Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What's Kristine Reading? July Edition

   As I've posted, I'm a avid reader. Always have been. Always will be. As a result, a lot of people ask what I'm currently reading and what my opinion of random books are. So, I'm adding a new section of the blog for books and will make an attempt to review one book a month. Interestingly, while I love to read and talk about books, I'm not much of an actual reviewer. I'm not one to go into the details of the subtle subtexts of books. I'm more of a "yes, I liked this book and you should read it" kind of girl. Now that I think about it, it's kind of like my race reports. While I won't be able to tell you my average watts on the bike leg at the Mach Tenn tri were, I can tell you the race is awesome and you should do it.

   That being said, the first book I'm reviewing is "The Name of the Wind" by Pat Rothfuss. This book was kind of a stretch for me, as it's a fantasy novel. Honestly, I have always been one of those people who have shunned away from those genres. You know, the ones who pick up a book, look at it and go "Ugh. It's sci-fi." put the book down and walk away. Not that I'm a literary snob. Lord knows I've read a lot of trash in my day. No, I just thought that a book about time travel / space / dragons / whatever wouldn't interested me. However, I saw this book listed on one of those Buzzfeed lists of "The Best Books EVER" and the commenters raved about it so much that I gave it a second look even though it was obviously a fantasy novel.  (Sidebar: For those who don't know, there is a difference between sci-fi and fantasy. Generally speaking, sci-fi novels contain plots that are rooted in technology: space travel, robots, etc.  Fantasy novels contain plots have no science behind them. They're based on magic and contain otherworldly creatures such as dragons. Make sense? Moving on.)
   Then I started thinking... I'm a huge Harry Potter fan and those are fantasy novels. I've read many of the Outlander series and those are technically sci-fi because of the time-travel. I've also read WAY too many vampire novels than I should admit to, which are also fantasy. So, I decided to say "screw it," embraced the inner nerd in me and checked out "The Name of the Wind" at my local library. Because that's how my inner geek celebrates. I go to my library. But I digress...
   So, here is my review: It was good. You should read it.
   Expecting a bit more? OK. Here goes. "The Name of the Wind" is the first part of a trilogy (The Kingkiller Chronicles) based on the autobiography of Kvothe, a legendary magician, traveler and musician living in a world called The Four Corners of Civilization. For reasons unknown, he is now in hiding and living the quiet life as an innkeeper. An unexpected meeting with a famed scribe called "The Chronicler" leads to Kvothe telling his life story over a period of three days. "The Name of the Wind" is the story from the first day, and covers Kvothe's life from his early nomadic childhood (his parents were basically carnies) through his first few semesters at University (age 15-16).
   I don't like spoilers when reading reviews, so I'm not going to go into any detail about the plot. I will say that this book has been compared to the Harry Potter series. I can kind of see that because both of the main characters are young, magical and going to school. But that's pretty much where the comparison ends. "The Name of the Wind" has a darker feel (at least when compared to the earlier Harry Potter books), and Kvothe is definitely more of a loner. Sure, he has friends, but there are no Ron and Herminone rushing to help him out of his many obstacles. Kvothe has to fend for himself. And he does. In some ways, too well for a character of his age. That's probably one of the main issues I have with the book. I kept feeling the character should be in his late teens to early 20's for most of the story.
   The book is written in a non-linear style, jumping back and forth in time between Kvothe's childhood and present day. Frequently, this type of book really annoys me. I like books that are in chronological order, however, Rothfuss spaced the time-jumping out enough to not be distracting. I also didn't have that hard of a time with the otherworldly language that is generally found in fantasy novels (I'm looking at you, "Wicked"). Sure, there were a few times when I had no clue what the characters were talking about, and I wish some of the magical spells were explained in a bit more detail, but overall, I was able to enter The Four Corners of Civilization pretty effortlessly. This is definitely a Level One book as far as fantasy books go. Perfect for people like me who generally shy away from this genre.
   For a book of almost 700 pages, "The Name of the Wind" moved pretty quickly. The first few chapters dragged a little bit, but once The Chronicler is introduced, the book picks up. I finished it within a week. Granted, I was on vacation and had a lot of time to read, but it would have kept my interest even without the extra reading time. I'm probably going to start the second book in the series "The Wise Man's Fear" next week. Truthfully, this is more so because I'm afraid I'll forget the characters if I don't read the sequel right away, rather than an overwhelming desire to continue the series. I didn't put this book down, run back to the library and get the next book immediately as I have with other book series. However, given my history of bias against fantasy novels, the fact that I'm actually planning on reading the next book should be some sort of sign as to how good the book is. When it comes down to it, it's a well-crafted story, and that's all I really want out of a book regardless of genre. For that reason, I'm recommending it.
   I have a few books in the works for next month, but if anyone has any recommendations, please let me know! I'm always looking for good books!