Wednesday, September 18, 2019

[Book] The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Book cover
The Graveyard Book isn't a horror novel, but it is absolutely goth and macabre. The story follows a boy from 18 months old when his whole family is murdered and he wanders off into the night through his childhood as he is raised in a graveyard by two ghosts and a vampire as guardian (who supplies physical things, like food and clothes).  At one point, we meet a werewolf and ghouls as well.

We never learn the boy's birth-name, so the ghosts of the graveyard named him Nobody, which gets shortened to Bod.  As an accepted member of the graveyard, Bod gets to use many powers of the dead - but only in the graveyard.

The story is paced very well, and the chapters are also individual stories that make the book easy to pick back up.  Yet, I found it compelling enough that I read the whole thing in two sittings (and within 24 hours).

Young adult books are absolutely best when they don't feel like books written for a teenage audience, and this book fits right in there.  There is light romance, a lot of death (not just the already dead) and a whole lot of action.

I didn't realize until organizing my thoughts for this review: This book has a lot of parallels with Harry Potter.  Anyone who has moral issues with the Harry Potter series would probably have the same problems with this book.  Also, being raised by those who are already dead, Bod has a bit of a different morality about death itself.  That is, I can totally see some folks thinking that this book might not be suitable for their children.

To me, though, the moral ambiguity and the very different magic of the dead made this book feel like an introduction to a whole new, very believable universe.  For that, I definitely recommend this book.  It also makes a really great Halloween read (I read this book and wrote the first draft of this review just after Halloween, 2018).

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

[Book] This Fight Is Our Fight by Elizabeth Warren

Book Cover
Elizabeth Warren is running for president, and pretty much every candidate writes a book prior to running.   It's a good way to let folks know where they are coming from, and do so in a long format, unfiltered by the journalist's desire to pare things down into sound-bites.

This book is subtitled: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class.  This is a book about politics, personal history of the author and the economic history of the country along with ample explanation of why the past matters today.  This book does not shy away from discussing racial economic disparity. Though, I definitely feel it could have gone much deeper into those subjects (as I don't think that past is well understood by most).

Overall, this is about the author trying to sell us her plan for the future, and it lays out a good narrative that moves between individual voters that the author has talked to, and how the economic changes of the past have directly affected those people.  This is then followed up with political policy statements.  Often, this is re-instating protections that have eroded in the last 50 years, but with modifications that acknowledge racial and gender disparities of those past policies.

Personally, I have found this book to be quite compelling, and to my mind, Elizabeth Warren is the front-runner.  That said, this is mostly because she has actually put in the time to make actual policy statements, and directly talk about the plans that she would support.  Most other candidates aren't to that point yet (and some may never get there).  She's done her homework, and is serious.

Recommended: assuming you can deal with some politics.  There are enough personal touch-points in here to keep my attention (which is rare with a political book).  Skip it if you just don't have the emotional bandwidth for this sort of thing.  There are certainly many things pointed out about the current state of this country that had me feeling quite angry, and I totally get that not everyone can handle reading a deep dive on all the things that have gone awry on our way to this point.