The endless TBR stack

I’ve referred several times lately to my TBR pile, and I just thought it would be interesting to count the books in the stack and sort ’em out and see what’s there. There were 39 books yesterday morning, but it actually went up to 48 after a trip to Borders. And there’s one in the mail from Amazon. That’ll make 49.

I don’t even want to think about Borders going under, that really bites, but I do want to think about my TBR pile.

49 books. That’s a smallish pile for me. Actually it’s going to grow a bit in the immediate future because I definitely want a couple more books by Nicola Griffith, and I bet it doesn’t take me a couple of years to get to them, this time.

Here’s the current breakdown, which is moderately typical, I think:

31 Fantasy, breaking down this way:

22 adult fantasy titles
6 YA fantasy
1 short story collection
1 fairy tale retelling
1 paranormal
1 zombie

5 adult SF
3 mystery
1 historical
2 thriller
1 contemporary YA
1 literary
1 memoir
1 nonfiction

There, I think I got ’em all. The bias toward fantasy over SF is very typical, but there’s often less of a bias toward adult vs YA fantasy. I’ve been reading the YA stuff lately and so it’s been pulled out of the pile faster.

I really do like historicals, especially Gillian Bradshaw, and I’ve bought a couple by her recently, but I read ’em already — they never sit on the pile long — so having only one historical in there is a little misleading.

I know I keep saying how much I dislike literary fiction because so much of it is GRIM and DEPRESSING and it’s supposed to be all realistic and show you the misery hidden behind apparently normal but brittle facades and it’s all like, “But people really are like this, we’re just revealing the brutal truth of the human condition!”

And first of all I don’t think so and second who cares? I don’t read fiction to enjoy life-is-pointless messages, you know?

But the literary one on the pile is THE MAYTREES by Annie Dillard, which means I bet it’s actually like poetry loosely disguised as prose, right? Plus with themes that are (in the end) far more positive than a lot of the other literary stuff I’ve waded through in the past. I’ve read several books of hers, including that one that won the Pulitzer, you know, PILGRIM AT TINKER CREEK, the one that is disguised as a set of nature essays but is really an extended reflection on the nature of God? And although I can now thank her for providing me with a couple of REALLY DISTURBING images that will haunt me forever (the moth, right? and that thing with the frog?), it was still a very beautiful book. So I’m not too worried about THE MAYTREES.

Not in the mood for it right now, no. But not worried.

I’m taking off the first three weeks of August (Summer classes end August 1st and the Fall semester starts August 22nd). I have a major revision of a new ms to work on in that time. Can I possibly FINISH the revision in a mere three weeks? We’ll find out when it comes to it, but I can tell you, I won’t be reading fiction in those weeks!

So how much of a dent in the TBR pile can I make BEFORE August? Here’s my chance to find out. I plan to enjoy it. And go through quite a lot of extremely good-quality very dark chocolate. Umm. Great chocolate and a great book: a killer combination.

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Recent Reading: The Blue Place

So, THE BLUE PLACE, by Nicola Griffith.

It’s a mystery! With suspense and some violence and a beautifully handled romance.

No doubt I could have found that out reading reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, but instead I found it out by, you know, reading the book. Definitely kind of weird not to know ahead of time.

It’s not a thriller because the action isn’t nonstop and the stakes don’t rachet up every chapter. But the way Griffith handled the violent scenes was amazing, I just loved the stream-of-consciousness thing, like here:

It unfolded like a stop-motion film of a blooming rose: bright, beautiful and blindingly fast. And I wanted to laugh as I ducked and lunged; wanted to sing as I sank my fist wrist deep in an abdomen, whipped an elbow up, up through a fragile jawbown, slid to the side of a thrusting arm and took it, turning it, levering up, letting the body follow in an ungraceful arc. . . . Body under my hands folding to the floor, not moving. Nothing moving but me, feeling vast and brilliant with strength, immeasurable and immortal.

Wow. I mean, wow. Look at that super-long sentence in the middle, doesn’t that just PULL you through the action? Whoosh! How about that reaction to violence: isn’t this a wonderful character? This woman, Aud Torvingen, could be a very scary person, couldn’t she? Turns out that’s why she’s an ex-cop, because for her violence has so much potential to be addictive.

But the violence doesn’t scare us, because we’ve already seen, in an earlier episode, that she is also kind — kind when it’s not necessary, not fundamentally important to her; kind to people who aren’t (initially) at all attractive. Here’s where I really began to like Aud as a person:

I tucked [Beatriz’s] face into my shoulder so she wouldn’t see the stares [after breaking down and making a scene], and carried her to the elevator, down fourteen floors, through the lobby, into the street, and across to the parking lot. I lifted her into the front seat, got a blanket from the trunk, tucked her up and fastened her seatbeat.

This isn’t a lover or a child or anything, just Aud’s client [Aud was her bodyguard]. I really did not like or care about this silly twit of a young woman until after this scene. I liked seeing her recover and pull herself together and bloom.

The love story central to the story is lesbian, let me just say, in case that’s a plus or a minus for you. It is handled with matter-of-fact delicacy, not a trace of that I’m-so-progressive-look-at-my-lesbian-character attitude that I think is pretty common. None of that angst-y gushy hormone-ridden thing that I’m so tired of, either. The sex is not too explicit and does not take over the book, which was good news for me. I loathe books where there are so many explicit, detailed sex scenes that there’s no time for anything to, you know, actually happen, and the plot (what there is of it) kind of vanishes.

There is a lot more time devoted to the central romance than to the violent scenes. I personally loved the slow, smooth development of the romance and did not long in any way for more action through those scenes.

The protagonist is Norwegian and a lot of the development of the romantic relationship is set in Norway and honestly it left me kind of longing to visit Norway, which is a first for me. Though with the temps outside soaring into the 100s, I must say, I’m sure primed to think wistfully about a Norwegian spring.

Setting is so important to me in mysteries — for me, mysteries are all about character and setting. Plot and the actual mystery are much less important. That’s good in this book because I did figure out who the shadowy mysterious bad guy was long before the protagonist did. (I wasn’t trying. It just made literary sense that this would be the bad guy. To be fair, Aud also wasn’t really trying. She didn’t really care until close to the end.)

The writing throughout is just exquisite. I’m not just saying that because the author read the previous post, either. Really. Exquisite. This book is a keeper just for that. It’s a book to read slowly, savoring every line. It makes me think of Francine Prose’s book READING LIKE A WRITER, which is all about how much you can learn from reading slowly and attentively — that’s really a great book which I highly recommend, btw.

One warning: Look at the author’s comment on the previous post; she’s quite right; the underlying message isn’t the least bit nihilistic, but the ending is heartbreaking.

I see there are sequels. I was going to check, because I am definitely not ready to put this one away.

So glad I finally took this book off the TBR pile and opened it up!

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Recent Reading: Technique

So I’ve had this book, THE BLUE PLACE, by Nicola Griffith, on my TBR pile for a couple of years now. Lesse . . . ah, I see it was published way back in 1998. Well, I haven’t had it in the TBR stack for quite that long, but definitely for some time.

It’s one of those books where the publisher, in its infinite wisdom, declined to put any kind of plot or character description on the back or in the inside flap or anyplace. The front cover says “a novel of suspense”, which at least gives me a hint, even though all the text on the cover is lower case, including the author’s name, which look suspiciously literary and kind of pretentious and is something of a turn-off for me.

The back cover just has a couple of lauditory quotes, which is all very well, but doesn’t exactly carry any kind of information about what the book is ABOUT, right? I mean, there are hints about theme, and that’s fine and dandy, but can I have a hint about the plot?

Why did I get this book in the first place? I remember making a deliberate decision to buy it, so it’s not like I found it at a garage sale. Did somebody recommend it? Don’t remember. Was it just the lauditory quote that goes “language brilliant and clear as sun-glittered water”? Can’t have been because I would have wanted more than that to go on, though praise of the language is always a draw for me.

Anyway, my first point is, one major reason why this book languished for so long in the TBR stack is that I couldn’t even tell what genre it was, much less get intrigued by a bit of clever back-cover copy. I see the publisher was Avon. Well, stupid decision on Avon’s part, or at least for me it totally backfired. I only picked it up now because I’m trying to clear the TBR pile of the books I’m LESS excited by, on the grounds that it’s just ridiculous to have some books in that pile for year after year. Time to read ’em or get rid of ’em, I have decided.

Turns out it’s a thriller or maybe suspense-mystery. I kind of thought it was SF, but I’m sixty pages in now and I don’t think so.


