Friday, April 29, 2011

Number 8 is Tigerheart by Peter David. I've had some ups and downs with Peter over the years (well, ok, really only one down, so nevermind) but overall, I've always enjoyed his stuff, and he is mentioned a few times in this blog due to his Arthurian cycle. So when I saw Tigerheart on sale for a ridiculously cheap price, it had to come home with me.

I loved this damn book. It's been awhile since a book made me tear up, but this sure did. Tigerheart is a pastiche of Peter Pan. It's not a true retelling, perhaps a bit of a sequel, but whatever it is, I thought it beautiful and I enjoyed it much more than the original.

It's not just that the story is familiar of course, but it's also that David's narrative voice so perfectly captured the narrative voice of so much late 19th/early 20th century children's literature, where the narrator is omnicient and very nearly a character in themselves. It's a voice I don't find that's pulled off well very often (I think C.S Lewis did it brilliantly in his Chronicles of Narnia) and so David should be lauded for this alone.

But he should also be lauded for creating an interesting character in Paul Dear, who holds his own with The Boy and Captains Hack and Slash and sweet Gwenny. And he should be lauded for such a beautiful, moving treatise on what it means to be a child, and what it means to be an adult, and how moving from one to the other is difficult but doesn't always mean they have to be mutually exclusive either.

Well done Peter David, really, really well done.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book number 7 is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I have not seen the movie, I picked this up because I loved his novel Remains of the Day.

Never Let Me Go is told from the first person narration of one Kathy H. A "carer" for "donors" who has been at her job for a very long time; longer than most seem to be able to do it in fact.

She reminices about her days at a (what sounds like) very idyllic English boarding school called Hailsham. She's repeatedly told she was lucky to have been there, to have learned and had a good life and been treated kindly by the school's various guardians. She had two very close friends at the school, Ruth and Tommy.

It's hard to discuss this novel without talking about the main 'mystery' that is slowly unfolded through Kathy's narration. These are not typical children who are destined to be typical adults. They have singular purposes, to be donors, and once you realize what they are and what they're to be, this book is all at once sinister, sad and even a little appalling. But it's because it's also beautifully written from the POV of a character who is, first and formost, a person. Kathy is a naieve, empathetic, smart girl who never really rails against what she and her friends are reared for. And as much as you want her and Tommy and Ruth to escape their fate, you also know that they won't. For despite everything they learned at Hailsham, about life and art and the tantalizing rumour of 'deferrment', they weren't taught to question. They were taught to just accept because they don't know any better and really, society didn't want them to know any better.

It's an excellent, sympathetic mystery that leaves you questioning... a lot of things.