Time for another round of Yvonne’s Shorties! Since I have a huge pile of backlog reviews of the books I read during my break, I will be featuring an extra book in my shorties posts until I’ve caught up. This time around a gothic horror story with a fantasy vibe I read in Spanish and LOVED, a true crime story that failed to hit the mark and a romance story that did work for me.
“All the geography, trigonometry, and arithmetic in the world are useless unless you learn to think for yourself. No school teaches you that. It’s not on the curriculum.”
I consider The Shadow Of The Wind to be one of my all time favorite books, and I’ve been meaning to both return to that series and read more of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s books for quite some time. I’ve had a copy of Marina on my shelves for close to two years now, and I’m still not sure why it took me this long to actually pick it up… But I’m glad that I finally did decide to read it and turn it into my first Spanish read of the year, as I ended up having a fantastic time with this story. It is hard to put Marina into a neat little genre box, as it feels both like a coming of age story, a historical mystery and a supernatural horror read with a fantasy vibe. Somehow, this mix of different genres works perfectly, and with the backdrop of a 1980s Barcelona there is a lot to love in this story. His writing is simply splendid, and I love the way he is able to create the gothic atmosphere with his words. I really liked the friendship between Oscar and Marina (as well as Germán) and how the characters were developed in general, and their investigation itself was fascinating to follow. While I still consider The Shadow Of The Wind to be my absolute favorite, Marina is without doubt a beautifully rendered, atmospheric and creepy story that crosses boundaries between genres with ease.
Title: One Of Us
Author: Asne Seierstad
Translator: Sarah Death
Genre: Non Fiction, True Crime
First published: 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Finished reading: January 12th 2022
(Originally published in Norwegian: ‘En av oss: en fortelling om Norge’)
“Our answer is more democracy, more openness and more humanity. But never naivety.”
Right… This definitely wasn’t how I thought I was going to react to One Of Us. I’m always interested in true crime and I already saw the adaptation of this book recently, so I fully expected One Of Us to be a great fit despite my negative reaction to one of her other non fiction titles. Sadly, instead this book has confirmed that her style of writing up her non fiction accounts and me REALLY don’t get along. Don’t get me wrong: it is clear that she did extensive research and that a lot of work has gone into this story. The fact that the book not only focuses on Anders Breivik, but also on the victims is a good move, as it helps put in perspective just how big of an impact that day had on so many lives. BUT. I think that One Of Us is WAY overlong and put in so much background information and little details that the actual story of that day is rather lost. On top of this, I absolutely hated how she wrote down the events like a fiction novel. She describes actions, inner thoughts and dialogues of the different people like she were there with them at the time (some she never even had the chance to talk to as they died), and those thoughts and actions could never be verified as the truth. It left me with a bad taste in my mouth to be honest… Especially the first half of One Of Us dragged considerably, and I confess that I started skimreading sooner than later, which is never a good sign. I guess it shows that her way of writing non fiction and me clash considerably, and I don’t think I will try her books again.
“Because I’m starting to wonder if this is what being in love is. Being okay with ripping yourself to shreds, so the other person can stay whole.”
I kept hearing great things about The Love Hypothesis, so I decided to give it a go when I saw I needed a book with a ‘woman in science’ theme for a challenge. I’m definitely kicking myself now for not reading it sooner, as I ended up having such a great time with this one. I love the whole fake-dating trope when done right, and although things did get a bit frustrating as the two are so obviously into each other, as a whole I thought the trope was developed successfully. I really liked both Olive and Adam, and the rest of the characters really help giving the story more dept. True, there are quite a few cliches involved including Adam having the perfect body, but I loved how this story actually makes fun of some of the romcom tropes as well. I could have done without the sexy scenes near the end, which were WAY too much for me, but thankfully those moments are easily skipped if they are not your cup of tea. The Love Hypothesis also helps shine a light on the discrimination of women in the academic world and includes more serious topics to balance the romance, which is always a bonus… All in all this was definitely a success for me and I will be looking forward to read more of this author.