The Chimes

I’ve been standing here forever.

Maybe just another case of bad timing, but this time I didn’t even bother finishing the book. Of course I feel slightly bad about that.

Maybe if I wouldn’t have had read Homegoing before, the difference wouldn’t have been so big. I was ready to be swept off my feet again, instead I had to push myself through unrecognisable clunks of ..probably what was supposed to have been plot.

The Chimes are a thing that turned England, or maybe the entirety of the UK, or the world – a thing that uses music to control people and make it unable for people to remember. Some manage to put their memories into objects, but it’s still hard to have a past.

So, there is a nice element to built a world upon, but why does it feel like the author was paid per word? Several times I felt like I was close to a clue, only to have the story going into another direction again. None of the characters had any pull on me, to cheer them on or dislike them. For a story littered with music related terms, the rhythm was completely off.

The Chimes, Anna Small, Sceptre 2015

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The Dark Tower

95 min.

Tsja. Het had heel veel kunnen zijn, een film over de fantasy scifi van-alles boekenserie van Stephen King. In plaats daarvan probeerde het vooral even van alles aan te stippen, zonder al te veel op te letten op wat het bronmateriaal aanbood.

the dark tower movie posterDus wordt er een jongen toegevoegd, en details van zo’n zes boeken rond gesprenkeld. Hij heeft visioenen van een andere wereld met daarin een donkere toren, maar dan blijkt hij nodig voor de doelen van de slechterik, dus mag hij ook die andere wereld in. Gelukkig is er een held, de laatste van zijn soort, en daardoor emotioneel op de standaard Remi-manier.

Idris Elba (de held) doet nog wel zijn best, en je gunt hem een spin off of op zijn minst een mini-serie waarin we meer van zijn achtergrond leren. De slechterik lijkt vooral een donkere outfit genoeg motivatie te vinden om slecht te zijn. Er wordt niet genoeg gedeeld, en moeten we ons echt wel zorgen maken als de toren valt?

Men zou bezig zijn met een televisieserie voor de boeken. Geef Elba nog een keer een kans, en laten we de rest vergeten.

The Dark Tower, Sony 2017

 

 

Homegoing

The night Effia Otcher was born into the musky heat of Fanteland, a fire raged through the woods just outside her father’s compound.

A much recommended book that didn’t disappoint one bit. How often does that happen (rhetorical question)?

I often appreciate a family epistle, using people to show history through the centuries. Sometimes their surroundings are more interesting, something the characters and their impact on later generations are the elements that make the story.

Homegoing does both. It starts in Ghana, with the time when white people were just a minor element, a mark in between tribal issues. It goes on into the twenty-first century. So that means kingdoms rising and falling, slavery, wars, segregation, the American civil war and civil rights movements, fear for lives solely because they’re being lived in dark(er) skins. And during all that, people. Likeable people, confusing people, people you worry for. There’s their family mythology, but Yaa Gyasi never makes you forget that these are (just) humans.

It’s ugly, how close to the skin it plays. Colorism, racism, the superiority feelings of white people. This is reality, and there’s no judging tone; the situations speak for themselves. Doesn’t mean this story is non-stop hard to read, just another gold star for in Gyasi’s book. All in all, add me to the voice of recommendations.

Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi, Alfred A. Knopf 2016

The Shore

When news of the murder breaks I’m in Matthew’s, buying chicken necks so my little sister Renee and I can go crabbing.

A collection of stories all involving The Shore, a group of islands near the coast of Virginia. Some characters move through different stories, others only get a few pages. There’s whiffs of magic for some, (post)apocalyptic disaster for others. It’s a collection of island stories, throughout time.

The Shore seems to devour the people that want more, know more, creating a bubble inside the already bubble-like surroundings. Better to keep your mouth shut, your eyes down, your dreams small.

Yet this never makes the stories bitter; the majority seem to be light and fragile like the bubble it plays in. Is this really such a bad life, or just like any of those on the mainland?

The Shore starts strongly, but could have moved the stories around more to keep the appeal up. Now there’s a too clear peak with the feeling of an okay-ish aftermath.

The Shore, Sara Taylor, Penguin Random House 2015

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy

A Great and Terrible Beauty
Rebel Angels
The Sweet Far Thing

This is a ton of words about a girls only boarding school in Victorian society. I think each goes over the 600 pages mark, with the last one ending in double that. No wonder I didn’t manage in the three weeks the library gave me, no matter how easy to read the novels are.

It’s not just boarding school; main character Gemma has to adjust to a new country (she moves to England from India), her family falling apart, and oh yeah – having a magical connection to another world.

So, Gemma has to juggle new friendships and enemies, magic, society’s expectations of a young woman, school, and a crush on a may-or-may-not-be bad guy.

Usually the first book out of a series, is the strongest, but I think I enjoyed the second one more this time. Everything and -one is fitted more into the right space, and the magical world(s) are developed a bit more. The third book is seemingly never ending, but gives a sobering, slightly surprising conclusion.

I’d take breathers between the three of them, or just go for Libba Bray’s other work. The Diviners, for example.

The Gemma Doyle trilogy, Libba Bray, Random House Children’s Books 2007

Ricki and The Flash

101 min.

It’s been a while since Meryl Streep has blown me away in a movie, but it’s still Meryl Streep. And a movie about a loving, but dysfunctional but loving family, can always entertain (until a certain level). That didn’t happen this time around.

Ricki-and-the-Flash filmposterBecause Ricki and The Flash isn’t a movie, or even a story about a family. It’s a decor piece for Meryl Streep with a bad hairdo, singing a bit and being disgruntled. Even the movie seems to think so, ending at what would be considered early, only to attach a few more minutes for ..Meryl Streep’s character to redeem herself a little. Let’s not forget who we’re watching here, after all.

She plays Linda (but she is a Ricki), a mother whom abandoned her family for her dream of becoming a rock star. Her daughter goes through a bad time, and she returns home. Why she does so this time, after many years of missed birthdays, holiday and so on.. call it plot. The family members attempt to add something to the story, but this is the Ricki show.

I guess the poster says it all; just don’t expect rock or love.

Ricki and The Flash, TriStar Pictures 2015

 

The Girl from the Well

I am where dead children go.

And the third book of the ‘no more than two hundred pages’ theme that I seem to be working with the past few weeks. I feel like 1) it could have been even shorter (just a bit, to tighten it a little, and 2) this one would have been more appealing, extraordinary, without a sequel, but it’s clear that there’s one coming.

The girl from the well in The Girl from the Well is just one of the main characters, a ghost who looks out for abused and murdered children. So why did she gravitate towards the alive Tarquin, and his cousin Callie? And why isn’t the only creature?

The Girl from the Well uses Japanese mythology and turns the trope of the Chosen One inside out. It does so with some horrific elements, because the girl didn’t end up in the well for pleasant reasons, nor is what she recognises in Tarquin very pleasant. But besides that, Tarquin is still a teenager in high school, and Rin Chupeco keeps that nicely balanced.

If you like your ‘quick summer reads’ with some horror dolloped in, this one’s for you.

The Girl from the Well, Rin Chupeco, Sourcebooks Inc 2014