Friday, January 20, 2012

Book bender

For the past week or so, I've been fully consumed by a book bender. Which is a lot like any other bender. You overdo it. You spend all of your waking hours that aren't at work, working on your bender progress. And some of your non-waking hours become waking hours all in the pursuit of finishing another page, another chapter, another book. More. More. More of a good thing can't be bad? you ask yourself. And the bender replies, Of course not.

Th book bender even has the same hangover feeling as a regular bender. Although with fewer lasting effects on your liver probably. The same woozy head and need for water that you forgot to drink. The same stack of crud in your apartment that didn't get taken care of. Laundry. Dishes. Overflowing trash bin.

You took care of the basics. Mostly. The cats are fed, their litter box is clean. You showered daily. Or at least every other day. Or at least on the days you went to work.

First thing book I hit on my bender was Frozen by Robin Wasserman. I chose this book because I knew if I read Shadow, book four in Allie's War by JC Andrijeski, I would start on a bender. I love this series and knew I would read the entire 220,000 word novel in as close to one stint as I possibly could. (220,000 words, btw, would make this ebook almost 900 pages if it was published as a mass market paperback.)

And I wanted to avoid the bender.

So I resisted diving into the next book in what I knew was an all-consuming series. I picked up a YA dystopia that I thought I could put down after the first volume.

Unfortunately, I got kind of interested. There was some interestingly unresolved interpersonal stuff at the end of Frozen. So I checked Shattered and Torn out of the library's YA section and finished what's called the "Cold Awakening Trilogy" in a weekend.

These books have a scarily possibly future. We've screwed the world over with pollution, nuclear bombs and "accidents," as well as religious wars. Society has stratified itself to the uber-rich, the poor who live in work camps, and the even poorer who are too mutated or unfortunate to live in work camps and are therefore living in the nasty shells of former cities. The uber-rich pretty much live their lives on the network. Oh there's interpersonal interaction, but you don't define yourself in reality as much as you do in your "zone." Of course, all of this is background. The novel opens with the teenage main character's death and her subsequent rival into a mechanical body. True to form for a spoiled, rich, bitchy teenager, she spends the first 50 pages whining about being dead and/or a machine. It took me a couple of months of picking up the book and putting it down to get past those opening pages. But the premise was intriguing enough that I didn't give up on the book.

But I find my problem with YA dystopia -- YA fiction in general -- is that the endings do not make me happy. How do you plan to resolve all the juicy love triangles if  [skip to below the three the icy book covers if you don't want to hear any hint of spoilers] one or all of your love triangle participants is dead, reprogrammed, some sort of zen ball of energy, or an all-seeing eye in the sky, a beneficent Big Brother?

This, people, is why I read books that are clearly labeled romance. At least that way you know that one of the interpersonal relationships will have some feel of finality by the end of the book.
These books were previously released as Skinned, Crashed, and Wired with unpretty covers. They were recently renamed, rebranded, and rereleased. They have really pretty covers in this edition, no?

I was so pissed off that I knew I needed to start reading another book immediately to take my mind off how annoyed I was with the ending that was, albeit, the logical inevitable conclusion based on the world/characters/situation.

I needed to cleanse my palate. And in the process I pushed myself into an even larger reading bender than I ever could have done with one 900 page novel.

I'd requested a copy of One for the Money by Janet Evanovich from my local library after seeing a trailer for the forthcoming movie with Katherine Heigl. The book is hilarious! Absolutely amazingly funny and such an easy, engaging read.

I'm not normally a fan of crime fiction or mysteries, but I'm totally sold on the New Jersey bounty hunter named Stephanie Plum. She's not one of the many kickass crime fighting chicks of fiction. Oh no, she's working the gossip tree of Italian mommas and busybodies. Not to say that there aren't fight scenes, explosions, and gun play. Actually, the gun play is very, very dangerous if you're a roast chicken in this novel.

That may make the book sound more lighthearted than it is. But the end effect is that the gritty parts balance out the humor.

My copy of One for the Money said there was a sequel. Great!

I got it. Read it in a day.

Got the next one. Read it in two days.

I'm on Four to Score right now. If I finish it in the next day I'll have read seven books in eight days.

Definitely on a book bender.


I keep thinking about stopping, but then Joe Morelli does something interesting and I want to read more. And then I get a hint that someone happens (maybe) with Ranger in book five, so of course I want to get to book five.

I've redefined what "laying in supplies" for what will likely be a long, snowy weekend means: a fridge full of chinese takeout and books four, five and six checked out from the library, on my coffee table and ready to go.

I looked to the series itself for some relief. I mean, even if I didn't have the willpower to stop this madness, the series had to end sometime. Right? There can't be an endless supply of Stephanie Plum novels waiting to suck me into a never-ending book bender. Right? There can only be a few more novels in this series, surely.


Janet Evanovich has at least eighteen Stephanie Plum novels out.

At this rate I won't resurface til Groundhog Day.

Highly Recommended