I wasn’t going to write one of these reading round-ups until I finished Moby Dick, which I thought would have happened by now. I hit the renewal limit with about 300 pages to go, and had to return it to the library, after which I promptly requested it again — gotta love how I can get anything within the SD Library’s network sent to my “home” library and don’t have to drive all over the county looking for a specific title — and for some reason it’s taking an absurd amount of time. Surely Moby Dick can’t be in high demand, can it?
So I’ve been taking advantage of the break.
I have…mixed feelings about this book.
One week in the life of three Yale graduates. Clio and Smith have been best friends since freshman year, despite their different backgrounds. Tate was a classmate who reconnects with Smith as they’re both dealing with some serious emotional shit, and Clio is dating a wealthy, older hotelier, but a family secret is keeping her from fully committing to him.
I really, really wanted to like it, and on the one hand, I did kinda love all the characters, as much as they were all so privileged, so Ivy League. I mean, one character’s main problem was that her younger sister was getting married before her and her father didn’t approve of her “frivolous” career (as a personal organizer) that he still voluntarily bank-rolled. Another’s was that he created this wildly successful photography app that sold for truckloads of money and now his soon-to-be ex-wife’s lawyer is telling him that she’s entitled to a share of that cash.
Then there’s the dialogue.
I don’t know, as I’m writing this now, I’m flipping through the book looking for examples and nothing is jumping out at me as particularly egregious. But when I read it, I kept getting stuck and tripped up by how overly formal and stilted the dialogue was. It just didn’t read naturally, for some reason, like every single character had time to compose and rehearse everything they said before actually saying it.
But all that aside…something about the book, the characters, stuck with me. The whole thing takes place over the course of one week, and of course, it’s one huge, “life-changing” week with a bunch of shit going on all at once. Basically, each main character is given a major choice to make, and in order the make it, they each have to think about things they’ve been avoiding for weeks, months, years. And although they each face those things and make their decisions, everything was left very open-ended, and I found myself wondering so, what next?
Can you call it re-reading when you remember absolutely nothing about the book?
Sabriel’s father is the Abhorsen, a special type of necromancer, one who fights against Dead beings and forces. He lives and works in the Old Kingdom, where magic is still found and used in various ways. Sabriel, however, has grown up in Ancelstierre in the south, separated from the Old Kingdom by a wall. One night, a Dead being visits her boarding school to deliver a message from her father, who’s been trapped in Death (in this world, when you die, you don’t really die, at least not completely or right away. It’s complicated). Sabriel must cross the wall and travel across the Old Kingdom to rescue her father and save the Kingdom from a particularly evil Dead being who’s been wreaking awful havoc.
I first read this (several times) in junior high or high school–it’s one of the few books that somehow have traveled with me all through college and down to San Diego. It’s in a place that’s not prominent but not hidden away, either, so I kept seeing it in my apartment from time to time. Then, I think it got mentioned at least twice in recent-ish Get Booked podcasts, and that finally spurred me to pick it up.
It was weird. I distinctly remember reading it more than once, so obviously I thought it was good…but I’d completely forgotten everything about the plot and characters and basically all of it. So after this (re-)reading, I can confirm…it’s still really good. The world-building is solid and Sabriel is so relatable even as she does unbelievable things.
Why has this not been made into a movie yet, by the way? It’s fantasy, not dystopian future, but I feel like Hunger Games and Divergent have set the stage nicely for badass female-led adventure stories. Oooh, she’s too old for the role, but I could kinda see the actress who played Mary on Downtown Abbey as Sabriel because she’s described as being very pale-skinned and dark-haired (I’m just realizing that pretending to cast movies based on books is something of a hobby of mine?).
I put off reading this because it was such blatant William & Kate fanfiction (the briefest of glances at the cover will tell you that) and I just figured it would be flat and silly. I’m not sure what made me at it to my hold queue at the library, but honestly? I’m sad I have to return it and don’t have my own copy.
American college student Bex Porter studies abroad in Oxford and just happens to live on the same floor as Nick, the future king of England. She makes friends and gets “in” with his inner posse. Nick and Bex fall in love. They try to keep their relationship hidden from the press and public, they fail, they break up, they get back together, she nearly goes crazy over how damn difficult it is to transform herself into princess-material, she fucks up in a major way. Will love “rule”? (See what I did there? See? I crack myself up…)
I kid you not, guys, I tore through this book in maybe four days and when I finished, immediately wanted to go back at read it again (or at least skip around to my favorite bits).
The best description of the book I can give you/excuse for why it gripped me so much is that it’s basically like reading a British soap opera. Modern-day Downton Abbey minus the upstairs/downstairs sub-plots.
I loved Nick and Bex. If I have a complaint, it’s that there are too many scenes in which Nick is talked about and too few that he’s actually in. I loved the supporting characters. I loved how, even as I was rolling my eyes at how damn predictable and ridiculous it all was, I was just dying to see how all the ridiculousness would unfold.
There better be a sequel — I’m kinda dying to see the fallout that was sure to come after the final scene and where Nick and Bex would go from there.
And this one is getting made into a movie!