I’ve discussed my love of Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles at length. Last night I saw this book tag at Caught Between the Pages, courtesy of The Book Addict’s Guide, and thought, how fun! Here are my picks!
CINDER | The cyborg
a book that’s often misunderstood or underappreciated
I just finished this one last night, and was surprised the Goodreads rating was so low compared to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. The book isn’t perfect, but I actually really enjoyed it. Lisa See is the queen of research, and the backdrop of The Peony Pavilion, the 17th century explosion in women writers in China, and the intricacies of the Chinese afterlife are all gorgeously brought to life. I was also pleasantly surprised by just how moved I was by cloistered Peony’s lovesickness.
KAI | The prince
a book about royals/royalty
Alright, so Sara Crewe isn’t technically a real princess (she’s a queen, obvs). Long before Disney, she really embodied true nobility, though, and out of all the many children’s stories out there that are really about the importance of stories themselves, A Little Princess remains one of the most enchanting.
ADRI | The evil stepmother
a book with a horrible/cringe-worthy parent
You might be familiar with Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from her brilliant TED Talk, “We Should All Be Feminists” (sampled on Beyonce’s “***Flawless, and recently given in book form to every 16-year-old in Sweden!) You really must check out her writing, though. Eugene, patriarch of the Achike family, is a really well done character–on one hand, he’s a beloved, upstanding member of society who gives genuinely admirable support to many charitable causes, but on the other, he’s violently repressive and abusive towards his wife and children behind closed doors.
IKO | The spunky sidekick
a book with your favorite happy-go-lucky character
And on a much, much, much less highbrow note, there’s John, the title but secondary character of John Dies at the End by David Wong (editor at Cracked). John is one of the most batshit sidekicks I’ve ever encountered, even before he and Dave ingest the “soy sauce” that allows them to see monsters. He plays songs like “Camel Holocaust” and “Gay Superman” with his band. He finds demons by taking a shower and shouting “Oh my gosh! I’m so naked and vulnerable!” For all his wackiness, though, he’s also a genuinely awesome friend and good guy.
SCARLET | The rescuer
a book with a character on a mission
I first encountered Ree Dolly through Jennifer Lawrence’s transcendent performance in the 2010 film adaptation, but she’s no less awe-inspiring on the page. At 17, she’s a force of nature, someone who’ll go through any and all lengths to save her family from eviction, even if it means being beaten by her own Dolly clan who were supposed to help her. Oh, and did I mention “saving her family from eviction” means “finding her father’s corpse”?
WOLF | The fighter
a book with a brutal fight (with words or fists)
Megan Abbott is cool–female noir! Most of the impact of Queenpin comes from the slow-burn tension and the relationship between the narrator (unnamed, of course) and her mob boss mentor, but there’s a healthy amount of good old-fashioned violence too. The most memorable is when the Queenpin herself deals with a rat by “gutting her, like a fish.” That’s not Hays Code approved!
LEVANA | The villain
a book with the absolute worst villain
There’s a reason I’m picking book 5, and it ain’t Voldemort. You know how hateful Dolores Umbridge is? My first thought for this entry was Lolita, for its delightfully fiendish pedophile narrator, Humbert Humbert. But then I remembered Umbridge and realized, no, it has to be her. She beat a statutory rapist for my most hated villain.
THORNE | The rascal
a book with the biggest schmoozer
This book messed me up when I was 13. Dorian Gray is the crown prince of sexy, narcissistic, lovable scoundrels, rakes, bastards, seducers, and ne’er-do-wells, minus the lovable part. Oscar Wilde is their patron saint, minus the saint part.
CRESS | The hacker
a book about technology, or sci-fi
Going a different route on ‘technology’. I’m a huge P&P fan and dug The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (and Emma Approved). I’ve never been into tech, but I’m fascinated by new media, and appreciated the additional insight into Lizzie’s communications thesis, Ricky Collins’ startup, and Pemberley Digital. I just applied for an internship at PD–fingers crossed!
ERLAND | The doctor
a book with an illness or revolving around medical issues
Less sardonic than Laurie Halse Anderson’s equally powerful Speak, which addressed rape, Wintergirls goes to hell and back with its protagonists’ struggle with anorexia, the mental illness with the highest mortality rate. The highly lyrical, metaphorical prose is at once stunning and devastating, with chillers like “I count my ribs like rosary beads.”
WINTER | The unsound mind
a book with the craziest character you’ve ever read
Lolita is one of my top 3 favorite books of all time, so I picked up Despair and Pale Fire. That last one is probably the craziest goddamned book I’ve ever read. The premise? The late John Shade’s 999-line poem Pale Fire has been published, with footnotes courtesy of his colleague Charles Kinbote. The bulk of the text is in the footnotes, which are absolutely deranged: even though the poem is clearly autobiographical, Kinbote is convinced it’s about his own status as the missing king of Zembla, a European country that probably doesn’t actually exist. I’m not even going to pretend I understood everything Nabokov has done here, but nobody blends pretension and pure unadulterated genius like him.
JACIN | The soldier
a book with a military theme
Here’s another book I first encountered through the film adaptation. I’m a huge Zhang Yimou fan and I actually quite liked The Flowers of War (god, I love Ni Ni), though it’s far from his most perfect work. I was shocked to learn Christian Bale’s character isn’t even in the Chinese novel it was adapted from, which focuses more on the group dynamics of the priests, schoolgirls, prostitutes, and wounded soldiers taking refuge in a church compound during the horrors of the infamous Rape of Nanking. It’s a devastating book, particularly but not only in its portrayal of wartime rape. It also cemented my belief that Ni Ni as Zhao Yumo (who is in the book) should’ve been the central character of the film.
That’s my list. It was a blast to assemble! If you want to get in on the tag, comment below so I can see your choices!