Thursday, 21 April 2016

Recently Read #7

I haven't had much time to read this year, since I've been swamped with assignments and commitments. When lectures finished before Easter, I found myself with a lot of more free-time than I'd had before. Naturally I still have to revise, work a few hours a week, and do my dancing stuff, but I've actually had time to read for pleasure over the last few weeks! So I thought I would share my thoughts on the the three last books I read...

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Run away, one drowsy summer's afternoon, with Holly Sykes: wayward teenager, broken-hearted rebel and unwitting pawn in a titanic, hidden conflict. Over six decades, the consequences of a moment's impulse unfold, drawing an ordinary woman into a world far beyond her imagining. And as life in the near future turns perilous, the pledge she made to a stranger may become the key to her family's survival...

David Mitchell's most famous work is probably Cloud Atlas, but for some reason I decided to start with The Bone Clocks. I wanted badly to like it, and considering the great reviews I'm almost embarrassed to say I wasn't a massive fan! The start was most definitely promising, but the more I read the less I found myself drawn to the story. The supernatural elements seem to be randomly thrown in and not fully thought-out. Mitchell uses a whole bundle of random, fancy-sounding science words that seem to only have the purpose to hide the fact that the novel is really just all over the place. I normally love the idea of several characters whose stories connect in different ways, but The Bone Clocks didn't do it for me. It's as if Mitchell had a few different ideas and haphazardly strung them together while convincing himself that they did fit. That said, I did enjoy it enough to power through. Mitchell is a really good writer, his characters are interesting and he clearly has a lot of imagination. However, it left me feeling like I had been promised something wonderful and magical, but then had been deprived of it.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

In 1956, Stevens, a long-serving butler at Darlington Hall, decides to take a motoring trip through the West Country. The six-day excursion becomes a journey into the past of Stevens and England, a past that takes in fascism, two world wars, and an unrealised love between the butler and his housekeeper. Ishiguro's dazzling novel is a sad and humorous love story, a meditation on the condition of modern man, and an elegy for England at a time of acute change.

This is a beautiful little story. When I started reading it I found myself waiting for something to happen, but I soon realised that it wasn't that kind of story. It's not a novel with an intricate plot and with a lot of action, but it's engaging and entertaining all the same. It's the sort of novel that is perfect to read if you want to just relax - before bed or on a lazy Sunday. If you're not in the right mood, I think there is a risk that you'd find it a little bit dull, but thankfully I must've been in the right mood as I really enjoyed it. The characters are portrayed in a really evocative way and there is a sort of mellow humour running right throughout the novel, which makes it a very enjoyable read.

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

North lives on a circus boat with her beloved bear, keeping a secret that could capsize her life. Callanish lives alone in her house in the middle of the ocean, tending the graves of those who die at sea. As penance for a terrible mistake, she has become a gracekeeper. A chance meeting between the two draws them magnetically to one another - and to the promise of a new life. But the waters are treacherous, and the tide is against them. 

I am still a bit unsure about this book. I absolutely love the setting, the characters and the language, but I'm simultaneously a bit disappointed by the undeveloped plot and the rushed ending. The world is described beautifully, with evocative descriptions and dream-like language. The mix of fairy-tale and dystopian future works so well, and the start of the book was promising. There is also an interesting mix of characters, and I enjoyed that you got to read more than one point of view, while still keeping the focus on Callanish and North. My only complaint is that I was left wanting more. I didn't mind the slow build-up, but the ending felt a bit rushed, and I would've liked to see the characters develop more. I enjoyed it for the wonderful setting and the mesmerising language, but I would've loved a longer story, with a more intricate plot.

What have you read recently?

Love, Mimmi.