Hate List

The scene in the Garvin High School cafetaria, known as the Commons, is being described as “grim” by investigators who are working to identify the victims of a shooting spree that erupted Friday morning. 

This was much more intense than I expected from a YA book.  Of course, a high school shooting isn’t a happy subject, but the way this was handled, severely impressed me. Not just the characterizations, but also because there was absolutely no sugar-coating or cover ups.

The high school shooter is Valerie’s boyfriend. Several people are killed before she can intervene, only to watch him kill himself. And no-one saw it coming. But then a hate list is found, full of names, and people wonder if Valerie was in on it, if she’s a danger as well, if she’s the reason he did all this.

No-one trusts her, no-one can look at her, and Valerie is seriously doubting everything. Jennifer Brown brings all of it almost brutally close, no easy cop outs or pleasing solutions. Besides being about how horrible and destructive shootings are, it’s especially about people.

Hate List, Jennifer Brown, Little Brown and Company 2010

The Drop

107 min.

Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Mafia film zonder mafia? Is de persoon die we volgen wel de good guy? Is er een urgentie, een angst, een dreiging die we moeten voelen (behalve die over de gezondheid van de puppy)?

Zelfs het geweld in het verhaal van Bob, een werknemer in een ‘drop café’ (illegale geldopslag) is in kleine, bedompte uitbarstingen. Het café wordt beroofd en wie is idioot genoeg om dat te doen? Voeg een mishandelde puppy toe voor wat zachtheid, één die succesvoller is dan de half-relatie die Bob heeft met een opgegroeid probleemmeisje die niet uit haar slachtoffer rol komt.

The Drop vult niet netjes alle vragen in, maar blijft achter als droesem van een luidere, bralleriger film. Bijna hallucinerend over mensen die misschien wel helemaal niet goed, maar ook niet slecht zijn.

The Drop, Fox Searchlight Pictures 2014

The Rathbones

Moses knows what will happen.

Marine magic realism or dark family fairy tale? The Rathbones are a huge whale hunting family in the (early) nineteenth century. The novel spans little over a century of family connections.

The family patriarch has a special connection with the ocean, making him and his offspring extraordinary hunters. They become legends, but every legend has foes, disaster and tragedy. The family tree moves in every which way but the prospering one.

Janice Clark creates a tapestry of myths, family and nature. It’s filled to the brim with details, colors and secrets. It’s a fairy tale and magic and just a family tome. And definitely worth your time.

The Rathbones, Janice Clark, Doubleday 2013

Crazy Rich Asians

Nicholas Young slumped into the nearest seat in the hotel lobby, drained from the sixteen-hour flight from Singapore, the train ride from Heathrow Airport, and trudging through the rain-soaked streets.

Everything is completely and utterly superficial and it is delicious. Sometimes you just need such a story, or at least, I do.

Yes, there are a few stories about love, loss and family in this novel, but they are covered by details about clothing, apartments, furniture, buildings, ways of travel (so many private yet), surroundings and people. And the clothes they wear. It’s like a fancy advertisement guide where all the pictures are replaced by descriptions. The huge family tree on the first pages of the book isn’t really necessary, the characters are all show models anyway.

Kwan still manages to keep up a great speed and enough soap-dramatic turns to keep the reader busy and eager. As one of the blurbs on the cover already put it “Dallas in extrema”. If you want that AND crazy detailed descriptions about rooms plastered with gold, this is your book.

Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan, Corvus 2013