Monday, July 06, 2015

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 7/4

This weekly post has the date of America's most jingoistic and self-centered holiday in it, so, in honor of that, I'm going to ignore it completely.

(This should continue the grand Antick Musings tradition of ignoring things and never ever doing anything that people care about.)

Instead, Reviewing the Mail will be what it has been every Monday for seven years or so: a random, haphazardly researched list of books that landed on my doorstep over the past seven days, sometimes presented as swell stuff to read and sometimes presented as things to be amused by. (I try to be fair, intermittently, but it doesn't always take.)

In keeping with that "biting the hand that feeds me" [1] theme, I'll lead off with the title most likely to damage my Google rankings: The War Against the Assholesby Sam Munson. It's more-or-less a Young Adult novel, and I believe it's fantasy -- the flap copy talks a lot about "magic," but leads off that by mentioning a book on card tricks. Anyway, our hero, Mike, is a big bull of a New Yorker who hasn't met any obstacle he can't go straight through. And he's set his sights on the "assholes" who control the magic world -- again, probably meaning supernatural stuff, though I find it more amusing to think he means the secret society of three-card monte dealers. Assholes is a hardcover from the new Saga imprint of S&S, and has been out in the world for about two weeks now.

Next up is My Neighbor Seki, Vol. 3, a manga from Takuma Morishig, published recently by Vertical. (The cover briefly made me thing the co-author was "Tonari no Seki-kun," but I now think that's the transliteration of the Japanese title, placed there to confuse me and weed out the non-serious manga readers.) It's yet another school story with what seems like a very restrictive premise: Rumi sits next to Seki at school, and Seki's various bizarre hobbies and distractions keep getting her in trouble, while no one ever notices Seki's transgressions.

Another Vertical manga: What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Vol. 9, the latest in Fumi Yoshinaga's slice-of-life story about a gay couple and the food they eat. I reviewed the first one and enjoyed the domesticity of it, though I haven't come back -- the food that's the focus of the strip is quite Japanese, which might be one reason I'm not as eager to revisit these guys' lives.

Damage Done is another YA novel, a psychological thriller complete with comparisons to Gillian Flynn, from first-time novelist Amanda Panitch. Our narrator was Julia, and had a twin brother. Now she's Lucy, the twin brother was involved in something unspeakable, and the remaining family lives far away under different names. And of course the book will be about the reader learning what happened back then -- which certainly will not be the same as we assume at the beginning of the book -- as new surprising and mysterious and threatening things happen to Julia/Lucy. It's from Random House's YA side, and will be out in hardcover on July 21.

I can't be absolutely sure that David Hofmeyer's debut YA novel Stone Rider is set in a horrible dystopian hell, but I'd wager at least a small sum of money in that direction. Our hero is a young man in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, in love with the town beauty [2] and oblivious to the flashing danger signs around "mysterious outsider Kane," [3] his rival for her heart. And the three set off on a grueling cross-country bike race, with the winner getting to move to the otherwise undescribed "Sky-Base." I expect there will be deaths, as the first sign of the perfidiousness of The Adult Establishment, and a social order that is so deeply rotten that only teens can notice it. I also expect Stone Rider to be a huge hit, both as a series of books and as movies, and both a movie deal (Working Title) and a sequel (Blood Rider) have already been announced. July 14th is the date you can jump on this particular bandwagon.

Dark Orbit is a new SF novel from Carolyn Ives Gilman, who I thought was primarily a fantasy writer. (I might be misremembering from her name, though, since both Greer Gilman and Laura Anne Gilman are fantasy writers. Dorothy Gilman, on the other hand, wrote cozy mysteries. As far as I know, none of them are related -- to each other or the "Gill-Man" from Creature from the Black Lagoon.) This is one of those "exploring a strange alien world" books, set in a multi-planet medium-future human polity, which sends a research team to the requisite Strange New Place. Said place is "laden with dark matter," which doesn't quite match what I know about dark matter, but I've been out of the loop. Strange things happen, and mysteries are unfolded, of course. Ursula K. Le Guin has given it a glowing quote, and it's a Tor hardcover coming July 14th.

And last for this week is Wesley Chu's SF novel Time Salvager, in which a semi-reformed criminal from the dying remnant of humanity is repeatedly sent back in time to retrieve resources that will keep humanity alive a little longer, though each jump is likely to lead to his death. (cough Twelve Monkeys cough) This is another Tor hardcover, available on July 7th -- why, that's tomorrow!

[1] Not that this amateur blog has ever fed anybody: maybe "eyeballs that look at me" is more accurate?

[2] I would kill for a book for teenagers in which the hero is in love with someone for a reason other than "the prettiest thing that ever was." Seriously. Sure, teens are shallow, but not that purely shallow.

[3] I don't think we should expect subtlety from the remainder of Stone Rider. Just a feeling I have.

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