’s other book The Paper Menagerie is my all-time favourite collection of short stories!
Three things on my mind:
Wine nights brings me too much joy. At least when you have them with one of your roommate’s adorable family who is visiting, then after they leave (and leave four bottles of wine behind) just end up talking with the rest of the roommates far into the night; I might’ve woken up at 5 am for once, but I was certainly going to sleep at 6 am, like the night-creature I truly am. On exactly that topic I’m going to apply to be the leader (there’s always two; night and day-shift) of our math/physics students wine club, because there’s minimal work and a maximum of finding out strange traditions and making people feel welcome, no matter if they drink alcohol/wine or not. I love the vibe of that group. And I will not take slander that I should not be the nightly leader if I get it; the night is always my time.
The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix is such a fantastic show. I have so many thoughts, but no time to write them all out – maybe I’ll do a round-up of tv series/movies I loved at the end of the year. But a chess-but-truly-personal story of a genius orphan girl that grows up and struggles with navigating abandonment issues, drug-problems, friendship and any type of relatioship. It has its problems, but I would’ve watched it just for the great actors, the fashion and the lighting to be honest.
I’ve been writing more again, on the too-long project that never seem to end. I’ve got a lot of exams around the corner (if my physical health is up to it, that is), so I find myself not being able to turn off my brain for a break without going to these already-known methods; creating stories being one of them. It’s strange how that works. Hopefully, over christmas break even though I have a lot of other projects planned, I can get it edited into at least a coherent work in progress as there’s a lot of blank scenes needed for some type of plot to make sense. I think I would truly feel some type of achievement just having finished it, even though no one is going to read it for a long long time, if ever.
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel A. van der Kolk (non-fiction, metal health)
When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll (queer graphic novel)
A great, short book in norwegian about magic/shamans in sami culture and especially the “witch trials” in the north of Norway. It’s strange the darker parts we learn of other countries’ history in school, but not so much our own.
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse (urban fantasy, post-apocalyptic, author is familiar with Navajo culture through her husband & the protagonist is Navajo)
Added to TBR:
Beneath the Dead Oak Tree by Emily Carroll because I read & liked her other graphic novels “When I Arrived at the Castle” and “Through the Woods”
Peace Breaks Out by John Knowles because I read & liked Knowles’ other, much more well-known novel “A Separate Peace” and both are set at the same boarding school, so I expect all of the classic & dark academia vibes, maybe even more homosexual undertones. I’m going to enjoy writing my queer take of a review on A Separate Peace, because although the author has denied it, there’s some definite “I’m in love with my bestfriend” moments there. As I mentioned on tumblr as I read this book in one night; “I’m 47 pages in, and had to google it to make sure since the main character is once again remarking on very specific things, like how much this athletic boy’s skin radiates, like you know – boys being boys often do ??”
The Magus by John Fowles (classics, mystery) because why not. And the intriguing promise of “a young Englishman who accepts a teaching position on a remote Greek island, where he befriends a local millionaire. The friendship soon evolves into a deadly game, in which reality and fantasy are deliberately manipulated, and Nicholas finds that he must fight not only for his sanity but for his very survival.”
Red Dragon (Hannibal Lecter) by Thomas Harris (horror, psychological thriller) – yeah, two weeks ago I wondered whether “rewatching two seasons of Hannibal in two days are not what you should do when you’ve been sick” before having to reconnect with society and actual people. I did survive going into society, if barely – like truly, corona made its upswing again where I lived just as I stepped my foot out that door. But now that I’m stuck with myself again, why not read Hannibal as well.
The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton is a mystery/thriller I’m sceptical if I’m going to like, I’ve seen reviews that leads me to believe it’s a very hit or miss type of book. But many of them describe it as ‘devilish’ because everyone is unreliable, which I see as a positive and what I’m looking for right now.
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin because I always say I need to read more of her work, which are classics of the fantasy/science fiction genre, but I never seem to get around to it.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (fantasy) because while it was released last year, it’s gotten so many good reviews (goodreads average 4.20!!!) and I’m definitely here for the queer necromancers.
A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos (YA fantasy, dark academia), recommended to me by a friend.
Posts I’ve loved by other bloggers:
I started reading through more blog posts from others again prior to the hospital visit, but it did give me time to spend and I found some enjoyment through posts like these –
ONLINE BOOKSHOPS TO SHOP AT INSTEAD OF AMAZON: BREAKING UP WITH AMAZON (PART I) by arub unwritten: I rarely buy books now and they’re mostly from norwegian bookstores. But I have also automatically bough books from bookdepository for the convenience, before I started to feel bad about that. Then I found this post which gives a pretty neat introduction, especially to other stores to look into. And it includes which places the stores ship too! Should be a requirement, jeez. Hive was pretty empty (for me at least) considering the corona-struggle of shipment, but I’ll definitely check in with them in the future again.
Ink-Stained Forest’s Literature Journeywhere they talk about exactly that, but it was a familiar & beautifully written type of journey, an example of what place and function literature can have in your life, and how it can vary over time. It also made me want to sit down and truly look at if I also have these almost episodic changes to what type of book or genre I read and the function that fills. Even if I switch between reading both for reflection and enjoyment, without always going into a book knowing which one I’ll most likely get more of.
Fall Reads by your reading needs byforgot second breakfast (which is a unique & impressive name): a good, short list of fall reads that gives you spooky, adventure, athmosphere & romance and reminds me I want to get to Gideon the Ninth soon.
Mathematical science fiction books from Book Riot: I’ve been looking for lists like these for so long! I cannot tell you accurately enough the struggle to find these types of books (or fantasy), then separate the bad mathematics from the badly promoted mathematics, but the part it plays in the book is good enough. I’m not talking about brilliant even, just good enough!! I can vouch for Zero Sum Game being good (I haven’t sat down researching all the math topics mentioned, but it seems legit and has a fun kind-of-supernatural part), although you might have different problems with that one if you’re not ready for a lot of bloodshed and morally gray characters.
Favorite Villains by Mary Drover: I’ve been too into villains this autumn and here was a few new ones I’ve yet to put on the never-ending TBR list of them, hahha.
Three things on my mind:
I had to start this week off by going to the emergency room at 5 am for major stomach pain, then I was at the hospital for five days. I’ve just been released, but they did not find out what happened even with a lot of tests. So I’ve yet to eat proper food without throwing up, meaning I was let go with a “come back if you don’t get better”. I have crohn’s disease already, which can affect your entire intestine, as well as a gallbladder diagnosis, and lung trouble that we don’t yet know the cause of – so it could be basically anything is what I’m saying. I wrote a mini-post about it just now, surprisingly it’s very reflective on illness, empathy & friendship. If there’s something I’ve done this week it’s spending a lot of time thinking, staring out into nothing. And while very original thoughts doesn’t appear right then, I’ve found it does start up this process and suddenly you find yourself with new insights, ideas and opinions.
An extremely specific hospital-college crossover pro-tip; if going to the hospital for closer to a week, send a message to the people you live with or, if you’re like me and extremely drugged on pain killers & pain, have one of them message the others explaining the situation. Because if not you end up with my scenario where one of the people you talk most to just happens to have a strange week where he doesn’t see the others that much and suddenly it’s been three days and he’s like “where are you?” and oops, you realize the mistake. It’s already a funny mistake, but jeez, I feel bad for both of us in this scenario… It took three whole days!
My friend & roommate is reading Harry Potter for the first time and discovering book fandoms. Mainly draco tiktok, which my slytherin self had to realize how many good content creators was behind it. So she is talking about wanting to write fanfics. I have to admit I’ve never written fanfiction, but I don’t know how to tell her I genuinely put a lot of effort into writing through high school. I sent the message “what do you think the chance is that I’ve ever written 50k words on a project?” and got “you? never” instantly in reply. For reference my WIP is about four times that (and needs to be cut down considerably to be useful for anything). Mostly because, looking back, you can truly see the quality of my writing progress through which parts are written first and years later, because I write weird (that’s for another time). But oh, how much this made me rethink how much of a book-nerd I seem in real life; even with the amount of books I own, apparently not a big enough one. We’re mostly all nerds here at my uni, but I am truly a book nerd as well and it’s going to be a more difficult time proving it than I thought.
I’m having a bit of a hard time reading as I’m busy with studying (2nd year physics student) as well as ill at the moment (no worries, thankfully not corona, I’ve been tested twice). So it’s the perfect time to again read as many graphic novels that I could get my hands on!Here’s some of my other graphic novels reviews.
Through the Woods by Emily Carrol
As I begun reading I was sceptical because the illustrations were breath-taking from the start, giving all the dark fairytale vibes, but I didn’t know how much of a substance the plots would have. A few pages in it truly got much better, as the fairytale twists got mysterious, exciting and dark. It’s made up from several different “short stories”, some more red riding hood inspired and some that reminded me some of Coraline and some of the podcast The Magnus Archive. Reading this felt like playing a game where you know every decision is a bad one. I also immediately ordered the author’s other graphic novel «When I arrived at the castle»! 5/5 stars.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina vol. 1
Plus points for being dark, but that’s the only positive in my eyes. I was excited for this as I truly liked the new TV series made from Sabrina the teenage witch. But this graphic novel drains any personality Sabrina is known for out of the character. I get that setting up somewhat the same plot as the TV series does in multiple episodes is difficult in one volume, but it just isn’t done with any charm at all. I won’t be reading the rest of the series as I felt it has little potential. 2/5 stars.
