Reading inbox-outbox: Week of 9 March

Somehow I managed to finish two books this week, even though I didn’t really have any time to read during my commutes. They were both near-future dystopians featuring worlds that both seem like very plausible and terrifying possible futures.

Inbox (books acquired)

  • Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas (Kindle, pre-order) — I don’t know if this just became available for pre-order this week, but this week was the first time I saw it. I am really enjoying this series. If you haven’t read the first three books, you have plenty of time to catch up before this one comes out on September first. At this point, Sarah Maas is one of my auto-buy authors. Even though this series isn’t done yet, she has a new series coming out in May and it looks like it’s going to be another good one. I pre-ordered that one back in November.

Outbox (books finished)

  • Lock In by John Scalzi (Kindle, library) — This book exceeded my expectations. I already knew that the premise was extremely creative and terrifying (a flu-like disease kills off a large portion of the population, and leaves 1% of survivors in a state of lock-in where they have full use of their minds but no use of their bodies). But the awesomeness doesn’t stop there. Scalzi’s exploration of the fall-out from a generation of technological and societal changes in the wake of this disease, plus his choice of (a perfectly executed and very fitting) story structure, abstracts our current discussions of inclusion and diversity and makes them relatable in a way that really good science fiction does best. Still, that was pretty much what I expected. What I didn’t realize was that the driving story and plot are basically a riff on the buddy-cop detective novel “whodunnit” genre. So all that thoughtful world building and social commentary end up being basically a back-drop for what is essentially a murder mystery. Brilliant.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Kindle) — This book, on the other hand, wasn’t quite what I expected. Maybe it’s just that I was reading it coming off of a VERY plot-driven story (Lock In), but it felt very exposition heavy to me. So much description. So many observations and flashbacks. It took forever before things actually started happening. Still… the writing is just SO GOOD. There are all these little sentences with multiple meanings and artfully laced with symbolism, descriptions of select flashes of this world that make it feel so real, stream of consciousness storytelling that allows the reader to slip into mind of this nameless woman, a completely unexpected and well-imagined epilogue, and world building that seems so near-future and possible it’s downright freaky.

Queue (what I’m reading next)

  • Of my three remaining March reading challenge books, I’m probably going to start The Fire Horse Girl next. I need something light and fast to read next that I can squeeze into what I expect will be the tiny amounts of time I have for reading this week.

Happy reading!