1. Eye of Jade – A Mei Wang Mystery by Diane Wei Liang
- First book of a mystery series, features strong Chinese female character who works as a private investigator in Beijing. Unfortunately, the mystery itself didn’t grab me, as I thought the ways in which the protagonist solved the mystery were filled with coincidences and her assistant revealing something he found as he walked along the alleyways of Beijing that helped her discover the truth. Nor did I particularly empathized with the protagonist herself. Yes, yes, she’s independent and full of honour and pride, etc etc, but somehow she felt more like an “idea” of a character, someone that the author keeps telling us about her characters achievements, yet never really gave her leading girl room to react and breathe life into the world the author illustrates.
However, the one thing I did like about this book was the backstory, and how her mother and father were connected into her current case. The bits of what we saw of Mei Wang’s mom and dad were utterly fascinating to me, and the decisions they made during the Cultural Revolution appealed to me the most. Now, if only this story was retooled into a story about her parents working their respective jobs and meeting each other during the Cultural Revolution, I would have gobbled this story up.
But I think this opinion of mine may also be attributed to my personal preferences: I don’t normally go for mystery novels, and novels that take place during a specific time in history (And I find the Cultural Revolution particularly interesting) are far more fascinating to me. 2. Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
- My first novel by Butler. While the whole re-imagining of the vampire lore was utterly fascinating, I found myself rather meh towards the actual story itself. I never really got to like the main protagonist – she felt too alien and inhumane, and I couldn’t find it in myself to be emotionally invested in her adventures. Also, the whole new vampire lore felt very… Stuck forcefully into the story. I got the impression of ‘Oh look, let’s take a paragraph or two to illustrate how my great and complex society works!’ in certain sections of the story I read. It was rather disconcerting, and it took me a long time to finish it because after trudging through one chapter, I’d always get up and go do something else. I never got invested enough in the story to plough through it from beginning to end.
So, the tl;dr – cool concept, actual story didn’t click with me3. Certainty by Madeleine Thien
- Gail Lim, a producer of radio documentaries, goes off to unravel the hidden, untold stories of her parents’ lives.
Let’s get this out first: I really didn’t like this novel. It was a frustrating read, because the whole story felt so heavy-handed with the message the author was trying to send, and I think the author was also trying to do too much all at once, resulting in a jumbled and inconsistent story. The whole thing felt too complicated, what with our protagonist already dead at the very beginning of the story, to the bits where Thien would switch between writing about what happened in the past, what Gail went through as she travelled the world to do her documentaries, and the life of her boyfriend when she was gone. I tend to love, love multiple layers in my fiction—but only if it is done properly. And in Certainty
, it just didn’t work. None of the transitions flowed well, and she would never give us enough time to become acquainted and attached to her characters before switching perspectives again. Also, the heavy handed messages about memory, truth, etc. It all felt very… Pretentious. Do not recommend. 4. Hunter’s Oath by Michelle West
- Set in a fictional land called Breodanir, wherein the people are under the protection of their gods, the Hunter God, and males of certain families, called the Hunter Lords swear to these gods and partake in the Sacred Hunt every year. To keep in touch with their humanity, Hunter Lords bond with a huntbrother, a male from outside the family.
I didn’t care much for this story,
despite the very obvious slash possibilities of such a premise
mostly because I didn’t care for our protagonists. I never felt emotionally engaged to the storyline and I found it hard to immerse myself in the book. 5. The Arrival by Shaun Tan
The pictures are gorgeous—simple and detailed all in one—and without a single word Tan managed to convey every tiny human emotion, every little moment, and captured how big the world was, and how we are all connected to one another. (more)6. Salt Fish Girl by Larissa Lai
- One of my favourite novels I read in 2008. And certainly my favourite SF novel I read by a POC so far. It’s set in a future city wherein bank jobs are done through video games, past leaking into the present in the form of a disease, and one of our main protagonists stinks of Durian. What more can anyone want from a story, really? =D
Also, Larissa Lai did a lovely reimagining of the Chinese creation myth and Nu Wa is incorporated beautifully in this novel. And her lead protagonists, all females with agency
, were strong and sympathetic and their own person. Made of Win. (more ramblings here)