>> Thursday, February 07, 2013
TITLE: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
AUTHOR: Alexander McCall Smith
This was quite a disappointment. It's one of those books I always assumed I would like. I don't know anyone who doesn't, for starters, and I loved the idea of the plot, a woman who sets up a detective agency in Botswana, a story set in Africa which is not tragic and worthy, but about regular people going about their regular lives. Plus, I've read McCall Smith before and enjoyed his writing.
Unfortunately, I just couldn't get into it at all. It felt shallow. Precious is three-dimensional, but the rest of the characters are paper-thin and stereotypical. This made the cases (at least the ones I read before giving up) obvious and boring. The writing here is completely different to that in the books I enjoyed, with the author doing a faux-folksy voice which just annoyed me. In fact, I found it a bit condescending. Not even the very good narration by Hilary Neville (it's this version) could make me enjoy it.
MY GRADE: A DNF
TITLE: Ender's Game
AUTHOR: Orson Scott Card
I read this one for my book club a while back. I have issues with supporting an author known for having really offensive views on homosexuality, but figured if I just borrowed it from someone else, rather than buy my own copy or get it from the library, he wouldn't get any money out of me, and my conscience would be relatively calm.
Anyway, I almost wanted the book to be bad, but it wasn't. It really, really wasn't. It's set in a world which defeated an alien invasion once in the past, and is now facing the same threat again. It's the tale of a boy, Ender, taken into a military academy at age 5. The academy takes potential candidates and trains them with extreme intensity, hoping to find amongst them their last hope, someone capable of being the one commander who can defeat the alien army again.
I'm not one for military sci-fi, but this was a page turner, and I couldn't stop reading. The military element was fascinating, but the reason it worked so well was because it dealt with some really big issues (whether the ends justify the means, the nature of leadership, you could say even the human condition!) and it did so in a way I found nuanced and intriguing. I won't say much more, as it works best being read 'blind', but it really is one to try, even if the genre doesn't interest you.
MY GRADE: A B+.