No 86 A (Tori's-type-of) book review | tori's tales: No 86 A (Tori's-type-of) book review

18 August 2013

No 86 A (Tori's-type-of) book review

*As you read this I'll be pootling along somewhere to/in/from Scotland! I'm away for the month of August but shall endeavour to keep in touch (tweet/read and reply to comments) as often as I am able. Thank you for popping by and be sure to check my daily updates on instagram!*

Back in June I spoke about how I was struggling to read for pleasure, thanks to university, but shone the spotlight on a few books in my favourites pile (those I return to on a, fairly, regular basis, when I'm not able to get into anything else), plus others I've enjoyed (although have yet to had repeat visits). 

Since then I've, sort of, managed to get things back on track and have, sort of, made my way through a few books. I thought I'd introduce these to you (alongside a couple I haven't got along with) and offer up a little book 'review' (all, rubbish, thoughts and descriptions are my own; feel free to disregard them wholeheartedly) to give you an idea of what they are (or I thought they were) about.

First up was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I can't remember exactly how I found out about this book - I'm not one to search on the internet for things to read, or really to read other reviews, but found it I did. I bought this and another (which I'll talk about in a bit) at the same time and asked which to read first on Instagram (as you do) - this came out as the 'winner' so I went with it.

Gone Girl is tells the story of a man, Nick Dunne, whose wife goes missing on their fifth anniversary and what happens when he becomes lead suspect in the case. It's written in 'diary entry' format (honestly, how basic are my descriptions? Proper terminology you ask? PAH!) and flicks between Nick and his wife, Amy. It's pretty fast-paced, I managed to whip through it in 2 days which, obviously, it good going for me right now! It also, as ever is the case with thriller/crime novels, 'travels through time', to fill in the blanks and plump out the story. 

What did I think of it? I'm still not sure. It's incredibly well-written (as would be expected), and highly-descriptive (which I enjoy and think is necessary when it comes to telling a story, how else can I picture it so clearly?) but I couldn't warm to any of the characters and lost interest when the story shifted (I won't give it way, for obvious reasons) direction. It was interesting enough to hold my attention and make me find out what happened, but for me it petered out towards the end and the ending itself was a bit forced/rushed and a let down. 

Next up is Criminal by Karin Slaughter (I know, right?!). I think I thought it was a thriller (please explain what that even means!) but I'd simply call it a crime novel (in the description sense, not in the actual sense of the story itself - crime novels are rarely ever simple!), but either way it sits well with me. First things first, if you dislike crime (duh), talk of murder (double duh), gruesome descriptions, stories of prostitutes and drugs (I hadn't realised this was what it would be about before I read it and that isn't the type of storyline I would usually be drawn to) then this one most definitely WON'T be for you. Secondly, it switches between 'now' and the 70s, with one character spanning both decades, which at times I found a little confusing (because the stories in both eras follow on from each other, so I'd forget if it was the present or the past due to the similarities - although could very well just be me!) so I wouldn't suggest this book if confusion is a likely state for you! However, it is a good book (as much as you can call a book that's pretty forthcoming in its descriptions of killings etc 'good') and, although I didn't necessarily warm to the lead male (Will) I still found myself interested in his storyline and what would happen to him. It's overtly descriptive (weak tummies may prevail) and, again, fast-paced enough to make you want to swallow the story up as quickly as possible, so I would definitely recommend it if crime is your thing. Karin covers a lot about discrimination in the police force, towards women and those of other races, in both the 70s and today (for which she carried out a great deal of research) and it's interesting to read about the differences (and not so's) the time periods present. From what I can tell (so shrewd, this one) Karin uses repeat characters (Will and Sara, possible others? If anyone wants to fill me in I'd be most grateful!) so there's a possibility I've read things 'out of order' but I don't think this causes too much of an upset because it feels very much like a stand alone book. I wasn't expected to know anything about those I've read, and I only found out about the series when I looked up additional books of hers on my search for something else to read. I'd definitely go for another from her again and am hoping I'll stumble across one when I pop back out to the second-hand book shops again later. 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt is the book I mentioned purchasing alongside Gone Girl above. I remember it coming out and hearing rave reviews about it but never really thought about purchasing it myself. (until I did). It's a novel about a group of students at a US university who fall 'under the influence of their charismatic classics professor' (thank you blurb) and are separated from teachings and their fellow students at the rest of the university as a result. The first chapter paints the scene for what is to come (a crime), which caught my interest (because I'm weird) but I just could not get into it. The characters are highly frustrating, I got bored very quickly with the talk of university and university life and found myself saying 'and?' a lot of the time and wishing they'd hurry up and get around to the crime! As seems normal for me, I couldn't get on board with any of the characters, I found them weirdly 2-dimensional, and quite honestly couldn't care less about what happened to them! Now, this does not mean it's not a good book, it just means I have the attention span of a gnat, so by all means pop out and purchase a copy to make up your own mind. I'm a little worried I've cut it short and not given it a good enough chance to get 'better' (I got to page 94) so there is the possibility that, with mountains of time on my hands in Scotland, I'll give it another go. However, for now I need books that'll grab me from the word go, not books that need me to give them time to develop!

I've been struggling with Blacklands for a while now, having bought it (I think) a couple of years ago with a few other books that I managed to make it through (and enjoyed, such as Sister - I'm still flogging it, go get yourselves a copy people!). It's the story of a boy whose uncle was killed decades earlier and buried on an Exmoor moor. They never found his body, so Steven (the boy) takes it upon himself to do so, first by digging, and then by contacting the man in prison for the murder. It's written in what I would call quite a childish demeanour (although I'm aware the protagonist is 12 and these go hand-in-hand) and, for me, is fairly dull and flat, with nothing on offer to catch hold of the readers attention. It's not overly descriptive, Steven himself is a pretty 'blah' character (all about the descriptive words, me) and that's it really, I don't have anything else to say about it! Apart from save your money and buy something else!

As our expedition to Scotland is a month long one, and because I wolf crime/thriller novels down like there's no bloody tomorrow, I've had to make sure I've plenty to read when I'm away, so spent time searching through charity shops etc to purchase myself a haul (if you will) so as to be prepared. Above is a selection of those I came across (I've started the Martina Cole at home and aren't really getting on with it so far), all of the aforementioned variety. I bought 4 from Oxfam and, worried what the lady behind the counter would think of my state of mind (hello, I'd like to purchase these books all about murder), I managed to involve her in a conversation about Scotland and travelling whilst she scanned them into the system. I'm pretty sure she ended up thinking well of my character (thank goodness).

Are any of you fans of crime or thriller novels?

1 comment:

  1. I loved Gone Girl but I haven't tried a Karen Slaughter book yet but it sounds up my alley. Thanks for sharing!


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