First up, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.
“He doesn't know which is worse, a past he can't regain or a present that will destroy him if he looks at it too clearly. Then there's the future. Sheer vertigo.”
I think, after considering it for a few moments, that the thing I like most about this book is the mood. Not that it's a comfortable one - on the contrary. The mood is one of tenseness, of sharpness, but it's soft around the edges, and occasionally warm and fuzzy. Lots of fuzzy. Maybe hazy. The world that Atwood creates is vividly real, making it easy to imagine the events playing out in our own future. But it also seems impossible in many ways - possible and impossible... and a tiny bit horrifying.
I realize I didn't describe the story here - I went in knowing nothing about it and liked the experience. I recommend you do the same.
Next was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.
Ugh. What a hard one to review. For me, this was a truly original book. The story was compelling, the twists and turns kept me engaged. My allegiances to various characters changed throughout the novel. Where the book goes a bit wrong for me, though, is the ending. After such an intense ride, the ending feels so incredibly rushed, tacked on. I'd have liked a bit more exploration of the whys and the what nexts, instead of such abruptness after a novel filled with details.
Then we had The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut. I have to say, I love me some Kurt Vonnegut.
This was Kurt Vonnegut's second published novel, and in it he lays the groundwork for the rest of his admirable career.
Sparse, tight paragraphs that say just the right thing? Check.
Complex scientific ideas rendered almost impossibly simple and understandable? Check.
This is a novel that is deceptively simple, but is expertly crafted and beautifully written. If you love great writing, but are skeptical of the sci-fi genre, give Sirens of Titan a go anyway. You won't be disappointed.
Finally, I read Sula by Toni Morrison. You want a guaranteed good read? Go for the Toni Morrison.
"...but my lonely is mine. Now your lonely is somebody else's. Made by somebody else and handed to you. Ain't that something? A secondhand lonely."
Toni Morrison is such a remarkable storyteller. There's no other author guaranteed to get inside my creases like she does. Every word is so precise, every character knowable, every hurt is acute and every joy is rapturous. All of this is on display in Sula, a story of strong women and strong pride and strong feeling. There's nothing like a Toni Morrison novel to remind me that brilliance can be displayed in the simplest, grittiest, plainest of ways.
Currently reading: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro.