[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers. Follow it here.]
Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James. Reviewed by Julie Bosman (New York Times).
To be honest, this book sounds absolutely terrible. But you really ought to read any review with the headline “Discreetly Digital, Erotic Novel Sets American Women Abuzz.” Vintage (Knopf) shelled out seven figures for this romance novel and its two as yet unwritten sequels. That’s a heck of a lot for what is probably fairly mild sultriness mired in drivel; the decision is based primarily on hype from Australia and housewife blog shares, apparently because they want to be “making a statement that this is bigger than one genre.” Ugh.
“Fifty Shades of Grey,” an erotic novel by an obscure author that has been described as “Mommy porn” and “Twilight” for grown-ups, has electrified women across the country, who have spread the word like gospel on Facebook pages, at school functions and in spin classes. Or as the handwritten tag on a paperback copy in a Montclair, N.J., bookstore helpfully noted, “Yes, this is THE book everyone is talking about.”
I hope this goes over like pogs.
The Lost Goddess, by Tom Knox. Reviewed by Richard Lipez (Washington Post).
This book also sounds pretty bad–but in the way that leaves me much more likely to read it. Basically it’s a thriller that links Soviet mind control experiments (grisly ones through lobotomy and the like) to activities of Stone Age neanderthals. As Lipez tells it, he’s done a fairly laughable job of it too. Phrases such as “Knox’s galumphing jalopy of a plot” and “To say that Knox’s prose is breathless is to insult lungs” are pretty funny. I wish I had a vacation in the near future, this silly book sounds like a great way to kill a plane ride.
Starters, by Lissa Price. Reviewed by Susan Carpenter (Los Angeles Times).
We’ll end with a book that sounds like it might actually be good, and whose name would have lent itself better to the lead-off spot. Starters is the “start to a two-part sci-fi series in which teens rent out their bodies to wealthy older people, who control them via neurochip.” Done well, that’s a creepy premise to work upon. Carpenter seems pretty impressed. Her review is straight forward, but breaks down the book’s strength succinctly, enough to make me believe she may not have been predisposed to like this. She does, however, compare it to The Hunger Games series numerous times, books she clearly likes. I’ve yet to read those yet, but I hear they’re all the rage with the young people. If you’re into those, you will probably want to read this. And after reading praise like Carpenter’s, those that haven’t read them may want to pick this up anyway.
The only thing better than a terrific concept is one that is as well executed as “Starters.” Readers who have been waiting for a worthy successor to Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” will find it here. Dystopian sci-fi at its best[...]
Quickly: Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru sounds pretty good. This guy agrees. Putin’s biographer compiles a list of “secretive reading.” If you want to probe a different sort of secret, maybe the kind on a grander scale, check out this Stephen Hawking biography.
Bonus Book Trailer: Not new, but since Eric just reviewed this book yesterday, here’s the trailer for Super Sad True Love Story. It’s actually pretty funny.