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Four books to cuddle up with

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Four books to cuddle up with


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Written by Julia Cheunkarndee

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

This is a lighthearted and witty book, filled with the type of humor typical of Gaiman and Pratchett’s writing. Set in modern day, an angel and a demon work together to try to avert the end of the world.

Despite the possibly apocalyptic consequences, the book doesn’t take itself too seriously. Satan speaks through Queen songs, and the Antichrist is accidentally misplaced, along with an ancient book of prophecy. Still, however, Gaiman and Pratchett manage to work in some deeper themes along with Freddie Mercury’s top hits: the book’s main protagonists are an angel and a demon, but neither one is truly good or evil. Most striking is the moment when the demon (a fast-driving, snake-eyed Bentley owner) notes that, despite Hell’s best efforts, humanity is—in the end—its own worst enemy.

 

After Dark, Haruki Murakami

Murakami is well known for his works of surreal fiction. These stories are dreamlike and thoughtful, driven through feeling rather than reason or plot. Because of this, readers who prefer faster-paced or action-heavy stories would probably find After Dark to be one of the slower novels they’ve read.

The focus of the story revolves around a young girl named Mari and her relationship with her sister, Eri, and takes place throughout the course of a single night.  The pacing is steady, and as the night progresses, Murakami reveals more and more mysteries behind the characters he has created. The characters themselves, however, can feel detached in the writing; especially Mari, the main character, who seems less fleshed-out than the others. In any case, Marukami’s writing is entrancing. At the end of the novel, as the night fades away, reading the last page feels like slipping back out of a dream itself.

 

The Fifth Season, N.K Jemisin

This book won the Hugo award for Best Novel in 2016, and the honor is rightly deserved. Set in a world where apocalyptic natural disasters, known as “Seasons,” occur every few thousand years, another disaster has occurred—but this Season may never end. The main character—Essun—is a weary, middle-aged mother whose only goal is to save her daughter in the midst of the end of the world.

The complexity of this book is hard to compress into a short review. Jemisin explores perseverance, love and oppression. Many characters that are underrepresented in the fantasy genre are included in ways that feel natural, while also expressing a subtle point about diversity and representation in our literature.

Jemisin does not shy away from the difficult themes in her book, but rather grabs the reader and forces them to take an unfiltered look at the themes. She also doesn’t waste time explaining the basis of her world—in many ways, the reader is thrown into the action, forced to sort through the details that come their way and fit the pieces together themselves. The result is a confusing but beautiful novel and a unique world that features many of the flaws in society today.

 

A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman

At first glance, Ove seems like a cantankerous and completely unlikeable old man. In the first chapter of the book, he attempts to buy an “O-Pad” from the Apple store and berates the employees for going on their lunch break.  He’s also overly proud of his Saab car and follows a strict daily routine.

Nevertheless, if readers can get past his cranky exterior, the rest of the book reveals a greater insight into Ove’s character. This unraveling is hastened by the arrival of new next-door neighbors, who insert themselves cheerfully into Ove’s life. The novel is set at a good pace, and the writing is smooth and easy to read. While the plot is somewhat predictable, many other elements within the book are unexpected; Backman casts a thoughtful light on the older members of society that the world sometimes seems fit to dismiss.

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Four books to cuddle up with