Thursday, December 27, 2018

Reading on a Theme: Inspired by the Classics

I do love a good retelling. Today we have five retellings inspired by classic literature. These books are all great. From award-winners like Ibi Zoboi's Pride and Prejudice retelling to the next hilarious offering from the Lady Janies, you really can't go wrong with these books, so read one or five.

The Talented Mr. Ripley:  
I found E. Lockhart's thriller Genuine Fraud to be compulsively readable. The big gimmick of this book is that it's told backwards. The beginning is really the end and you start completely confused, but it didn't take me too long to get into the flow. I think the structure works well for this story. The suspense was definitely heightened. Layers are pealed off the characters little by little, and, for a story about a chameleon, this works great. As with most thrillers, it's probably best if you go in not knowing much at all other than that this is the story of Jule and Imogen--two friends with a lot of secrets. I read this book around Halloween too, which was the perfect time of the year for this twisty tale.

Pride and Prejudice:
Zuri Benitez is the Elizabeth Bennett of Ibi Zoboi's Pride. The central conflict in this story is the result of the gentrification of Zuri's Brooklyn neighborhood. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri is determined to hate them all, especially Darius. Darius, for his part, acts, as far as Zuri can tell, as if he's way too good for his new community. I loved this retelling. I really enjoyed what Ibi Zoboi did with the structure of the story. She, like Jane Austen before her, really sheds a light on social concerns. I became very fond of both Zuri and Darius, and I really loved Zuri's whole family. A sense of place is really important in this novel, and Ibi Zoboi does a fantastic job with the setting. Pride was out September 18, 2108. Review copy from Edelweiss.

Moby Dick:
In Patrick Ness's retelling of Moby Dick, the whales get their say. In this upside down world, whales and humans are enemies who hunt one another. Bathsheba is our narrator, and she tells the story of her last hunt for humans. Her pod captures a man, and, through her interactions with him, Bathsheba begins to rethink everything she thought she knew about the war they are waging. I'd called And the Ocean Was Our Sky an allegory. It's a tale about how violence begets violence and enemies become faceless. The book is also beautifully illustrated by Rovina Cai, and that really adds to the reading experience. And the Ocean Was Our Sky was out September 4, 2018.

Much Ado About Nothing:
McKelle George sets her Shakespearean retelling on Long Island during the 1920s. Our main characters are all trying to keep Hey Nonny Nonny, a struggling speakeasy, afloat. This was such a charming tale. I really enjoyed it. The banter between hate-to-love couple Beatrice and Benedick is the best. Beatrice, with her brusque mannerism and feminist ambitions, is so much fun to read about. Benedick, who is soft on the inside, makes my heart melt a little. And it wasn't just them, I loved all of the characters in this book. Hero and Maggie and Prince and John. I really could not do without any of them. The 1920s setting is quite well done. I think I'll go listen to the jazz playlist featured in the Author's Note now. Speak Easy Speak Love was out September 2017. Review copy from Edelweiss.

Jane Eyre:
My Plain Jane is a retelling of Jane Eyre by The Lady Janies who brought us the delightfully funny My Lady Jane. This time our three narrators are Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte, and a ghost hunter named Alexander Blackwood. In the "true" story of Jane Eyre, ghosts are real, Jane can see them, and the sinister doings at Rochester's house just might be linked to actual ghosts.The more I think about this book the more I like it. The creep-factor totally works for a retelling of Jane Eyre. This book would be such a fun October read if you want something that is a little creepy and a bit atmospheric but is mostly just fun. Also, I love how the authors rewrote Rochester's, Charlotte's and Branwell's lives.

All books reviewed by JoLee.

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