April Reading Log

Only 4 books this month, I just wasn’t in a reading mood. Like my previous months, not too much of interest this month.

Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison – Piper Kerman

I want to see the Netflix series, and I try and read the books before seeing the show/movie/whatever they’re turned into. I’d picked up the audiobook a while ago, so I finally settled down to listen. It was ok, but not great.

As the title suggests, Piper Kerman does 13 months in federal prison, 10 years after carrying a suitcase of cash for a drug runner, who happens to be her ex girlfriend. I haven’t seen the television show, but from what I understand, it’s nothing like the book.

The book is okay, but not great. I enjoyed hearing about her life while in prison, but after a while, it became the same thing over and over again. Kerman had a large network of people who cared for her, and sent her things, especially books. She had money for items at the commissary. People liked her. So her prison sentence, while difficult for her, wasn’t as hard as it was for many other people.

Kerman spends a lot of time reflecting on what landed her there, how she was trying to cope, and how she was doing well. Honestly, it felt like a big pat on the back for most of the book. “I did this, I own up to it, I am a better person for doing this.” It starts to wear on you after a while.

Artificial Evil – Colin Barnes

Picked this one up for free on Bookbub, titled Alphas, and thought I’d give it a try. It was pretty overwhelming, for being 184 pages. Gerry and many other people live inside a domed city, the only survivors of a world wide catastrophe. Gerry handles the coding for the death lottery, which picks people at random to be terminated to preserve the dome’s resources.

Gerry gets picked for the death lottery, despite being exempt from it. No one wants to help him out, so 2 random hackers show up, and more or less kidnap him. They help him out, and from then, Gerry is on the run, but he’s not sure from who. Thanks to Petal and Gabe, he’s shown that things aren’t always what they seem. Now, he has to work fast to make sure everything he knows isn’t taken down.

It was.. ok? I might be a little harsh giving it 2 stars on Goodreads, but I had a lot of trouble keeping pace with the book. Gerry, or Gez, as he’s randomly named partway through, hops from one scene to the next in an almost manic pace. In most of it, he’s along for the ride, going where Gabe and Petal need to go. He has no idea what’s going on outside the dome, so we learn it as he does, and what we really learn, is he’s special. Like super special.

I guess the whole “You’re the messiah, dude!” bit really annoyed me, as well as the roller coaster he was on. There was almost no downtime, and so I had little time to process anything.

Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson

I am not sure what I read. My cousin loved this book, but I don’t know if I feel that way. I rated it pretty high because the world building is fantastic, but I’m still coming out wondering what all was going on.

It’s the future, and the world has been taken over by corporations. There aren’t any laws that govern an area, it’s all based on which franchise you’re part of. Hiro Protagonist (yes, really his name), delivers pizza. And he delivers it in the craziest way possible, in order to make Uncle Enzo’s 30 minutes or it’s free guarantee. He meets Y.T. that way, when she bails him out after he wrecks his pizza car. Then, the world gets weirder.

There’s a virus going around, in the Metaverse, and in real life, that’s causing people, mostly coders, to go off into la la land. When Hiro’s friend gets hit by Snow Crash, he ends up following a trail around the Metaverse, Los Angeles, and the Pacific Ocean to figure things out.

This book is wild. I didn’t know it was written in 1992, as the audiobook was published in 2012. Once I did find out when it was published, it all made sense. In one scene, they print out photos using a fax machine stuck in the dash. They also lack headsets for phones, although Stephenson made sure everyone has a cell phone. The Metaverse is awesome, although the technology for it seems clunky. I can see where books like Jennifer Government and Ready Player One might have been inspired, along with many movies.

The story is kind of an all over idea. It switches between multiple points of view, and it seems like the entire story is going in many directions at once. However, by the end, they all converge, and while they’re not all neatly tied up by the end, there’s enough resolution to make you happy.

I still have no idea exactly what I read though.

At the Mountains of Madness – HP Lovecraft

I’d never read anything by Lovecraft, and I wanted to remedy that. I’d heard many people mention At the Mountains of Madness being good, and it was only $0.99, so I thought I’d check it out.

It could have been the most interesting story ever, but it was told in such a way it took me 6 months to read it. It’s not a long story either.

It’s told in retrospect. The narrator tells us of what went down in Antarctica when his group went. They were well equipped, and discovered a huge mountain range, with interesting things at the base. They’ve discovered the elder gods, and by flying higher into the mountains after tragedy, they discover that there’s a giant city the elder gods lived in carved into the mountain range. There’s evil there, that they eventually uncover.

But you don’t encounter a lot of detail about the evil they uncover. It’s like a leisurely wander through this ancient city, with the narrator speculating all the while. It wasn’t very exciting. And even at the end, with the evil, and the escape, it’s like 5% of the book. I hope the rest of his stuff isn’t like this.