BOOK & BLOG
December 17, 2008
Books of the Week:
I’ve been reading glowing reviews of CHILD 44 for months, and I finally convinced myself to read it. The reviews were absolutely correct; this book is wonderfully written, superbly researched, and for me, anyway, very upsetting. The child of the title is the forty-fourth victim of a serial killer in Stalinist Russia, which is depicted in the most graphic way. The society Smith shows us is one ruled by fear. The state has decreed that there is no crime in Russia, because all men are now equal and there is no reason for crime to occur. Since there is no crime, the deaths of all these children are being investigated by different small police forces that really only serve as crowd control or as state thugs. When one policeman finally decides that the deaths are all the work of one man, no one believes him; or if they do believe him, they are too frightened to act on the knowledge. I won’t reveal too much of the plot of the book, which is harrowing. CHILD 44 is not only a crime novel, it’s a history lesson about one of mankind’s darkest hours
GRIMSPACE was a real surprise. I’d been expecting a sort of romantic space opera, and instead I got an original and witty book about a woman in the future, a woman who has the rare gene that enables her to jump a ship through space, saving months of travel. Sirantha Jax is in trouble when the book opens. She’s the only survivor of a crash in which leaders from several planets died, her lover/pilot with them. Sirantha’s unexpectedly broken out of imprisonment by March, who turns out to have quite an agenda. He wants to start a rival operation that will enable the worlds to get along without the Corps, Jax’s former employer. Jax is crucial to this effort, since the Corps has been recruiting jumpers by foul means in an effort to maintain their monopoly. Though there are some strange spots in the plot (when it’s obvious Jax has the hots for March, she keeps insisting she really hates him and he hates her, long after this is almost laughable), this is a well-written and original book with a surprise ending. Lots of good touches, here.
This is my last blog of 2008. From now on out, I’m going full-tilt like so many of you. I have a book to finish, lots of cooking to do, a trip to make, and children to enjoy. That’s more than enough to last me until the end of the year.
Looking back over 2008, there are so many pleasurable professional moments to relive. I can only marvel at the year I’ve had. With the publication of FROM DEAD TO WORSE, and the short story anthology Toni and I edited (WOLFSBANE AND MISTLETOE), to the appearance of my short stories in BLOOD LITE and UNUSUAL SUSPECTS, I’ve had an incredibly busy time of it. Of course, the most dominant event of the year was the debut of “True Blood.” From the premiere to the last episode, I was in a whirlwind of activity. I’m delighted all the hard work so many people put into this show has paid off so well for them, and I hope “True Blood’s” second season is as much of a hit as the first.
Personally, it’s been a good year too. My family is all well, all happy, and all moving forward with their busy lives. We were glad to welcome home Second Son after two years in Alaska, and Youngest Child is well on her way to picking a college. Maybe. We hope. Soon?
We’ve lost some friends along the way, but that’s a part of our time on earth, too.
I can’t imagine another year as wonderful as this one has been.
As I prepare for 2009, let me tell you what I hope for: financial stability in the world’s markets, peace in the Middle East, and safety for our new president. There are lots of other worthy causes, but these are the ones at the forefront of my worries when I think of the coming year.
Thanks to all of you, especially my moderators and Dawn, my web maven, for supplying each other and me with hours of entertainment on this board. Thanks for keeping it civil, and obeying the rules. I’m delighted some of you have made friends here, and I hope this board continues to introduce like-minded people to each other. Happy reading, everyone! Here’s to books, the cheapest vacation you can buy.
© 2009 Charlaine Harris