Posted in Julie Clark

The Last Flight by Julie Clark

I just turned the last page of The Last Flight and I’m at a loss for words. I here declare my forever loyalty to this writer and promise to read every single book that she releases 🤩

10 pages into this book and my heart was already in my throat! Whaaaat a ride it has been! The whole book, every single page, every phrase buzzes with electricity, keeping your heart pounding and giving you permanent goosebumps. Even the recollections from the past, the side stories that should throw a wave of calmness and nostalgia don’t manage to dissolve for a second the tension and suspense.

And compared to most of the thrillers published in the last few years, the character’s portraits are anything but bland or stereotypical. I’m absolutely mesmerized by the depth of the two heroines’ personalities and how the author managed to merge the incredible tension with such profound backgrounds, detailed psychological features and intense and relevant message for the present days.

There is absolutely nothing missing from this book, nothing that feels missmatched or inaccurate. Every action, every trait, every step that either Claire or Eva take are deeply rooted in their past, from their childhoods to their recent years. I’m not even sure if some other readers will feel like some parts of the protagonists’ personalities have negative sides. Perhaps Eva might look too dark and too cold or Claire too paranoid and weak. But for me, the background given to them was so well depicted that makes it impossible to judge them even for a second or to feel like they would have had any other choices at any given time.

And over everything else, you can’t stop feeling their fear constantly, like a heavy blanket that covers everything they do, think or feel. Both Claire’s and Eva’s fear feels like a drowning moment on a loop, over and over again. Impossible to forget for even a moment, impossible to be completely free or relaxed even during the simplest activities. Whatever actions they take, whatever thoughts they have, they feel like gulps of air taken between desperate attempts to move, to survive. And yet, both of them find enough strength to fight, to find ways, to give themselves a chance to calculate the difference between reality and the paranoid thoughts seeded inside their minds by the constant terror.

I loved the side characters as well, how colorful they were sketched and how well the writer illustrates the impact of their choices over the lives of Claire and Eva. How a small gesture for someone can mean the world for someone else.

I don’t even know how to end this review, other than highly recommending it. I feel like nothing I could say gives enough justice to how intense the book is or to the way it will throw you on a roller coaster of emotions from the first to the last page.

Posted in Liane Moriarty

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Some books just don’t give you that addiction feeling that doesn’t let you to put the book down until you don’t find out what happens next or until you’ve finished one more chapter. But in the same time, they are so cozy and comfortable to read that you wouldn’t mind if they would last forever.

This was the case for me with Nine Perfect Strangers. The book doesn’t have any wow factor, it’s not mind blowing in any way. Everything is balanced and mild: the drama, the characters, the mystery. But in the same time, slowly, with every page you read, you get attached to each one of the completely normal and non-spectacular characters, you want to find out more about their boring lives and just dive deeper into their minds. They’re all absolutely normal people, but they’re all nice and funny and the connection that forms between them creates the same pleasant atmosphere.

I’ve read other books from the same author and until now, Nine Perfect Strangers was the most superficial of them all. You know those thin commercial books that used to come when you were buying women magazines in the 90’s? This novel has the exact same vibe. Light, summer read that keeps you entertained enough but without leaving any marks in your memory once you’ve finished it. I wasn’t disappointed by reading it but it’s clearly not the book that I would enthusiastically talk about.

Posted in Frances Cha

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha

If I Had Your Face promises to allow you to dive in some of the most notorious trends that are “leaking” lately from the contemporary Korean culture into the international media: the plastic surgeries turned into a norm, the K-pop mania, the obsession with impossible beauty standards, the pressure of social hierarchies, the lack of balance between work and family life. Frances Cha manages to deliver an insight into these strict standards, showing how five young women struggle to live within all the restrictions imposed by the modern Korean society.

I was honestly expecting something a bit deeper, an explanation on how people are “digesting” all this pressure, an active reaction from the characters forced to submit to such unattainable ideals. Instead, all of the five women just… go with the flow, conforming to the cultural norms, without questioning or opposing them. I know it somehow makes sense, because… how unbearable life would be if you wouldn’t internalize the rules of the society around you? If the collective mentality wouldn’t become embedded into your core like it would be your own? But I still cannot help feeling unsatisfied by the fact that what we see is just acceptance and nothing of the process that’s shaping the personalities of the characters.

