Book 38: The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Gone Girl. The Girl on the Train. The Girl With All The Gifts. A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. Girl in the Dark. The Good Girl. Girls on Fire. So Many Girls.

That last one isn’t a book but rather an observation. Clearly publishers are no more averse to cashing in on the latest marketing trends than movie studios, TV networks and record companies.

And now we get Emma Cline’s debut novel, simply titled The Girls. Yet another dark thriller about girls doing bad things or having bad things done to them? In a way yes but also so much more. Continue reading “Book 38: The Girls by Emma Cline”

Book 37: A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl

The title suggests some sort of sci-fi epic but Bob Proehl’s debut novel is firmly grounded in the real world. It is at heart a family drama: the story of a woman and her son who have fled heartache and tragedy but can’t truly escape their past.

It’s also a novel about sci-fi epics. And comic books and superheroes and modern pop culture: the nerds who create it, the suits who commodify it and the fans who consume it – and are sometimes consumed by it. Even more broadly, it’s about stories: the stories we tell each other and those we tell ourselves to get through life. Continue reading “Book 37: A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl”

Book 35: The View From The Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

Like many, I came to Neil Gaiman through comic books.

His Sandman series remains one of the most ambitious and richly philosophical examples of the medium. Or any medium for that matter. It’s dark and complex and intelligent and wildly uninhibited.

Sadly, and try as I might, I’ve never quite connected with his novels in the same way. I like most of them – American Gods has some amazing moments, Anansi Boys is funny, Coraline is sweet and The Ocean at the End of the Lane is beautifully written – but none match the power and majesty of Sandman. Continue reading “Book 35: The View From The Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman”

Book 34: The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

I’ve seen The Girl With All The Gifts compared to both Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go – modern masterpieces from two of the world’s greatest living writers.

I can only assume the critics who made those comparisons haven’t actually read those great books. While there are some superficial similarities – The Road’s post-apocalyptic setting and Never Let Me Go’s theme of childhood innocence – this is a trashy genre novel putting on airs. Continue reading “Book 34: The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey”