Another new book for you guys! This one is hot off the presses – it came out in March. Feel free to leave a comment if you’d read it to offer your own opinion!
Title: The Memory Tree (Amazon)
Author: Glenn Haybittle
Read harder Challenge: Could be – A book about war
Star Review: ♥♥♥ /5
Why: A good read for fans of Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake series. This book has some really compelling characteristics. It starts as a sci-fi or dystopian fiction, and I love a story that starts right in the middle of the action. This book really challenges the reader to develop their schema as quickly as possible so they don’t miss what’s happening. I know some people don’t like this, but it really works for me. The first two thirds of the book follow the story line of two characters who have had their memories taken away, and who seem fated to find each other. The suspense of this part of the book was extremely well-handled and as a result I found myself continuing the story despite lingering confusion based on some incomplete world-building.
The last third of the book follows two different, but connected stories, and this part veers hard into the historical fiction genre. While the connection between the stories themselves continues to have an element of science fiction, I really didn’t like the drastic shift, and given Glenn Haybittle’s previously published work, it really felt as though the author didn’t have the stamina to continue the fresh, edgy story and switched to something with which they were more comfortable. That being said, the first two thirds of the story had already invested me in seeing it through until the end, so the timing on taking this risk paid off. The ending is super open-ended.
I would be willing to recommend The Memory Tree to someone, but only if they are admitted fans of science fiction and historical fiction in equal measure. While I thought there were some interesting liberties taken in the dystopian fiction genre, I thought the execution fell flat and so while I finished, I didn’t feel pushed to in the exhilarating way that really exceptional fiction does.
Title: Voyager (Outlander Series #3)
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Read Harder Challenge: No
Star Review: ♥ ♥ ♥ /5
Why: This book is the third in the Outlander series. I began reading this series at the recommendation of a coworker. The recommendation coincided with the time that the series was regaining popularity (thanks, Starz television show!), and it came with the label of a “historical fiction” story, so I was in. When I read it, I was concerned that a professional colleague had suggested it for me – there are some sexy scenes in there! Essentially the series follows Claire, a WWII nurse-cum-wife who accidentally steps through some magic stones to a time two hundred years prior, where hijinks ensue and she falls in love with a headstrong Highland Scot. She has gone back and forth in time a few times thus far in the series, and in the third one, she has come back to the 20th century for what she thinks is the last time. However, in her research on her 18th century husband, she realizes he still lived in his continued timeline (she thought he had died after she left), and so she must return. This book chronicles her return and the all-new hijinks that they involve themselves with.
I am invested in the main characters, Claire and her love/18th century husband, Jaime. This love story is impactfully told by Gabaldon, and I shed tears over their commitment to one another. That said, the length of this particular installment was a challenge for me. I enjoyed meeting new characters, as I generally do. An example is Lord John Grey, who I suspect will make a reappearance in subsequent books. I do fear, giving the shifting focus of this book, that it will be only natural for Gabaldon to spend less time with Jaime and Claire and more with other partners and characters that are appearing as time goes on. The book itself had just enough historical relevance and barely plausible plot to remain entertaining despite is length. At the end of the book, they wash up on the shore of America in the 1770s, so I am sure it will be another historically interesting romp that scrapes the bottom of the plausibility barrel for the new setting. As an American, this one will be slightly more familiar to me, and whether that’s a good thing remains to be seen.
An interesting note: Claire (and Jaime’s) daughter Bree – who was raised in the 20th century – and her future husband could both “hear the stones” when they helped her mother back to Jaime’s time. I suspect they will be doing some time traveling of their own soon enough. I will read the next book, but may tire before the sequel ends, hence the noncommittal rating that leans just over the line of average.