Books read in December
A good reading month.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
I got Neverwhere out from the ebook library and the quality was terrible. I didn’t even care, the story had captured me and held me fast. I’m seriously not choosing epub-format for digital loans again. This is now the second time this has happened. Anyway, back to the story…
Remember when I said that Gaiman’s Coraline is “not the stuff nightmares are made of. My childhood nightmares were made of the stuff of this book”? Well, Neverwhere is like that too. But maybe it should be the other way around as Neverwhere is Gaiman’s second novel (and first solo novel) and Coraline only came later.
Have you had those dreams where you can’t make anyone else see or hear you and the world just passes you by and you’re basically stuck screaming inside your own head? Richard Mayhew, the rather wimpy lead of Neverwhere, has. But he cannot wake up from this horrible dream. He has fallen out of the real, normal world of London into the world of London Below where nothing works like in the normal world.
In this respect Neverwhere can be compared to works like The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. But of course it is not simply a copy of them. It is a work on its own and also has a very important distinction. (Spoiler, highlight to read: in the end, Richard Mayhew chooses to stay in London Below. He does not want to go home, back to the old, boring, predictable world. He has changed enough that he does not fit in there any more.)
I like that character growth. It differentiates the story from the “it was just a dream… or as good as” type which can be so disappointing at the end.
Neverwhere has lots of sewers, lots of rats, scores of memorable, eccentric characters and no shortage of tension and threats.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Scarlet and Cress by Marissa Meyer
I’ll be reviewing these two together as they are books 2 and 3 of The Lunar Chronicles-series and tell parts of the same story.
Back in May last year I read Cinder, the first book in The Lunar Chronicles-series and then proceeded to gush about it. Where Cinder introduces the plot with a retelling of Cinderella, books 2 and 3 add two more girls to the kick-ass, save-the-world team. It should be fairly obvious which “princess” Scarlet introduces: Little Red Riding Hood, called Scarlet “Scar” Benoit here. She’s French and lives with her grandmother on a farm where she learnt to deal with men who make inappropriate gestures, shoot a gun, fly a ship and, just maybe, save the world.
Book 3’s heroine is perhaps less obvious from the name alone. Her name is Cress, she’s locked up all alone high in the sky and her hair’s never been cut since she was very young. Yes, she is Rapunzel. And she’s the world’s most talented hacker. Need to break into the royal security system? Cress can do that. Need information on someone who wants to hide from the all-seeing eyes of the Internet? Cress can break through those filters too and she’ll probably do it while singing an aria from her favourite opera off-key. She is also a hopeless romantic and as naive as you can expect from someone who has had very little contact with other people. As brilliant as Cress is with a computer, she has a lot to learn about the real world.
These girls team up with Cinder to fight against the schemes of Queen Levana, who is the ruler of Luna, Earth’s moon which has been colonised in this version of the future. Levana has plans to rule all of Earth as well as her own space rock, which she controls through fear and brainwashing. And like all good antagonists, she believes she is a protagonist.
I for one can’t wait to see where this goes. I am impatiently waiting for Marissa Meyer’s next book which comes out this month, and then the next book in The Lunar Chronicles, called Winter, which comes out in November.
Scarlet: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Cress: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ +½
PS. I thought I’d make a list of the best books I read in 2014, as a little summary. In alphabetical order:
- Cinder – Marissa Meyer
- The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
- Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
- The Silmarillion – J.R.R. Tolkien