Sunday, January 8, 2012

January Reading

Goliath by Scott Westerfield.

Third in the Leviathan trilogy, Westerfield delivers another page turner that combines fact, fiction, and fantasy in a seamless narrative. His note at the end, as in the others, informs readers of what is real and what is not, making for an enjoyable history lesson.

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini.

The final book in what was supposed to be a trilogy, now four, was initially confusing due to the complexity of the characters and plot as well as the time lapse since the last installment. Nevertheless, once I gave up trying to remember it all and instead relied upon Paolini's sense of when to remind me of details the story was, like his others, thoroughly engrossing. Cheers for the logical, though not happiest, of endings. I love an author who can kill off characters we love and disappoint our craving for a neat ending.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.

I started this book in the afternoon, went out to dinner, and came home and read until 2:30 a.m. I could not put it down. A fan of holocaust fiction who has read a ton of it, this offers a parallel story of what was happening to the people in the Baltic states while Stalin and Hitler competed for most evil leader in the world. The story is told from the perspective of fifteen year old Lina, beginning with her family's deportation from Lithuania aboard a cattle car. Rousted from their home and given twenty minutes to pack followed by six weeks aboard a train bound for Siberia, the story ends with the protagonist in a labor camp in the arctic circle barely surviving in a mud hut. The author's end note makes clear that she has a personal, familiar stake in the story but also that she did a ton of research to bring us a story that speaks for millions of people who were kept silent well into the 1990s. Incredible.