Title: Warp: A Novel by Lev Grossman
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
Published: September 20th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction
I’ve actually not read Grossman’s Magicians trilogy even though it’s been on my TBR forever (because hello? Harry Potter-esque in college??), but when I saw this on Netgalley, I thought I’d give it a try.
The introduction is the best part, honestly. Grossman’s is overly critical of this first novel, and maybe rightly so. Warp is not terrible, but it’s not great. It’s got its moments, but it seems generally aimless. I don’t think I “got” it, but maybe there’s nothing to get. It reads a lot like many young white guys’ first books in which the nerdy guy gets his manic pixie dream girl. It’s not a trope I really like anymore now that I’ve been exposed to it over and over, and it doesn’t help that it’s still a hugely popular trope. I also didn’t quite get the double narrative? If it’s even that because most that second narrative is just quotes dropped in like a student trying to beef up an essay to meet a page requirement. It has a lot of potential, but it ultimately falls short.
Read it if you’re interested in how a writer’s craft evolves. Read the introduction at the very least (especially if you are in a bookshop this September and see it on the shelves). Perhaps avoid it if you’re not at all swayed by any of that.
Thanks to Netgalley for a review copy!
Title: Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton
Published by Catapult
Published: March 15th 2016
Format: Trade Paper
Margaret Cavendish is apparently mentioned in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, and I’ve added that on my immediate to-read list. And I have a renewed interest in Margaret’s own work. I almost wish I could have read it the other way around to see how the author drew from Woolf to create Margaret’s dreamlike exploration of what it means to have a space of one’s own (in the mind, in the house, in society) to be oneself entirely.
This isn’t a historical novel. Ideas and scenes are presented with little more than a place and year. If you’re familiar with Margaret Cavendish and the history of the world surrounding her life, the context becomes clearer. If you’re not entirely familiar with her or that period in history, it’s still enjoyable. I knew enough to place the novel in contextual history, and now after reading I want to know more. It’s a thinky, dreamy read that will transport you away for a little while.
It’s feminist, it’s progressive, and it’s lyrical.
Title: The Graces by Laure Eve
Series: The Graces #1
Published by Amulet Books
Published: September 6th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
It was a stupid, pointless thing, anyway, to try and make people love you. Everyone was alone. We were bone alone and we died alone. Whatever we did in between was nothing but a series of attempts to stave off the darkness we knew was always waiting for us.
Laure Eve’s The Graces will appeal to a younger set of YA readers. I think I was a bit too old to find most of this novel entirely believable, but it’s supposed to be, in a way, a little out there and a little fantastic. River meets a family (the Graces) in her new town and, after hearing the rumors about them, decides (obsessively) that she wants to get to know them. After getting to know Summer, River becomes obsessed with trying to be one of the Graces.
I don’t often read much contemporary YA, mostly because I find myself unable to relate to many of the high school situations, hierarchies, and dramas because I was homeschooled, and this is probably one of the reasons why I failed to really connect with the novel. The characters often are too flat or too melodramatic. It tries to be “edgy” without much depth. But that might be because we’re seeing it through River, the “edgy,” melodramatic teen girl obsessed with the Graces, rumored to be witches, and Fenrin Grace, the boy everyone wants.
As the novel unfolds, we learn that River’s obsessions and behavior have severe consequences in her past and present, and she ultimately has to face what she does. Some of the ideas I liked in this novel were that there is something to be said for intention and that there needs to be truth in that intention and that bisexuality (while not named directly) is brought up and treated relatively well in a YA novel by the younger set of characters.
The Graces reads almost like a melodramatic eighties teen film but with more melodrama, if that is even plausible because let’s be real. Teen films from the eighties were sometimes over the top. It wants to be Heathers with witches but it fails to meet the Gothic complexities it wants to have. But The Graces is fast-paced and easy to read and will appeal to readers who enjoy a high school drama with a taste of the paranormal.
This book was provided to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.