This week, I’m going with two Young Adult books and a fresh-off-the-press best seller. The two Young Adult books are both solid genre offerings, one is Science Fiction, the other is a Spy novel. The best seller tends to be marketed as Chic Lit but my experience of the author leads me to see her as a mainstream writer tackling contemporary issues.
I think these three books will give me a varied diet for the week. I’m hoping the Science Fiction book will be action-packed and thought-provoking, that the best-seller will have strong characters and some emotional and intellectual depth and that the Spy novel will be fast and fun.
‘Iron Widow’ by Xiran Jay Zhao (2021)
‘Iron Widow’ is a Young Adult novel that the author has described as ‘Pacific Rim’ meets ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. I think that sounds like a fascinating mix. Xiran Jay Zhao is part of the upcoming generation of Science Fiction writers, a child of the Internet, who is genre-savvy and willing to take risks and have some fun, while still taking on some serious content.
I’m hoping to get some anime-style action, some original Science Fiction ideas and an aggressive challenge to the Patriarchy.
‘Wish You Were Here’ by Jodi Picoult (2021)
Based purely on the publisher’s summary, I’d normally have passed on this book. Why put in the time reading about some privileged princess’ angst over her life being less perfect than planned? Harsh? Perhaps. But I only get to read about 150 books a year so a book has to earn its place.
I not only bought this book, but I pre-ordered it because, in my experience, Jodi Picoult is an excellent writer with a knack for spotting key issues of the day and then doing something unexpected with them. My two favourites are ‘Second Glance’ and ‘Lone Wolf’
I think many of us are going to face insurmountable disruptions in our lives in the next decade, so having the mental flexibility to admit that and respond to it not with a sense of what’s been lost but with a curiosity about who we can now become could be a key survival skill. I’m hoping that’s what ‘Wish You Were Here’ will turn out to be about.
‘Point Blanc’ by Anthony Horowitz (2001)
‘Point Blanc’ is my popcorn choice of the week. I had fun with ‘Stormbreaker’, the first book in this series, and I’m expecting more of the same: light. escapist fantasy with elaborate and improbable plots that have our young hero save the day against all odds. I’m reading ‘Point Blanc’ as part of my Cold Comfort reading challenge because of the alpine setting and all that Black Run skiing.