Paper Girls vol. 1 & 2
First impression of volume 1 was that I liked the retro apocalyptic stranger things vibe featuring a teen girl squad. It didn’t really get further into the plot or explanation than unexplained aliens, but it was also a lot to set up. It’s about a group of girls out delivering newspapers when they get caught up in this mystery of disappearing people and frightening strangers hunting after them. 3/5 stars.
Volume 2 had a higher chance of keeping the suspense up without as much of the confusion, which made the time-travel, sci-fi aspects much more enjoyable as well as delving into an interesting cast. Not to forget how monster tardigrades was a thing I didn’t know I needed in my life before now. I yelped out loud from surprise and happiness – I can’t explain it either. It’s just a good mix of chaos & the unexpected. Like the looming, flying ships that came into the picture suddenly. The color scheme is also truly lovely.
If I would criticize something it’s the ‘feminism’ branding push that seems a bit ‘off’, not that I’ve looked further into reasons behind it. It’s a similar feeling that lingers as from the casual homophobia that makes an appearance in volume 1, as if that was something that just belongs with the retro vibes. It was called out by other characters, so I just mentally noted it down as strange for now and makes me second-guess the future dynamic of the friendgroup somewhat. 4/5 stars.
Heartstopper vol. 2 & 3 by Alice Oseman
Review of vol. 1! To sum up I really like the author’s writing in general and that it was a truly cute, important gay coming of age story. And I love the illustration style. And this is true for the second and third volume as well. My only critique is a somewhat big one; a lot doesn’t happen in each volume. It feels like the story told could’ve been cut down in some ways, but at the same time I realize it’s aimed at a younger audience for the most part and I’m so happy it just exists. 3/5 stars for both.
I used to do this series of favourite podcasts last year, and then I started uni and got friends (hahahha, more like didn’t have an hour commute anymore tbh) and stopped listening to as many. But now there’s covid-19 and well – I’m back to loving podcasts.
Podcasts previously mentioned that I still listen to a lot:
The SciShow team: Hank Green, Ceri Riley, Stefan Chin and Sam Schulz
Weird and funny science facts centered around a topic, with the group (mostly Hank) going on a few weird & funny tangents as well. The group just has a great dynamic and different levels of background knowledge, making it very accessible. I still sometimes miss the video couch format of the ‘beta-version’ (in my mind) Holy Fucking Science though.
Made as a continuation of the book Farrow made by the same name where he goes through reporting on the revelation of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults, but also how NBC tried to manipulate and hold him back. The book goes very much in depth on the pattern of different powerful people’s assault & manipulation, and then the cover-ups. I would recommend listening to that audiobook as well if you’re even more interested after finishing the podcast.
The podcast is a good ten-episode summary focusing more on just Weinstein and how the women he assaulted took brave stances to take him down, in addition to the last episode with Rose McGowan made after the verdict of Weinstein.
I would probably listen to anything Alex Cox puts out tbh, but their partner Mattie Cox is so amazing in sharing his story transitioning from female to male in this podcast, taking the listener with them on every step of the way and being so vulnerable. It seems to be both a podcast to process and document this time of their life as well as explain and teach anyone who wants to listen.
Their own pitch is “Welcome to Two Headed Girl, a new show about gender, mental illness, and all sorts of transitions made by a couple of married queers trying to figure themselves out.” which sums it up pretty pretty good.
I found this podcast, while actually already knowing about Jon Lovett before, because I was trying to find more interviews with Ronan Farrow and he happened to have made a rare recent podcast with his partner Jon Lovett because of being in quarantine together. But it’s news-related, trying to bring it with some humor where possible. These corona/Black Lives Matter days it’s more interviews and segments, with jokes in between, which is a great mix if sometimes news-related things are too much.
Eight episodes in total of 1990’s rock music or more specifically how and if the CIA was involved in writing the famous “Wind of Change” by the Scorpions, the soundtrack of the revolution aka Berlin Wall falling and the Soviet Union collapsing. Really, it’s a podcast about how the CIA operates, how propaganda works and how far a journalist is willing to go to figure out if a rumor from a credible enough source is true.
by the Reply All team Alex Goldman (horror fan) trying to convert PJ Vogt (scaredy cat) for Gimlet Media. I don’t know how I found podcasts pre-university because apparently I found a lot, but since then I’ve basically just become aware as existing podcasters I listen to have started new ones.