First two paragraphs:

An April night in Atlanta between thunderstorms: dark and warm and wet, sidewalks shiny with rain and slick with torn leaves and fallen azaliea blossoms. Nearly midnight. I had been walking for over an hour, covering four or five miles. I wasn’t tired. I wasn’t sleepy.
You would think that my bad dreams would be of the first man I had killed, thirteen years ago. Or if not him, then maybe the teenager who had burned to death in front of me because I was too slow to get the man with the match. But no, when I turn out the lights at ten o’clock and can’t keep still, can’t even bear to sit down in my Lake Claire house, it’s because I see again the first body I hadn’t killed.

Now isn’t that interesting? Remember I didn’t know the protagonist was an ex-cop when I started reading, so that second paragraph has extra kick. Granted there’s a hint that she might be a cop or something, but we don’t know yet, not just from this.

We get that the book is probably going to be pretty violent and the protagonist is going to be struggling with inner demons because of some nasty stuff in her past. It’s a nice hook if you’re in the mood for a novel of suspense or a thriller or something of that kind.

But I’m more interested in the first paragraph. Did you notice the first couple of sentences aren’t actually complete sentences? Isn’t that interesting?

This immediately reminded me of a bit in Robert Olen Butler’s book on writing, FROM WHERE YOU DREAM, which actually I did not in general find very helpful — too geared toward letting your subconscious flow while writing literary masterpieces, not my thing — but check this out, where Butler is talking about writing as cinematic. I did find this whole chapter thought-provoking.

Butler says, “Now this is the great thing about fiction. We can move from fast action to slow motion to real time seamlessly and with great nuance” and then goes on to quote several pages of Dickons’ GREAT EXPECTATIONS, including this bit:

. . . “Keep still, you little devil, or I’ll cut your throat!”
A fearful man, all in coarse gray, with a great iron on his leg. A man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied around his head. A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who limped, and shivered, and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me by the chin.
“Oh, don’t cut my throat, sir,” . . .

Check that out! Not a single complete sentence in that whole descriptive paragraph.

Why? asks Butler, and goes on to answer that question: “Time has stopped. What are the parts of time that signify the passage of time? Active verbs. Things happen. But here nothing is happening except perception. It is beautifully appropriate — and you don’t even notice, except afterward …”

You don’t usually see this kind of technique in genre fiction. (Maybe you do, more, in literary fiction, but I really don’t know for sure because I read so little literary fiction, having been burned too often by nihilistic themes that have no appeal for me whatsoever. (And here I’m thinking of Barbara Kingsolver’s THE LACUNA, where the basic message of the book appeared to be: You can’t win against the forces of human prejudice and stupidity. Well, thanks lots, but personally I’d rather have a slightly more positive message.))

But for me, beautiful technique is a draw in itself — and here, it replaced the kind of interest that would usually be roused by back-cover copy. I read that first paragraph and was hooked by technique, before I got to the second and was caught by interest in the protagonist’s evidently brutal past and what it suggests about her immediate future. I am, as it happens, actually playing with this exact technique in a novel I have just barely begun. How interesting to see it here!

Now, just waiting to see how the book turns out . . .

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How is it —

That it took me so long to discover The Intern’s blog?

Cause today another very nice bit of analysis of The Hunger Games.

Not that it’s a new idea that, say, readers like a book to be rich in conflict, but this comparison to video games and addictiveness and what causes the addictiveness is really interesting. I would never have thought of a book in these terms because I don’t play video games. (And why not? Because I’m afraid I might like them too much — I have enough to do right now! Don’t need another hobby! So there’s the addictiveness idea right there.)

I wonder, if you did this kind of analysis of all the YA titles you find in WalMart — like Twilight and Divergent and Hush,Hush and City of Bones and so on and on and on — I wonder if you’d find this kind of writing pattern in both the good ones and the not so good ones?

I mean (to simplify) new discoveries prompt internal conflict –> internal conflict leads to a decision –> every chapter ends on an unresolved conflict.

Plus goals that are always, every minute, obvious to the reader. And every action having consequences. All that stuff The Intern describes.

I kind of suspect you would. I haven’t read all that many of the really popular YA titles — I mean, the supply of really popular YA titles appears to approximate infinity — but I wonder whether this particular writing pattern explains why some books that are objectively not very good nevertheless have such wide appeal?

