Yoohoo. Hello again. It’s time for another round of flash reviews. These recent reads are things I was either too stunned by to write about at length (Zoo City) or things that really don’t need yet another online review (Magicians and Harry Potter). Since even in those cases I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut here we goooooooo.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Since the beginning of the year, I have been re-listening to the Harry Potter series read by Jim Dale (swoon). These books need no introduction, nor review. But. What has been bothering me on this re-listen is this: Why the fuck does anybody follow Voldemort? He is such an asshole, and in Rowling’s world of non-ambiguous morality, he has to be. Still. Why don’t ambitious fuckers like the Death Eaters all are notice? Does Voldemort have tender, one-on-one moments with them that we never see? I think that even if I had been into his line the first time around, I would have fucking learned by Goblet of Fire that this dude was nothing but trouble, and he wasn’t going to be the quickest ride to power and glory. Sheesh.
Fun fact: Erika once made me a t-shirt with Alastor Moody on it, which I wore until his face peeled off.
The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman
I loved this series. Though The Magician’s Land was the weakest of the three books, it still made me incredibly happy. Especially the ending. Awwww. Warm fuzzy fantasy hipster coming of age magical apocalypse saves the world everybody grows up and is way less annoying etc etc etc. I am so glad the internet convinced me to give these a chance. They are well worth the time, and everybody who loves Harry Potter and Narnia and company, but is a bit skeptical about the utter lack of reality in them (I know, fantasy, reality, meh, but still) should read them. ENCHANTED AS BALLS. Hahahahahaha. I will be laughing about that line (from book two) for the rest of my life. Thanks Lev Grossman, well done. Now let’s all cross our fingers that the upcoming SyFy series is awesome too.
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
Beukes hits it out of the fucking park once again. While her debut Moxyland showed a few rough edges, by Zoo City Beukes had found the voice that would make her one of my favorite contemporary authors, a voice not unlike that in Broken Monsters (and hopefully The Shining Girls, though I haven’t read it…yet). Zoo City has interesting magic and characters, a gritty dirty city (with scenes in sewer tunnels, hurray!), realistic and scary violence, a page-turner of a plot, and the necessary self-conscious references to Philip Pullman that a book positing a reality with animal familiars requires.
I find it hard to write about Beukes’ books because she executes her brand of writing magic so seamlessly that in order to see how she pulls the strings, I would have to relinquish the completely immersive reading experience her narratives provide. Maybe next time. This time I let the story sweep me off, bang me against a few tunnel walls, and spit me out the drain. It was a wild ride that comes highly recommended.
Everybody who loves horror and mystery and grit should be reading Beukes. I want her to be the new Stephen King, in number of books available and popularity, particularly because she is a much better writer than Stephen King. May all her books be best sellers forevermore amen.
Have you read any of these? Or should I be asking if any of you haven’t read all of these?