November 2019 Wrap-Up

OOPS. This is 10 (!!) days late. Life, especially around this time of year, just gets so hectic! Between work, Thanksgiving travel, & getting everything done, I’m just settling in now to reflect on my November reads.

  • Wanderers by Chuck Wendig: This absolute brick of a novel was a well-written, end-of-the-world novel that was reminiscent of our current political climate taken to the extreme. 4.5/5 stars. (More in-depth review here).
  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern: This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019. It was gorgeously written but I’m not entirely sure I understood what I read. I definitely felt this way with her first novel, The Night Circus, the first time I read it too, and I’ve now read & re-read it about 6 times — and it’s one of my favorite books. The Starless Sea will definitely be getting re-read at some point in 2020, but my initial rating is 4/5.
  • Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things: This book is sort of cute. It will be popular in the romance section of high school libraries. But if you’re looking for a thoughtful romance about class & privilege, you won’t find it here. Edie is…a fine main character. Her cousins and aunt are the worst. The girls at her school suck. I found myself doing a lot of skimming & scanning as I read because I wasn’t super thrilled with anything happening. *Shrug* And because I am a Masshole, this is nothing like the REAL Mansfield, MA. I have family that lives there that we visit often. If you’re going to use a real town name, at least research it a little bit. The author made her version of Mansfield more like somewhere in the Hamptons or Martha’s Vineyard, and this just isn’t it. DNF.
  • There, There by Tommy Orange: This book was an absolutely stunning read, and an important one. Tommy Orange is one hell of a writer, and you can feel the pain and the weight of the injustices against Native Americans in his prose. Each character had a heart-wrenching story. The prologue took my breath away. The ending was a bit confusing and I wasn’t a fan of the last 30 pages. Otherwise, Orange is a brilliant talent of #ownvoices fiction and I cannot wait to read what he writes next. 4/5 stars.
  • Scythe by Neal Shusterman: This has been a popular book on my library shelves and I was so excited to finally get into it myself! This was an easy-to-understand dystopian world where no one dies, unless they are murdered by a professional scythe. It’s a fascinating moral question: who lives & who dies, and who gets to choose that? It’s fast-paced and a gripping start to a trilogy. 5/5 stars
  • The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James: This was a weird and crazy YA sci-fi thriller. A little too long, but the action REALLY ramps up in the final act. A fun, quick read. 3.5/5 stars.
  • The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehesi Coates: This book was an important look at slavery from the perspective of a slave. It was written in the vernacular of the day, however, making it harder to follow than I thought it would be. 3.5/5 stars
  • The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes: This was a wonderful story about Depression-era librarians who went house to house on horseback with books. It was a great tale of friendship, and touched on issues of race, poverty, domestic violence, and loss. I really enjoyed this one! It was also my November Book of the Month pick 🙂 4.5/5 stars
  • Bunny by Mona Awad: This book was a wacky mix of Mean Girls and The Secret History. Strange but fun read. 3.5/5 stars.

What was the best book you read in November?

REVIEW: Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

I LOVE a good downfall-of-the-United States story, and Wanderers was A GOOD ONE. It was a long, epic tale of science fiction, politics, and the resilience of humanity.

Shana wakes up one morning to find her sister, Nessie, sleepwalking, and unable to wake her. Other sleepwalkers join, and Shana and other loved ones ‘shepherd’ the ‘flock’ of sleepwalkers through the United States. These sleepwalkers cannot be stopped and will ignore any obstacle in their way. Scientists from the CDC are working non-stop to figure out what’s going on — why are the sleepwalkers impenetrable to needles? How can they survive without food? Why are others around the globe growing sick?

In addition to the medical mystery surrounding the walkers, we also see the affects of a right-wing splinter group that take advantage of the chaos swirling around the country, and act upon the racist things they were only saying privately. This was an interesting inclusion because I feel like it was really speaking not only to the current political climate, but because it’s an area not often explored when reading these types of massive apocalyptic novels.

Wendig does a phenomenal job of tying together all of the threads — the neo-Nazis, the shepherds & the flock, the CDC — in a way that is mostly understandable to the reader (I did have some trouble with the science, especially the artificial intelligence, because those are topics I just don’t know a ton about). While there aren’t any real people named as characters, I could see that he pulled inspiration from a number of current politicians and celebrities, often the most problematic ones. I really thought this novel was well-done, though a little lengthy. If you want to see one way the world ends, I’d definitely recommend checking this one out. 4/5 stars for me!