Abigail – Attachments – Rainbow Rowell
A romantic comedy set in a newspaper office prepping for the impending Y2K catastrophe, Attachments is chockfull of late 90’s nostalgia guided by author Rainbow Rowell’s humorous hindsight.
The book’s short chapters alternate between email threads of work friends, Beth and Jennifer, and narration following an aggressively bland young man named Lincoln whose job it is to read flagged company emails.
Rowell’s gift for capturing character voice is apparent from page one, which opens with Beth and Jennifer’s clever, pop-culture laden, neurotic banter. If you were stoked about news of Netflix’s upcoming Gilmore Girls revival, ease your wait with this book.
Beth and Jennifer channel their inner Lorelai and Rory as they cover all the hot-button issues facing twentysomethings: disappointing jobs, sibling rivalry, redefining relationship with mom, wedding-envy, and that pesky biological clock.
Exposed to the magnetic charm of Beth and Jennifer’s emails, Lincoln gradually sheds his bland exterior. It is gratifying to witness as Lincoln takes the initiative to befriend the elderly, pump iron, and buy a jean jacket that is all that and a bag of chips.
Meghan – The Wrenchies – Farel Dalrymple
I was not expecting literary fiction when I picked up the Wrenchies, a graphic novel about a comic book in a comic book, an epic quest to save the world from demons, and a bunch of kid heros eating rats and doing whatever drugs they find lying around in their apocalyptic landscape.
At first, I felt like there were things I was missing like I overlooked an appendix or a prequel in invisible ink. About chapter three, once I got my bearings, I decide to start over.
That being said, I did not put it down once I got started. I was entertained enough as I was going that I didn’t mind the confusion. I kept turning the page trusting that all of it would make sense if I kept reading. And it did, mostly.
There was a lot left unsaid, a lot open to future personal musings. (Why is there a duck person? What happened to half the cast that gets ‘offed’ in the quest? What was being said to me with each of their departures?)
The wrenches doesn’t tell you things, it shows you a giant world to think about outside of the narrative scope.
I enjoyed reading it. I was confused. Being confused did not hinder my enjoyment.
The character designs (especially of the young wrenchies) are awesome. The art is gorgeous and the environment is real and unreal at the same time.
There are demons and bugs and secret hideouts and so many marvelous concept images I wanted to explore and see more of and that kept me going through the confusion.
I would liken it to an art exhibit where concept trumps narrative. Not to say the narrative is lacking, but that the concept is much denser.
Carolyn – Binti – Nnedi Okorafor
I’ve just finished Binti by Nnedi Okorafor and I’m pleased to discover after the fact that it was nominated for a Hugo. I’d initially picked it up because it caught Meg’s (and my) attention and the work was well worth my time (and its nomination).
The novella follows a woman who leaves her village to study at Oomza University–the first of her people to be accepted. She is a master harmonizer, she “trees” (splitting equations to, in effect, meditate), and she clearly assesses the cultures and people she encounters. I loved the narrative, and the narrator fascinated me as she struggled to keep who she was and who she expects she will become together as one person.
There were moments where the narrative style felt unexpected, as though the narrator was unaware how she was meant to structure her story. I assume these skips and disjointed moments were intentional on the author’s part–particularly as it is told in first person– and while they did sometimes draw me out of the narrative, I found myself jumping right back in out of curiosity and concern for the narrator. By the end I enjoyed the voice it conveyed for Binti, telling me as much about how she was following the events of her journey as the story itself.
Carolyn – Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers (and more!) – Alyssa Wong
Without hijacking my own train of thought too much, I also recently read a couple short stories by Alyssa Wong (nominated for a Hugo for Best New Writer) which were Awesome. This was another accidental recommendation I followed through on without knowledge of her accolades. Although her genre is listed as horror in the places I have poked–not typically my genre–I found her work to be the perfect balance of compelling story and distress (on my part). At this point, I’m mentally categorizing her alongside Neil Gaiman in level of distress it causes–mostly concern in my head if I fall too far down the rabbit hole than abject terror or disgust. My favorite thus far (having chosen not to inhale all of her short stories in one go) is “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers”.
None of these works (Binti and Wong’s) were overly long, which allowed for quick and eager consumption and I cannot wait to read more of their respective work.