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An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Age: 25

Pages: 75 / 308; 24%
ISBN: 9781616208776 

The Reason for the Reaping: If you haven’t heard of this book, I’m sorry where have you been? Oprah and erryone else is about to hear what I think of this buzzy af novel.

The Great Comparisons: The Underground Railroad (SORRY IT’S TRUE), So Much Blue

As I Lay Summarizing: Roy and Celestial are black and married in Atlanta. They’re young and full of dreams and then SH*T GETS F*CKED UP Y’ALL.

The Line That Killed Me: “I hate using that word, career. It always feels like the word bitch is hiding out between the letters” (60). Death by the sound barrier I just broke screaming.

Best Character: Celestial

Why [As] You Like It: The momentum is always forward, and this novel is one of those where you just want to keep reading because you want to know what happens. Which is awesome because this is in no way thrilling or mysterious. Jones makes it pretty damn clear what’s happening, and it’s F*CKED UP Y’ALL.

Why I’m Gone, Girl: Jones is playing a little game of histrionics and we are *this close* to getting my eyes stuck behind my brain from rolling them too hard. We were doing just fine until just this moment (see Last Line) but now I’m like… rully?

Last Line, Last Chance: “…ain’t right, Georgia. I find out the man is [SPOILER] and he’s….”

Will I turn the page, or toss it into Mount Doom?

I guess Oprah was right. This is pretty good, if a bit dramatic. I’ll keep going in good faith.

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Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirstin Chen

Age: 25

Pages: 75 / 286; 26%
ISBN: 9781542049702 

The Reason for the Reaping: Cool cover, bro. Also let’s get some books published this year down the pipeline, shall we?

The Great Comparisons: Pachinko, The Leavers

As I Lay Summarizing: Young San San and her brother Ah Liam live in China with their mom and grandma when Chairman Mao is all up in dis business (circa 1950s). Daddy is in Hong Kong, so the adults are like, “let’s go over there.”

The Line That Killed Me: “San San’s frustration turned to disdain. How could her mother have left her with this bumbling, useless man?” Death by the ridiculous sass and intellect of a NINE YEAR OLD. Mmmk.

Best Character: Little Red

Why [As] You Like It: The cover is nice? I’M SORRY but really I don’t have a nice thing to say about it. It’s not bad, but… look below —>

Why I’m Gone, Girl: The story is rather juvenile, and not because it’s filled with nine-year-olds. AKA It’s kind of boring and lacks creativity or innovation. AKA Ya basic, Kirstin Chen, and IDK what to do about it.

Last Line, Last Chance: “…human form.”

Will I turn the page, or toss it into Mount Doom?

It’s not horrible, but it’s barely good. The research is evident, but it’s doing all of the heavy lifting and it’s NOT THAT INTERESTING. So that’s a no, in case there was any doubt.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Age: 25

Pages: 75 / 372; 20%
ISBN: 9780307887443 

The Reason for the Reaping: After being number 9000000 in line, this book has come through for me at the library.

The Great Comparisons: Gork, the Teenage Dragon, Ender’s Game

As I Lay Summarizing: The OASIS is virtual reality and everyone basically lives in it because reality is f*cked up. Wade is a teen on the hunt for the massive fortune left by its creator somewhere in the OASIS. Oh and there’s a bunch of 80s references because the creator grew up during that decade. Why are you so obsessed with the 80s?

The Line That Killed Me: “‘That’s right, I called you a poseur, poseur.’ I stood and got up in his grille. ‘You’re an ignorant know-nothing twink.’” Death by… I’m sorry, what?

Best Character: James Halliday

Why [As] You Like It: The worldbuilding is related directly and succinctly, which makes the novel very easy to dive into. The idea is certainly interesting (as confirmed its massive popularity and the recently released movie), and the easy-to-read prose lets it shine.

Why I’m Gone, Girl: Cline felt the need to give a reason and backstory explaining why everyone spends all their time in the OASIS, and quite frankly it’s pretty predictable and lazy. It would have been more effective if he didn’t try to explain it at all. Just let me put on my VR goggles and gloves in peace, plz.  

Last Line, Last Chance: “…using standard OASIS landscape templates, but the detail put into them….”

Will I turn the page, or toss it into Mount Doom?

Sure! It’s light and lively and reads quick. Barring the atrocious Line That Killed Me, there’s a lot of good things going for this.

Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi

Translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman

Age: 25

Pages: 75 / 144; 52%
ISBN: 9781941920404 

The Reason for the Reaping: Apparently there’s an entire community of YouTubers who talk about how much they love books? This channel is championing this book, so let’s give it a try!

The Great Comparisons: The End of Eddy, Zoli

As I Lay Summarizing: On the island country of Mauritius, poor families are suffering from poverty and its inescapability. Also it’s a tiny island country in Africa so there’s really no way out. Eve and others are coping/dying/longing/buckling/fighting like hell to survive.

The Line That Killed Me: “The country put on its sky-blue dress, the better to seduce them. A marine perfume wafts from its crotch. From here we can’t see the island all dolled up, and their eyes, dazzled by the sun, can’t see us. As things should be” (13). Death by masks and blinders and sunlight.

Best Character: Saad

Why [As] You Like It: This is soooo beautiful. Snaps and claps and prostrations for Jeffrey Zuckerman and Ananda Devi because this writing is poignant, beautiful, smart, devastating, and every other adjective. Devi finds the perfect balance between heart wrenching empathy and social commentary that everyone needs to get behind. RN.

Why I’m Gone, Girl: Ummmmmmmm honestly no idea.

Last Line, Last Chance: “PART TWO” Perfect.

Will I turn the page, or toss it into Mount Doom?

Yes. Read this. Right now. This small press book is not getting the love it deserves. Shoutout to BookTube (that sounds kind of dumb but apparently that’s what it’s called) to bringing attention to this.

The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch

Age: 25

Pages: 75 / 226 [eReader edtion]; 33%
ISBN: 9780062383297

The Reason for the Reaping: This was a contender in the Tournament of Books 2k18. It made an early exit in the first round (against Sing, Unburied, Sing, so…ya know, warranted).

The Great Comparisons: The Dispossessed

As I Lay Summarizing: The Earth has been ravaged by environmental destruction and endless war. Christine lives on CIEL directly above Earth with the rest of the humans who are left. They don’t have sex organs, and someone named Jean de Men runs that sh*t. Christine ain’t happy, she team Joan.

The Line That Killed Me: “When you shut your eyes, the universe is internal” (45). Death by the endless dark.

Best Character: Joan

Why [As] You Like It: Yuknavitch is committed to her concept. The world-building is pretty top notch, and we are immersed in it quickly and seamlessly. And it’s a very interesting world. And I don’t mean that ironically (well, not that ironically).

Why I’m Gone, Girl: It’s also, like, really weird? We’re obviously trying to make a point here, and the nuance flew out the window on the first page (Jean de MEN? CHRISTine? Really?). I would like to think we’re all a little smarter than that, but I DON’T KNOW that’s just me.  

Last Line, Last Chance: “…no rush with this sort of thing—executions are theatrical….” *Blanches white OMG*

Will I turn the page, or toss it into Mount Doom?

Despite everything being sups obvious, I’m intrigued just enough to keep going. CHRISTine, let’s see where we go.

Some Hell by Patrick Nathan

Age: 25

Pages: 75 / 283; 27%
ISBN: 9781555977986

The Reason for the Reaping: I met made eye contact with this author once well before this, his debut novel, came out. So here we are, reading his debut novel.

The Great Comparisons: The Awakening, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

As I Lay Summarizing: Colin’s dad commits suicide during the time Colin is discovering his penis and how horny he is all the time. Watch as guilt, sex, and hormones react in this novel. 

The Line That Killed Me: [shooting blanks. LOL. Too much?]

Best Character: Diane

Why [As] You Like It: I like how the idea of guilt is manifesting itself in almost all areas of Colin’s life. It’s interesting how it plays a part as he confronts his puberty and his grief and whatnot. It has the potential to be fascinating.

Why I’m Gone, Girl: The writing is pretty average. Which isn’t bad by itself, but Nathan seems to be relying on the profundity of his prose to make up for an otherwise semi-boring story. WHOOPS. Something does not compute here, and that makes for a less-than-great reading experience.

Last Line, Last Chance: “…starting the shower and masturbating to his reflection while the….” Yikes.

Will I turn the page, or toss it into Mount Doom?

I’m gonna say no. Some Hell is not interesting enough to give what it is attempting to give. I’ll go with Some [other book].