October books

A genetically engineered apocalypse, a half dragon half human child, and necromancy. Perfect Halloween reading.

Oryx and Crake ★★★
This book left me reeling.  There were eerie similarities to the world surrounding me, one of which was the decaying nature of autumn, but I think the most compelling aspect of this book was the uncertainty.  On the one hand, we have god-like orchestration of plants and animals through genetic engineering, but the human motivations are left ambiguous.  The contrast between scientific precision and human enigmaty [1] was the major contributor to my stupor, but another culprit was the discouraging resemblance between the fictional society and our contemporary one, which raised apprehension about our own future.

Seraphina ★★
A curious YA novel about a dragon-human hybrid girl who has a strange way of walking around inside her own head.  While plot elements like murder, deception, and love abound, the core of this book addresses two main topics: prejudice and the balance between emotion and reason.  These subjects are addressed in the context of fantasy, however, and it is left to the reader to interpret them (or not) to apply to reality.

Clariel ★★
This YA book just came out on October 14.  I identified with Clariel immediately; she was a wilderness girl recently brought to a big city for her mother's work, and complained about the lack of trees.  I love the wilderness but commute weekly into New York, and have been known to complain extensively about the condition of trees in various cities.  Reading her complaints was like reading a transcript of my own diatribes.  And then her incessant whining got tedious.  And then she was stupid.  It is an interesting addition to the Abhorsen series, but probably my least favorite—I'll read the original three over again on occasion, but once is enough for this one.  It was also hard to tell when this happened relative to the other books—the resolution of this question was interesting, but I wish it was in the content of the novel itself instead of the author's note at the very end.

Next up: the newly released The Slow Regard of Silent Things.

[1] Yes, I did "make this up," but it's a word that should really exist.  The only word that means the quality of being enigmatic according to the OED is the obscure enigmaticalness from 1684, which was probably "made up" then as well.  Enigmaticness could also work, and is parallel to words like frantic and franticness, or enigmaticity could do, but I like brevity and enigmaty was the first thing that came to mind.


Anonymous said...

Was "mysteriousness" too hackneyed, or did it just not hit the mark?

ajbc said...

It just didn't hit the mark. Mysterious conveys that a personal is more intentional with their concealment, and gives the possibility that the motives are fundamentally unexplainable. Enigmatic conveys that many motives are inherently hard to understand unless made explicit.