SarahMichigan (sarahmichigan) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books #53-54

Book #53 was "Lock In" by John Scalzi. I love a good genre mashup, and this combination of murder mystery and sci-fi really worked for me. In the near future, a flu-like plague has swept the globe. Some people die from it, while others seem mostly unaffected. A small percentage experience full paralysis but unaffected mental function, resulting in "lock in," called Haden's Syndrome. The world throws lots of money at research toward a cure and adaptive devices, so that it's not uncommon to see androids, called "threeps," housing the personalities of the paralyzed "locked in." Some of the people who survived the plague have also had their brains subtly rewired so that they are capable of "carrying" a locked in person's conciousness in their bodies, called "intergrators". The story starts with Chris Shane, a locked in survivor of Haden's syndrome, starting his new job as an FBI agent with a case that involves one man dead and another man, an integrator, covered in blood but not remembering what had happened. Chris Shane and his able-bodied partner must solve the mystery. I've always heard Scalzi was a good writer, but the plots of his other novels haven't grabbed me, so this is my first, but I'll likely read more by this author. I've also met him in person at local conventions and he is one of the good guys, so I'm happy to support his writing career!

Book #54 was "Broken Harbor" by Tana French, the fourth in her Dublin Murder Squad detective novel series. French takes a secondary from one book and makes him or her the main character in the next book. So, in the last book, the main character was undercover agent Frank Mackey, who went head-to-head with an old rival, Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy. Scorcher Kennedy becomes the main character in Broken Harbor, and to French's credit, while Kennedy is a blowhard who is difficult to like, she humanizes him in this novel by giving him a complicated family life and a case that messes with his head. A terrible attack has taken place at an abandoned housing development called Broken Harbor, with two children and a man dead and the mother of the family in critical condition at the hospital. At first, things seem cut and dried, but the more evidence that Kennedy and his newbie partner Richie find, the more complicated and nonsensical everything seems. French's novels all tend to have a theme, but they're usually subtle and artfully done. The theme of this one - that you can do everything right and still have things go off the rails - is a bit heavy-handed. That's really my only criticism. She does an admirable job of humanizing Kennedy, making you feel sympathetic toward his partner, Richie, and making your heart ache for the family of victims. I've saw a reviewer make a comment along the lines that French's novels are really literary fiction disguised as detective novels, and I have to agree. She's an author to keep an eye on.

1. Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time" [nonfiction]- David Oliver Relin and Greg Mortenson (unabridged audiobook)
2. The Detroit Electric Scheme [fiction]- D.E. Johnson
3. Classic Philip Jose Farmer 1964-1973 (Volume 5  in the Classics of Modern Science Fiction series) [fiction/short stories]- PJ Farmer
4. "The Aspern Papers" and "The Turn of the Screw" (omnibus volume with notes and commentary) [fiction]- Henry James
5. Ever After (11th in "The Hollows" series) [fiction]- Kim Harrison (unabridged audiobook)
6. On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family [nonfiction]- Lisa See
7. Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama [nonfiction/ graphic memoir]- written and illustrated by Alison Bechdel
8. My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir [nonfiction/memoir]- Noelle Hancock
9. House of Leaves [fiction]- Mark Z. Danielewski
10. Ready Player One [fiction]- Ernest Cline (unabridged audiobook)
11. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America [nonfiction]- Barbara Ehrenreich
12. Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales from a Life [nonfiction/memoir]- Harriet McBryde Johnson
13. The Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus series) [fiction]- Rick Riordan (unabridged audiobook)
14. Ivanhoe [fiction]- Sir Walter Scott
15. Ancillary Justice [fiction]- Ann Leckie
16. Beauty Queens [fiction]- Libba Bray (unabridged audiobook)
17. Burnt Mountain [fiction]- Anne Rivers Siddons
18. Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia [nonfiction]- David Greene
19. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex [nonfiction]- Mary Roach (unabridged audiobook)
20. The Likeness [fiction]- Tana French
21. Atonement [fiction]- Ian McEwan
22. The Westing Game [fiction]- Ellen Raskin (unabridged audiobook)
23. Nappy Edges [poetry]- Ntozake Shange
24. Childhood's End [fiction]- Arthur C. Clarke
25. Tartuffe [play/drama]- Moliere, translated and with introduction by Richard Wilbur
26. Bicycle Diaries [nonfiction]- David Byrne
27. Cotton Comes to Harlem [fiction]- Chester Himes
28. Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox [fiction]- Eoin Colfer (unabridged audiobook)
29. House of Sand and Fog [fiction]- Andre Dubus III
30. Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes [nonfiction]- Maria Konnikova
31. Blood Colony [fiction]- Tannarive Due
32. All the Light We Cannot See [fiction]- Anthony Doerr (unabridged audiobook)
33. The Summer Prince [fiction]- Alaya Dawn Johnson
34. The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science [nonfiction]- Douglass Starr
35. The Three-Body Problem Cixin Liu [fiction]- Cixin Liue (translated by Ken Liu)
36. Daisy Miller [ficiton/novella]- Henry James
37. Raven Boys [fiction]- Maggie Stiefvater (unabridged audiobook)
38. Faithful Place [fiction]- Tana French
39. Babyji [fiction]- Abha Dawesar
40. Motherless Brooklyn [fiction]- Jonathan Lethem
41. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? [nonfiction/memoir]- Jeanette Winterson (unabridged audiobook)
42. Unbound (third in the "Magic Ex Libris" series) [fiction]- Jim Hines
43. The Undead Pool (the Hollows series) [fiction]- Kim Harrison (unabridged audiobook)
44. On Such a Full Sea [fiction]- Chang-Rae Lee
45. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek [nonfiction]- Annie Dillard
46. A Widow for One Year [fiction]- John Irving
47. The Broken Cord [nonfiction]- Michael Dorris
48. The Count of Monte Cristo [fiction]- Alexandre Dumas (unabridged audiobook)
49. The Dark Forest (second in the The Three-Body Problem trilogy) [fiction]- Cixin Liu
50. The Ride Together: A Brother and Sister's Memoir of Autism in the Family [nonfiction/memoir/graphic nonfiction]- Paul Karasik (author/illustrator) and Judy Karasik (author)
51. Bossypants [nonfiction/memoir]- Tina Fey (unabridged audiobook)
52. The Golem and the Jinni [fiction]- Helene Wecker

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