Angry Angel Abandonment: Illuminae

Illuminae

This book is 600 pages. Now, visually that is a bit daunting, but with the insides made up of emails, documents, transcripts, and schematics, I figured it would be a faster read.

Our two main characters: Kady and Ezra are exes who find themselves caught up in a war between two corporations in space, and must hack and fight their way to the truth. Their story is told through documents which have been presented as proof of what has happened, presumably to a court or government, and when I first opened the book to find this alternative structure, I already knew I was done for.

Friends encouraged me though, and since I had enjoyed Nevernight (by the coauthor of this book, Jay Kristoff) I figured I would give it a chance. I have had this book for almost a month and I am only 100 pages in. I avoid it at every turn and reading it feels like a chore. I don’t care about the story, the characters are boring, and the format feels hectic and disorganized to me. Add in the sloppy references to the attempted love story and I am just so disengaged that I have to stop.

I’m sorry I can’t give you more information about the book. Since I didn’t get very far into it, the information I have about the plot can probably be found online as a preview on Amazon or other booksellers’ websites. It wasn’t for me, but I don’t feel strongly enough to tell you not to read it. I am certain that this book would be engaging for others, so if you like YA, space, war, intrigue, hacking and twists, all written in an off-the-beaten-path kind of style, do check it out. Let me know what you think.

On Podcasts: Live From the Poundstone Institute

poundstone institute

http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510322/live-from-the-poundstone-institute

“Every week, we’ll keep looking for knowledge, because we know we left it somewhere.” – Paula Poundstone

I am not a regular NPR listener, mostly because if I’m going to listen to something while I’m in the car it’s going to be the Lemonade album over and over until the CD refuses to play anymore don’t @ me. But when I’m riding in the car with the husband he listens to NPR ALL THE TIME so if I had to pick, I would pick All Things Considered and Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.

One fateful Saturday a lovely lady named Paula Poundstone was on the panel and I fell in love. She’s absolutely hilarious and fills my need for women in entertainment that are not here for your bullshit. Dry, witty, and quick, it’s always a good show if she’s on.

So when I heard that she had a new podcast out I jumped on it because I am tired of catching up to podcasts that started like 390842075483 years ago and this is my chance to listen from the beginning in real time! It attempts to gather knowledge on all topics far, wide, and wacky. Episode 1 was a delight – they talked to someone who studied perceptions of appearance, a scientist who takes swabs of surfers for science, and gave an unusual personality test to a celebrity. It’s all done live, giving it a WWDTM feel, but with more focus on Paula, AS IT SHOULD BE.

I already know this podcast will be on my regular listening schedule. It’s smart, dry, and funny and I love it. Go check it out! (Paula if you’re reading this, you’re amazing and I love you!)

Angry Angel Abandonment: New Release! Sour Heart (8/1/17)

Sour Heart

Occasionally I read a book that I cannot finish. It does not happen very often, and when it does I try to identify why it happened so that I can recognize the signs later and choose to put a book down sooner as a way of reclaiming my time.

maxine waters

Sour Heart is a collection of short stories that convey the experience of being a Chinese immigrant and the struggles that accompany that experience. I made it through the first story, which was quite harrowing actually, her family waking up coated in roaches and moving every 2-5 months to conditions of varying quality, her struggles to deal with the various schools she was placed in, and her parents’ near constant search for multiple jobs to make ends meet. By the time I got a quarter of the way through the next story though, my brain was like “you need to put this book away, I’m bored.”

Her writing is almost all run-on sentences. I appreciate this more modern technique as a way to emphasize an event or point or struggle, but I think at one point I went a page and a half without a period. When I read works written like this I imagine having a small child standing in front of me describing their day, and instead of ending a sentence they say “and then!” in between each event, giving them time to breathe before launching into the next act. With a small child it’s difficult to detach. With this book I only needed to return to the home screen of my Kindle.

As a reader I am also growing tired of the “look how bad I had it!” foundation of memoir. I’m not sure what I would call it, maybe suffering porn? This idea that a person’s life is only worth reading about it if they truly suffered somehow. I’m burned out on it. I’ve written about this before: the idea that everyone is in a contest to see who can win “I had it the worst as a kid!” or the equally popular “I was the poorest!” award. I think people do this because our current conditions are so bad that simply writing a book about how you have a happy life seems patronizing or condescending when your intention may have been to be hopeful or inspirational. Sometimes inferences are made that if you didn’t suffer for your place in life then you must not have truly worked for it, someone must have handed it to you on a silver platter.

For example, have you heard a story about someone happily working their way through college, going to classes, doing okay, and now working a job and paying their bills because that’s just what’s next? No, you’re already asleep. We either want the surviving on Ramen stories, falling asleep in class because they worked a double the night before, eyes shining with tears as they grip their diploma at graduation because¬†they made it or we want to be angry about the “daddy paid for my car and my tuition and my apartment and I have a credit card for gas and groceries and pizza and woooo!” because they didn’t really¬†earn it.

I know that this book has stories inside that will resonate with people and they are important to hear and to read and to understand. Immigrant issues and conditions, particularly in America right now, are more important than ever to make visible and discuss. However, if you are informed, if you are well read, if you have your finger on the pulse of what is going on, you may well get 17% into this book as I did, heave a great sigh, and reluctantly put it away.