Books of May

I have not been writing much. This spring has been stressful in more ways than I could possibly have imagen. But now that school is basically over I will have more time to write, and I’m looking forward to it.

Populärmusik från Vittula 

Mikael Niemi

This is another book that I read because of school, but this time I did a lot of research before choosing it. I asked my mother, I asked my father, and both of them told me that it was good, that it was a funny book. That, of course, gave me hope and confidence, that for once, I would read a good book from school.  I even asked my grandmother, I mentioned the book when talking with her on the phone, her opinion wasn’t great. She said it was unamusing and a bad read. That only made me more confident, if my grandmother disliked it and my parents liked it, it had to be good. I should never have doubted grandmother. The book was as far from fun as you can get. But at the same time I understand why my parents liked it. The humor was very immature, and so are my parents’.  In the first scene the protagonists’ lips get stuck on cold metal and he has to pour his own warm pee on them to escape. That I could forgive, but then they eat boogers. I feel disgusted just writing it.   

I understand that it was an important book when it came out, Meänkieli needs more and better representation in the media. And those parts were my favorites, the parts where Niemi describes the culture in which he grew up. It is as beautiful as it is brutal, featuring a macho culture that should terrify us all. Despite the horrendusnes there is a feeling of family pride in the book that makes the book almost charming. If only they would allow themself to feel prideful without alcohol. 

Niemis description of the landscape made it very clear that he loves his home. I hate going to the north of Sweden (childhood trauma: cold, mosquitoes and a road trip from hell), but Niemi somehow managed to describe it in such a way that I actually want to visit? That requires some serious talent.  

I could have liked this book, it brings up serious social issues and sheds light on a minority, everything needed for a contemporary book to appeal to me. If only the humor was less… sticky.

Red Sister

Mark Lawrence

I was hesitant before starting Red Sister. It is a book all about girls and women, written by a male. Men do not have the best track record when it comes to writing good female characters. I was kind of expecting to find some over sexualised and underdeveloped characters. I’m very glad that I was wrong. All of the characters got different personalities and motives. There was no sexualisation either, not even with the women who were in relationships with each other, in fact it was treated very well (and cute). Kudos to Lawrence for writing characters and not stereotypes.

I did have some problems with it still. For like the first forty or so pages I felt rather confused with what was happening. There were quite a lot of time jumps and mentions of prior events, making for a confusing start. It gets better as the book progresses, when more of the backstory is told, the beginning becomes clear. 

The nuns were cool. I feel like nuns in fantasy are either boring or healers, so having them be killers was much cooler. Despite the very cool setting and characters I think the plot was a bit weak. I spent much of the book wondering when something was going to happen and when it finally did it felt somewhat underwhelming. The book is basically split into two parts, and while both parts have a crescendo, it wasn’t a good build up to any of them. Most of the book was spent going to class, understandable given that the main character is like ten when the book starts. And while class was fun I can’t help but want the plot to have tied in better, not just appear at the end of the story.  

This book would have benefited from having a map in the beginning. There was a list of persons, types of magic and types of nuns, and that was very helpful because Red Sister is full of names. But a map would also have been nice. I think that the planet is round but there is so much ice coming from both poles that the livable area is just a band in the middle of the planet, called the corridor. But it took me quite some time to figure that out and a map would have helped immensely. Also, maps are cool.      

Overall, not the most magnificent book, mostly because it largely lacks a plot. Hopefully the sequel does it better. 

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