Booknado 2016: January

So, for three years my sister Dallas and I have been creating an annual list of 12 books with different themes to read on a monthly basis. There was Bookpocalypse 2013, Bookmageddon 2014, Pluto is Too a Planet 2015, and this year’s iteration, Booknado 2016. I’ll post a review of each book and obviously since it’s now June, I have some catching up to do. So I’m going to knock out the first half of the year pretty succinctly. Here goes January!

January: A book that I want to torture my sister with

This theme is a little different, since we read different books. The book Dallas selected for me to read was:

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SPOILERS. As I try not to read too much about books beforehand, even avoiding the blurbs, this book turned out to veer almost immediately in an unexpected direction, best described with the alternate title: Honey, I Shrunk the Grad Students.

Characterization suffers in service to plot, which suffers in service to an enthrallment with theconcept of the plot, which is oh so clever and requires so much suspension of disbelief I could build a bridge with it. Characters are: the evil one, the smart one, the hero, the bitchy one, the insufferable one. There are tiny planes, mad scientists, Hawaii, and most intriguingly, nanobots that give a literal meaning to the expression “death by a thousand cuts.”

The novel has the distinction of being Crichton’s last; he passed while he was still writing it, and Richard Preston, of The Hot Zone fame, finished it up. While I encountered some reviews that complained about the marked drop of quality once Preston took the reins, I confess I could find no clear delineation between one author and the other as I found the entire novel mediocre from promising start to perfunctory finish.

To be sure, there is fun to be had with tiny humans in Hawaiian jungle who can jump super-high and fall from great distances due to their size, but the fun is overshadowed by a hilariously one-note villain, unsympathetic idiots, erm, protagonists, and plot mechanics that perform Rube Goldberg contortions to fit together.

Needless to say, Dallas knew what she was doing when she made me read it (the previous year we had the same theme for January and I had to read The Maze Runner). I could only find solace in the knowledge that I had chosen a special gem for her. As they say: revenge is best served in a book famous more for its gimmicky layout than its story:

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Ta-Da!

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