A Case of Literary ADHD

Rose Christo’s Gives Light Review

I’ve been itching for something light to read, so when I realised I’d bought a book titled “Gives Light” it seemed a no-brainer. I couldn’t for the life of me remember why I had bought it,  which I absolutely loved because I had no idea what to expect.

In the beginning, the book was capable of smoothing out the wrinkles of a shitty day.

Halfway through, it became apparent that I will not enjoy the book. Rose seemed to have had a bunch of various ideas which are perfectly OK, but she really should not have put them all in one book. It’s just too much, and the book ends up being about nothing and everything and about no one and everybody. It’s all over the place and no character is given proper attention due to this literary ADHD.

I will list all the things that were not given proper attention in Gives Light. And no, I do not care that it is the first book of a series because a series is a series, and a book is a whole in its own right.

  1. Skylar St. Clair is a mute teenager who got his throat slashed by a man who had killed his mother
  2. His father has disappeared without a word and Skylar is put in a custody of his paternal grandmother who lives on the Nettlebush Reserve
  3. Skylar’s mother was murdered on the Nettlebush Reserve by a member of the tribal council
  4. He was in fact a serial killer who had murdered several women
  5. The son of the murderer, Rafael Gives Light, lives on the reservation
  6. Native American customs and history are interspersed throughout the book
  7. For the first time Skylar becomes a true member of a community and makes friends
  8. Skylar’s new friend Annie has to take care of her two siblings because her mother is in the Army and her father is useless (it is mentioned somewhere that he had a stroke)
  9. Rafael Gives Light becomes one of his best friends
  10. Skylar’s father turns out to be a criminal who brings illegal immigrants into the country
  11. FBI and social services regularly visit the reserve and threaten the fragile stability of Skylar’s new life
  12. Skylar slowly falls in love with Rafael and Rafael returns his feelings
  13. Skylar is briefly conflicted about his feelings for Rafael – briefly because there’s so much shit going on in the book he has no time to deal with it for a longer period of time.

Imagine all this (and more – I avoided spoilers) crammed onto 285 pages, and do not forget to include descriptions, internal monologue and musings of a teenage boy who uses words such as “vociferous“.

Let’s go general and explore topics.

  1. Dealing with severe loss and monumental change
  2. Facing painful past experiences and achieving personal growth through adversity
  3. The treatment of Native Americans in modern society
  4. The importance of preserving the culturally and spiritually rich Native American customs and way of life
  5. Dealing with the fact that you are different and learning that “normalcy” is a matter of perspective/upbringing
  6. Treatment of crime and punishment in different cultures

I’m sure I could come up with more but I think this is enough to illustrate my point.

It’s a shame, really, because the book is well written. If the first list was cut down and one or two of the topics given proper prominence, I believe it would have been a really good book and I would have probably been half way through the second part of the series.

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Carry On, nothing to see here

Rainbow Rowell – Carry On (2016)

You can tell Rainbow adores Simon, Baz, Penelope, Agatha… she truly loves them all. Makes you love them. The kink is, she doesn’t really love the plot. Rainbow just wanted to have some reason to put her beloved characters together, and she was forced to come up with a plot.

The plot is introduced somewhere mid-book. Occasionally she completely forgets the plot-thingy, goes on a binge with character development, subtle comments about life and reality, with her subtle style which has underlying respect for readers’ capability to get a hint.

Oh. SHIT. She forgot the plot.

And then the plot comes back again, and it is supposed to explode. It is supposed to go overboard and overwhelm. But it doesn’t. It somehow flickers pathetically, and you can feel that Rainbow just couldn’t let it die, so she poked it every now and then with a stick.

Maybe the biggest fault of Carry On is the fact that it’s supposed to be fantasy. There be dragons, but dragons don’t make a fantasy book. They make a book with dragons in it. Not many authors are capable of migrating through genres seamlessly, and a fanfiction-ish, fantasy-ish book doesn’t really seem to be Rainbow’s cup of tea (yet?). I respect her for doing it, but for me this is what she does best (excuse my being a bit self-referential):

Well, Rainbow Rowell summarily executes willing suspension of disbelief by making you the protagonist of her books. She makes you feel like a hero, makes your life seem worthy of a book of its own. Because, most of us can find some portion of our lives, as small as it may be, that a little imagination and some wordplay can make into a good, maybe even a great book. And that’s what Rainbow tells you, what she reminds you of – your life is interesting, you have great friends, there is excitement behind that very corner, you just need to see it.

 

 

Fallen Too Far

I know you’re bound to wonder why the fuck I decided to read this book, but frankly I’m not in the mood to explain my current life situation which lead me astray. Suffice it to say, I’ve been having a rough couple of months and it started to show on my general psychological state. I googled summer+romance+book and this one was among those that Google pooped out. So blame it on Google.

I’m not gonna write a review. For the first time (possibly ever?) I’m gonna summarize an entire book, trying not to be judgmental or make any sort of opinion about it.

Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines tells a story about a nineteen year old Blaire who sets off to join her estranged father after the death of her mother. She’s a competent, no-nonsense girl, used to dealing with all sort of crap, having lost a twin sister in a car accident and taking care of her sick mother during her formative years.

