I missed posting my Week 1 update for the #Weirdathon (I was on vacation! Stay tuned for my upcoming post about vacation reading), so here are my combined updates for the first 2 weeks of weird reading in March.
To recap: the #Weirdathon is hosted by Outlandish Lit (http://outlandishlit.blogspot.com/) and for me has been a great excuse to read even more weirdly than I normally do.
So far, the thing that’s surprised me the most about the #Weirdathon is how dependent I’ve become on switching between genres while reading. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever been very good at reading for long periods of time within only one genre, and I’m not sure that I have been. When I’m caught up in a series I tend to want to read straight through (as far as I can until the series ends) but otherwise I’m sort of a genre-hopper. I like to be reading several books at once and I want all those books to be very different from one another. I thought that focusing on weird fiction for a month might prove an exception to my typical reading trend because all of the books’ individual weirdnesses would make them so distinct from one another, but it hasn’t. While I’m loving the focus on reading weirdly, I still apparently have genre ADD; in addition to my weird reading, I’ve finished 2 nonfiction books so far this month.
Here’s how it’s gone down so far:
Weird books I’m currently reading:
The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway
The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas
I like both of these a lot so far, but to be honest I’m still at the beginning in both cases. The premises are very promising and also very weird.
Weird books I finished:
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley – 4.25 stars
I absolutely loved The Rook. If you enjoy fantasy combined with humor and espionage (who wouldn’t?) you really, really have to pick this one up.
The book’s premise is that a woman wakes up in a park in London with no memories, surrounded by dead bodies wearing latex gloves. From letters she finds in her pockets, she learns that the body she inhabits used to belong to a woman named Myfanwy (rhymes with “Tiffany”) Thomas, a powerful figure in a covert supernatural agency whose function is to protect the United Kingdom from otherworldly threats. The old Myfanwy was forewarned in prophecies that she would lose her memories and that another prominent member of the organization would be responsible; it is up to the new Myfanwy to discover who would conspire against her and why.
Myfanwy’s organization, the Chequy, is populated by memorably unique characters with interesting supernatural powers. There’s a character who can invade and influence dreams; one who can secrete poisons from his skin; and a being with one mind but four distinct bodies. There have been a lot of X-men comparisons, most likely due to the varied powers and existence of a school to train the Chequy’s operatives from childhood, but for me The Rook’s premise is more far-reaching and intriguing. We’re constantly hearing how the Chequy interacts with and provides explanations to the mundane world, and we’re reminded of the complexity of saving the world through the fact that Myfanwy’s position in the organization, despite her formidable powers, is mainly administrative.
The main thing I want to impart about this book is how fun it is. You will get absorbed into the world of the Chequy and invested in its outcome, but at the same time you will be laughing hysterically at the absurdity of the book’s situations and its dry humor. For me, it was a perfect vacation book–consuming, enjoyable, and well-crafted.
But I do have one issue.
While I was reading The Rook, as the concentration of pages gradually shifted from my right hand to my left, I was heartened by the fact that I’d heard its sequel will be released in June. I was so glad that the story and these wonderful characters would continue in another book, since the worldbuilding is, in my opinion, too lush for just one. But then! I found out that the sequel focuses on two new main characters, relegating Myfanwy to the background, and it made me sad. I like her too much, and I’m too invested in her as a character, for her not to be the star of the second book.
So, I’m sad. But will I still read the sequel? Heck yes.