Thursday, November 8, 2012

In which I start thinking about YA books . . .

For the next few weeks I'm going to be putting down some of my thoughts about children's and young adult literature. If I had more time, these thoughts would be crafted and researched like an essay; I usually feel uncomfortable about making literary arguments without having spent the time and energy to place my own thoughts within the context of current scholarship on the topic. But, you know, LIFE. Also, STAY-AT-HOME-PARENT. So, whatever, I'm not going to worry about crafting this so much as try to clutch together a few threads that might crudely articulate my thoughts on the subject. Maybe I'll just call it "brainstorming" and if y'all want to jump in, feel free.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Book Review: Perdido Street Station

Perdido Street Station (2003), China Mieville. Paperback, 640 pages.

Awards: Nominated for the World Fantasy Award, the Locus Award, the British Science Fiction Award, and the Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novel; won the 2001 Arthur C. Clarke Award and the 2001 British Fantasy Award.

Summary: A rogue scientist unleashes a terrible monster on the city of New Crobuzon, and is aided by a motley group of companions in vanquishing the invading brood. For a more detailed summary, click here.

First Sentences: 
Veldt to scrub to farms to these first tumbling houses that rise from the earth. It has been night for a long time. The hovels that encrust the river's edge have grown like mushrooms around me in the dark.

     The river twists and turns to face the city. It looms suddenly, massive, stamped on the landscape. Its light wells up around the surrounds, the rock hills, like bruise-blood. Its dirty towers glow. I am debased. I am compelled to worship this extraordinary presence that has silted into existence at the conjunction of two rivers. It is a vast pollutant, a stench, a klaxon sounding. Fat chimneys retch dirt into the sky even now in the deep night. It is not the current which pulls us but the city itself, its weight sucks us in. Faint shouts, here and there the calls of beasts, the obscene clash and pounding from the factories as huge machines rut. Railways trace urban anatomy like protruding veins. Red brick and dark walls, squat churches like trogolodytic things, ragged awnings flickering, cobbled mazes in the old town, culs-de-sac, sewers riddling the earth like secular sepulchres, a new landscape of wasteground, crushed stone, libraries fat with forgotten volumes, old hospitals, towerblocks, ships and metal claws that lift cargoes from the water.  

     How could we not see this approaching? What trick of topography is this, that lets the sprawling monster hide behind corners to leap out at the traveller?  
     It is too late to flee.


Writing Quality: 7/10

Depth of Concept: 7/10

Rounded Characters: 6/10

Well-Developed World: 9/10

Page Turner: 7/10

Kept Me Thinking: 8/10

Overall Recommendation: 7/10