Reading Wrap-Up: January 2017

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Souichi’s Diary of Delights by Junji Ito (My Rating: 2/5) Junji Ito is normally a safe bet for me. I love his art and his bizarre stories that chill me to the bone. In this case, this was my first go round with Souichi, who is a fan favorite up there with Tomie. I officially don’t see it. Souichi annoyed the living hell out of me. Normally, I would see the appeal. In a way, he has that Edward Scissorhands vibe to him. That he doesn’t follow the norm and takes his own path. He draws in the outsiders who are always looking for mirror images of themselves. Except that he’s a spoiled brat. So unlike Edward, who is a great example, he’s not sweet or well-meaning. He’s godawful. And not like, another great example, the Joker, where someone could get glee out of him doing whatever he feels. Because he’s simpering and whiny and gives up as soon as opposition presents itself. He’s just not fun.

The one saving grace is that Ito eventually does take the story to a far, strange point. In the beginning, it’s up to reader interpretation whether Souichi has anything like supernatural powers. You could say yes or no depending on your point of view. Then we reach a chapter where there is no denying Souichi is some kind of warlock. That’s when it got good. But then it ended. Too little too late, which is why it got a low rating.

Sabella by Tanith Lee (My Rating: 5/5) Finally a 5/5 book again! I needed this so badly. I was desperately seeking every author who was a sure thing and getting let down even there, but Tanith Lee saved me. She made me believe in the power of loving a book again. Now I should warn this is one of those books that could easily get a “problematic” label. I wouldn’t blame anyone for having issues with how the romance aspect is handled. Personally, I felt that the world building (which was incredible), the character’s personalities and needs, and the way she combined all these things made where we end up completely sensible. I think that’s the key. Whatever story you’re telling, whatever choices you make, they should make sense. I should be struggling to find a hole where something slipped through, and that’s the case here. It’s a very well-built narrative. Maybe it is a little weird how she wound everything up in the end, but she made it so that it was the only conclusion that could be. Plus, happy ending. In today’s climate, we need more happily ever afters.

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde (My Rating: 2/5) I really shouldn’t have started here with him. Yes, this was my first Wilde. And it was a bust. The story was clearly trying to be hilarious, and it really wasn’t. Mostly the writing read as Wilde giggling behind his hand at his own cleverness. Then toward the end it took a sudden turn toward drama and ended on a random sugary romantic moment. Mood whiplash. Ultimately it was silly and frivolous, which isn’t a sin but also not very meaningful. Also, it was short enough that this should’ve been in a collection, not standing on its own as in the copy I had.

The Color Master by Aimee Bender (My Rating: 3/5) This was a short story collection with a lot of magical realism and genre hopping. Normally my thing, but I didn’t care that much for this one. Collections can get away with a lot from me if they contain at least one story that blew my mind. This didn’t have even one that did so. They all sort of blended together into a mass of mediocrity. The title story, “The Color Master” stood out in a way, but not to the point that I feel a need to keep the collection or dip into it again. I honestly think that reading Kelly Link has raised the bar so high for me that I don’t accept much less than her level of quality.

That does it for January. A decent start to the year, though I hope the quality of reads gets higher. Thanks for reading, and as always, happy geeking!

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