23 December 2009

In the Woods

Tana French's debut novel is well-written and grabs the reader, but the storyline leaves something to be desired.  The story of Rob Ryan is intriguing, but ultimately left me feeling a little unsatisfied with the ending. His relationship with his partner, Cassie Maddox, runs a different course than expected and starts to take the principal narrative spot.  As the narrative unfolds, the crime becomes more engrossing but French does not allow the reader to be sucked into the crime the way the protagonists are; rather, she insists that the reader focus also on the relationship between Ryan and Maddox.
In the end, neither the arc of their relationship nor the outcome of the case end well, and the book leaves the reader questioning both.

I don't know if I would go out of my way to recommend this book to a friend, but I would tell them that I enjoyed reading it, for sure. It was an easy read, I read the majority of it in one day of cross-country travel, and the story is quick-paced enough to keep the reader engaged in the story throughout.

In The Woods, Tana French (2007)
Writing: 9
Story: 8
Overall: 8.5

21 December 2009

An Echo in the Bone

Honestly, I don't even know where to start in this review.  Diana Gabaldon is one of my all-time favorite authors, and her Outlander series is one of my favorite book series of all time, if not my favorite. I could read her books again and again, and the sheer volume of the books is not a deterrent.

An Echo in the Bone is the seventh book in the series.  The saga of Claire and Jamie, as well as Bree and Roger, really grabs the reader and brings you into their story, which by now is in the middle of the Revolutionary War. Gabaldon clearly does her homework, as is evident by the fact that there usually elapses about three years between each book and also by the number of historically accurate nuances throughout it.  She is a researcher, after all.

Clocking in at over 800 pages means that the plot is too involved to discuss, and I wouldn't want to give anything away. But, as I was finishing the last hundred or so pages while my students were taking a final exam, I found myself about to cry more than once, and had to remind myself that I was in public.

The book ends on a note that basically ensures there will be another book in the series.  Even if I have to wait for three years, I'm happy to do it with characters like these ones and a story that is completely brilliant, unique, and well-developed.

An Echo In the Bone, Diana Gabaldon (2009)
Writing: 10
Story: 10