24 February 2015

Snow Forts & Gold Stars: A Review of Redemption in Indigo, Karen Lord

Is it just me or do Canadians take an inordinate amount of pride in discussing the most mundane of physical states, weather? Not completely disinterested in this effective conversation starter, the inevitable ranting is at best tiresome. Weather is weather, an atmospheric phenomena without feelings, vendettas or desires to ruin your day. Still can't deal, dress warmer, be that person with two coats on, snow pants and a scarf so you can actually venture outdoors maybe even take in a little sun as the icicles blind you with happiness.

So said this girl before our furnace looked the encroaching polar vortex in the face, choosing death over work. We are all quite disappointed in the choice it made.

Parka donned, at my dining room table, breath unnervingly visible, I listen to the sounds of furnace repairmen discussing the most destructive avenues to return the warmth. Drill away boys, drill away. Miraculously my love for winter, while dented has remained through out this heatless nightmare. Living up here requires some backbone. Actually I am an odd bird; the hubby in a very puzzled tone called me nordic yesterday as he watched me gleefully walk through yet another snow-apocalypse. A Newfie, he too comes from strong Canadian winter stock but views it as an active state of aggression designed to destroy his soul. The only thing keeping him sane is cheese. Of course the impending trip to Florida helps. 

Gold star perfect
With warm breezes off of turquoise waters washing over my frozen thoughts,  I continue to struggle with reviewing Redemption in Indigo. Thanks to a certain redhead, I tried Karen Lord's second novel, The Best of All Possible Worlds subsequently losing my cool, proclaiming Lord as the new best thing in SF. Slightly premature, having read only one of her books, I placed Redemption in Indigo on my Reading Pile/2015, diving in this past January and that's right, losing it once again.

I unravelled so completely over this, Lord's acclaimed first fantasy novel that I have been in a panicked state of writer's block since it was lovingly shelved. Sometimes as you read, realization strikes that what you hold is not a book but literature, a work-of-art, a story so well-crafted that you, a lowly unpublished non-writer could never achieve. I wasn't lying when I said I lost it.  

Redemption in Indigo is a fairy tale, somewhat Gaiman-esque, somewhat not, a very clear, very contained story of Paama, the wife of a fool, entrusted with the Chaos Stick that leads her down a path of self-fulfillment and empowerment. This is a story of magic, made real. It wound itself around me like a snake, entrapping me in it's seemingly elementary plot, leaving me spellbound to this day. Recently I read an author discussing techniques to avoid if you want your book review blog to be successful. Enthusiasm, he decided was not only destructive but trite and boring. I have decided to ignore his advice.  

5 February 2015

Unhinged: A Review of Feed, Mira Grant

I awoke refreshed yet ever so slightly unhinged this cold albeit sunny morning.  Equipped with a hypersensitive imagination, I avoid reading horror simply because in Canada it is next to impossible to procure the 50 shotguns needed for me to feel safe enough to fall asleep.  How then did Mira's Grant's first book in her zombie-enriched Newsflesh Trilogy make it's way into my 2015 Reading Pile? Sometimes all it takes is stranger's exuberance to tip one over the edge to zombie-town. 

My local SF bookstore has the quaint habit of recommending books using index cards. These little love letters are left amongst the bookshelves, swaying unsuspecting customers to expand their reading repertoire. Employee engagement is fully supported with all the clerks willing to spend a half an hour convincing you that while Feed is indeed quite gross actually is not about the zombies.  
And so here I am, a zombie book reader who now keeps one eye open while washing my hair, ever alert because the undead may be lumbering up the stairs to eat my brains. To be fair, they could care less about my brains, really wanting to spread the Kellis-Amberlee virus that has reanimated their dead asses. Mira Grant, nom de plume Seanan Mcguire, is a smart cookie. She realized that to swim in zombified waters she needed to add some depth to the pre-existing mythos of the walking dead. Like John Scalzi with Lock In she looked to the science of our day to create a believable level of terror. The nuances of the virus that aggressively spread in 2014 brought into effect a new world. Feed begins in an age with zombies. Life is less care-free. A walk in the park, a picnic by the sea, even attending a concert is fraught with danger. Humanity has dwindled, hiding in upon itself, terrified to gather. living on-line, barricaded behind windowless houses aware that everyone is susceptible to reanimation. It is quite genius, inventing a virus that lays dormant in every single species that's mass index exceeds 40 pounds that will result in you and yours eventually becoming zombies. 

But this is not a zombie book, it is a discussion of fear and the power it can have to solidify agendas, popularize hate and entrap our minds.  Feed is a well-masked exploration of the war on terror, honing in on the power of the media and the movement of information to not only hide but reveal truth. It is quite a heady subject for a little zombie book, and even though I enjoyed it, I wish I loved it. The book is fraught with repetition that unsuccessfully grounds the reader to the horrors of an infected world, forcing the reader to skim.  Trust me, I don't want to skim but if a book is bogged down with sameness, I will have to hunt for the ending from frustration not delight. I sit on the fence with Feed, wanting it to be less about sloppy blog writing (ha-ha-eek) that seemed antiquated in it's treatment of on-line news while loving the apocalyptic nightmare and the bad-ass generation who has inherited this zombie world.