Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Day" (Night #3) by Elie Wiesel

109 pages

In this conclusion to Wiesel's Night trilogy, a successful journalist and Holocaust survivor steps off a New York City curb and is hit by an oncoming taxi. Balanced between life or death, the narrator has to confront the issues from his past that he'd been running from. His loss of faith, which began when he witnessed the near-annihilation of his people, takes him to the edge, where he must decide whether to believe in God or not, and whether to keep fighting for his life or not.

Like the other little books in this trilogy, this one makes a big impact. Wiesel uses few words, but he picks good ones and lets them speak for themselves. This story examines how a person tries to move on and live a "normal" life after living through unspeakable horror. It reminds us that the tragedy is not over after the initial evil is subdued; for the survivors, the terror lives on for a long time.

"Dawn" (Night #2) by Elie Wiesel

96 pages

Elisha is a young Holocaust survivor and an Israeli freedom fighter in British-controlled Palestine. John Dawson is the captured English officer who is to be murdered at dawn in retribution for the British execution of an Israeli. Elisha is the one ordered to perform the execution of Dawson. This novel provides an hour-by-hour narrative of the night before the execution, while Elisha struggles with his anger about the past with his guilt about the present.

This novel is very short but also very powerful. It clearly demonstrates the effect that living through something as horrific as the Holocaust has on a human being. It also raises the question: what is the difference between retribution and murder? As Elisha shows, something changes in a person when they kill someone, no matter how justified the murder may seem to be.

Chicks Dig Time Lords: a celebration of "Doctor Who" by the women who love it

edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O'Shea, 186 pages

Winner of the Hugo Award
I read this book about a year ago, when I first started watching Doctor Who with The Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith. All my friends said, "Oh, but you have to watch David Tennant as The Tenth Doctor. He's the best Doctor ever!" A year and six seasons later, I have to concur. They say you never forget your first Doctor, which in my case was Matt Smith, but Ten captured my geeky heart as soon as he said, "Allons-y!" Which in the Whoniverse means, basically, Run!

I recently read it again, and this time I got (almost) all of the references. This slim volume is packed with insightful essays from actors on the show, librarians, writers and other fans. It has its more serious moments, but mostly it's a delightful blend of pop culture analysis and sheer joy. And unless you've been living under a rock on Raxacoricofallapatorius, you will know that the male bastion of fantasy and science fiction starting cracking under the onslaught of female fans of The Lord of the Rings. Now the stone fortress of male geekdom has been breached, its walls shattered by hordes of female fans who celebrate Doctor Who, LOST, Buffy, Firefly, Game of Thrones and Harry Potter. The same editor has also published a book titled Whedonistas: a Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon by the Women Who Love Them. Both of these volumes show the depth and diversity of the women who truly love fantasy and science fiction in any form. So, Girl Geeks unite! Our time has arrived!

"Beautiful Chaos" (Caster Chronicles #3) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

518 pages

Ethan Wate had almost gotten used to strange, impossible events happening in his small Southern town since he fell in love with Lena, a Caster. But now, after Lena has Claimed herself for both Light and Dark, things have gotten even more bizarre. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected and their extraordinary abilities begin to dangerously misfire. Meanwhile, Ethan is having nightmares again, and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his life. On top of that Ethan feels like he is gradually losing his mind- forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. Amid the chaos, it becomes clear that something-or someone-is going to have to be sacrificed in order to make things right.

I often have trouble following the plot in the Caster Chronicles books. There's a lot of jumping around and I guess I've missed a thing or two because I don't think I completely understand the supernatural world created by the series. At a few parts of "Beautiful Chaos," I was totally lost. That said, I am still totally hooked. The characters are a big reason for that. They're funny, charming, and easy to relate to. Also, I like that despite the seemingly straight forward groups of Light and Dark supernaturals, most of the characters actually fall somewhere in between. Sometimes the "good guys" make mistakes and sometimes the "bad guys" do good things. It's more like real life and it makes things interesting because I'm never sure what someone is going to do. The tone is another reason why I like the Caster Chronicles. It's dark and Gothic but also funny. There's a huge cliffhanger at the end of this one, so I can hardly wait for the next one to come out next year.