Despite this, I didn’t dislike the book. It’s mildly entertaining, like a little innocent gossip that you hear on the brunch with your girlfriends. Not bringing any depth or substance, but offering enough amusement. The book lacks on tension, even if there is a visible attempt to create some suspense here and there. But Frances Cha still manages to keep you reading without frustration. Honestly, if the author decided to write extra 500 pages about the same day-to-day casual experiences of her characters, I probably wouldn’t have minded or became bored of it.

The only problem I had with the book is that the characters’ voices are so similar. Even if every chapter has the name of each woman, I still struggled to recognize who’s story I’m reading. And this issue lasted until the very end of the novel, it was not something that faded by becoming more familiar with the particularities of each individual.

Posted in Stephen Graham Jones, Uncategorized

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

I have no idea how exactly to explain my initial reaction to this book. I’ve read countless books in English, which is not my mother tongue, I live in an English speaking country and use the language every day, but once I started The Only Good Indians I felt like I don’t understand a word, like I’m reading in Chinese. After a few pages, I even passed the book to my SO to make sure that my brain didn’t suddenly lose its ability to read or to understand a sentence. And no, it clearly wasn’t me, it was the writing. I still have no idea what exactly happened there, what the issue was. Each word had a meaning, but somehow, put together, they just didn’t have any sense. Somehow, after a few chapters, things sort of went back to normal and the phrasing was smoother. Despite that, the book still didn’t catch me and I just wanted to finish it faster and be done with it.

The storyline is definitely original and not one of the tipical horror plots, but that’s pretty much the only good thing I can say about it. I’ve seen so many excited reactions about this novel, I saw it in so many 2020 tops. It’s not even the fact that my expectations weren’t met. I wasn’t just disappointed, I simply disliked everything about it. The characters weren’t interesting, I couldn’t sympathize with any of them, their actions seemed illogical half of the time, the storyline wasn’t catchy, the plot didn’t make my pulse jump or give me the feeling that I’m reading a horror. In addition, I feel like the author tried so much to signal that this is a story about native indians that it became repetitive and annoying.

Considering that so many readers gave positive reviews and I’m in minority here, I’m just going to assume this was not a story for me, but it can definitely be for somebody else. So in case you’re feeling tempted to give it a try, don’t let my opinion discourage you from reading it.

Posted in Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I was not intending to read this book, but after watching the TV series, what eventually convinced me otherwise was the fact that… it seemed like my sympathies laid on the wrong side. Between the readers, there will always be Team A or Team B (remember Twilight?) but usually this happens when both options are reasonable and do not fall under the “villain” category. After watching the TV series, completely empathizing with Elena Richardson and almost hating Mia Warren, I discovered with shock that most of the people had a complete opposite opinion. Like.. Elena was the bad one?! Did we really watch the same thing?
So I started the book just to see if it will leave me with the same perspective or offer some additional details that might explain why most of the people had a different point of view.

Although you might expect the opposite when it comes to a book versus its adaptation, I felt like this time, the screenplay offered somehow an ampler spectrum of the main characters’ colors. In the book, Elena’s actions are clearly throwing her in the villain’s role, without giving too much depth to her reasons. By comparison, Mia’s lack of color makes you sympathetic to her cause without the justification of any actions, but simply because of the role she’s playing: the single, poor, but dignified mother that’s just trying to raise her daughter in the best way and… doesn’t really do much else.

In the TV series, my perception was different. Mia is selfish, sacrificing her daughter’s happiness and stability on the altar of her own career dreams. She stabs Elena in the back, she sets off a custody battle because of her own past trauma and without actually thinking about the well-being of the baby, she subtly manipulates and uses people around her. Yes, some of Elena’s actions are questionable as well, but only after she’s been provoked by Mia and usually have a “the end justifies the means” vibe. But overall, Elena just fights in a fairer way, with more direct hits. And even though her portrait might be simpler than Mia’s, who is this hipster-ish, gipsy-at-heart, mysterious and misunderstood artist, I stand by Elena’s cause. Although she sacrificed her own dreams for the sake of the family, I did love the fact that she had a strong attitude and turned the situation in the best way, without victimizing herself, despite having some regrets at an unconscious level. Meanwhile, Mia sacrifices everyone around her (her parents, the Ryan couple, Bebe Chow, the disputed baby, her own daugheter) for the sake of her own dreams and beliefs, without any doubts or remorse.

I also loved the portrayal of the other characters more in the TV series than in the book. All of the side characters and all of the kids’ experiences (both Pearl’s and the Richardsons’) are more lively and intense, you get to know them deeper and overall, the TV series just does it better. I feel like the book is covered by a veil that makes everything and everyone faded and blury, while the screenplay removed that veil and allowed the action to shine bright and colorful.