Book Reviews

[Column] The Backlog: The Passage by Justin Cronin

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Kai Parker is a lifelong avid reader and compulsive book buyer.  However, amidst college classes and assigned readings, his personal reading list was often put on hold even as it continued to expand.  Now, having recently graduated, he has had the opportunity to begin chipping away at that list and has decided to share the results with you in this blog in the form of review and discussion. Welcome to the Backlog.

I’ve always had a borderline obsession with post-apocalyptic fiction, even long before Cormac McCarthy’s The Road set the high watermark for the genre and made it a legitimate focus of literary interest.  Before The Road, post-apocalyptic stories had always been relegated to allusive, dystopian fables like 1984, or a sub-genre of science fiction, the kind with cheap paperback covers featuring artwork depicting a low-rent knock off ofMad Max, which is what most post-apocalyptic stories were, and to an extent, still are.  Although the sub-genre does have its own classics (The Stand, The Postman, On the Beach), none of them are regarded with quite the literary respect…

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[Column] The Backlog: The City & The City by China Mieville

Reviewed by Kai Parker.

the-city-and-the-cityHaving read a good amount of science fiction, China Miéville is one of those authors who I’ve always been tangentially aware of, his books always at the fringes of my awareness, never quite seeming to capture my attention at the right time, but the interesting covers always beckoning every time I went looking for something new.  Perhaps part of the reason for my intentional distance is the fact that his work often eludes simple description and slips between genre and classification, never really settling neatly in one category or another, where I had always gravitated toward genre fiction specifically because of its generally more rigid categorizations, something I’ve only recently began to really approach differently.  Brief research reveals that Miéville’s work actually falls into a more recent literary movement known as the New Weird, a term I hated…

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Review: Saga, Vol. 1: Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

Review by Kai Parker

Imagine if Star Wars had been about all the weird aliens in the famous cantina scene instead of the boring humans. That could well be the premise of Saga, the new comic book series from Brian K. Vaughn (Y: The Last Man) and Fiona Staples (North 40). Easily one of the most buzzed-about comics of last year, Saga is one of the rare cases where the end product actually lives up to the hype. Fast-paced, clever, wholly original and gorgeously drawn, this is sci-fi space opera at its best and most ambitious.

The tale follows a young, interspecies couple… [read more]

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Radio Iris
A Review of Radio Iris by Anne-Marie Kinney

Review by Kai Parker

In many ways, Radio Iris is a novel about isolation, about struggling for meaning and identity within the shadow of our often faceless, corporate world, and how that isolation occasionally influences or even informs our isolation within our daily lives, the eternal struggle against the possibility of that same emptiness and loneliness continuing into our final days.  It could also be a story about the struggle of your twenties, figuring out who you are and reconciling your hopes to whatever your reality may actually be, and how alien the world seems when you’re finally on your own, away from the sheltering care of your parents or the familiar routine of school, or trying to settle into a career where you find yourself wondering, Is this it?

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LA’s Underbelly: A review of The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets  by Diana Wagman.

Diana Wagman’s The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets is a masterful performance from beginning to end. Wagman’s characters are brilliant complexities of struggle, inner demons, and the child within, and through their interaction we come to realize that all of us, no matter how sinister, have a positive trait.

The book centers around Winnie, a kidnapped… [read more]

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A Review of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Review by Kai Parker

“The truth is malleable,” a character says at one point in Gone Girl, the amazing third novel from Gillian Flynn (Dark Places, Sharp Objects).  That statement about the truth serves as a perfect thesis for the novel’s ever-shifting perspective on what is true and how easily the line between truth and lie can become entwined with one another.  That she frames this theme within the context of a marriage makes it…  [read more]

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