I have a lot of time to read, especially with my five hour commute every day. I read on the bus to the city, I read on the subway to work. I read in the elevator. If I could read on the walk to and from my office, I would. I didn’t have a lot of time to read for pleasure while in college, and now that I’m done, I am enjoying reading books that I want to read, as opposed to required readings for class.
So far, I’ve read two books and have just started another.
The first book I read was this vampire novel entitled Fevre Dream, from fantasy author George RR Martin (I’ll come back to him later).
This novel put a whole new spin on vampires, and it’s one that I’ve never heard before. There have been a lot different types of vampires, especially in recent years. I think that most people are wary when reading about vampires, especially when Twilight was such a let down in the action and gore arenas. But this is not a recent novel. Martin penned this book in the early 80s, when vampires were still a fearsome novelty in American pop culture. Fevre Dream portrays vampires, not as the undead creates portrayed in many vampire novels, but as living breathing creatures who are really just man’s cousin. According to Joshua York, the main vampire character in this novel, the blood and organs of the “vampire” race are anatomically different from humans. So rather than being humans who have reanimated and require blood for sustenance, Martin’s vampires are another species altogether. This is what fascinated me the most about Fevre Dream. Martin sheds a new light on a creature who we as a collective culture thought of in a particular way. It is a classic Martin move to take something that we thought we knew and do something completely unexpected. It’s definitely worth reading if you can get your hands on it (it’s surprisingly hard to find in most normal Barnes and Noble type book stores).
The second book I read was Inferno by Dan Brown.
I am of the opinion that popular literature is not something that I necessarily want to read (a rule I will break in the next book I talk about as well), but I just can’t seem to keep my hands off Dan Brown books. I became a fan of his the summer before my freshman year of high school way back in 2005. I can’t remember why I picked up The Da Vinci Code, but I couldn’t put it down and finished it within two days at most. I moved on from there to Angels and Demons and then to his other two novels that do not feature Robert Langdon as their protagonist. So a couple years ago when the long awaited sequel to The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, came out, I immediately went and bought it. I was disappointed to say the least. The plot was only so-so and the history and mystery were not nearly as riveting in the United States as they were in the European countries that Brown had written about in his previous Langdon books. Once I figured out who the bad guy was and why he was doing what he was doing, I stopped reading, because it didn’t mean enough for me to take the time and complete it. And I am not one to put down a book unfinished. So picking up Inferno last week was a crapshoot. It was either going to be at the level of Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code,or as bad as The Lost Symbol.
I have to say it was neither as bad as The Lost Symbol or as good as the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. It was extremely fast paced read, and I enjoyed it because there was not much thinking that I needed to do unnecessarily. My main problem with it is that it was super transparent, but maybe it’s just because Brown writes using the same formula for all his novels. I knew from the first few chapters that Langdon’s companion would be involved with the crazy guy who created the virus. What I loved about the book was that even though I was right in theory about Sienna Brooks’ involvement with the crazy guy who created the virus, there were some unexpected things. For instance, the virus created was not meant to kill off one third of the population, but made one third of the population infertile. And of course Brown was back in Europe and not trying to traipse around the United States, which just doesn’t have the history or the art that the Europeans have. Overall an entertaining read, while not necessarily challenging my mind in profound ways.
The book I just started on Monday is the fourth book in A Song of Ice and Fire (or more popularly, Game of Thrones) by George RR Martin.
I’ve read about a hundred pages so far, and it’s very different from the first three books. The first three books is more of a contained story than this one is. The narrators were all the same, and while there were many unexpected moments, you knew what you were getting when reading the Tyrion Lannister or Catelyn Stark chapters. Now they’re missing and brought back from the dead, respectively, and A Feast for Crows features a whole new host of narrators and a whole new host of situations. There are a few returning narrators, but overall, they’re all new, and it’s been difficult to try and piece together where exactly they fit into the picture of Westeros that had been painted in the three previous books. You have characters who are connected to those who were only on the fringes of the first three books, and then of course you have Cersei Lannister. Cersei is actually a very interesting character, and not a complete bitch like you think for the first three books. It’s pretty interesting to see the world from her point of view; it makes her a much more three dimensional character, and not one that readers are simply inclined to hate. Jaime was a narrator in A Storm of Swords, and is again in A Feast for Crows. I have to say that he’s another character who I didn’t like before he was a narrator, which is pretty much the same as me saying that I didn’t like him before he lost his hand.
Like I said, I’m only about a hundred pages into it, so there is only so much I can comment on right now. I’m sure I will have a lot more to say when I’ve gotten more into it.