After selling pretty much everything she’s got to pay for medical bills, Blaire goes to Florida to get some help from her father who has remarried. Once she reaches her destination, she founds that her father has left for Paris and the nearest thing she has to a relative is Rush Finlay, her (sort of) stepbrother she has never met or heard of. Rush is very hot, very rich, very popular with the ladies he’s a womaniser, unwilling (or maybe unable?) to settle down. Reluctantly, Rush offers Blaire to stay in a small room in his house (her father and Rush’s mother Georgiana live in Rush’s house). Rush’s stepbrother Grant is glad for this because he’s a happy-go-lucky guy, while Nannette, Rush’s stepsister is actually quite bitchy about the whole situation and Blaire in general. Rush’s terms which govern Blaire’s residential situation change on a daily basis, because he’s eager to have her stay.

Blaire gets a job at a country club, serving drinks to golfers. She manages to earn quite a sum on tips, having a skimpy uniform and ample bosom.

There’s instant attraction between Rush and Blaire, which develops and grow over time. Rush adamantly tries to curtail the attraction. They live together, make attempts at friendship, something they soon fail at. Inevitably, they hook up, because Rush simply isn’t strong enough to resist Blaire and the attraction they share.

When it seems that Blaire and Rush are gonna settle their differences and that their story will come to a happy ending, pending Rush’s explanation of his initial reluctance, things do not go as well as planned.

Blaire wakes up to realize that her father Adam and his wife Georgiana (Rush’s mother) have returned from their trip. She overhears a conversation revealing that the angry and vile Nanette is in fact her stepsister. Before meeting Blaire’s mother, Adam was in a relationship with Georgiana who was pregnant with Nanette. Adam decided to leave Georgiana to start a life and eventually a family with Blaire’s mother. He lied that Georgiana isn’t pregnant with him but with some other guy (I think Rush’s father, I’m not sure).

So. Ok. Adam left Georgiana who was pregnant with Nanette to be with Blaire’s mother and then, after the death of one of his twins, he abandons Blaire and her mother, and Georgiana takes him back. Georgiana has three children with three different guys. I think. Or is it two? I dunno.

Rush knew all this and it was the reason why he did not want to get involved with Blaire. His sister was horribly hurt by the lack of a father in her life and she in part blamed Blaire and largely her mother for this situation, and he felt for her, being something of a surrogate father to Nanette.

Blaire was very upset by the turn of events and the fact that everything she thought she knew about her family and about her life was in fact a lie. She’s especially pissed off at Rush for not telling her the truth. The night of the confrontation she sits in her truck and leaves to return home to Alabama. Rush follows her to try to fix things. Unwillingly she agrees to talk to him, and they end up spending one last night together, because she cannot be with him after all that has happened.

If you want more, there’s plenty of it – PLENTY OF MORE.

If you want to know what I think, you can read it on Goodreads.

Cheap Thrills and Guilty Pleasures

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A large part of my life, be it Cheap Thrills, Guilty Pleasure or Personal Edification is all about books.

Cheap Thrills

Books “that everyone read” serve this purpose beautifully. If one of those books turns out decent, so be it. If it turns out to be utter crap it gives you something other than “real things” to bitch about. Fifty Shades of Grey and City of Bones are Cheap Thrills. I read them and then I get all self-righteous, putting them, momentarily, at the center of my life issues. I admit it. I do overreact. You will not get to read this admission twice.

To me books are extremely important, and a Cheap Thrill book can occupy a significant portion of my life. Cheap Thrills are a great deterrent to the real world – if there is such a thing. I’m referring to “real problems” as defined by the majority, to those things most of us feels compelled to do in order to fit into a society which, in itself, isn’t very real. Earn money, pay taxes, bills, not kill people and what not.

Guilty Pleasures (elsewhere: pure and unadulterated escapism)

Guilty Pleasure books are those I wouldn’t be caught dead reading in public. I never could understand why publishers insist on putting hideous, half-naked men on the covers of these books. As a marketing tool those covers are counterproductive. I don’t know. Maybe those covers act as an incentive to someone in the marketing department, but reading Hunger So Wild (good book) or To Tame a Highland Warrior is not something I would do. Call me conformist, obsessed with what strangers think about me – but I will not do that.

Which would you rather be caught reading in public?
Which would you rather be caught reading in public?

Now, what is the difference between To Tame a Highland Warrior and Fifty Shades of Grey? The difference is that upon mentioning the fact that I have read To Tame a Highland Warrior, I feel compelled to explain why I read it. I really really really want to tell you why I read not only one, but FOUR (lousy) books from the Highlander series. But I must persevere and be strong. Excuses are for pussies.

Now, aside from books there are of course TV shows, movies and other things that fall into these two categories. I wrote about shojo manga, one of my favourite ways to unwind. The reason why I put it under Guilty Pleasures and not Cheap Thrills is because enjoying something that is often trite and completely out of sync with my own world-view makes me feel guilty. However, being a part of a world with a limited number of things that can go wrong is something I cannot resist. I love the simplicity of it and if I manage to come to care about the characters, I revert back to a 10-year-old girl with only one interest – WILL THEY FINALLY GET TOGETHER? And there’s stupid grinning and giggling. I’m not talking about the characters in manga, I’m talking about the reversed 10-year old me.

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