Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sequels for the Glum

What is wrong with my Advent reading choices this year? Well, nothing, as long as you don't mind being alarmed or depressed. First I read the sequel to Octavian Nothing Volume I. Volume II is subtitled The Kingdom on the Waves. Ickie enjoyed it more than I did. The first volume is quite horrific in parts but impressively unique, and I think M.T. Anderson is a brilliant writer. Kingdom on the Waves follows Octavian as he joins a Loyalist regiment of ex-slaves during the Revolutionary War. Let's just say their experience is grim. It is also a bit slow in parts. Highlights were some backstory about Octavian's mother and a deeper portrait of his friend Pro Bono, but otherwise the book would be improved if it were more concise.

After that rolicking good time, I picked up The Dead and the Gone (the sequel to Life As We Knew It). I found it less personal and more gruesome than its companion novel. The Dead is the story of 17-year-old Alex, a Puerto Rican boy in New York City who must care for his two younger sisters. The characters are less isolated than Miranda and her family in rural Pennsylvania, yet it's up for debate whether this is an advantage. Alex's fellow New Yorkers are in turn threats and saviors. I resonated with Alex less than the Miranda, but Alex's story is still exciting. One detail I enjoyed is Pfeffer's different perspective on faith, which creates a gratifying balance between the companion novels. In Life As We Knew It, the only example of Christianity is quite negative, but the church and prayer are essential supports for the devout characters in The Dead.


Jenny said...

More grim yuckiness in Octavian? I agree with you on the first book. It was very good and I listened to it on CD and the narrator was FAB so it made the book that much better for me. I felt okay for O at the end of book one as he was running into what I hoped was some sort of freedom. I can't say it ended on a happy note, but the notes were going up ... a little.

I think I'll keep the holiday spirit and not read book II yet. Thanks for the tip!

Watoosa said...

Spoiler Alert!

Jackamo said...

I'm going to have to read those post-apocalyptic books. Sounds like the bleak kind of future creepiness that I enjoy.