May 2020 Books

I forgot to write this post at the beginning of the month, but better late than never, right?

Recursion by Blake Crouch

This book was recommended by one of my co-workers, and I was immediately drawn by the title. “Recursion” is a computer science / programming concept, and I’ve always been kind of fascinated about the ways it can be applied to storytelling. So I immediately bought the book after hearing about it. This was back around fall of last year, and I remember starting it almost as soon as I bought it, but for some reason or another, I put it down and didn’t pick it back up until last month.

The premise of the book revolves around this sickness called “False Memory Syndrome” where people are suddenly infected with memories that feel real but have never happened. It turns out that this syndrome is one of the effects of time travel, which a few people managed to accomplish, but is not yet widely known. I don’t think the summary straight-out mentioned that this book is about time travel, which was probably a good thing in my case, because I’m not too fond of that trope and more than likely would not have tried this book if I had known.

However, the way time travel and its consequences were approached in this book was phenomenal. The scope was so grand, but in a way that did not diminish any of the characters’ personal motivations and growth. Honestly, although the beginning was thrilling enough, the end was a really wild, exciting ride, and I thought it ended just perfectly.

Storm from the East by Joanna Hathaway

The sequel to Dark of the West, this book follows teenagers, Athan and Aurelia, as they navigate family, responsibility, duty, and ethics as their lives are entangled in war.

I absolutely loved Dark of the West, from its lovable cast of protagonists, to the masterful way Hathaway crafts political and war intrigue. However, this book is also quite heavy as it deals with concepts like imperialism, colonialism, and civil rebellion. I found it quite difficult to immerse myself in this book, mostly because so many heavy things are simultaneously happening in real life, and I wasn’t in the mood to be bogged down by the emotional gravity of the story.

I think one of the most challenging parts for me was what I felt was a constant effort on the part of the author to show Arrin and General Dakar in somewhat of a redeemable light. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re painted as villains generally, but I did feel there were multiples attempts to excuse their colonial attitudes. My personal stance on colonialism is that it’s a terrible thing, considering that I come from a country that is still reeling from its effects. I am of the mindset that whatever positive things colonialism has brought to my country could have been achieved through more humane measures. So when Arrin and General Dakar’s actions and motivations are explained away as being counter moves against the chokehold of a much larger empire, I still can’t buy that.

Overall, I am still a big fan of this series and the author in general. I do think it’s valuable that there are so many perspective presented, and I would encourage anyone reading to approach the book with a lot of critical thinking. I would say it’s actually rare to have something so complex, not just plot-wise but also ethic-wise, in YA fantasy and I am in absolute awe of the author.

The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Ah, this one is a fantasy classic, but this is the first time I picked it up. I started this back in October/November of last year. I had purchased it as an audiobook (the very first one I ever bought), and at that time, I needed something to play in the background that was not music while I was working on some artwork.

I found it a little hard to get into. Its style is very different from fantasy novels of today. There was a lot more ‘telling’ than any author these days can get away with, and the plot didn’t quite emerge until about a quarter way through. I would say that the narrator did a fantastic job with telling the story, and made the narrative sound a lot more magical and enchanting than I would have found it to be had I read it instead.

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