Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo
Whilst Cho Nam-Joo’s writing is clear and the voice is interesting I struggled to get invested in this book.
Beginning with shades of Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, I was looking forward to a similarly inventive journey. However, the style of recounting Kim Jiyoung’s formative years, split into childhood, adolescence, early adulthood and marriage, didn’t have quite the same impact.
The repeated everyday misogeny and male-centric attitudes of the Korean world that Jiyoung and her female relations find themselves in, and have to deal with, is shocking but by the end it loses a bit of it’s weight, as if you come to expect it, even if you can’t accept it.
It is a really well written book and an interesting look into a time and place that was new to me but in the end it wasn’t really my cup of tea.
This Is How you Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar (and Max Gladstone)
Initially it took me a while to get into the style of this book and to get my head around what is happening but once the format and the context became familiar it grew on me more and more as the chapters went by, drawing me in.
The slow development of the letter correspondence, framed within a time- and world-spanning, two sided war, is so beautifully and inventively done and it details so much, getting into the heads and hearts of the two main characters, Red and Blue.
I’ve honestly not been as moved or invested in a book for a long time. Beautifully written and utterly compelling.
The Reddening by Adam Nevill
I really enjoyed this book, from the opening of trying to get a handle of what is going on together right through to the ending.
Being a good blend of close-knit, small community, a hint at something supernatural or unexplainable and outright carnage that draws you in and urges you to find out what is going to happen next.
It did suffer a little as it appeared to be heading towards a slightly disappointing ending but Nevill pulls it back and leaves you in a sufficiently shocked state by the final sentence.
As a first Adam Nevill novel, I’m really impressed by his work.
Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
I didn’t think that this would be a book for me and it certainly isn’t one I would normally have picked up but I am very glad that I did.
I found Delia Owen’s writing to be fluid and catchy and her characterisation, of the main character Kya and the other main player – the marsh itself, to be wonderful, descriptive and lively.
Following the little girl from her small, humble beginnings and being left behind by everyone in her life, through very tough times, to her finding her own way in life and truly finding her place, I found to be a really emotional journey. And the marsh that she called her home felt fully formed and Owen’s writing managed to create a complete picture of her surroundings as I was reading.
I really, really enjoyed reading this one.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Night Film is a darkly intricate and intriguing story. The investigation of a journalist around a potential story that digs into the lives of a reclusive, enigmatic film-maker and his family is something else.
Superb characters, hidden depths and unreliable narrators layered on top of some moments of pure hysteria give this book a little something to keep you hooked.
I found this to be thoroughly enjoyable, even though thriller/crime/investigative books aren’t usually my thing, I couldn’t put this one down.
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
I really enjoyed reading Wilder Girls, the main character, Hetty, was interesting and grew bigger and better as the book progressed and Rory Power weaves a good story in good style as well.
The idea surrounding everything is a decent one, and it doesn’t get explained away too early, maintaining a decent amount of anticipation to read on and find out what it’s all about. And I found that it’s this holding back that keeps the pace up until the ending, which unfortunately fell a little flat compared to the rest of the book.
Overall a really good, easy read and, the real reason I picked it up, a magnificent cover image too! (OK, OK, I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but look at it!)
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
Strange and disturbing gets mixed in with the mundane in Han Kang’s telling of this story in three parts.
The fallout from one decision and how it affects the lives of others, never finding out the real reason or what is really going on in Yeung-hye’s head, is beautifully told but there are uncomfortable moments of selfishness and male-dominence that grate against current experience and expectation. Maybe this type of patriarchal behaviour is more commonplace in Korean culture than I was expecting but it did affect me (I read this one before Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982, so it was more shocking/emotional in this instance).
But the moments of drama were too far between, so whilst it is really well written I struggled a little to get through it and it didn’t even capture me fully in its pages.