My Giveaway + Announcements

*My first foray into an Author Interview with Andrew Xia Fukuda is up! (Should I do more?)
*My first manga review for Natsume Yuujinchou V.1 - please let me know what you think

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Triple Snapshots of Feb '10 - Children of the Waters, The Housekeeper and the Professor, and Eon

Triple Snapshots is a feature in which I do 3 mini-reviews of novels on the last day of the month.

This month 2/3 of the books are POC related. [I don't care what people say about Eon, that book doesn't deserve a POC subject label)

Children of the Waters by Carleen Brice

I’ll have to admit, this novel was a bit slow for me at the beginning. This may or may not have been influenced by the fact that I was anticipating that sister reunion far sooner than it actually happened in the story, which I would like to blame on the summary, lol. But once the sisters meet, it was a non-stop roller coaster ride for me. The most fascinating aspect of Children of the Waters, for me anyhow, was the challenges to both sisters on the perception of family and race. Between the two sisters, I found Billie’s storyline on how she confronts having a ‘white’ sister the most compelling of the two. I’ll confess that there were moments when I was simply exasperated with Trish. Yes, I know she means well, but her cluelessness and her insistence on a “colourblind” world just made her seem rather na├»ve. It wasn’t that I hated Trish, quite the opposite: I’m honestly very fond of her attempts to connect with her sister. In fact, I did like all the characters and their flaws, and there were moments between Trish’s and her son Will’s exchange that either had me laughing out loud or veering off to the other spectrum, of sadness and pain. All in all, besides the thing Brice chose to do with the ending [SPOILERS: "I’m iffy about the whole Trish finding some shiny Japanese Zen Buddhist tradition to ~*heal*~ her sister, to be honest. Didn’t gel with me.] I really enjoyed this novel. =D

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, trans. Stephen Snyder

O. M. G. This was AMAZING. Simply astounding. It grabbed me from page one and had me racing through till I got to the end. Heartrendering and beautiful and perfect, the type of novel that I’d go out and buy in a heartbeat. (FYI, borrowed this from the library) I loved how Ogawa told her story without ever giving names to her characters – indeed, I barely paused to wonder at why we never know the names. I liked the way Ogawa used the roles of the characters to refer to them, the exploration of the relationships between each cast member. I’ve seen a lot of reviews that say that they found the relationship between the Professor and the son Root the most compelling but I will admit that it was really the relationship between the Housekeeper and the Professor (as the title says) that grabbed me by the heart – possibly because it’s so much more fragile and transient. With the Professor and the Son, our Professor shows instant like towards the son even though he doesn’t remember the kid, whereas every time the Professor and the Housekeeper meet, the meeting is much harder in comparison. The absence of that connection should have estranged their relationship with one another, but each time they meet the ties that get newly formed every couple hours is beautiful in that evanescent way, like the view of autumn leaves, rendered beautiful because we know they won’t last. This book even managed the impossible and made me enjoy the MATH in the story, and anyone who knows me IRL knows how much I can’t take math. (ugh graphs *shudders*) For the time I spent reading this novel, I was a math convert and saw the beauty in numbers and equations. (… I can’t believe those words just came out of my mouth. SEE HOW AMAZING THIS BOOK IS?! It actually got my stubborn self to CHANGE MY MIND about math – for a moment.) Beautiful, and the translation was fluid and lovely as well and basically what I’m trying to say is that you HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK NOW. So good, so shelf-worthy. I can’t recommend this book enough.

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman

… Holy shit, what was this crap? This book is reminded me of all my reasons why my gut reaction is to always shrink whenever I see white authors trying to write out “Asian fantasies” - 99% of the time all I get is faux chinoiserie orientalist CRAP. The world screamed FAKE FAKE FAKE and omg the crappy gender relations was so awfully handled. It was like Goodman has this uber shallow understanding of the Yin/Yang concept and then just shoved in all her “modern” gender role theories into the novel and it was soooooo awful, it made me want to scream. And, just for good measure, when I managed to get to the END of the novel, the author’s notes goes as follows: “The Empire of the Celestial Dragons is not a real country or culture, It is a fantasy world that was at first inspired by the history and cultures of China and Japan, but rapidly became a land of imagination with no claim to historical or cultural authenticity.” (italics and bold mine) WAY TO RUB SALT TO THE WOUND. Not only was the worldbuilding awfully handled, but now I *also* know that she didn’t even TRY for authenticity and thorough research. Always nice to know. [/sarcasm] And you know what’s the worst part (for me)?! Not only did I read this all the way to the end, but I actually want to read the last book of this damn series. Don’t you hate how you get all attached to some stupid minor character and have to read to the bitter bitter end just to see how it goes? (Sounds familiar? Why yes, I am doing the same thing for the Darkest Powers series. Clearly I have a masochistic streak) Because I’m all fond of Lady Dela, who is a trangendered woman (transgender in my fantasy whut?!) and I so badly want her and Ryko to end up together. Which is terrible because some part of me tells me they’re going to end up with a tragic rocks-falls-everyone-dies kind of ending, or either be sacrificed as the loyal sidekicks to Eona’s awesomeness. So when the last book comes out and they don’t end up together, if you see me lying around in a sobbing mess and hating on everything and being generally useless, you now know why I’m in such a state.


Jenny said...

I'm glad you liked The Housekeeper and the Professor so much! It's been on my list for a while but I'm always nervous to read books in translation because I often find them difficult to get through.

Chutzpah said...

Hi I'm here from the Saturday Network and I just want to say you have a new follower!

ninefly said...

damn it, if you see a cheap copy (ex. under $7) buy it for me and I'll pay you back the cash, along with oodles of gratitude ♥
I don't have much time going to book stores =T

Jennifer (Crazy-for-Books) said...

I have "Professor..." on my TBR pile and I keep hearing amazing things about it!! It looks like a quick read, so I need to get to it very soon!! Great review!

Interesting how the author doesn't give names to the characters! I don't think I've ever read a book like that! You've really peaked my interest now!!

Happy Reading!

Esme said...

I am putting this on my wish list. thank you

parrish lantern said...

This is a beautiful book, the way Yoko Ogawa writes has a breath-taking simplicity, that disguises how well this is written.
Have you read The Diving Pool