Friday, August 28, 2015

All The Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Two young people's live  intersect when American bombers head for St. Malo, the last German stronghold.

Only a rare writer can develop such nuanced characters or create such beautiful moral complexities.

Wherever he goes, Werner hears his sister Jutta's sad question reverberating in his head: Is it right to do something only because everyone else is doing it?

Marie-Laure who is involved in the resistance with her Uncle Etienne wonders if they are the "good guys."

Neither knows the meaning of the numbers Etienne recites into the clandestine radio transmitter.

Tension builds as both Marie-Laure and Werner become trapped. Werner is trapped under a hotel, L'Abeille, when it is hit by Allied bombs. Marie-Laure is trapped in her great Uncle Etienne's secret room in the attic.

Sergeant Major Von Rumpel frantically searches the house for the gem, The Sea of Flames, the one Marie-Laure's father has sworn to protect. 

Tired of hiding, Marie-Laure nearly gives herself away. Werner, who has managed to escape from his own ruin, decides to make things right in the only way he has left.

All the Light We Cannot See is a contemplative, well-researched novel. 

Recently, All The Light You Cannot See won the 2015 Pulitzer prize for fiction and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal For Excellence in Fiction.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Wool by Hugh Howey

In this trenchant debut novel, Hugh Howey describes a highly-stratified, post-apocalyptic society. To escape toxins, human beings have at some point crept into an underground silo of immense size. 

Some live in the up tops, some live in the mids, and some live in the deepest deep, Mechanical. Those at the top rarely know what is happening at the deepest levels. 

Criminals or "cleaners" are forced outside to clean the silo's only window situated at the top of the silo. Dust storms keep this window cloudy. Residents can only see a clear view after a doomed silo resident cleans the window with a steel wool pad.

Something , however, is amiss in this highly mechanized, highly stratified world. Children in nurseries are given children's books but they are told the children's books tell lies. They believe green grass and blue skies are fairy tales.

But what if everything you thought you knew about your society was a lie?

No one knows who built the silo or who erased the servers data about the uprisings. Alison, Sheriff Holston's wife, believes IT is hiding something. Holston never gets to know what his wife learns. She self-destructs and leaves the silo voluntarily.

When a new sheriff is chosen, Juliette, she is quickly ousted by IT and forced to become a cleaner. She expects to die but she discovers something that takes the novel in a whole new direction.

Jules is a wonderful character--strong and smart--whose act of defiance--entering silo 17--makes all the silo 18 residents rethink what they know. 

Wool is one of three exciting novels that form a trilogy. If you like Wool, you may like Paolo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker, Ernest Cline's Ready Player One, or Andrew Weir's The Martian.