Holiday Whatnot plus Books 83 & 84

It’s quite busy here at HBS these days, as you might imagine. I’m working on the floor and in the receiving department, making sure books get upstairs for customers. The holiday season is always interesting. Some years people are cranky; this year people are in good moods. The economy?  Who knows? We’re seeing runs on all kinds of titles and of course, publishers are running out of the hottest stuff.

Generally the atmosphere here is chaotic but lively and fun. We try not to do the usual Christmas songs either, which is great. My parents and sister are on their way to Cambridge to spend the holiday with us this year. With some snow on the ground, I’ll be able to deliver a nice New England Christmas. And no, I don’t mean uptight and cold.

I’m still reading whenever I get a chance too. I read two books since the last post, one of which is an older book, the other just guilty pleasure reading.

I’ve always wanted to read PD James’ dystopian novel Children of Men. When I saw the movie (which I really liked), I knew it was based on this novel. What I wasn’t aware of was how different it is! The book is great but I couldn’t help but notice all of the differences in plot. Set in England in 2021, the world’s population finds themselves infertile. Most of populace have accepted this and have begun rather bizarre rituals, but a small group of dissesnters arise. The narrative switches back and forth between third and first person; some chapters are the “diary” of Theo Farron, an Oxford don.

In 1994, the sperm count for males dropped to zero and the last people born are called Omegas, who remain a special race apart. Theo’s cousin Xan has become the de facto leader of the UK–he’s referred to as the Warden. Theo is approached by Julian, a member of a dissenting group who call themselves the Five Fishes. They ask Theo to approach his cousin about reforms, which he does to no effect. The story moves forward several months, after Theo leaves England for a while to travel. Upon his return, he’s contacted by one of the Five Fishes who says that Julian needs his help. Julian has a secret which she reveals and that changes everything. I won’t reveal in case you have not read the book nor seen the movie.

That’s the basic plot which differs drastically from the film. Theo has an estranged wife, but she barely figures into the novel other than to give Theo some background for his general misanthropy. And the leader of the UK is Theo’s cousin,  but he’s a huge plot point in the book. I like both versions, but the book is more nuanced and less heavy handed. Upon further research I realize that they called the film a “loose adaptation” but it’s still interesting to compare the two.

Book #84 is the fourth in Chelsea Cain’s series featuring Archie Sheridan and his torturer and serial killer Gretchen Lowell. The new one coming this Spring called The Night Season doesn’t have Gretchen however. It’s more of a straight murder mystery. In this one, Portland is flooding and a old skeleton is uncovered. Plus there seems to be another serial killer on the loose. The plot keeps you on your toes and there’s some character development as well. The descriptions of the flooding are particularly well done.

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