I finished two books yesterday. (I didn’t start either of them yesterday; the non-fiction title I started a couple months ago, in fact.) The fiction title was Invasion by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt. It is an alien invasion story, and this one starts with a family in New York trying to get to their bunker near Vail, Colorado. When people learn that some sort of alien spaceships are approaching Earth, society begins to break down and the trip across the country becomes a very dangerous thing indeed.
It, like all of the Realm and Sands guys’ titles, was a fast, decent read. I received the book for free for becoming a member of their mailing list/newsletter. (I have the second to read, also.) There are important themes tossed into the mix, but I never felt that any of them were handled in more than a superficial manner. The characters are interesting but we don’t really learn that much about them, partly because there are five of them (Meyer, Piper, Trevor, Lila and Lila’s boyfriend Raj) traveling from New York, and another (Meyer’s ex-wife Heather) coming from Los Angeles. The point of views shift too often to really get a great feel for any one of them.
I will be reading the second (Contact) sometime relatively soon, but it will have to grab me a bit more than this one did for me to continue reading on in the series.
The second book was called Rosewater, and it is the book that the Jon Stewart film was based upon. It was written by Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-born Canadian journalist for Newsweek who was reporting on the second election of Ahmadinijad (I’m sure I mangled the spelling but you know who I mean) when the Iranian young voters felt that the election was stolen from the rightful winner. Bahari was jailed and this book is the story of his imprisonment and his treatment while in Evin, a well-known political prison in Iran.
The book was a depressing read, even though you know that Bahari survived the ordeal. His despair comes through in the narrative, as does the cruelty and callousness of his jailers and torturers, especially the one that Bahari refers to as Rosewater (because of the scent he wears every day — that is how Bahari recognizes him at first). I kept putting it down, because frankly, I didn’t need more things depressing me than I already had. But I’m relieved to have finished it. It shines a bit of light on the Iranian theocracy and its strong-man tactics to control its populace, and I think it is important that people read it and understand more about the majority of Iranians, and also about Islam as it is believed by the vast majority (in Iran and in other parts of the world as well) and how it is used as a tool for brainwashing and control. I didn’t see the movie, and probably won’t, so I can’t comment if Stewart’s adaptation is faithful to Bahari’s narrative or if he goes his own way (politically or dramatically) in the film.
So I’m going to tackle one from the TBR pile, and start Jeffrey Deaver’s Garden of Beasts today. If it doesn’t depress me too much, I’ll plow through it and move on to something else, maybe Kellerman’s Killer or King’s Revival.
And they say dystopian sci-fi is depressing? Non-fiction accounts often win that depressing trophy, especially if we factor in that the events really happened. I just reviewed a memoir about the Killing Fields in Cambodia. Fiction writers can’t write this stuff, no matter how close they follow Clancy’s dictum that fiction has to seem real.
I’m into another book like Garden of the Beasts, my choice as Deaver’s best. There are historical fiction books (e.g. Michener’s) and there are thrillers, but the combination is often extraordinary and exciting. I do a lot of background and fact digging for my novels, but authors who write historical thrillers are a special breed. I’m betting you won’t be able to put Garden down. Try Follett’s Eye of the Needle next. Both represent great fiction writing.
I’m enjoying GARDEN OF BEASTS so far, but haven’t had much time to get into it recently, so I’m barely into it. I haven’t read many historical thrillers, but I do believe I’ve read EYE OF THE NEEDLE (been many years). I’ll have to reread it.
I’ll be reviewing two historical mysteries next week you might like. Whether mystery or thriller, they probably need extensive research. The other problem is that they tend to look back, not forward. Many sci-fi sagas are historical mysteries or thrillers with time’s arrow pointing in the opposite direction.
I never thought of it that way, but I think you’re exactly right in that sci-fi sagas are sort of like those historical works, but looking forward instead of backwards. Of course, in some SF the story is how something comes into existence, but for the most part there is a mystery or a thriller in there somewhere…