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The Intern —

Has a really neat post up analyzing The Hunger Games.

Which I’m sure you’ve read. No? Well, then, I’m sure you should read it! And the sequels! Then you can join the rest of us in arguing about whether Mockingjay is
a) great or b) lousy. Not too many opinions in the middle on that one!

Anyway, HERE, and see what a really analytical person does for fun while the rest of us are playing solitaire.

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Finished! Again!

You know, it’s surprising how often you can “finish” one manuscript.

I mean, first you actually finish writing down the story and that is of course HIGHLY SATISFYING and totally means you deserve a pint or two of best-quality double-chocolate fudge brownie ice cream.

For me, the first finished rough draft is pretty well revised and polished, but I almost always want to cut 10,000 to 40,000 words (seriously! sometimes even more!) plus I have probably accumulated about 30 notes-to-self about various trivial-to-difficult things I need to add / change / reevaluate in the manuscript. Like, if somebody uses a snazzy magical item in the penultimate scene, I better go back and add that item into earlier scenes as well, right? That is very easy. Or if someone is bald, I may need to make sure he is bald all the way through the story, which is also easy but very tedious as I’m going to have to check for baldness through all his scenes.

Once I’ve finished taking care of all these notes, I’m finished for the second time. I can’t say that I feel that finishing this minor pain-in-the-neck revision really deserves ice cream, but certainly a nice piece of extremely dark chocolate. (Everything deserves a piece of extremely dark chocolate!)

If I’m not working on a deadline, the best thing to do after that is set the manuscript aside for several weeks or a month and then read through it again from the top and make any substantive changes that seem necessary and polish everything up. That’s where I am now! Finished for the third time!

The major thing I did last night was take the long (30 page) last chapter, read it carefully, find natural points at which it divided, cut out the middle, carefully change the point-of-view for that section, and put it back in. I thought I might add a short additional tie-off-the-loose-ends chapter at the end, but dividing up the last chapter is what I decided to do instead after reading it veeerry carefully and slowly, and I think it worked.

Tonight I will read this chapter over one more time — hope I still think it works — tweaking as necessary. I think I want to make a minor change to one earlier scene and then a related small change to the last little bit of the story. Then I will quit messing with it because at this point I am going to want objective critiques from a couple of readers.

A good critique is very important, but just as important is a simple, plain, “Yes, I like it, it works for me, I loved this one scene and this other scene and that’s a great character and both the characters work for me” — in other words, praise! It’s fine if a reader says that a particular scene didn’t work for her or she doesn’t believe a character would have done thus-or-so or the world is confusing because of this-and-that. What matters here is the over all YES IT WORKS summation. It is hard for me to be sure a story DOES work — and I need to feel good about the story to do the NEXT revision, which I hope won’t involve much.

Then! Off to my agent, who will provide a critique oriented toward commercial viability (very important! Not what my readers can do!) and thence, we hope, to a home at a nice solid imprint at a good publishing house.

After which I will have a chance to “finish” the manuscript AGAIN after editorial comments.

Even after a book hits the shelves, you know, the revision process isn’t necessarily OVER over. I have, right here at this moment, five pages of copy-editor suggestions for the omnibus version of The Griffin Mage trilogy, which will come out in the fall.

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WIP is in fact progressing . . .

You know, I thought I was done cutting? But I guess not. What I think is going to happen is, I’m going to add another short chapter at the end, or break the current last chapter in two, or something. Not sure!

To get back in the mood and remind myself about how the story works, I started at the beginning for a straight read-through. I find that really helpful any time I’ve taken a break from a manuscript (which I had to do because Devi at Orbit requested a little bit of work on House Of Shadows), or any time I kind of get stuck and need to get un-stuck.

This time, a couple of nice side-effects: first, I cut another 1400 words without really trying (yay!), getting the length down to 121,500 words. I wouldn’t mind losing a little more length along the way because, as I said, I expect to add a little at the end.

And second, I found out I really kind of like the story. Whew! It was hard to judge, before. I guess I really did need to step back from it for a week or two.

So I’m 2/3 done with the read-through. I’ll finish that tonight. I bet I can have the ending re-done by Wednesday, say. Do some neatening up and have the manuscript ready to go by Friday, or Monday at the latest.

Next step: sending it to a couple of readers, especially my brother.

