bookish posts reviews

Cybils round-up: Ritter, Traver, O’Neill

beastly bonesBeastly Bones by William Ritter: Beastly Bones is a sequel to last year’s Jackaby, which I did enjoy. Abigail Rook, Jackaby, and Charlie return for this one, which features a mystery surrounding a recently discovered skeleton. I think I actually liked this one better than the first, as I felt that Abigail’s talents  and personality were a little more foregrounded. Jackaby certainly dominates the story, but I got more of a sense of who Abigail is and why she finds the work she does with Jackaby rewarding. I also liked the relationship between Abigail and Jenny. While these aren’t books of my heart, they are smart and engaging, and I’ll likely be back for the rest in the series.

duplicityDuplicity by N.K. Traver: Sci-fi ish, with a heavy emphasis on the -ish. I struggled with the beginning of this one as Brandon is such a deeply awful person to pretty much everyone around him. (Also calling your creepy mirror double Obran, for Other Brandon, severely tests my suspension of disbelief.) As the story unfolded, I did get drawn in a bit more, although I feel that the narrative lets Brandon off pretty easily and I had issues with one of the big plot points and how it unfolded. If you have a reader who wants a creepy book about hackers, this might be one to hand them.

only ever yoursOnly Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill: I’m still mulling over my exact reaction to this book. It has more than a bit of a Handmaid’s Tale feel to it (I don’t think the fact that the main character’s name is freida is a coincidence), but here’s where I admit to bouncing pretty hard off Handmaid’s Tale. I know. At any rate, I think this is an important book, and that it’s showing very clearly the destructive effects of a certain kind of gendered thinking. At the same time, I struggled with how bleak it is, how little hope it gives its female characters–and I know that’s the point, and yet. And yet. I worry that this narrative reinforces the idea that this societal setup is inevitable, and that girls will always destroy each other. And I’m not sure the degree to which this is personal preference vs. a flaw in the book (I do, more objectively, think the ending is a little too abrupt, diminishing the power of what happens.) As I said, I’m still mulling over my reaction, which I think boils down to: I get it, but I don’t like it. Your thoughts welcome!

By Maureen LaFerney

My name is Maureen. I currently work as a library assistant in a public library in the Indianapolis area, and also just so happen to be a voracious reader. I frequently end up under a cat.

2 replies on “Cybils round-up: Ritter, Traver, O’Neill”

I am with you completely on getting-but-not-liking ONLY EVER YOURS. THE HANDMAID’S TALE was a foundational SF text for me–I read it in high school, before I’d read much else speculative–and so other works will probably always suffer by comparison, but I also just found O’Neill’s writing hard to stay engaged with. This was maybe the slog-giest book I finished this year. Which might totally be personal preference.

I read it about 6 months ago and am having trouble remembering particulars of the plot–it’s been a big year for gendered dystopia/religion–but I’m going to mull over “the idea that this societal setup is inevitable, and that girls will always destroy each other.”

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