Book Review Roundup

Book Review Roundup

I’m backed up on my book reviews. I read a few when in Texas that I’ve not written about and a few since we got back as well. So I thought I’d do a roundup of the ones I’ve missed so far.

The Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson

This was Corson’s first book and I thought it wasn’t as finely crafted as his second, The Zen of Fish; but it was still very good. It took me a little longer to get into the book because the point of view kept shifting back and forth between various lobster fishermen and scientists studying lobsters. A technique which is ultimately successful but at first is jarring as it took me some time to get a handle on all the various characters and story lines.

I like the balance between the two points of view. Because lobster fishing is such a big controversy, there is often quite a bit of antagonism between the lobstermen and the scientists. however the lines were never as clear-cut as you might think. Many of the lobstermen are dedicated conservationists, quite aware of the need to preserve breeding stock.

Corson, of course, can’t cover all the science in sufficient detail, it’s too vast a field; but he makes it very interesting. Science is a quest for knowledge and lobsters are very mysterious creatures. Corson dramatizes the excitement of the scientists as they unravel each new piece of the puzzle of lobster mating habits and migration patterns. Imagine the life cycle of a crustacean being a gripping story!

I did like that Corson focuses on a handful of scientists and one multi-generational family of lobstermen. He really captures them as passionate individuals. In researching the novel Corson actually spent two years working on the lobsterboat. Though you don’t learn that in the book, only in the end notes. As in The Zen of Fish, Corson subsumes his own part in the story and his own personality and becomes an omniscient narrator.

Invasive Procedures by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston

I picked this one up off my mom’s bookshelf and finished it up on the plane home. Based on a short story by Card which was made into a screenplay by Johnston and then the novel was written by Johnston with extensive collaboration with Card.

The premise is a odd cult with a super-genius geneticist founder who is infecting people with a deadly flesh eating virus. Well, the virus won’t eat the flesh of the intended patient, it will change his DNA and fix a genetic disease. It just happens to be highly contagious and kills anyone else almost instantly. The cult is also for some reason bent on transplanting organs into perfectly healthy recipients.

The novel is a high-paced action thriller. Lots of twists and turns and the pacing is very much like an action movie. It was a quick read and had some interesting moments. Not great sci-fi; but a very good plane book.

Gypsy, Gypsy by Rumer Godden.

Set in the Normandy, an odd and disquieting tale. I’m still not sure what to make of it. Every time I thought I was beginning to get a handle on it, the plot would veer in a totally unexpected direction. Up to the very end, I never could anticipate where it was going.

The heroine, Henrietta, is an orphan who was raised by her maternal aunt, Aunt Barbe. Or rather, raised by servants at Barbe’s husbands chateau. Henrietta and Barbe are British women; but Barbe’s husband, Uncle Louis, was a Frenchman. Aunt Barbe is controlling and cruel and Henrietta is dutiful but uncomfortable living as her aunt’s dependent. It soon becomes clear that Barbe is obsessed not only with controlling all those around her but also with corrupting the innocent. She turns her attention to a gypsy who has set up camp in the chateau’s fields. Henrietta longs to be accepted by the people in the village but Aunt Barbe constantly thwarts her attempts to step out from under her shadow.

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