Books of June

Sant Falskt eller Mittemellan

Emma Frans

Frans is fun in a very grown up, normal working-adult way. What I’m trying to say is that most of her jokes revolve around things that are very typical for a normal, working commuter. People eating egg sandwiches next to you on the bus, children’s birthday parties etc. And I think it is very nice, that someone can use the small annoyances in everyday life, and turn it around and make it fun. In the same spirit, Frans knows how to make science fun and enjoyable to read. It was fun to read about her busting common myths, some more absurd than others. I believe this is a good book for introducing people into the scientific way of studying a topic. Frans writes clearly about how the different studies she refers to, are conducted and how that impacts the result that they show.  

I have read her other book, Larmrapport, where she goes into much more detail about source criticism, and while that was a good and important read, that book can also be a bit dense at times, making for a long read. Sant Falskt eller Mittemellan was much easier to read, and could work as an introduction to the important skill that is source criticism. 

My only wish is that she would have ended each myth with a Sant, Falsk or Mittemellan printed in large bold letters. I think that would have been fun.        

I dina ögon (Saint Anything)

Sarah Dessen 

Saint Anything follows the same plot as most of Dessen’s books (all that I’ve read). Young teenage girl starts over again, at a new place, city, school or job. There she meets a group of friends that are all very colourful individuals. She learns nice life lessons and gets a boyfriend. In the end her mother either redeems herself or is never heard from again. Given the amount of bad mothers in Dessen’s books, my conclusion is that she and her mother don’t get along. 

I’ll admit, I bought this book because I knew exactly what to expect, and partly because this spring has been all about reliving my childhood. Dessen was a big part of my life when I was 13. This spring has been a very trying one. 

Of course not everything in these books are the same, I particularly liked Saint Anythings’ plot about the protagonist and her brother. It was interesting to read about her secondhand guilt and her very delusional mother. I do think that the mother changed very quickly. Kind of like Daenerys in the last season of Game of Thrones, there was way too little build up, leading to the transformation feeling out of character and not a natural development.  

My favorite part of this book was that the main character remains friends with her friends from before. Often in Dessen’s books the protagonist either does not have friends from before, or they are just awful. Having multiple friend groups made it seem more realistic to me.

Side note, the Swedish title makes little to no sense, I prefer the English.

Overall, I liked this Dessen as much as I liked the others. They are all solid teenage coming of age books. And if you just don’t read them all back to back the plot recycling isn’t a problem.    

Grey Sister 

Mark Lawrence

Given the previous book’s lack of plot I was a bit hesitant to read this one, and when the eighty or so first pages were a lot like Red Sister, not ploty, I kind of gave up on the book. Then I slept over at my best friend and brought the book with me. My friend sleeps way longer than me, so to cure the boredom, I started reading Grey Sister again. And to my surprise things and not just school happend. In fact, the book was so captivating that I read it all in a day. 

I liked the inclusion of another point of view, that of the Abbess of the convent. The protagonist, Nona, is a young woman who has very little knowledge of the politics in the world. And everyone knows that politics are important in fantasy books, so adding the Abbess makes for good explaining. She is also a fun and interesting character, so interesting that I wouldn’t mind a book just about how she came to be the Abbess. Some of it is told in Grey Sister, but it only increased my interest.

The character development in Grey Sister is well developed (I think that that was fun). I particularly like Zole’s development. In the first book she is kind of mean and a loner, but in Grey sister she becomes more friendly towards  Nona. Firstly settling on mutual respect, but eventually Zole considers Nona her friend, probably the first she ever had, and even breaks rules and former allegiances to help her. I’ve always loved loners making friends.     

Lawrence tries to build the foundations for a romance to be realised in the next book, but it does not really work. I find the crush to come out of nowhere, at least on her side, I can totally see him developing emotions, she is just that awesome. Since the romance hasn’t actually happened yet, I choose to believe that it will improve. I only wish that the crush would have been further explained. But given that that is my only major complaint of this book I would say that Lawrence has made a stellar improvement.         

Holy Sister

Mark Lawrence

I was right, the romance plot was bad. 

I liked how almost all of the characters in this series were females. It was refreshing to read all about females after reading book after book (and watching movie after movie) with a mostly male assembly. Honestly, I do not think that I’m able to name any of the male characters in the book, that is how insignificant they are. Or my ability to remember names is just that Bad.   

The best part of this series was how Nona, the protagonist, starts out as a small, independent, vengeful murderous child, angry at the world and craving revenge, and she was allowed to remain so. Of course she grows as a person, gets friends and learns to trust people, she even becomes caring. But she was still allowed to have her flaws, her anger and headstrongness. Lawrence didn’t turn her into some perfect human being who is strong, good looking smart and forgiving. I thought that was nice of him.     

So, let’s talk about the romance. It was barely in the book, it was under developed and unnecessary. My conspiracy theory; it was only in the book so that Lawrence would not have to write a gay relationship between the protagonist and her best friend. They would have been much better together.    

Final verdict: If you are willing to read the first, very boring book, then there are two standard fantasy books waiting for you. 

Phantom 

Leo Hunt

This book surprised me, in more ways than one. It is far from my first dystopian book, so when I read the summary I thought the plot was clear for me. The protagonist would find a mentor and depending on his age a fatherfigur or a boyfriend in Moth, the legendary hacker. Together they would bring the regim to an end. End the capitalism and bring justice to the poor. That’s more or less how this type of book tends to play out. Phantom was the exception. 

I liked how the protagonist was used by Moth to future his agenda, it was a refreshing take on the chosen trope. And I did like how she was taken in by the big bad, how we got to witness her perspective. It made her very sympathetic, and for a moment there, I wished that the big bad would take the protagonist under her wings and together they would have ruled the world. Sadly that makes for a bad message. 

And now I’m going to let you in on an embarrassing secret, before this I had only read three books with a homosexual main character. Given how many books I have read that number is probably statistically insignificant. Sadly there aren’t that many good fantasy books with LGBTQ+ main characters. Unfortunately I was unable to properly enjoy this romance given that it was severely underdeveloped. Seriously, they fell in love in less than two days. Talk about a case of insta love! I prefer a well developed romance that is at least somewhat realistic.     

I liked how the book ended, I have always been a sucker for an open ending where revolution and betterness is strongly hinted at. There is something about knowing that things are going to get better that just does it for me. I don’t need the actual improvement, just knowing that it might happen is enough for me.  

There was one thing that I did not like about the book, and sadly it can’t be overlooked, the ableism. If you are going to compare people not having the common cyber implants to actual disabled people then you should try damn hard to say that it is fine, that people still are people even if they are disabled and not do what Hunt did. He basically called people with disabilities less worthy, and I can’t stand for that.  

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