Thursday, February 16, 2012

Want to be blown away??

When was the last time you were blown away by a novel?
I consider myself a pretty voracious reader averaging two books in a slow week to upwards of six in a good week. I've been known to curl up on the couch on a Saturday afternoon with a book, read it cover to cover, take a deep breath and reach for another.
Some people veg out in front of the TV, I relax with books.
That being said, few books truly knock my socks off (though I learned on "Myth Busters" that that is not physically possible).
Don't get me wrong, it's not that I didn't enjoy the other novels.
I was entertained when I was reading and learned a little something along the way.
Time well spent.
But I still remember the feeling after I finished Jodi Picoult's "My Sister's Keeper" or Anita Shreve's "The Last Time They Met."
I had those same feelings the other day when I picked up Hillary Jordan's "When She Woke."
I had intended to spend some time Tuesday crafting a post about Most Romantic Books or Characters in honor of Valentine's Day. I told myself I'd just read a few chapters of a book from Monday night's library trip.
Famous last words.
Jordan's futuristic reimagining of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" is not to be missed.
Hannah Payne has been convicted of killing her unborn child. The punishment is something called chroming in which her skin is literally turned red. Most criminals in this world spend little time in a physical prison (where they are televised for all to see!). Instead the bulk of their time is served attempting to live in the world with dyed skin: Red for killers; blue for child molesters, green for arsonists and armed robbers, etc.
Payne is serving extra time for refusing to name the father of her child - popular (married) preacher Aidan Dale.
And that's just the beginning of this novel.
Aren't you intrigued???
Read an excerpt of "When She Woke" here.
I think it's difficult to craft a work that manages to be both a great, character-driven story as well as a powerful social commentary. Too often I come across characters who are spouting political agendas, their opinions coming not from the natural flow of a developing character but seemingly just an opportunity for an author to not-so-subtly make a statement. (Please don't beat me over the head with your views in a novel; integrate them into your story.)
Jordan's Payne was raised in a conservative family.
She supported the changes that followed the Great Scourge.
She thought certain rules were for the best.
Now she begins to question.
Would love to hear from others who've read this novel to learn what you thought about the society Jordan has created.
Please share your thoughts. And you'd better believe I'll be picking up a copy of Jordan's first novel "Mudbound."
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2 Comments:

Blogger Jamie said...

Re: averaging two books in a slow week to upwards of six in a good week.

Please do a post on how to read more and faster! I have no idea how people get so many books read. I don't even have a family and I can't get a book read in a week. Seriously. I think people skim or are reading way below their level. There's just no way.

February 22, 2012 at 1:51 PM 
Blogger Tricia Ambrose said...

Jamie, I'm not sure what you mean by "reading way below their level." Certainly some works take longer than others - not all 200-page books can, or probably should, be read at the same speed. I've been thoroughly entertained by books by both Mary Higgins Clark and Tom Perrotta, but I spent a lot more time reading Perrotta's. I will say I watch very little television most days and try to save the more demanding novels for a weekend afternoon when I have more time. And it helps to have no social life!

February 23, 2012 at 5:59 PM 

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