You know what would be nice to have first, though? A decent title. I just don’t have a knack that way. I’m thinking maybe I’ll try Rachelle Gardner’s advice about how to create a good title. Kind of a brute-force approach, but waiting for inspiration to strike doesn’t seem to work very well for me.

Then a break! Got a lot of books I’d like to read. I’m thinking I’ll start with Eon and Eona. I do love a good story set in an exotic setting! I’m confident enough that I’ll like these that I bought the second book without reading the first — so I hope I’m right! (Every now and then that confidence backfires — but usually if Thea at The Book Smugglers loves a book, so will I, so I should be pretty safe.)

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Nathan is still The Man

Nathan Bransford captures the importance of stories in our lives:

“Life is too complicated to hold in your head and relationships are too immense and multi-faceted to easily comprehend. So we write and tell stories to make sense of our relationships and existence. A novel can capture more than we can readily contemplate, and an author can, brick by brick, build a world that can illuminate and give meaning to some part of the full tapestry of our lives and relationships. They help us understand things that are too difficult to think about all at once.”

I totally agree.

Read the whole thing.

Not that I think you necessarily sit down as an author and TRY to tell The Truth about the Human Experience. Or if you do try, if that’s your actual aim, I think you’re likely to come across as horribly preachy. But I don’t exactly think it’s an accident when truths (lower case “t”) about the human condition emerge, either, and it adds immeasurably to a story when they do. That’s what Marsden did in his Tomorrow series.

I’m sure the same can be said about every single book that really grabs you, but you know who else comes to my mind here? Lois McMaster Bujold. I’m sure everybody’s familiar with her Vorkosigan books? Right? (If not, you OWE IT TO YOURSELF to buy them all ASAP!). Unlike Marsden, she doesn’t signal in any way that Here Comes the Philosophy. But from time to time, she drops a knife-edged truth into the middle of a scene and it just reverberates all the way down your spine.

Kind of mixing metaphors there, but you get what I mean.

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The Tomorrow series

Finished it a few days ago! Definitely one of my favorite stories of 2011!

The Tomorrow series is a seven-book YA series by John Marsden, starting with Tomorrow, When the War Began. Sort of post-apocalyptic. Well, really more of a war story. I’d never heard of it until I saw a reference to it here. Then it was like, where has this been all my life?

I see the first book is supposed to be a “major motion picture.” Says so right on the cover. I have my doubts. Can the movie version possibly begin to approach the quality of the book? I don’t think I’ve ever liked the movie version of a story half as well as the real book — except for The Hunt for Red October. But that was at least half due to Sean Connery, of course. What an actor! What a voice!

And, of course, it’s voice that makes the Tomorrow series, too — well, and good plotting and excellent writing, too. But the whole seven-book series is told in Ellie’s tight-focused, not-quite-objective point of view. Ellie grows and changes so much through the course of the story, not always in positive ways, but always in believable ways.

Believability is the key to the Tomorrow series. What a job Marsden takes on, getting us to believe that Australia really has been invaded and these kids really are acting on their own, pushing back against the conquest of their home and country.

Here’s why it works:

First, Marsden never explains who the putative invaders are, which is important because there just aren’t any real-world candidates for a country that both would and could conquer Australia. He’s such a good writer you barely notice the care he’s taking to avoid naming the bad guys.

Second, the tight pacing keeps us hurtling forward, so we don’t have time to worry over implausibility — but there’s not much implausibility to worry over, either. All the action really is believable, and you know what I was particularly impressed by? In one of the books, nothing the kids try to do actually works! They try to help a group of New Zealanders take out this super-important airfield, but the Kiwis fail and disappear and the kids have no idea what went wrong. They never find out, either. Then the kids try to hit the airfield themselves, two different ways, and both methods fail,and the kids barely get away, and the book ends with nothing accomplished. And I thought that was great! You know if you’re really taking action against an occupying force, you’re going to have weeks like that.

Though when they actually do get the airfield later, I mean, whoa. Quite a job. I loved it!

Third, the tight focus on a small group of kids is also very important: we don’t get an omniscient view of Australia. We see only what Ellie sees, know only what she knows. Everything’s colored by her reactions. That enhances believability AND heightens the tension. ARE her parents still alive? She doesn’t know and neither do we. Marsden does such a great job keeping the kids on their own — it’s not like there aren’t any adults around, but the kids really CAN’T let the adults take over making the decisions because — well, read the books! It really works out that way and it’s all totally believable.

