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Devina

The Coffee Room

I love books. Plain and simple. I enjoy having a cuppa tea, hot chocolate or especially coffee while reading. I don't read only a particular genre so I read most anything, stuff like Paranormal Fantasy, Adventure, Young Adult, LGBTQ Lit, Poetry, etc.

Welcome to Night Vale (Welcome to Night Vale #1) by Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor

Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel - Jeffrey Cranor, Joseph Fink

Read: May 2017

 

Edited review
Note to people who've never listened to the podcast: I will not tell you that you can only enjoy this book if you listen to the episodes, though it would help. From what I understand it's marketed as a stand-alone. Personally, I don't mind if you disliked it. Only too easy to be confused and feel like an outsider. It's a poor reflection of the podcast so please don't let this discourage you from listening.

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When I say that I felt my mind bend several times throughout the book, I am not kidding. For some reason I still can't put a finger on, I was skeptical about the entire thing. I could suppose that I was so trained to the podcast format that the setup for the novel approach was ... puzzling. Who am I kidding? Honestly, it fell flat for me. There. I said it.

However, I am now satisfied in several respects with regards to the plots of certain episodes. For instance, I can now file the away the speculation that The Man In The Tan Jacket is not actually Cecil's long-forgotten brother.

Thanks to The Man and his stupid note, Jackie's become irritatingly aware of the oddness of her existence. Particularly pissed because her boring routine life has been unashamedly demolished. The order and the peace of mind it brought, gone. It should be a damn crime.

Diane is more complicated. A single mother having to try to communicate with an ever distant teenage shape-shifting son is nothing at all to sneeze at. Between that growing divide is the pothole of all potholes, his father Troy.

What's interesting was the way that the thought process of the characters was like collages of normal moments that you would experience in a day and then proceed to forget, only that here and there they are dissected to lay bare the bones of little facets of reality. On the other hand, it tends to go off tangent. My train of thought struggled to keep on track while I try to accept the weirdness of the text.

I consider the biggest success of Welcome To Night Vale is the treatment of the concept of normalcy. It is being consistently pounded into the ground. What's the normal in Burma? What does it look like in Kansas? What the hell is "normal" even? When I meet new people, I want to understand the way that their Normal has shaped them and affected their views of the world.

My knowledge of the podcast made me appreciate the book but I am woefully disappointed with it. At times it got pedantic. What a 20-minute episode could pull off magnificently ... this book could not come close to replicating, though it retained enough to be sort of nostalgic in a sense.

The shining star has always been Cecil Palmer, the richness lies in the diverse set of citizens whose boring and exciting escapades colour the landscape of Night Vale. I was glad to see Jackie and Diane interact with these familiar faces and their unique environment, in a way we've never seen before.

But this book took me months to digest, it was needlessly long and somewhat inconclusive, not to mention contained inside jokes that could easily alienate new people. That aside, I'm happy Fink and Cranor took the chance with the novel, hopefully, they can learn from it.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

Read: April 2011

 

Enter, the recently disgraced financial journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, who has just been convicted of libeling a heavyweight financier, Hans-Erik Wennerström, and faces a hefty sum and three months in the slammers at Rullåker. His rapidly deteriorating career begins to turn around when he is approached by the prominent industrialist Henrik of Vanger Industries as one last resort to unravel the mystery surrounding his great niece's, Harriet Vanger, disappearance over forty years ago. In return, Vanger will provide Blomkvist with damaging information against Wennerström.

Blomkvist agrees, albeit reluctantly. For one year he'll be on Hedby Island while he goes about the business of the investigation, and scrutinizing the alibis of those of the Vanger clan that was on the island on the day Harriet had gone missing, as Henrik is convinced that one or more amongst his family is responsible.

He goes under the cover story of ghostwriting the Vanger family chronicle. He's aided by the title character Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo. Salander is a social ward of the state, she's antisocial, has no urge what so ever to submit willingly to authority and is covered with an assortment of tattoos along with piercings to complete the gothic ensemble. With her curious skillset, she prefers to dish out her own brand of justice and revenge onto those ruthless abusers that fall on her radar, all of whom she despises with a passion to be reckoned with.

Together they delve into the depths of the Vanger family's past until they find themselves very close to cracking this mystery open when the threats begin. Despite the looming danger, they proceed to finally discover the events that lead to Harriet Vanger's disappearance and possibly her death.

When I'd first picked up The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo I didn't know what really to expect, I mean I've read the blurb but the genre of crime fiction is relatively new to me. In the beginning, where it was elaborated how Blomkvist had landed himself in this spot was confusing to me mainly because of all of this financial mumbo-jumbo, so most likely readers savvy in this field are more comfortable here but I believe I got the gist of the situation after reading certain parts till my head hurt and finally putting in down for a short while before resuming.

The characters, on the most part, are believable and were three dimensional. Now I'll zoom in a bit on Lisbeth Salander. Lisbeth is a truly intriguing personality; she's distant and wants little to do with anyone else unless she really has to. Her general behaviour and intense dislike to abusers leads me to believe that she had suffered at the hands of one herself in her past. She won't take nonsense lying down and her survivor's spirit is one of the reasons why I admire her.

We learn of certain family members' involvement with the Nazis during the Second WW and a little about Henrik Vanger's stay in wartime Germany. I thought this particularly interesting because I'm partial to even fictional accounts during that time in history.
This book is surprisingly violent, with certain parts that had thrown me a little off balance but I had the feeling I'd better get used to it. I should have taken a hint to the snippets of statistics of abuse of women in Sweden because it's of the themes later identified.

The fact that I had to put down and pick it up again numerous times before I got around page 270 to really get hooked, is the reason why I gave this book 4 stars. I know that lots of books start off by stretching and yawning before they finally pick up substantial speed but for me, 200 and something pages are too much.

Overall The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo is a book truly worth reading and frankly if someone had told me it happened, I would stare in utter fascination and horror but I might eventually believe him because the plot is believable. Who knows what dark secrets those huge empires quietly sweep under the carpet? How many women had suffered such unimaginably gruesome torture, with their screams that go unheard? This just makes me wonder.

 

All that said, it's not for everyone. If you don't like reading about grisly murders and violence in general, and intricate plots you can pass on this one.

 

*Crossposted from Goodreads.