What I Read in July 2015

I didn’t get a lot of reading done last month. Again, I was working too much too much to get a lot of reading done. I did finish the last of the Star Wars books I was reading and I devoured the Harper Lee’s new book, despite having some serious misgivings about how it came to be published. Honestly, I had read into that situation more closely before the book was released I likely would not have bought it. In the end, as distasteful as its release may be, it is being released and it does no one any good for me not to read it. Next month I hope to get back on track with my reading.

XWIsardsRevenge

X-Wing: Isard’s Revenge

Michael Stackpole

I had never read this book before. I wasn’t aware of its existence for the longest time.  Despite only coming out and being set 2 years after The Bacta War, Isard’s Revenge feels like a much later edition. It feels like Stackpole taking one last trip with the characters he created.  Despite being fairly action packed, it never feels that high stakes. This is a villain the team has not only already beaten; they completely dismantled her from a seat of power.  The specter of her that returns here doesn’t feel all that threatening.  Still, it is a fun romp with these characters.  Nearly every dangling plot thread from the first four books is dealt with in largely satisfying ways.  One in particular, though, feels like it is forced to set up some that is coming later. That is Asyr letting everyone else think she is dead to get her out of the life of hero that she is being forced into by eternal pain in the ass Borsk Fey’lya feels forced. It isn’t completely out of character, but it really feels like a choice made because her relationship with Gavin was going to be allowed to continue.  That is the one discordant note in an otherwise enjoyable but lightweight affair.

gsaw

Go Set a Watchman

Harper Lee

(I am not going into the rancid background for how this book came to be published.  The story is out there, if you want to look it up.  It is gross, but it doesn’t really factor into the book itself.) This is a complex, conflicted work.  It certainly feels like the unedited draft that it is, muddled and formless. That’s what happens when you dig up a half century draft that became another novel completely and publish it with minimal editing. It also has a close, but unclear, relationship to To Kill a Mockingbird. It takes place later than that book, and features many of the same characters, but they aren’t quite the same characters. The differences between those versions of the characters have been the source of much consternation among readers. A lot of that comes from Go Set a Watchman being in many ways a more complex work.

To Kill a Mockingbird has Scout regard her father, Atticus, as almost superhuman. He is the epitome of good in her mind.  At no point in the book is that belief questioned. He is all that in To Kill a Mockingbird.  In Go Set a Watchman, the adult Scout must grapple with the fact that her father is not perfect, but a flawed and fallible person like everyone else.  Not only must she confront this, but so must readers who grew up reading Mockingbird also have to face it.  It is a hard truth to face, but it is also a more mature situation than the childish take in the previous book.  If only the rest of Go Set a Watchman was as mature and well-realized.  It is largely a collection of anecdotes that doesn’t really build to anything.  They are just there.  It is not unlike To Kill a Mockingbird, but everything comes together more satisfactorily there than it does here, where things happen and the book ends. There is no arc or conclusion, just a collection of loosely connected events. It isn’t a masterpiece, but it is well worth reading.

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