A year has passed since I wrote my last book review. In that time, I have read dozens and dozens of books, but nary a one has motivated me to write a review.
Don’t get me wrong; some have been really good. Less by Andrew Sean Greer won the Pulitzer, deservedly. But with all that hype, nothing I could have written in a review would have made you read it if you hadn’t already. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata is delightfully quirky . . . so long as you’re into that particular brand of Japanese fiction in translation. You know, like Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. Oh, you don’t know? Yeah, that’s why I didn’t write the review. And You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld is a delightful collection of short stories. But nine out of ten people don’t like reading short stories, and ten out of ten don’t like reading my reviews of short stories.
And let’s be real: nobody cares about all the slightly better-than-average books I read (least of all me). I’m looking at you, Scythe by Neal Shusterman (a fun, dark utopian concept that is utterly ruined by its garbage follow-up, Thunderhead), the much-beloved A Gentleman in Moscow (which doesn’t hold a candle to Towles’ incredible debut, Rules of Civility), An American Marriage (well-written, thought-provoking, and worth reading for its timeliness, but just real damn depressing), and All the Answers (a “graphic memoir” about the Quiz Kid, which I sped through in the hour after I brought it home from the library, but which wouldn’t appeal to a wide audience because of its format).
Worse yet are the books that should’ve been good and just weren’t. This is where I waggle my finger at Turtles All the Way Down, Everything I Never Told You, Underground Airlines, and Us Against You. And the brain candy books (of which there is an embarrassing number, including To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Caraval, The Impossible Fortress, The Elizas) didn’t warrant the brain power necessary to crank out a review.
Sooooo, I bided my time.
And then I happened upon this little gem. In the first five pages, I heard the angels sing. This, I knew, was something special. I crossed my fingers that it wouldn’t peak at page sixty-five and begin a rapid descent to garbagetown as so many books do. And, glory of glories, it didn’t. Continue reading