Quick Lit #3: What I’ve Been Reading

Hey Fellow Readers,

Today is that wonderful time of the month where I get to chat about the books I’ve read and give some quick thoughts. Well, relatively quicker than my usual reviews. I have a Sci-Fi Romance, a ‘Near Future’ A.I. crime thriller, and a Nonfiction book about religious violence.

Under the Banner of Heaven – Jon Krakauer

On July 24th, 1984 (a Mormon holiday), a young mother and her 15 month old baby were found murdered in their home. The husband left behind knew who the murderers were, his older brothers, Ron and Dan Lafferty. Their reason? God told them too. 

From this starting point, Krakauer unfolds a story about religious violence. You see, the Lafferty brothers were fundamental Mormons, the black sheep that mainstream Mormons wish to sweep under the rug. They are known for their belief in polygamy, which brings up images of compunds, prairie dresses, and prophets. Another overlooked tenet of these extremists is the idea of direct revelation, where God can speak directly to any of his chosen people (i.e. true Mormons). 

When the Lafferty brothers said that God told them to kill an innocent woman and her child, their conviction was solid and they truly believed they were doing God’s work. Krakauer tries to uncover where the root of this violence lies, as he goes over the history of Mormonism’s beginnings, the current state of the fundemtalist sect (roughly 40,000 people), and how direct revelation has been used to further violent means.

There’s a small group of books that I wish I could recommend to others all the time, but due to the subject matter I know I should tread lightly. The subject matter is fascinating but difficult to read at some points. Along with murder there is rampant abuse (especially sexual) towards young women in these cities run by the fundementalist mormon church. 

There’s so much more I wish I could discuss but I gotta save some for my dual review with a fiction book focused on the same subject matter. If you think you’ll be fine reading Under the Banner of Heaven then I highly recommend it. 

This Is How You Lose the Time War – Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

Red and Blue are on different sides of a great Time War. This ‘enemies to lovers’ story focuses primarily on the progression of the relationship through letters. Can these soldiers in a forever war find a way to be together?

This Sci-fi Romance got some major buzz last year. I don’t read romances so I thought this would be a good opportunity to go outside my comfort zone. I really enjoyed the setup and the first third of the book, but then everything became repetitive. The romance aspect got too over the top for me, very flowery and grand. I just never got completely on board for the characters and their relationship so the ending fell flat for me. Which was just a bummer since I really wanted to root for them.

I know some who really love this book, so if the premise is appealing then I would give it a try, just know that the romance is the major part (though some of the Sci-Fi elements were pretty neat).

Lock In – John Scalzi

An epidemic leaves millions dead worldwide and 1% of those who survived the flu (roughly 5 million in the U.S) develop Lock In syndrome. The book takes place 20 years after the fact, and how the world has changed. Chris Shane is a Haden (someone who has Lock In syndrome) and through advanced technologies (robots!) is able to participate in society. Shane decides to become a FBI agent and the book follows the protagonist’s first case with Haden Affairs. 

A near future detective story that’s reminiscent of old A.I. stories. When I first heard the premise I thought this was going to have a horror element, but this is straight Sci-Fi meets buddy cop drama. 

I was going to try to explain the plot further but there’s no way to shorten it because holy cow, there’s so much exposition. The prologue is a wikipedia article, and that should have been a clue about how the book was going to go. I didn’t mind the prologue because there was so much to set up before the reader can jump into the story, but I did mind that throughout the novel there were so many sections of heavy exposition. 

The story and set-up were interesting, I just wish the way the information was conveyed was handled better. Just reading pages and pages of technobabble explanation was tedious. The best parts were how this particular world affected those around them, especially Shane’s partner Leslie Vance.

There are other elements I admire in the book, so I’m on the fence about the second book. I only wish I knew if I would be drowning in technobabble again…

Quick Lit is a monthly meme hosted by Modern Mrs. Darcy where you can post short reviews on the 15th.

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