I knew September would be a slow(ish!) month for me, but I was surprised that, as I moved to London with all its bookshops, I was so uninspired to read. This is usually just the unhappy accident of the reader reading the wrong book at the wrong time, though, and I can’t say I really tried to read anything *bad*.
The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne
While the first installment of this series had me really excited, this sequel failed to deliver. The best parts–for me Orka and Varg were two of the most interesting characters in the first book–aren’t as sparkling and fascinating. The parts of the book I’d like to understand more go less examined than I would have expected. I’ll probably finish this series when the last novel comes out, mostly because I LOVE the narrator and I find this a really soothing audiobook series to listen to.
36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
I am so obsessed with this novel. I have to admit that I find the title a bold choice, publishing-wise; whenever I show it to anyone they usually physically lean away from me with an air of vague aversion. But the novel part of this novel–the protagonist–is a lovable and captivating lead. He seems to fall into some kind of professorial archetype, but I can’t be quite sure which one. Whichever one is boyish and could conceivably be called ‘the atheist with a soul’. The novel definitely has a smartest-kid-on-the block vibe. It doesn’t apologize for being academic or for all the ideas it aggressively engages with. But I thought it was stunning, poetic, and genuinely super fun.
Panenka by Rónán Hession
This book took a long time to get into, and I’m not convinced it does a great job hunting at hidden emotional depth waiting in the wings. As a result, it’s a plod during which the reader is unsure of whether the destination is worth it. The final third feels really different, resonant and lyrical, full of sharp observations about the tension between every day life struggles and human emotion.
Still, many of these poignant moments are conveyed through a single character who begins to feel like a vehicle through which we can finally watch the book’s characters confront their lives and relationships. It doesn’t quite feel like an honest crescendo, but rather a chance one, manufactured by the arrival of Esther.
That last third *was* a pleasure to read, though, and I walk away with vaguely warm feelings toward the novel as a whole.
Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
When people ask me what Winter’s Orbit is like, I’m more tempted to think of romances rather than than science fiction, despite the fact that the sci-fi world in this novel is full to bursting with Ursula K. LeGuin, Arkady Martine-like creativity. This superb worldbuilding feels like lush set-dressing for the heartbeat of the story, which is Taam and Jainan.
It’s Captive Prince meets Red, White, and Royal Blue. It will get you hopelessly invested and flipping pages. This is a quick read that I finished in two days, and while the plot wasn’t necessarily reinventing the wheel, it did the wheel very, very well.