As some of my readers may have noticed, I’ve fallen rather behind with my book reviews. Essentially I had a few problems collating my thoughts for one or two of them, and then the next thing I knew, I’d read six more. As of today I am 10 books behind, so I think you’ll agree it’s got to a point where I’ve no hope of catching up. I have therefore chosen to write a series of mini-reviews to bring myself up to speed and talk about all the great – and not so great – books I’ve read since my last review (Under The Skin by Michel Faber). Then we should be back to business as usual.
So, here it goes:
Originally written as bonus material for the 10th Anniversary of Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling Twilight saga, Life And Death quickly expanded into a full-length novel in which the sexes of all the characters are swapped over. Instead of the human Bella, we have Beaufort (or Beau, as he understandably prefers to be called), and instead of the vampire Edward, we have Edythe, and so on. Stephenie Meyer said that she wrote the book in response to criticism that Bella is too much of a Mary-Sue, damsel-in-distress-type character, and her belief that if the sexes were swapped it would make no difference to the love story. It’s an interesting point, but falls flat, given that Edward/Edythe’s aggressive, controlling treatment of Bella/Beau is still as unhealthy as it ever was. Stephenie Meyer also relished the opportunity to change words and scenes that had bothered her since publication, and to add in a few extra conversations that she wished she had written in the first place. These were not needed, and bogged down an already bloated book.
Sadly there is very little, indeed nothing to be praised about E.L. James’s rehash of the eponymous first book in her Fifty Shades trilogy: Grey is essentially the same story as Fifty Shades of Grey but told from Christian’s point of view. For those of you who have been living in a cave for the last four years, Christian Grey is the multi-millionaire dominant who introduces protagonist Anastasia Steele to the dark and seductive world of Bondage, Discipline and Sadomasochism (BDSM). Clunky, overwrought and just plain badly written – a quick Google search will direct you to any number of cringe-worthy examples usually involving an overly ‘agreeable’ part of the male anatomy – Grey offers a disturbing insight into the sociopathic, deranged car crash that is Christian Grey’s brain. It is an insight that apparently many fans ‘asked and asked and asked’ for, but most certainly didn’t need.
I hated this book so much that I was forced to abandon it halfway through. It is so badly written, so angry, so vile, violent, un-erotic and unoriginal (even the very idea of a retelling from the perspective of the male love interest was nicked from its source material – Stephenie Meyer’s unpublished Midnight Sun) that it is going to be the first book that I have ever had to rate…
As voracious a reader as I am, non-fiction is generally not something I read for leisure; Helen Macdonald’s beautifully written, touching memoir H Is For Hawk is most definitely the exception to the rule. I found that I simply had to read it after witnessing the majesty and deadly grace of the hawks, owls and falcons during a trip to Leeds Castle with my boyfriend over Christmas. A gorgeously written introspection on grief, the retreat into nature and the predatory ‘otherness’ of birds, H Is For Hawk is also a sensitive biography about T.H. White – the tortured genius famous for penning The Once And Future King – whose lesser known work The Goshawk the author finds she identifies with strongly, despite its terrible advice on hawking. I absolutely adored this book; I recommend it especially to those who generally dislike non-fiction as much as I do, but wish to foray into it.
That’s all I have the energy for right now. More mini-book reviews to come!
If, despite my negative reviews, you would like more information on Stephenie Meyer and E.L. James, please visit the below links:
Helen Macdonald doesn’t have a website, but she is on Twitter often and is really fun to follow; she posts such beautiful hawking pictures:
For example, here is one of her with Mabel, the titular hawk in H Is For Hawk: