Duncan’s Reading List & Book Reviews: May 2015
Nearly 3,000 pages read this month, thanks to some long flights. I have been told those little screens in front of your seat can display movies as well as maps. I’m not sure how that could be more fun than what is on my printed page…
The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas, 1844-45 (1,243 pages)
One of those literary ‘classics’ that almost no one has ever read: we usually only know it through bowdlerized children’s versions, comics, movies, or popular culture references. But unlike some other classics which can be inaccessible to modern readers, I adored nearly every page of the book! It was written in serialized form, with chapters being published weekly, and you can feel the momentum and the cliff-hangers working. There are many characters, but you keep them straight after a while and the payoff from the depth of plot all comes together in the final 300 pages. This is the easiest thousand page book you’ll ever read, but it is not for kids: if the tortures, murders, and other deaths weren’t enough reason for censors to create an expurgated version, the poisonings, extra-marital liaisons, attempted baby killings, hashish sessions and lesbian affairs put it over the top. I have only read this translation by Robin Buss, but I found it very good. Now I need to go buy the Three Musketeers! 10/10.
Caliban’s War – James S.A. Correy, 2012 (595 pages)
Abaddon’s Gate – James S.A. Correy, 2013 (539 pages)
Cibola Burn – James S.A. Correy, 2014 (581 pages)
Books 2-4 of The Expanse series keeps us largely with James Holden and his spaceship crew, but also tells the story with POV slices from several new characters. Roberta (‘call me Bobbi’) Draper the Martian marine, and her new best friend and senior UN politician Chrisjen Avasarala (not just female characters, but non-white female characters!) were my favourites. Spoiler alert – Detective Miller is back. Kind of. Don’t get me wrong: this is not Dumas level literature. But it is solid science fiction space opera. Fun, provoking, and it doesn’t insult your intelligence. All three books were equally enjoyable, and I will buy Book Five which is being published in June 2015. 8/10