The Clasp by Sloane Crosley These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

Summer Reading: Part One

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Since I've started commuting again, I've been getting through my pile of paperbacks at a much healthier pace than before. So, I thought I'd put up some mini reviews. I'll start with what turned out to be my two favourite books of the year so far.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

Synopsis from Goodreads:
A ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents at "the battle of Al-Ansakar Canal"—three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew—has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America's most sought-after heroes. For the past two weeks, the Bush administration has sent them on a media-intensive nationwide Victory Tour to reinvigorate public support for the war. Now, on this chilly and rainy Thanksgiving, the Bravos are guests of America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys, slated to be part of the halftime show alongside the superstar pop group Destiny's Child. 
Positively electric. The story unfolds over the course of one day, so I wish I'd read it in one sitting but still, even over the course of a few train rides, the momentum was there each time.

Whether or not you know someone who has served, the subject matter of the war is close to all of us. Now is not the time or place to go into the hows and the whys but there's no denying that these wars have affected us. 

First of all, Billy's story made me think about how we treat our military personnel when they return home. To begin with, the civilians in the story acted like this, however by the end, when the novelty had worn off, the treatment Bravo received was almost the polar opposite. I've just finished watching Generation Kill (which is a brilliant piece of television) and the quote during the credits of the final episode sums it all up nicely. 

The exploitation of the Bravo's story is interesting as it is the reason why they're at the Cowboys game. Basically, it all boils down to the fact that money is power regardless of who or what is at stake. The character of Norm embodies this perfectly. 

The other characters seemed so real that it really like a fly-on-the wall experience. I loved the colloquial dialogue - I laughed out loud so many times, such as the locker room scene with the Cowboys, and the multiple mentions of the "wore on terrRr". I loved the page layout whenever the Bravo's were being mobbed by thankful well-wishers. It was a really clever way of conveying the way you feel when you keep hearing the same thing over and over again. 

However, the standout for me was the description of the national anthem. As an outsider and a citizen of a country with a very dull reserved national anthem, I thought that it was a spot on description. That's pretty much exactly what we think when we hear the American national anthem. Most of the time I am in awe of the passion and overt patriotism that is so obviously felt by the singer and the heart clasping audience. 

My limited review skills cannot begin to do this book justice, so I will finish by saying, please get a copy of this book. 

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Synopsis from Goodreads:
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.
The beginning of this book was legitimately creepy. I'm ashamed to admit I couldn't read it at night until about halfway through. It was an interesting take on an alien invasion. The creepiness was probably due to the fact that if it were to ever really happen, it would probably occur in a similar way, don't you think? Anyway, it's an action adventure begging to be made into a film - in fact, I see that the rights were optioned before the book was even written!

I think the final third of the book faltered a little but not drastically enough to change my overall opinion. Cassie's voice was refreshing - spiky without being alienating; brave enough but not unbelievable. I liked the alternating points of view too because it helped keep up the pace. Also, in these kinds of action adventure stories, it is nice to get out of one person's head every now and then. 

I'm looking forward to seeing where Rick Yancey takes this story. There were a few curveballs in this one, so I don't really know what to expect, which is nice. We shall see!


  1. I read THE 5TH WAVE recently and really enjoyed, and for a lot of the reasons you mention. It took me a bit to get into it, but it was because I was picking it up and putting it down repeatedly for various reasons. It's the kind of book that reads better when you have solid chunks of time. Like you, I can't wait to see where Yancey takes this series next. :-)

    1. Yes, this type of book definitely needs to be devoured in large chunks! Hopefully it doesn't end up like the I Am Number Four series.


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