It’s basically an experiment of ‘can you gradually get used to horror movies so you’re not as afraid of the really scary ones anymore’. I’ve listened to the five episodes so far without watching any of the horror movies, and the only one I truly wanted to watch out of them was Midsommar, but I have definitely brought horror podcasts and stories into my life in a bigger way, so maybe it actually worked anyway?? I’m confused about that, but it’s great. Also fun to listen to PJ Vogt actually being really scared, sorry for laughing about that, I would be too.
by Jonathan Sims and Alexander J. Newall from Rusty Quill
There’s a 173 episode back catalogue as of right now, but after a few days I’m 35 episodes in and hooked. It’s a horror podcast with a huge fanbase (and soo much good fanart). As far as I’ve figured, it starts out really episodic with different people coming into the magnus archive to tell about their supernatural experiences and get them investigated, and then the archive itself is attacked and it gradually becomes more of meta storytelling. Would recommend it even if you’re not such a big horror fan, like me. The stories themselves (at least at the start) are not that horrifying, but the storytelling is just amazing.
I’ve gotten so into horror after reading this book, which I did for hours during the night as I couldn’t sleep. I was visiting my boyfriend and he absolutely thought I was a bit more strange trying to explain this book and how well it balanced between fantasy and horror in a unique way. Most of this unique feeling I think came from the perspective, it all being about and told by teen girls. Anyway, I’ll get back to that.
Genre: young adult (don’t agree), horror: disease & body horror, lgbt (queer girls, slight f/f relationship, but a lot of yearning), some mystery vibes, set in a boarding school on an island. quarantined (which will be a genre i guess).
Warning: it has a lot of trigger warnings, pls search them up before reading
It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.
It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.
But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.
Rating out of five: five stars
here’s me arguing it’s not YA
This book has amazing cover art, but I think it did the book a diservice, along the fact that it’s branded as young adult. I feel like this is a larger conversation that I keep having, but not everything with teenage characters (especially female) is YA! It doesn’t have a great rating at goodreads (3.58) and I think it’s because people isn’t expecting what they get unless they’re like me that added this to their TBR as it was released a year ago and then now saw one book blogger (don’t remember who oops) saying it was more horror like, which got my interest again.
the friend-group & characters
SO! An all-girl high school on an island where most of the teachers die off on the beginning of the the two year quarantine, where everything starts up pretty simple and then reveals so much more complex moral, practical, society & science-related questions. It’s reveal after reveal and a constant search for who is the good & bad guys, which gives the mystery vibes. There’s a strong queer friend-group & chosen family trope, but not with likable characters. Think about it – unlikable female characters, violent at that. Most reviews I’ve read lists that as a main issue they had, but I feel like a lot of this book is the experimentation of fierce, reckless, dangerous girl characters, who also have other sides to them. Some of it can be excused to this disease they’ve all got and are dying from, the Tox, mutating their bodies in graphic, unique and eerie ways. But they’re also shaped by living in a two-year life & death situation, along with maybe not being the perfect complacent & normal main characters in the first place.
I WAS SHOCKED at having seen one girl of the friendgroup having been described by the main character Hetty in one adoring (almost worshipping) way the whole time. And then we got the other girl’s narrative and she was so different, with clear sociopathic/violent tendencies. But still it was revealed during a situation where you as a reader wanted to feel bad for her, which is when I truly cheered for this duality this book accomplished.
the island setting & writing
Every description was done so well and fit the mystery and horror aspect as the island they’re on takes as much part as any character. It makes so much sense with the quarantine aspect, the fact that one of the characters has a dad she hasn’t seen in a year living in those woods. The woods are alive and overgrown, as is the mutated animals, which is a threat. I’m just surprised by how much the author got into one book tbh. It’s also a lot of fun to read, surprisingly!
This book has the mystery, murder, dark humor and boarding-school vibes of Maureen Johnson’s ‘Truly Devious’ mixed in with any dystopian bad-government, mutated animals, body horror you can think of, all with a good dash of forest aesthetic and eerie, descriptive writing. It’s one of my new favourite books and I would totally recommend it. Just don’t expect it to be YA or to like most of the characters.
Today’s prompt is f/f relationships and I’ve tried to gather up some fav f/f romance books of the more magical realism or fantasy genre. Because I’ve been even more into the blend of cottagecore aesthetic, queer girls and magic lately. Ahh, the gay side of tiktok has got me with it’s #wlwcottagecore and my need to be more outside safely after this quarantine.
