Wednesday, January 14, 2015

5 Books I Read in 2014 that REALLY Surprised Me

I have too precious time to waste on terrible books. I can be a really tough critic. I generally know what I'm getting into before I read a book, and I feel really bad when I say that I do judge books by their covers. But you know, some just fit the mold! The books below are books that I read this year where my first impressions of the book were completely wrong and I was surprised by what I found in them.

Please remember that this isn't a list of the 'best' books I read over the course of the years, but the books that I was 'most surprised about' which in a way I think beats any 'best book' award.

Most Surprising Fiction Read .....

This book is a classic example of what I get for not keeping my mouth shut. 
I'm sure you've read it here and heard me talk about it elsewhere. I am THE horror connoisseur of the Amarillo Public Library. If you want something to scare your pants off, I'm the girl to talk to. Unfortunately, because I've read so many horror novels, I get into a rut sometimes where things just aren't as scary as they used to be- I've seen it too many times- so I bitched and moaned to the internet and they directed me to a new breed of horror - 'bizarro' - and let me forewarn, this genre is NOT for the squeamish and NOT for the faint of heart. This novel is about an ill-educated young man who works at a beef processing plant slaughtering cattle and living with his grotesque over-bearing mother in a filthy trailer-home.... and how he rises above his station.... in the most horrible and terrifying ways possible. There were several instances in this book that I had to put it down to gag and question my own sanity. Yet despite all of the gore and filth, this book is remarkably well-written and has a lot of interesting allegories and symbolism within. This book was NOT what I expected, but Internet, I asked for something that would scare and unsettle me, and you delivered. Remind me to never ask you again. 

I feel really mixed emotions when I say that I ultimately ended up liking this.

Most Surprising Nonfiction Read .....

I've been playing video games since I could walk. My first console was a Super Nintendo, and the first game I officially beat was Super Mario World when I was about 7 years old (so proud of this accomplishment that I called my dad and insisted he leave a business meeting to take the call so I could tell him that I beat Bowser all by myself - you know you have the best dad in the world when he doesn't chide you for interrupting his meeting, but his response is "Good job, kiddo. I knew you could do it." ) Memories aside, I never knew all the competition and strife between Sega and Nintendo during my childhood years until I read this book, and it almost makes me wish that I had been born a little earlier so that I could experience all the hype as a teen or young adult.

The history behind the video-game industry especially beyond the games themselves is deep, dark, and full of some interesting characters that I would never suspected as being 'video-game' people. They are business people, there to sell a product, but in some cases it is a product they know little to nothing about- and how they market and help these early consoles evolve and land in the hands of the consumers is incredible. Not to mention the evolution and politics over some of the world's most recognized video-game characters : Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario

Most Surprising Youth Read .....
The Duplicate
by William Sleator

I picked this one up at the library's booksale on a whim. It's barely 200 pages long and had such bizarre cover-art that I thought it was going to be one of those quick cheesy YA reads that I would ultimately find mildly entertaining. The premise is pretty straightforward- teen finds a machine where he can make a copy of himself, figures "hey if I had a clone that would do my homework, that would be rad," clones himself... and discovers clones aren't what they are made out to be in science-fiction movies. I'll go ahead and spoil a twist for this book- the clones aren't mindless drones. They are copies down to the point where they have their own thoughts and feelings and schemes. Suddenly, this teen is having to out-think HIMSELF if he wants to set things right again, which is a mind-boggling feat in itself. There were several times during the book where I wasn't sure who was the clone and who was the real one and vice-versa. But this is where the mystery only starts... it's written in such a way that I actually didn't mind the confusion and I was eager to see which sentient 'clone' would end up winning. Let me tell you right now, you'll never see it coming. This is one of the best YA novels I've read in a while, and unfortunately, since the last copy was in the library booksale, I can't even write a staff pick about it.  

Most Surprising Comic/Manga Read ..... DC Comics' Blackest Night

Let me start this by saying I've tease Green Lantern for years for being 'allergic to the color yellow' -well, when I was reading my Batman comics and found references to this arc, I figured that I might as well read up on it even though Green Lantern was a 'totally lame character' As it turns out, Green Lantern has become one of my favorite DC heroes thanks to this arc which puts his powers in a whole new perspective as the DC world learns that each color of the spectrum is also controlled by a dominant emotion, and when that emotion takes hold- anything is possible. This arc also temporarily resurrects some 'dead' DC superheroes for one last hurrah and gives some interesting insight that modern comic readers might not know about their favorite DC heavyhitters and their interactions with these 'dead' heroes. The arc itself is HUGE spanning several books and featured from several different types of characters, and if you have the opportunity to read them all, it is one of the most exciting and at the same time thought-provoking arcs in comics I have ever read. Not to mention one of the most colorful!

Most Surprising Completely Terrible Read .....Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper

Words simply cannot describe how disappointed I was with this book. I have a weakness for pirates... and a weakness for things that go 'bump' in the night. So a series of books devoted to 'vampirates' seemed like a dream come true. But the book falls short in EVERY department imaginable. I really wish an adult fantasy author would pick up this concept and try to rewrite it. It is so poorly executed that this concept alone is the only redeeming factor of the book itself.

If you want to see the nitty gritty why I hated this book, here's a link to my Goodreads review.