While in Paris, some women may choose to indulge in the romance of the city by burying their noses into their favorite Nora Roberts or Danielle Steele. I’d rather pick up a good dystopian thriller any day…well, most days 😉 . As I make my way through Europe towards Paris, you too can be catching up on just a few of the best dystopian, thrillers, and mysteries of this season. Au Revoir!
Emily St. John Mandel
You’ve probably seen this prized novel on the storefront display shelves of every local book store and on the top of every popular fiction chart. But Station Eleven earns its keep. This last March, Emily St. John Mandel took home the prize at the Morning News’ Tournament of Books, beating out Anthony Doerr’s colossal success of a novel, All the Light We Cannot See. It’s been compared to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in its apocalyptic heaviness and David Mitchell’s intricately woven Cloud Atlas in structure. Emily St. John Mandel effortlessly portrays humanity, in all its fragility and helplessness, as an incessant search for meaning. What this novel advocates as the ultimate meaning, of course, is art. Lest we forget, ars longa, vita brevis.
The Harder They Come
The Harder They Come, released in March, is heralded for its storytelling – as all Boyle’s writing is. Just recently, he’s been announced the winner of the Rea Short Story Award, a $30,00 prize and the title of Best Short Story Writer in the United States or Canada. In The Harder They Come, Boyle addresses complex questions on authority and identity. He spoke to the New York Times to discuss some of the major ideas behind THTC:
“…we are taught from elementary school to be skeptical of authority, not to march in lockstep with everyone else: to be independent,” he said. “But again, where does my freedom encroach on your freedom? And how do we agree to respect each other and have a society?”
The Girl on the Train
With a whopping 14,420 reviews and a 4.1 star rating on Amazon, you should pick up The Girl on the Train right now. Arriving on the tail winds of Gone Girl’s success, Paula Hawkins has written a thrilling, women-centered mystery novel that contributes an interesting contrast to the conversation on the female-focused mystery genre. Where Gillian Flynn’s writing has been called “feminist zeitgeist”, Hawkins’ subtlety offers a more profound psychological thrill.
Edan Lepucki’s California first hit it big by making a course-changing appearance on The Colbert Report last fall. But by that point, I’d already devoured it. A) I support local San Francisco authors. B) It was a dystopian set in California wilderness – right up my alley. Like Station Eleven, Lepucki’s depiction of the dark complexities of humanity makes the reader ask themselves the tough questions: How far would you go to survive?
Southern Reach Trilogy
The Southern Reach Trilogy makes my Spring Reads list because I continually find myself thinking back on this this series when I’m reading other apocalyptic novels. Vandermeer’s character and world development remarkably stands out amid the tidal wave of post-apocalyptic novels published in the last year or two. There’s something unique about his stories and a review in the New Yorker hits the nail on the head: “In today’s literary landscape, it’s natural for the Southern Reach books to find themselves grouped together with the broadly ecological, post-apocalyptic stories that are now in vogue. But there’s not much that’s post-apocalyptic about VanderMeer’s novels. They’re not interested in how life ends, but in how it changes, and they are fascinated by the question of persistence through change.”
Now, get reading!