29. Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman
I really wish I had liked this book more than I did. I heard Laura Lippman speak about it, and I enjoyed her talk much more than I enjoyed the book itself. It takes place in Columbia, Maryland which is a planned suburban city about halfway between Baltimore and DC. The book goes back and forth between the late 70s and today. Luisa is the first female States Attorney in Howard County and when she catches a murder case soon after taking over the job she starts to examine the memories she has from her childhood when another incident occurred when her father held the same job.
The book felt a little bit all over the place to me. In her talk she spoke a lot about her motivations for the writing the book and while what she was after is indeed a part of the book, I fear her message gets sort of lost in all the threads.There was also one particular thing I won’t give away that comes to light at the end of the book that I found rather ridiculous. Unfortunately this is not one of Lippman’s best books, but if you get the chance to hear her speak about it I would highly recommend it. I give it a 6 out of 10.
28. Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger
In this short book Junger looks at the issue of PTSD in soldiers. Examining tribalism from historical, anthropological, and psychological angles he suggests that the high rates of PTSD in soldiers returning from war may be related to the fact that we are innately tribal while modern society is very individualistic. Junger always does an excellent job digging into the subjects he’s writing about and this book is no exception. I give it a 7 out of 10.
27. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
This book won so many awards and having read it I just don’t get it. The premise did sound really interesting, which is why my book club picked it when we were looking for a post-apocalyptic novel to read. The story takes place in Bangkok after some sort of disease has wiped out much of the agriculture in the world and decimated the population. You follow a series of characters living there, but whose stories are only tangentially connected. There’s an American factory owner and the local man who runs it. There are people who are sort of agriculture police who run things and who are supposedly attempting to prevent future outbreaks, but really have their own agendas. Finally there is the titular windup girl, who is one of the new people, an engineered people created by the Japanese to serve them. I didn’t care for most of the characters or their stories and every time a new chapter started that focused on one of the people I didn’t care for I sort of groaned. I also wish you could hear my friend’s rant about how women are portrayed in this book. Let’s just say it is not well. No one in my book club cared for this book at all so I’m flummoxed by how widely praised it was. I give it a 3 out of 10.