BOOK & BLOG
February 8, 2012
Books of the Week:
I was very lucky this past week. Though I was busy getting ready for guests and dealing with repairmen, I managed to read two very good books, bit by bit.
Kim Harrison is no stranger to almost all my readers, and she’s justly popular. I think A Perfect Blood is the best entry in the Rachel Morgan series in years. Rachel has always been a character with a lot of weaknesses – or maybe just characteristics – that troubled me. But in this book, which I read in uncorrected proof form, Rachel grows and matures, in a way that was frankly a great relief. Harrison’s consistency and excellent world building have always been a big draw for me, and now I’m happier about the direction her main character’s taking, too. In A Perfect Blood, Rachel is trying to cope with the strictures placed on her by the supernatural community now that she’s publicly a demon. And it’s not easy. As always, Rachel’s impulsiveness lands everyone around her in trouble, most of all Rachel, but she’s more self-aware about it. A terrible sort of anti-supernatural organization is using magic to genetically alter witches in terrible ways, and they’re trying to draw Rachel out so they can abduct her. She has just the blood the need. Suspenseful and exciting.
Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook was a gift from an editor, and I was a little dubious. But I know this is going to kick off my Best Books of the Year list. The opening page alone is a gem, and the narrative just keeps getting better. Myfanwy Thomas, top executive in an English supernatural secret organization, is no longer herself. Her memories have been erased, and she has a new personality and no memories at all. Trying to keep up with the startling, terrifying, and very funny events that that make up her world is amazingly difficult, but Myfanwy manages with great success . . . sometimes. She reads her predessor’s copious notes and discovers that she has a secret enemy in the upper echelons of Checquy. I notice in the blurbs on the back, Katherine Neville compares The Rook to “Harry Potter meets Ghostbusters meets War of the Worlds,” and that’s not a bad comparison. This is wonderful entertainment.
I’ve never been a believer in being able to chart your course through life by means of your birthdate. This is strictly my personal view, of course, and not meant to disparage anyone who gets her chart done regularly. You have to believe something: you have to have a belief system to get you through life, to help you form judgements. That belief may be in a religion, or in vegetarianism, or in exercise, or in the benefits of cleansing, or in astrology.
I had a very silly thought. Could there be such a person as an atheist who nonetheless swore by astrology? Does one system preclude the other? Probably. I suppose if you don’t believe in a creator, you don’t believe that any of the creations can govern your future. I imagine that atheism is a system in and of itself, consisting of rational thought and self-determinism and ethics. But that system would apply only to admitted atheists; there are many functional atheists in this world who would never admit they don’t believe in a god.
These thoughts were prompted by watching the news this week. In our area, a young African American man put up a billboard suggesting that other African Americans look away from the Christian churches for ways to solve their problems. Since the southern African American community has traditionally been church-oriented, this idea caused quite a stir. I hope no one will hurt this man, who at least is standing up for what he believes, however little I sympathize with that belief. But I also hope he’s not successful in his mission.
This is a rambling blog, and a good illustration of the way my mind works, I suppose.
© 2012 Charlaine Harris