Good midwinter to you, dear book punks! Every day brings us a little bit closer to the apocalypse (or so it currently seems), so here’s hoping you’ve all had some good books to keep you company as we approach our collective doom. I certainly have!
In ye olde month of January, I read:
- All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
- Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
- American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West by Nate Blakeslee
Anyone who knows me probably thinks they know what my favorite of the month is going to be. Well, all of you are probably WRONG, because the book that I would take with me to a desert island is Jane, Unlimited, even though Maggie Stiefvater has been the reigning queen of my heart for something like half a decade now and I basically did not shut up about American Wolf for pretty much the entire second half of the month. To explain why, I’ll sum up the top two (you can read the review of All the Crooked Saints here).
Jane, Unlimited was one of the first books in a while to really liquify my brain. Below you will find my attempt at a worthy summary in bullet-pointed form. Basically:
- Jane is in this insane island megamansion that’s been patched together from different historic buildings for some ritzy gala her old tutor’s (Kiran Thrash – what a name!) family is throwing.
- She’s as confused as we all are as to why she got invited there, so she bonds with a FANTASTIC basset hound named Jasper to deal with the weirdness, because:
- Kiran’s stepmother is missing; her brother is trying to sleep with Jane even though his girlfriend is on the island, too; her father won’t leave the library; her mother is living in the attic; there are people sneaking around at night with guns; invaluable art is missing; and there MIGHT be some kidnapped kids running around underfoot.
- All of this bananas shit is happening, and then Jane has to make a multi-split decision in a quick moment.
- Each section of the book follows her life in the universe formed by that decision. That’s right: this is a book that spans the multiverse.
- All of the above mysteries are solved, piecemeal, in all of the different universes.
This book is, quite simply, remarkable. I’m getting excited just writing about it. Each separate universe is completely distinct. One has an art heist. One has a dimension where people dress like sad clowns. One has an evil library (!!!!). The tone shifts from madcap adventure to horror to cheeky science fiction. I have never read a book like it.
American Wolf is about the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park, and in particular the reign of O-Six, an alpha female that ruled Lamar Valley along with her mate and their generations of offspring. It’s about the people who became obsessed with her, and their devastation when she was killed by a hunter right outside the park with months of wolves being delisted in Wyoming. It reads both like a lupine Game of Thrones, tense with bloody battles between rival packs with names like the Druids and the Mollies, and the seemingly endless political struggles of keeping wolves protected under the Endangered Species Act.
I talked to everyone I possibly could about American Wolf book about two weeks straight. I cried so hard I had to put the book down for about five minutes so I could get some damn control over myself. I learned so much, but I don’t think I ever need to read it again. Jane, Unlimited is a book that demands to be read, and re-read, and and maybe even re-re-read.
Till next time, book punks.