Written by: John Scalzi
My thoughts: This was a book I'd heard a lot about over the years since it was published. Some good, some bad but almost everyone commented on just how nerdy it was. And nerdy it is, it is an incredibly meta joke about Star Trek and the unfortunate role the 'redshirts' play within that series. If you don't have a bit of a history with Star Trek and the preponderance of quick and sudden deaths for newly introduced characters on the show (which series? Take your pick) then I don't think you'll get much joy out of the book. And even being in on the joke as I was, it did feel like the meta jokes took precedence over actual narrative flow and structure at times. Overall I enjoyed the book and had fun reading it, but like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies I did feel a bit like the joke had run its course about 100 pages in.
Storm Front (Dresden Files #1)
Written by: Jim Butcher
Published in: 2000
My thoughts: I actually read this ages ago, but never got around to finishing a review for it. It's a lot of fun, it's about a modern day magician living in Chicago and working as a P.I. Harry Dresden is sarcastic, grumpy and a little bit incompetent, but also clearly was a much better person and magician at an earlier point in his life (we learn a little about this as the book goes on). There's a lot of rules to how magic is used in this particular world and it's governed by a magical community who stamp down pretty heavily on anyone with a history using black magic, as Dresden once did. This makes Dresden's life and career very tricky when a murder is committed and it looks to both the magical and non-magical communities as though Dresden is the prime suspect. I do intend to read some more of these books, apparently they get really good from about book 7. That doesn't exactly sound like a ringing endorsement of the next 6 books I have to get through, but if they're at least at the quality of this first novel I think they'll be interesting enough to take along on holidays or long rides on the train.
Written by: Rainbow Rowell
My Thoughts: I'm a little scared to say (in front of all of you, my fellow RR fans) that I wasn't too excited for Carry On. Fangirl was easily my least favourite of Rainbow's books so I wasn't sure that this book would deliver anything I was after. I was pleasantly surprised. I probably won't head back to reread it like I will Attachments or Eleanor and Park, but I found it funny, heartwarming, compelling and narratively sound (which sounds douche-y, but considering it was essentially Drarry fan-fiction I wasn't sure it would really stand up as a story of its own). I liked this a lot more than the extracts in Fangirl led me to believe I would enjoy it, so my sincerest apologies to Rainbow for daring to doubt her.
Flowers for Algernon
Written by: Daniel Keyes
My thoughts: Though I hadn't read Flowers for Algernon before last October, I knew the story pretty well and as there were at least 2 shows (It's Always Sunny, The League) last year which spoofed the concept, I figured it was time I read the source material. Flowers is fairly short but it hooked me in from the start. Telling the story of a man with below average intelligence the book is written from his perspective literally, taking an epistolary approach to tell Charlie's story as he undergoes surgery and testing to increase his intelligence. You end up incredibly close to Charlie because of the way it is written and it is a real gut punch to interpret things about his life that he's never been able to recognise because of his intelligence and general innocence. It's a very simple story but the takeaway is huge and immensely emotional.