Fourth, the characters carry the story way more than clever plotting could ever do on its own. Ellie and Homer, Fi and Lee, Robyn and Kevin, Corrie and Chris — they are really, really believable kids. Far from perfect, but so very real. I particularly love Homer — what a guy! Nearly a juvenile delinquent when he’s bored in normal times, but in a good-natured sort of way. Then suddenly he’s got an enemy invasion to face and man, he can really pull it together! The tension between Homer and Ellie is perfect: neither one can stand to let the other be the unquestioned leader. I loved Homer’s “Stand back and let a MAN through” attitude, and the way Ellie would roll her eyes and let him through because he had a crowbar and could get the door open — but then take over again ten minutes later.

And the relationship between Ellie and Homer is perfect, too — not romantic, and yet Ellie can hardly stand to watch a romance develop between Homer and Fi because she nevertheless feels so territorial about Homer, except she knows she’s being mean and jealous and tries so hard to get herself out of the way between them.

That’s what I mean by not perfect but very real. I mean, I have a new model for Perfect Teen Characters now. I mean, I feel I ought to take notes.

I kind of like the occasional perfect character — think Ender in Ender’s Game, for example — but Marsden’s aware he’s putting his characters through a ringer and he doesn’t back off from what that does to them. Like, the small and large nervous breakdowns suffered by various characters — well, I should think so, given what they’re all going through. And the hardening we see in Ellie and Lee as they both do pretty grim things and are hurt by that, in different ways.

In fact, about the only quibble I have is the on-again-off-again relationship between Ellie and Lee. I think it should have been on and then stayed on and deepened. I mean, twice we get moments when Ellie is looking at Lee and she thinks: He will never let me down. When the going gets rough, he will always come through. And yet then then she’ll back off from their relationship. Well, at first that made sense, what with one thing and another, but by the end I couldn’t see it. Steadfast loyalty and competence and the nerve to go right to the wire when things go bad? And she’s at least mostly in love with him, at least some of the time? Well, why is that not all the way in love with him all the time, by the end?

Oh, well!

I think actually there is one more thing besides great characters and clever plotting and great writing that makes these books sink into your mind and heart to stay. That’s the touches of philosophy we see, mainly but not exclusively in the epilogues. Like this, in the first book:

“Loyalty, courage, goodness. I wonder if they’re human inventions too, or if they just are. . . . We’ve got to stick together, that’s all I know. We all drive each other crazy at times, but I don’t want to end up here alone, like the Hermit. Then this really would be Hell. Humans do such terrible things to each other that sometimes my brain tells me they must be evil. But my heart still isn’t convinced.”

And from the second:

“Sometimes you just have to be brave. You have to be strong. Sometimes you just can’t give in to weak thoughts. You have to beat down those devils that get inside your head and try to make you panic. You struggle along, putting one foot a little bit in front of the other, hoping that when you go backwards it won’t be too far backwards, so that when you start forwards again you won’t have too much to catch up. That’s what I’ve learned.”

And, from the last book in the series:

“The old stories used to end with “They all lived happily ever after.” And you’d often hear parents saying: ‘I just want my kids to be happy.’ That’s crap, if you ask me. Life’s about a hell of a lot more than being happy. It’s about feeling the full range of stuff: happiness, sadness, anger, grief, love, hate. If you try to shut one of those off, you shut them all off. I don’t want to be happy. I know I won’t live happily ever after. I want more than that, something richer. I want to go right up close to the beauty and the ugliness. I want to see it all, know it all, understand it all. The richness and the poverty, the joy and the cruelty, the sweetness and the sadness. That’s the best way I can honour my friends who died.”

That’s Ellie. And it’s so in character: these are exactly the sorts of big ideas that teenagers struggle with, and there is so much in the story to prompt a touch of philosophy. I think it adds such depth to the Tomorrow series. I wonder if it’s possible the “major motion picture” captured that. The story would be incomparably lessened if it was turned into nothing but an adventure flick, where things blow up with with huge fireballs but where nothing that happens really touches the characters and, in the end, all the sound and fury signifies nothing.

So I may or may not bother to find the movie . . . but the books are definitely keepers.

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