Paraphernalia is a fascinating little book of all of the magical everyday items of our lives. As an English professor, Steven Connor explores not only what makes everyday items special to us, but where the words came from and how the many words are related. It sometimes felt too detailed, and I tended to skim through certain parts of the chapters, but it was worth reading for little snippets that opened my eyes to the world around me.
Connor is a skilled writer, and I found myself amazed at how he explained the emotional connection we share with objects that I had never paid conscious attention to. I still find myself thinking about the chapter on batteries, and how he perfectly described the emotional difficulty I have throwing away old, useless batteries, that I could never have put into words.
Reading it as part of the Bout of Book read-a-thon overwhelmed me a little. It’s not a book that needs to be read beginning to end. It would be the perfect book to have lying around, and to pick up and read a random chapter.
The Hunt grabbed my attention instantly. It’s based on an interesting premise: humans, called ‘hepers’, are an almost extinct species, and those remaining hide in plain site of the normal ‘people’ – a vampire-like species (the word vampire is not used once in the novel) who cannot control their bloodlust for heper flesh and would devour any heper they sniffed out within seconds.
What could potentially become a laughable vampires-as-people concept was handled well – it seemed odd at times, but to me was never so unbelievable that it became implausible. What did become implausible was how it was possible for the main character, Gene, to hide among these creatures and suppress his most basic of human instincts like tears, laughter, sweat and shivers. The world was also a little difficult for me to grasp. It lacked the overwhelming info-dump of some novels, but could have done with a little more explanation. Some details could go a few chapters before I really understood what they meant.
Before I had reached the end of the book, I made the decision to not read on in the series. There was nothing I actively disliked about the book, the writing simply lacked subtle refinement that would have improved the story’s credibility and clarity. Towards the end the action and pace picked up but then the book just ended. This book does not have a resolution. Not even a lull in the action. It’s clear the next book will pick up exactly where this one finished. So I’ll continue reading, but if the second book doesn’t improve I probably won’t read on further.
This book has been included in many underrated book lists, and although I didn’t greatly enjoy the story, it’s definitely still worth a read. It’s a unique concept, and unlike longer dystopian stories it doesn’t centre around changing the world. It’s a story of survival and instinct and what it really means to be human in a world that isn’t.
An extra note: The Hunt paperback is only $4 at Amazon! Bargain!
I read these books as part of the Bout of Books read-a-thon. Reviews for the two other books I read will be published next Wednesday.
What books have you read this week? Let me know what you thought in the comments or leave me a link to your own reviews!