Wow. This is going to be a long one. I read a lot in March, and unfortunately a lot of it wasn’t that great… not bad, but after a string of really great books in February, this predominantly 3-star month felt lacking, despite a couple gems. Here’s what I read last month:
Laura, by Vera Caspary
I think this is a classic that suffers from having been so influential, so that nothing about it feels new anymore. There was little about it that thrilled me. The way in which it’s narrated, as different characters take over the story, didn’t particularly work for me either. And from roughly halfway in, I guessed (correctly) how it was going to end. Granted, there’s some good writing in how we get there, but I wanted to be captivated, and I just wasn’t. Clearly not the book for me.
(read my ITW review here: Laura)
And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini
This is an intense book. It features characters that it’s hard for me to connect with living lives that I can hardly imagine. And yet… I found myself completely drawn in. The book is full of overlapping stories about all different kinds of love. Every time a new one began, it would take me a little while to get into it, but once I did, I was gone. The mark of a great book is that it can make you forget you’re reading a book, and that’s absolutely what I got here.
(this was the runner-up in the Dubuque Tournament of Books)
Doing Harm, by Kelly Parsons
I almost set this one aside early on – a first-person narrator I didn’t particularly like plus a slow start with nothing much else to focus on – but it managed to pull me in just before I hit that point. Once we learn the stakes, it’s a fast-paced ride right up through the end… but that’s all it is. I have to give the author credit for getting my adrenaline pumping, but the characters and the plot left a lot to be desired.
Under the Never Sky, by Veronica Rossi
There were some refreshing things about this YA novel compared to others I’ve read. I liked the alternating viewpoints, both in third person. I like that it feels more about the characters and their situation than the romance. That said, the story itself never really drew me in. Concept-wise, I didn’t like it as much as The Hunger Games or Divergent, but I’m hoping it will grow on me. I’ve heard great things about the conclusion, compared to the mixed responses to the aforementioned trilogies.
Through the Ever Night, by Veronica Rossi
A good, if not great, continuation. There were some parts I really enjoyed and others I just sort of got through. I will say that I liked that the romance was important to the story without completely dominating it. I really liked seeing the friendship develop between two of the main characters. But, while there was more explanation than in the first book, I still want more details about the world itself. Here’s hoping the final installment delivers.
Into the Still Blue, by Veronica Rossi
Well, I can understand the praise I’ve been hearing for the end of this trilogy. I felt like it had the most even storytelling across all three books compared to The Hunger Games or Divergent trilogies. But, as I’ve been saying from the beginning, it never really drew me in. I didn’t feel a connection to the characters or the story. It was by no means bad, but didn’t feel in any way special either. I’m glad the fans of this series got a satisfying conclusion, but I just wasn’t invested.
Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise, by Gurihiru & Gene Lueng Yang
I’ve never been interested in graphic novels and comics, so I figured that one set in a world I’m already invested in would be a great introduction. I really enjoyed the story, but I feel like I didn’t spend enough time appreciating the artwork. (But how can I sit and spend time looking at pictures when I want to find out what happens next?!) Still, it’s hard to imagine an Avatar story not having some kind of visual component.
Carrie, by Stephen King
Not my favorite Stephen King, but definitely not the worst, especially considering this was his first published book. I think for how straightforward the plot was, I would have preferred a bit more in terms of character development… specifically for Carrie and her mother. He’s written so many incredible characters, and these felt a little lacking in comparison.
The Dead Zone, by Stephen King
I’m not quite sure what to make of this book. I really liked the idea of it, but it was way too easy for me to set aside. There were points where I felt like I was about to get hooked and then I didn’t. Maybe it had more to do with me than the book. There’s some commentary on politics and religion, and the latter half of it has a very “what would you do?” feel to it.
Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell
I guess I’m broken, because I just couldn’t get into this book at all. Granted, I’m not the biggest fan of YA, especially contemporary YA. But I did really enjoy Attachments and Fangirl, so I figured, YA or not, Rainbow Rowell would pull me in and make me love her characters the way she did in her other books. She didn’t. It’s by no means a bad book, and I’m obviously in the minority, but I just couldn’t get myself to care very much about either Eleanor or Park, let alone the two of them together.
(this was the overall winner of the Dubuque Tournament of Books)
The Furies, by Mark Alpert
I think the marketing put a little too much emphasis on something that wasn’t really there. Between the plot summary and the cover (yeah, yeah, “don’t judge…”) I was hoping for more of a cross-genre feel. I didn’t get that. In fact, there’s hardly anything paranormal about these Furies at all. Despite the interesting premise, this was a lackluster thriller with a bland main character, some pacing issues, and aborted fetuses as a major plot point. I kept trying to like it, but this one just wasn’t for me.
I Am Cowboy, by Jeremy Robinson
This was a great addition to SecondWorld. The character of “Cowboy” definitely stole the show in that novel, so it was a great move on Robinson’s part to give him his own novella. I didn’t feel like it was too short, and it was a really good story (although be warned that it gets a little weird at the end, especially if you’re not familiar with Robinson’s other books and characters). Still worth reading, though, for fans of SecondWorld.
What was your favorite book last month?