Mini-reviews: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare; We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver; and Bellwether by Connie Willis

Title: Clockwork Angel
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: YA paranormal fiction, steampunk
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderberry Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
First line: The demon exploded in a shower of ichor and guts.

I really should learn my lesson and not read the first book in a trilogy until all three books have already been released. Because if I love the book – like I did Clockwork Angel – then I have to wait a long time (in this case, a year) for the next book. I am a huge fan of Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, and when I heard she was starting a new companion series that took all the things I love about MI – Nephilim, Vampires, Downworlders – and mixed them with elements of steampunk, I had to read it. She has created more terrific characters, a really creepy storyline, and set it in Victorian London, one of my favorite settings to read. And then, for good measure, she threw in a cliff-hanger that makes me wish I had the technical capabilities to hack into her computer and read the next book immediately!

Title: We Need to Talk About Kevin
Author: Lionel Shriver
Genre: Contemporary fiction, literary fiction
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: Dear Franklin, I’m unsure why one trifling incident this afternoon has moved me to write to you.

Everything that has been said about We Need to Talk About Kevin is true. It is a brilliantly written modern novel that deals with the horrific premise of being the mother of a child who is, literally, a monster. At first, I didn’t think I would be able to empathize with the character of Eva Khatchadourian, a woman who freely admits that she didn’t like her child from the moment he was born, but Shriver pulls off the near-impossible. While there is very little actual graphic violence in the book, it is completely terrifying – every mother’s worst nightmare. Since I also loved Shriver’s The Post-Birthday World, she has now become an author whose entire bibliography I will make it a point to read.

Title: Bellwether
Author: Connie Willis
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Spectra
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Kate Reading
First line: Hula Hoop (March 1958-June 1959) – The prototype for all merchandising fads and one whose phenomenal success has never been repeated.

I have heard much about Connie Willis’s fiction for a while now, and I only wish I had heeded the call and read her sooner. Bellwether isn’t so much science fiction as it is fiction about science, but it is a completely enjoyable read, and very funny. I loved the way she incorporated the science of fads and chaos theory into the storyline. The character of Flip, the incompetent assistant, was a source of much of the humor, and I could swear her clones – in ability, at least – work at several local businesses here in Colville. I just checked To Say Nothing of the Dog out from the library, and ordered a copy of Doomsday Book, which my library doesn’t have.

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18 Responses to Mini-reviews: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare; We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver; and Bellwether by Connie Willis

  1. Marg
    Twitter: MargReads
    says:

    I have recently read my first Willis and loved it! Need to read more.

    Glad to hear you enjoyed Clockwork Angel. I should get it from the library shortly hopefully.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Marg – I love finding an author whom I love who has a lot of books already written!

  2. They’re all 4 stars! I really want to get my hands on We Need to Talk About Kevin.

  3. Anna says:

    It took me over a hundred pages to really get into Kevin, but I’m so glad I kept reading. What a powerful and haunting book!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Anna – she does have a tendency to be wordy, but she’s so good, I don’t mind.

  4. Kathleen says:

    I’ve also been hearing a lot about Connie Willis and really need to get one of her books. I’ve had We need to talk about Kevin on my list for about a year. I brought it on my plane ride to Reno this weekend but didn’t get around to reading it.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kathleen – I think it’s one you have to be in the right mood for.

  5. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    Ditto on Kevin. She sets me afire, that Ms. Shriver. The book made my stomach hurt to the point of nausea, but it was brilliant at the same time.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sandy – our library has Shriver’s latest – can’t remember the title off-hand – on audio via Overdrive – I will be listening soon!

  6. Michelle says:

    I keep seeing rave reviews of Clockwork Angel. I have a copy I picked up at BEA but want to wait to read it until I read the City series first.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Michelle – yes, even though this one is a “companion” trilogy, I think it would make more sense if you read the other series first.

  7. Audrey says:

    You might already know this but just in case… I’m giddy with excitement over this news! City of Bones… FINALLY a movie!! 🙂

    http://cassandraclare.livejournal.com/43587.html

  8. We Need to Talk About Kevin is a book I’ve heard a lot about and do want to read one day.The subject matter is certainly very relevant today.

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