Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Reading on a Theme: Inspired by the Classics


Alice in Wonderland:
Queen of Hearts is the story of Dinah, heir to the throne of Wonderland. With her coronation approaching, Dinah hopes that she will be able to make a real impact on Wonderland, but sinister plots are afoot. I really enjoyed seeing how Colleen Oakes adapts Lewis Carroll's world. The Cards, Cheshire, Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, and Queen of Hearts are brilliantly connected to Carroll's originals and simultaneously unexpected. I loved that  the future Queen of Hearts gets some life and nuance beyond Carroll's "off with her head" creation. The phrasing, characterization, and pacing is all great, and the descriptions of Wonderland absolutely do justice to this fantastical world. I liked this book in a I-wish-I-could-read-the-sequel-now way. Review copy from NetGalley.
 
Persuasion:
I love Diana Peterfreund's novels, and For Darkness Shows the Stars is her very best. This book was a five-star read for me. In Peterfreund's retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion the stakes are much higher and the danger is greater. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the caste system of Luddite overlords and Reduced underlings is challenged by the rise of Post-Reductionists. Everything about this book is breathtaking--the world-building, the characters, the atmosphere. I am so amazed at Peterfreund's creation. I wish I was still reading it. If you love a good post-apocalyptic novel but are having a hard time finding a good one in the deluge of dystopias out there these days, read this one.

H.P. Lovecraft:
It's hard for me to decide if I think that The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge is a good weird or just weird weird. The world in this book is based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, after all, so weird goes without saying. Unfortunately it's been so long since I've read any Lovecraft--since Dr. Sederholm's American Horror Literature class in oh, 2002. I'm sure this book would have been that much more enjoyable if I could remember more than Cthulhu. Perhaps Cthulhu will make an appearance in a sequel. It's got to right? As it is arguably Lovecraft's most famous creation. Other than the weirdness of this novel, I found the book to be a little long. I would have found the story more enjoyable if the plot had been a little tighter.

The Picture of Dorian Gray:
Basically the only thing that I really enjoyed about Darker Still was the concept: an Oscar Wilde Picture of Dorian Gray tribute. The writing was nothing special. The romance between Natalie and Lord Denbury was a little over the top. I felt pretty meh about the whole thing. This was my second go at a novel by Leanna Renee Hieber, and I think it might be my last. 
Jane Eyre:
Jane, upon her parents' sudden death, finds herself without much money thanks to her very self-absorbed siblings. Forced to drop out of school to earn her living, she is hired to be the nanny for rock star Nico Rathburn's daughter almost exclusively on her practical personality and lack of interest in celebrity. April Lindner's Jane follows Jane Eyre to a tee, thus there are very few surprises, but the beauty of the story is in its contemporaneity. Lindner's Jane has the same personality as Charlotte Bronte's. Lindner's casting of Rochester as a rock star is perfect and allows Nico to be eccentric, passionate, creative, scandalous, volatile, and extremely wealthy. I'd like to read Linder's other Bronte adaptation, Catherine.

What works of classic literary would you like to see adapted into something new? I have my eye on a couple of books that take their inspiration from Peter Pan and a couple based on the stories of Robin Hood. 

 

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