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I read a book and I liked it

Embarrassing confession: I literally can't remember the last time I read a fiction book (that I hadn't read before). I was a voracious reader as a kid, but now with fanfiction and the Internet and whatnot, sitting down to read a piece of fiction when I know nothing about the author or the characters has seemed surprisingly intimidating and time-consuming.

BUT. I saw a rec on tumblr from xcziel that intrigued me, and so I gave it a shot. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie won last year's Nebula Award as her first novel (!!) She also won the Golden Tentacle Award for best debut novel; I did not know such an award existed, and now I WANT IT. *ahem* Anyway, I put it on my iPad next to my collection of Big Bangs and had at it.

It was interesting and well worth the read. I suspect I have read better fanfic, but it was certainly quite good. She did some really intriguing things with POV and language and show-don't-tell that got me thinking about how we write speculative fiction and introduce world-building and all of that. To my mind, her creativity came in those elements rather than in characterization or plot or themes, but that's not to knock her creativity. (You have to appreciate a book that uses "she" as the default pronoun.) I don't want to put any spoilers in the post, but I would love to discuss the book in comments if anyone has read it. And I would recommend it to you sci-fi geeks out there!


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 20th, 2014 10:18 am (UTC)
You know, I give books stars (1 thru 5) on goodreads, but it's based entirely on how well the book met or exceeded what I was in the mood for. It sounds like I've been reading more fic-that-isn't-fanfic than you have lately, but it tends to be something easy and escapist. My brain is too tired from RL challenges (fun but mentally draining) to invest more energy in reading.

I do love book recs from friends, and Ancillary Justice was available in eReader format from my library, so I downloaded last night around 10pm (after spending ALL day on a homework assignment). And I started reading.

And gave up after not too long. Maybe it's the in-the-mood-for thing and needing something to be an easy read at that time of night. The pronoun approach was inventive--takes getting used to, but I was willing to try. (Although I do have a bias against first-person stories, but it seems they're everywhere these days!) Anyway, after introducing the mystery of the near-death body on the first page, it felt like it went into pages and pages and pages of descriptive world-building backstory where nothing happened.

I had two other sci-fi novels on my eReader that seemed to promise more action and character focus, so I moved them up on my To-Read list instead. Should I try this again when I'm mentally fresher? Give myself to a certain page before deciding to continue or not?
Jul. 20th, 2014 10:33 am (UTC)
I have to admit that my initial reaction to the first couple of chapters was, "wow, if something that starts with this much info-dumping can win a Nebula, I should start writing original fic!" And then I read a critic praising the story for going back and forth between past and present and couldn't help but think of the anonmeme complaints about fic writers who do that, LOL.

I found the past storyline more compelling than the present-day one, although of course they come together after a while. And I might be the only person around who doesn't mind first-person POV, but I thought that for this particular story, considering who the POV was, it couldn't have been done any other way. That said, it did take several chapters and some mental effort to understand who and what that POV was, so it might be better to save it for when you're firing on all cylinders. :)

What are the other books on your list? Maybe I'll give them a shot.
Jul. 21st, 2014 10:59 am (UTC)
I'm not real ecstatic about them either. One is a YA book called Burning Sky (first book in a trilogy) that I thought would be very light escapist stuff, but it's a bit too easy. The teen characters are just a little too perfect.

The second is The Fraseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb. An LJ friend rec'd the series to me, though admitting she likes the second trilogy best. I decided to start with the first trilogy. Liked the first book (which is what the ink is to) enough to read the second, finished it and checked out the third. But it's first person, not terribly different from all the other fantasy novels out there, and the kind of book I can easily set down after 30 minutes and pick it up again whenever. I miss the kind of books that I couldn't put down, and raced out to buy the sequel the moment I could.

The last sci fi/fantasy book I read that I gave 5 stars to was Deadroads by Robin Riopelle, and not just because she used to write SPN fanfic as big_pink. I reviewed her book on my LJ previously. Before that. the last sci fi/fantasy book I loved was The Golem and the Jinni by Helen Wecker. It took me a little while to get completely sucked in, but then I was! (No sequels!) I liked a lot of dystopian fic (read Hunger Games and Divergent long befrore they became movies), but I think I've reached my threshold and am kind of burnt out. The last book that exceeded what I was in the mood for, and made me rush out for sequels was Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. I admit it was very much a mood thing--your mileage may vary.

Back to work! Today I am editing a non-fiction book on the Civil War.... Tomorrow I am reading 19th century manuscripts at the Indiana Historical Society...

Aug. 10th, 2014 05:28 pm (UTC)
It's so interesting that you recommended The Golem and the Jinni, because I just borrowed that electronically from our library. It was pretty much the only digital sci-fi offering that looked interesting, and now I will definitely read it!
Jul. 27th, 2014 07:14 pm (UTC)
I downloaded the book and according to my Kindle I am 10% finished (I keep getting distracted by BBs). So I am at the point where she has just left the flier and fought the people who came after her and Seivarden. I am still having some problems with the pronoun use, but I'm trying to ignore it and just go with the flow, because it is an interesting story. But if I want to do it justice, I may have to return to it after I get through the spn_j2 and aftercamlann BBs I want to read.
Aug. 10th, 2014 05:29 pm (UTC)
I think the past parts were more interesting than the present-day parts, if that helps. But I understand the need to wait until the BBs are read!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )