Sunday, January 11, 2009

From worst to best: PopCo by Scarlett Thomas. I loved this book. It was like a fantastic Douglas Coupland and Neal Stephenson collaboration. It's got cryptography, pirates, corporate retreats, buried treasure, and a kickass geeky heroine who works for a toy company and is intelligent and interesting. When Alice gets a simple coded message, "Are you happy?" it starts her on making a change in her life.

We had Scarlett Thomas' mysteries, so I grabbed them as soon as I could. There are three of them all featuring Lily Pascale, a part time literature professor. I didn't find the first one Dead Clever particularly outstanding. The mystery wasn't hard to figure out at all and the italicized sections told from the other perspective were mostly annoying and did nothing but give away the mystery. The second, In Your Face was the strongest of the three. In that one the switching points of view actually worked well and even though the mystery was no harder to figure out, it held together better. Seaside was my least favorite of the three and the switch in point of view was entirely superfluous and I pretty much gave up on it half way through and just skimmed the rest.

Thankfully Going Out was pretty enjoyable even though the ending seemed rushed and somewhat abrupt. But I enjoyed the journey and the characters.
"What the hell are we doing here? I mean..."
"What, why are we standing on the edge of Epping Forest with a Scooby Doo van, a Lottery winner, a guy with cancer and someone dressed in a space-suit - that we made - having just waved a tearful goodbye to a domineering retail-assistant who's just gone into the woods to 'fulfill her destiny' and learn how to channel her humongous witch powers?"
"Yeah," says Julie.
Hee. Like I said, I enjoyed this one quite a bit.

I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about The End Of Mr. Y though. It's about a graduate student doing research on scientific thought experiments who comes across a book that's said to be cursed - anyone who reads it, dies. She can't resist reading it and soon finds herself exploring the "Troposphere" where she can enter people's minds, sort of like Being John Malkovich, but with a more philosophical and literary bent to it. It didn't grab me like PopCo and I didn't like the characters as much as those in Going Out, but I did enjoy it for the most part.

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