Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

(recommended by Tara and Allison)

I’ll admit it: I was dubious about this book when I picked it up. Told through a series of memos, chat logs, and other miscellaneous devices, Illuminae looked like it had the potential to be a mess, or at the very least bogged down by its format. More often than not I find alternative formats gimmicky or distracting, and rarely do they add to the story being told. Illuminae is an exception. Not only did the format keep me turning pages well past my bedtime, but it also enhanced the storytelling rather than diminishing it.

The characters came to life through snippets of interviews, messages, and diary entries. And the story, which started off with a bang, propelled forward with an abundance of tension and action. I cared about these people, I wanted to know more about the mysteries being uncovered, and more than anything I wanted to know how, and if, they would make their escape and survive.

I’m not certain I want to say more about this book. Anything else I could say would give away part of the surprise, and I wouldn’t want to diminish the joy of discovering this book for the first time. If a fast, fun, and at times creepy as hell and all around heart stopping, adventure in space sounds like your cup of tea then do yourself a favor and take a chance on this one. Don’t let the size or format scare you away – this is science fiction worth missing sleep over.

Slade House by David Mitchell

(recommended by Kelsey)

A fantastic haunted house story– existentially horrific and built in the space between existence & non-existence, death & non-death, life & immortality. Every nine years the beings that dwell in Slade House need to refuel, seeking out those ‘engifted’ with the special souls that can keep death at bay. But the system is faltering, and the greedy demigods are getting desperate. Slade House is as entrancing as is it disturbing, a story you cannot peel yourself away from.

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

(recommended by Tara)

As a long time fan of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast I was eager to get my hands on this book ASAP. My enthusiasm waned somewhat as I waded in, but by the end I was glad I saw it through. The book is written in exactly the same style as the podcast, which sounds like a good thing, but actually it’s a detriment. The cadence that works so well delivered “over the radio” falls somewhat flat in print. In addition to the writing style this book is heavy on the references and light on the plot. If you’re a fan you’ll enjoy reading about John Peters (you know, the farmer?), invisible pie at the Moonlite All-Night Diner, librarians, and the millions of other little things. If not, prepare to be on the outside of one long in-joke.

Here’s the thing though, since I love Night Vale I couldn’t help but enjoy this book. There’s something fun about being in on a joke, even if it’s not the best one you’ve heard, right? Once the plot got rolling, and the book tried to tell more of a story instead of just cramming in a bunch of weirdness and references, I enjoyed myself.

So here is my advice: If you’re a fan you’re going to want this book. Resist the urge to get the print edition and get the audiobook instead. I haven’t listened to it, but I feel confident the experience would be better through headphones than on paper. After all, Night Vale should be heard, not read. Let Cecil tell you the story, and the issues should melt away. And if you’re not a fan? Start with the podcast. Ideally, go for a drive through the desert while listening to the podcast. Stop at a diner. Reflect on the weirdness of life. It would be a better glimpse into Night Vale, and use of your time, than jumping into this book without a lifejacket, and most likely sinking.

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong

(recommended by Kelsey)

Just as irreverent, hilarious, and surprising as JDATE and TBIFOS! Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits begins with Zoey Ashe trying to rescue her cat from a holographic Santa. Things only get stranger from there. Little does she know that she is being stalked psycho-killer who plans to gnaw on her bones with his new, surgically augmented jaw. This psycho-killer (one of many to come) calls himself The Hyena, but maybe that brings up too many questions about his genitalia (he does NOT give birth through his penis, like regular hyenas do), so he switches to The Lion. Or maybe The Piranha. He hasn’t decided yet.

The book only gets more outrageous from there, never pausing from its full sprint pace. Fans of David Wong’s previous cult hits will not be disappointed.

Advertisements