Horror magical realism with queer girls trying to uncover the mystery of the island the main character moves to as more and more girls are killed off. Definitely has enemies-to-lovers trope and folklore coming to life, with living in lighthouse, trying to save your loved ones before it’s too late and an actual cult.
More straight-up fantasy, but definitely not straight.
The main charcter is an orphan that has magical abilities, something that belongs to the upper classes in the society she lives in. She’s low-key criminal with a fierce spirit that lands her in prison, where she meets a stranger ( ~ a traveller from distant lands who is not bound by conservative customs ~ ) that transforms her life, and also starts a slow-burn of a f/f romance.
This one scene of the mc trying to find the place she was supposed to meet up with a stranger, without knowing anything about this outside world, wandering around the woods is burned into my memory. As is her confusion as she’s brought along, breaking into abandoned buildings with no explanation. The inncocent, brave, awkward gay vibes is immaculate.
Contains fun, dramatic moments, a city of witches, covens arguing and lots of lesbians. Has more strong friendships than relationships. Meaning some f/f relationship, also some lesbian exes trying to get along and not always suceeding.
Similiar books on my TBR
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
All girls high school put under quarantine (ahh made last year, pre-corona), where they get infected and die one by one and described as more of a horror vibe and survival story following this queer friendgroup.
Magic for liars by Sarah Gailey
Urban fantasy/murder mystery standalone with bisexual love interest, a magical witchy school and lots of blood and violence and other questionable things. Also several f/f relationships.
i had never expected it to be this full of horror and blood, but i love it
I also have no idea where I heard about this book, it’s like it magically appeared in my TBR a long time ago and I finally got to it, thinking it seemed autumn-ish from the cover.
HAHAH. I was not prepared at all.
There’s some books so hard to explain without spoiling the plot. It makes it nearly impossible to recommend any other way than yelling “IT’S GOOD I PROMISE”. But if you want more info: it’s a fantasy/sci-fi/mystery/horror story. Very specific. Some gruesome events are described in so much detail, with so little feeling. The writing is amazing and so is the entire plot and mystery and end. I loved this book, but I don’t feel like I’ve understood it completely yet. And I might have felt a bit naseous at times, the smell of burned flesh appearing in my mind. Yes, it’s that kind of book, but also a big multi-dimensional mystery. Gods and shit, you know. Please read it, and then tell me what the fuck it’s about. Obviously I need it.
But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.
“The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”
What struck me first was how well Patrick Ness had written Conor, considering he’s a child. A lot of authors seem to forget they’re people too and capable of understanding, so I was glad this wasn’t the case here. The kids are different from each other, but also have intentions behind their actions. Here a kid is even a bully with intent, not just because “he doesn’t know better”, something the teachers agree with:
“A bully with charisma and top marks is still a bully.” … “He’ll probably be Prime Minister one day. God help us all.”
But this is not a story about bullying, it’s one about the harshness of reality, about feelings, grief and admitting the truth to yourself. And it’s a lot darker than it first seem, the monster is not some fluffy Pixar’s Monster Inc. version. I really liked the monster and the stories it told, it directs the whole story. The book is also about how it is for a kid to have to grow up all at once, preparing for his own meals and going to school when other things have become far more important. Some might call him “independent”, but he doesn’t admit to his situation, showing how he’s still a child acting on his fear, not sense of responsibility.
To be said, this is a nice story for kids to learn to deal with grief or others to remember how good it is to not be a kid anymore. Conor acts out and want someone to reprimand him so it will shake him back to the feeling of normal. The loss of control is what’s most relatable, that frustration when the world just won’t seem to listen. Still, this book isn’t ground-breaking in the way some people claim. It’s a good idea, a heartfelt story that I shed one single tear over and okay writing, but I won’t claim to understand all of the hundred quotes in different nuances the monster told about stories.
For example; “Stories are important, the monster said. They can be more important than anything. If they carry the truth.” or: “Stories are the wildest things of all, the monster rumbled. Stories chase and bite and hunt.” I have four more similar quotes, what is the difference between them? To sound mysterious? Did nothing but annoy me, unfortunately. I honestly wondered if I was rereading past pages.
– final thoughts –
It reminds me of a Neil Gaiman story, but it feels like it’s trying too hard to make everything grander or more symbolic than it’s delivered. The ending wrapped everything up with a bow so perfect that it didn’t match the tone of the rest of the story, so I don’t really know what to believe. Read it if you are curious, but if not… I don’t think you’re really missing out.