Only 4 books in October. One was Outlander, which is plenty long, so I don’t feel too bad. I split that book into audiobook and ebook, listened to two on audiobook, and then read the fourth as an ebook. I kind of wish I had a paper book to read that month, but I have 3 to read this month, so it’s all good. Plus, audiobook and ebooks can be consumed in places that paper books can’t be.
Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
This one was picked for me for a swap, and I had just picked it up as a $2 ebook, with the $4 addon for an audiobook. I had very little expectations of what it would be like, other than it was turned into a Starz series. The gist of the book is pretty simple: a nurse from post World War 2 England ends up going back in time roughly 200 years to 1743. While trying to find a way back to her own time, she gets caught up with one of the Scottish clans, becomes their physician, and marries one of them, falling in love with him in the process.
The complicated characters are what I think did it for me. Claire is a war nurse. She has no patience for fools, and does swear, which puts a lot of the Scots off. She’s not an idiot. I can really respect her for trying to make the best of an uncertain and scary situation, and for grasping the politics of the situation quickly. The other characters in the book were interesting as well, from the head horseman to the monks at the French Abbey.
Blue Bloods – Melissa DeLaCruz
This one’s a re-read. It’s a different take on vampires: fallen angels who rebelled against God and were cast out. It’s set in modern day, more or less, with the teenage elite of New York. The book follows Schulyer VanAlen, Mimi Force, and Blizz Llewyellyn as they go through a change that will turn them from human into full vampire. Also at the same time, someone’s preying on other Blue Bloods, draining them completely of their blood.
This one’s okay, but not great. The only reason I’m re-reading it is because the series is finished, and I have them all on audiobook. I’m thinking I can get through them slowly, and find out what the hell happened.
The characters are difficult for me to relate to. I’ve been to New York City once, I don’t come from money, I don’t go to clubs, and I never went to private school. I’m 36, but even as a teen I wouldn’t have been able to relate to these characters. They’re just foreign to me.
The plot is interesting, but also not great. Someone’s killing teens that haven’t fully changed into vampires, but no one knows who. Supposedly it’s the Silver Bloods, evil vampires who drink other vampire’s blood, but the idea has been purged from any reference the Blue Bloods have access to. Only a few teens, Schuyler included, want to know what’s going on. Everyone else is ignoring it. I hate to say it, but it sounds like something a stereotypical rich, powerful person would do.
Starters – Lissa Price
The Spore Wars kill everyone between 19 and 60, and millions of kids are left homeless, parentless, and starving. Callie is protecting her kid brother and struggling. One way out is to loan your body to Prime Destinations. Your consciousness is kept on a computer while an Ender (a senior citizen) uses your body to experience youth again. Supposedly the Enders keep the bodies safe, doing nothing harmful, but as you’d expect, they’re out doing everything they shouldn’t. Callie discovers that if some Enders pay enough, they can have the body permanently, and the kid (a starter) will never get to come back. Using the knowledge of the Ender who rented her body, she tries to take down Prime Destinations.
It was enjoyable but not great. There’s not much about the Spore Wars, but that makes sense, as Callie was just a kid, and who’s going to pay attention to the war if you’re 14? I don’t get why they vaccinated people over 60, when Enders can live to be 200. It seems like 60 anymore is just middle age, so why consider them seniors?
Callie’s interesting, and I enjoyed her, but the book itself isn’t that memorable. Even a month later, I can’t remember all of it, and I’m disinclined to try.
Croak – Gina Damico
This has been one of my favorite books this year. Lexington Bartlby used to be a model child: good grades, got along with her parents, didn’t fight with her twin sister Concord. Then a couple years back, she began to get angry all the time, and began acting out. She bites people at school, earning her the nickname of Tyrannosaurus Lex. The school threatens to expel her a week before school ends, and after her parents bargain to keep her there, they ship her off to her Uncle Mort, in upstate New York. He has a farm, and Lex will be spending the summer there.
Except it’s not a farm, it’s a house on the edge of Croak. Croak’s a sleepy little town with a population of about 85. Everything is themed with death in mind, from Main Street being named Dead End, to the diner being called The Morgue. Everyone in it is a Grim Reaper, current, or retired.
Yup, Lex is going to learn how to shepherd souls to the afterlife. Turns out it has to be done in pairs: the Killer releases the soul from the body, and the Culler gently guides it into a vessel, so it can be deposited in the Afterlife. Turns out Lex is really, really good at being a Killer, and loves her job.
I loved this book. Lex is the right amount of angry and unhappy to be interesting, but isn’t so angry and unhappy to be off putting. She does some growing up in the book, but at a believable rate. She falls in love, but not without a lot of fighting and dragging her feet. Driggs, her boyfriend, isn’t perfect either. Uncle Mort won’t put up with them being babies, and expects them to be adults.
The town and the Grim Reaper aspect are fantastic. Every bit of the town is interesting and fun, and the death theme is so fitting. The idea of the killing and culling for the souls is awesome too, including the idea that the Afterlife is a mystery the dead won’t talk about. The dead you meet in the foyer of the Afterlife are hilarious: former presidents, Edgar Allen Poe, and others hang around to show the recently deceased the ins and outs of the Afterlife. It’s just fun all the way around.