Wonder Woman: Warbringer - Leigh Bardugo
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
What Happened - Hillary Rodham Clinton
SPQR - Mary Beard
The Ruin of Angels - Max Gladstone
Waking Gods - Sylvain Neuvel
DC's new, shiny thing is hiring Young Adult authors to write YA novels about their headliners, of which Warbringer was the first instalment. It had a couple of things working against it for me: I am super fussy when it comes to YA, and I've bounced pretty hard off Leigh Bardugo's work before. It also features a slightly different Themyscira from the movie, which felt like a mistake with the book following so hotly on its heels, and an actualfax teenaged Diana, which, um. That said, it was a fun adventure, it neatly sidestepped the het romance I was dreading, and the teenaged characters were fine, even though they were, you know, teenagers...
Hey, I think I've just put my finger on why most YA doesn't work for me!
I can't say I've much interest in the upcoming Batman or Superman books in the same series, but I will probably tag back in for Sarah J. Maas' Catwoman instalment.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is about a woman in Glasgow who grew up in care, has no understanding of social niceties, and is in massive denial about how lonely she is... then she accidentally makes a friend. As someone who doesn't have the best social skills (but is certainly more cognizant than Eleanor of where I'm going wrong) my levels of secondhand embarrassment reading this were off the charts like whoa. But once I got over that it really was a very lovely, very uplifting book.
My first reaction to What Happened was that I wasn't going to read it, but I would defend to the death Clinton's right to have written it. I mean, it's not like Hillary Clinton is the first politician to have lost an election, or the first to have written a book about it. I don't know what it is about her specifically that makes people think that she should put her herself out to sea on an iceflow, accompanied only by that woman from Game of Thrones shouting SHAME. Just kidding. Of course I know why that is, everyone knows why that is.
Then bits of it started leaking out, and it seemed like she was mad at all the same people I was mad at, and baffled by all the same things I was baffled by, so I picked it up. It opens on election night, and I immediately started bawling like a baby. I'm still baffled by the reviews that called it an exercise in deflecting blame, because she accepts responsibility in this, she accepts so much responsibility that by the end I was going 'okay, it was your fault, I get it, enough already.' Mostly the book is her going: 'I was the candidate, the buck stops with me. But this was a weird election, and other things were happening. Here are some of them.' Which seems more than fair to me.
It did veer into the saccharine in places, mostly where she was talking about religion, but that might have been me being British and going 'ew, get this religion off my politics, it's all sticky'. And she does go on a fair bit about having won the popular vote, which is fair enough; in her position I would have had that tattood on my face.
I kind of want to say you done fucked up, America, but I feel like you already know that.
I have never been that interested in ancient Rome, but I have been extremely fond of Mary Beard ever since she got publicly lambasted for daring to go on Question Time looking like how you'd expect an oxbridge classics professor to look, while also being a woman, and shortly thereafter doing a BBC series on Calligula while wearing gold lame converse because zero fucks were given.
Anyway, SPQR was very readable, even for someone who picked it up more out of feminist feeling for the author than interest in the subject matter.
I've talked before about how much I love Max Gladstone's godpunk Craft sequence, and on paper The Ruin of Angels should have been my favourite; it featured library heist and all the relationships were f/f, but it felt like the flaws of the previous books were writ large in this.
The worldbuilding always was the best thing about this series (and it is seriously fucking awesome) but here it felt like the books were starting to crumble under the weight of all that worldbuilding. The plot, such as it was, felt like we were just moving from one worldbuilding set-piece to another until everything happened in the last fifty pages. And the characters desperately tried to avoid telling each other plot relevant information in case that accidentally created some story momentum.
On the upshot, there's an admin demon who considers taking bloody, demonstrative action to stop people erroneously flagging intra-office mail as triple urgent, and a lady knight who breaks her lady love out of prison with the line: knights can rescue their ladies from towers; that's practically what knights are for.
Basically, there's individual moments of brilliance interspersed through a sea of meh.
Waking Gods is the sequel to Sleeping Giants which I'd really loved a couple of months ago. It's plot can be summarised thusly: what good does a giant, unstoppable robot do you when the other guys have thirteen giant, unstoppable robots? Both books are told through interviews and log entries, and even if I'm not totally sold on the SF plot, they are super quick, super twisty, super fun reads.
(Graphic novels were Bombshells: Enlisted, and The Mighty Thor: Thunder in her Veins, both of which I got a hell of a kick out of. Because I am new to comics, and because there are so many, while I am but one person, my method to winnowing them down to the ones I might want to read is: no dudes need apply.)