"Theo was cursed with an artist's soul but no talent. He possessed the angst and the inspiration, but not the means to create."
"Scratch a cynic and you'll find a disappointed romantic."
81. The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christopher Moore (304 pages) After an apparent suicide of one of her patients, psychiatrist Val puts all her patients on placeboes. Suddenly, Pine Cove's bar, with its new Blue singer, Catfish, is overrun with the depressed and lonely. Meanwhile, a giant, prehistoric sea beast emerges from the ocean and strikes up a romance with the town's B-movie has-been celebrity, Molly. As the town sheriff and his biologist friend try to unravel the disappearances and police corruption, romance blossoms everywhere in typical Moore fashion. One of Moore's best novels (though not as great as his masterpieces Lamb and Fool), funny and clever, refreshing, bawdy, comedic and brilliant. Moore is definitely an original: Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett meets Mark Twain. Grade: A
***HARRY POTTER SPOILERS BELOW, If you're one of the three people left on the planet who haven't read them (and, if you are, what are you waiting for?!?)***
82. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (607 pages) Reread for the sixth time. Realized something for the first time. When Harry and Snape square off, Harry says, "Kill me like you killed him, you coward!" He means James, his dad, not Dumbledore. Hence why Snape has such a visceral reaction: Harry just reminded him that he killed Lily. "His face was suddenly demented, inhuman, as thought he was in as much pain as the yelping, howling dog stuck in the burning house behind them. 'Don't call me coward!'" Woah, see rereading these things, get something new every time. Still adore that Tonks and Remus scene, the most romantic scene of all time, in my humble opinion. Man, do I adore Remus Lupin, the man that becomes the monster he is because he hates the monster he is, and yet, would be an awful monster if he didn't. Yeah, JKR is great when it comes to the torment. And anguish. And the blood baths. And the disturbing. Yikes, is there a more disturbing scene in literature than that Harry-forcing-Dumbledore-to-drink-that-potion scene? Oh, yeah, it's dead-bodies-piled-in-the-cafeteria scene of the next book!
"Parents shouldn't leave their kids unless--unless they've got to."
83. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (607 pages) Reread for the fourth time. Sure, this was probably the most disappointing book in the series. Sure, it tends to ramble and meander. But, you know what? This is the end of one of the most brilliant (not to mention, my personal favorite) series, and the series ends just exactly as it should: with triumphant victory and rivers of tears (holy crap do I bawl during this book, and the death of Remus and Tonks still physically upsets me). It is full of beautiful, powerful, absolutely perfect moments (the greatest of which is Harry's walk down to death) Most importantly, this book is a shining example of why JKR and her books are so brilliant, powerful, and beautiful: it isn't just all the deaths that move us so deeply, it is JKR's complete understand of what death is. She knows that the true horror of death is the loss of those we love and those who love us. Death may be the greatest mystery and horror of human existence, but it isn't death itself. The true is a horror only faced by the living.
The other reason that JKR's books are so extraordinarily brilliant is how chock full of character, drama, and plot. There's the beautiful little love story between Remus and Tonks, where Remus can't handle his own guilt and grief at allowing himself a bit of a normal life. In other words, he can't face the monster within himself. Then, of course, there's the whole Snape and Lily love story. That line, after Dumbledore asks Snape what he'll give him to protect Lily and her husband and baby, and Snape just replies, "Anything." Seriously, JKR doesn't need to write a prequel; 3/4 of the books are telling the story of what happened before the first page of Philosopher's Stone! And it is a brilliant story.
84. Pompeii by Robert Harris (278 pages) Attilius is sent to the area around Vesuvius to discover why the aqueducts are no longer flowing. He gets embroiled in corrupt politics, particularly those of a corrupt, wealthy former slave Ampliatus. He falls for Ampliatus' daughter, Corelia, as he uncovers corruption and the mystery of why the aqueduct is failing. As we all know, Vesuvius erupts, eventually burying the town in ash and fire. While the setting is fascinating and the characters somewhat engaging, the writing capable, the plot is lackluster and meandering and the book never goes beyond decent historical fiction beach read. Could have been much better. Grade: B
"But then…what? What would my life be like on a daily basis? Most of it has been consumed with the acquisition of food. Take that away and I'm not really sure who I am, what my identity is. The idea scares me some."
85. The Hunger Games by Susan Collins (374 pages) Katniss lives in a post apocalyptic, poverty-stricken world where every day is a fight against hunger. But everything changes when her beloved little sister is chosen as tribute in the tyrannical Capital's Hunger Games. Katniss volunteers to go instead, and she must go into an arena of twenty-four other adolescents to fight to the death. Her drunken trainer and the simpering idiots blinded by the glory and entertainment of the Games are no help to her. Only her own survival skills and Peetra, the other tribute of her district, can help her. But what will happen when her survival instincts conflict with her growing feelings for the boy who once saved her? Collins crafts a fascinating (if not original) premise that allows for brilliant character study between the enigmatic, but thoroughly likeable characters of the furtive Peetra and the hardened, cold survivor Katniss. Though Katniss is far from heroic in any epic sense (she's too concerned with survival and playing the Games rather than being concerned with any grander scheme), this is her strength, as she is thoroughly a realistic and complex character, deeply refreshing in the science fiction genre. Though the novel is predictable, it is deeply engaging, with both an action/adventure appeal, and an emotional one. A very strong first of a trilogy. Grade: A-