I read seven books this week. Unfortunately, most of them were in Japanese (and Death Note). That leaves
these three books:1)Unmanned--Y: The Last Man - Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra
What would happen to society if every creature bearing a Y chromosome suddenly died? A lot could go very, very badly wrong with this premise, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Vaughan largely manages to avoid these pitfalls.
This being volume one of nine (I believe), most of the page space is devoted to introducing the main characters and setting up their individual quests--something I wish more
series would do. By the looks of it, Vaughan has set out to tackle a smorgasbord of issues--family planning, genetic engineering, gender relations, the Israel/Palestine conflict--and thus far has avoided taking any easy outs or even any clear stances on these topics. End verdict: this has all the makings of an excellent piece of scifi (possibly dystopian?) literature. I'll definitely be proceeding to the second volume.2) MirrorMask - Neil Gaiman & Dave McKeanMirrorMask
is a creepy fever dream of a book. At its heart, it's a typical Gaiman take on a typical fairytale trope: young protagonist wishes ill on a family member in the heat of an argument, her "wish" comes to pass, and she must undergo various trials to undo the harm caused by her rash words.
Gaiman does an excellent job of capturing the voice of a young teenage girl, but McKean's creepy, impressionistic art, part Vision Tarot, part Matt Mahurin video, is what really makes MirrorMask
better than the sum of its disjointed narrative, which is so choppy in places it felt like pages were missing. Whether this is an intentional stylistic choice on Gaiman's part to create a surreal, dreamlike atmosphere, or due to the fact that this book is apparently (according to LT) the kid-friendly tie-in to a MirrorMask feature film, I couldn't say (although I rather expect it's 1/3 the former and 2/3 the latter). MirrorMask
is definitely worth the hour or so it takes to read, but probably not worth owning for anyone other than the dedicated Gaiman/McKean collector.3) The Watercooler Effect - Nicholas DiFonzo The Watercooler Effect
is a popular science book that seeks to explain the workings of rumors. DiFonzo guides readers through the definition of "rumor" and how rumors differ from gossip and urban legends, how they're formed and disseminated, the social and psychological roles involved in the retelling of rumors, and how to effectively deal with and control detrimental rumors.
Overall, DiFonzo does a good job of introducing, explaining, and illustrating each of these points; like most popular science books, however, I found myself wishing he'd gone into greater detail in many places. He's apparently written another book on rumors for a more academic audience; I'm considering giving that one a read. Aside from that, my main caveat for this volume is that many of DiFonzo's examples are introduced piecemeal throughout the text: for instance, a partial description of an experiment in chapter one is left incomplete, with scattered references to other aspects of the experiment in the interceding chapters, before finally being reintroduced and explained in full at a much later point in the text, and this makes for an often disjointed read. That said, The Water Cooler Effect
is an enjoyable introduction to its subject that will introduce readers to many aspects of this phenomenon with which they aren't likely to be familiar.
That will be all.