Mirador Reads Recent Book Releases

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E. Alper

(From left) Katrina Kovalik, Megan Freeman and Sophia Bollag enjoy reading their books on the senior lawn.

Megan Freeman, Sophia Bollag and Katrina Kovalik

Following are several book reviews to help guide your choice. From Salman Rushdie’s fantastical recent release, The Enchantress of Florence, to Patrick Ness’s adrenaline pumping sci-fi trilogy Chaos Walking, to the colorful and intriguing fantasy world of Brent Weeks in The Black Prism, several genres are represented.

Title: The Enchantress of Florence
Author: Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie’s award-winning novel, The Enchantress of Florence, is a book filled with mirrors. The novel begins in 15th century India with the arrival of a traveler who, by performing a series of magic tricks, manages to gain an audience with the Mughal Emperor.

The traveler, a blonde European with a knack for deception, calls himself Mogor dell’Amore and informs the Emperor, Akbar, that he has an important story to tell.

After many pages describing events at the Mughal palace, Akbar, enchanted with Mogor dell’Amore, eventually asks the European to tell his story. Through skillful manipulation of narrative distance, Rushdie makes Mogor dell’Amore’s story the primary story in the novel—at least, for a few pages. Rushdie does this many times in the novel, switching the focus between different, interconnected stories-within-stories so that, by the end, the reader is unsure which story is the primary one.

The stories told by The Enchantress of Florence mirror each other, reflecting different elements back to each other in the form of parallels, distorted by different points of view and repeated in different settings, until you have a complete, if somewhat hazy, understanding.

Rushdie obviously researched extensively when writing this book, and it shows—a little too much.

Rushdie’s Renaissance references are so numerous, and sometimes unnecessary, that much of the narration has a name-dropping tone. Rushdie poses complex questions on the nature of the individual, the importance of truth, and the realization of dreams, but never provides any answers.

In the end, the nebulous, unrealistic nature of The Enchantress of Florence leaves readers with little more than a few fantastical stories and very little realistic meaning.

Title: The Black Prism
Author: Brent Weeks

The Black Prism is set in a fantastic world where certain people are born with the ability to manipulate colors. If a person who can manipulate the color green, for example, sees some grass, they can “draft” the green and use it as matter to create a new object of any shape. Like in any story where people have special abilities, there are some who aspire to use their powers for good, and some for evil. Kip, a young boy who has flown under the radar for most of his life, is thrown into the middle of a war and discovers that he may have color drafting abilities of his own. Although some of the politics in this book are a little complicated, the bond the reader will inevitably form with Kip, the magical world he lives in, and the plot twists will keep you flipping pages until the very end. The Black Prism is expected to be the first book of a much-anticipated trilogy.

Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness

If you read any Young Adult literature at all (and don’t try to deny it, we know you do) you’d know about the growing trend of dystopian novels.  By no means is it a new plot device; writers have been using it as far back as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.  Patrick Ness takes this well-worn trend and utterly flips it on its head.  The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first in the Chaos Walking Trilogy, which chronicles the struggles of Todd Hewitt, the last boy in Prentisstown, where all the women have been killed by a mysterious disease.

As if that wasn’t enough of a bother, Todd has to deal with the Noise, the incessant babble of all the men’s thoughts projected aloud.  When Todd and his loyal dog discover a hole in the Noise, and even more shocking, a live girl, he is forced to flee from the only world he ever knew.  The cruel twists Ness throws at his characters will make your heart feel like it’s pounding through your eyes.  Ness barely gives you a chance to catch your breath between the explosions, shootings, alien raids, crazy murderous preachers, insane mayors and knife stabbings, but that’s what makes the book so good.