Friday, January 23, 2015

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Posted by Yuma County Library

Reviewed by: Becky Brendel

What I Read: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Find It @YCLD: Here!

What It's About: Adjusting to a new life in 19th-century New York is difficult enough for immigrants in the Jewish and Syrian communities, who nonetheless form close-knit neighborhoods and support each other. It's even more difficult for Chava and Ahmad, who aren't even human. Their cultures and outlooks on life are different, but a chance meeting helps them form an unlikely, and sometimes uneasy, friendship.

What I Thought: This was an absolutely lovely book. The writing was poignant and evocative without being overwrought, creating a sense of quiet melancholy that suited the two protagonists well. Side characters were drawn with color and sympathy, and a more suspenseful plot kicks in towards the middle that made the book addicting - but the real attractions in this novel are the setting and the protagonists themselves. Both the Jewish and Syrian-American communities are depicted in a way that made me feel I was really living among these people, and historical details flowed so naturally in the descriptions that the narrator never had to relate to exposition to provide context for the story. Chava and Ahmad both felt suitably inhuman - they are, after all, magical creatures - but this didn't keep them from being sympathetic. They're also excellent foils for each other (Chava, a golem made of earth, is brand-new to the world and humble - while Ahmad, a jinni made of fire, is millennia old and proud of his erstwhile power). I'd recommend this book even to people who don't usually enjoy fantasy; it's not a full fantasy so much as "magical realism", a historical novel that happens to highlight the experience of feeling like the world's slipping away by making its protagonists the ultimate outsiders.

Readalikes: The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, for more melancholy-laced historical fiction that immerses you in the setting; The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, for more bestselling fiction fraught with quiet tension

Or look this book up on NoveList!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Posted by Yuma County Library

Reviewed by: Andrew Zollman

What I ReadRed Rising by Pierce Brown

Find It @YCLD: Here! 

What It's About: The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope. Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought. Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield - and Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda.

What I Thought: Did you like the hunger games trilogy? Were you looking for something similar but more adult in content? Red Rising is just that. With a gritty main character, plenty of plot development and lots of action, you get just that. The novel follows Darrow along on this terrifying journey from being the lowest of the low as a Red to the highest honor of a Gold, describing his triumphs and the pitfalls he finds along the way. The story is not for the faint of heart, but it is edgy and pushes you to follow along. I know this is short, I’m giving you that much more time to go and pick the book up to read it yourself.

Readalikes: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Although this is a bit grittier).

Or look this book up on NoveList!