Reading wrap-up #91: Right On, sci-fi! and modern witches

The rumors are true, I finally read Frankenstein, so naturally I had to name this blog post after a song with his name in it: Right On, Frankenstein! by Death from Above 1979, who I saw live this month but sadly didn’t perform one of their most popular songs.

As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it, won’t shut up about it for the foreseeable future
  • (★★★★): Really liked it, enjoyable experience
  • (★★★): Liked it enough, no strong opinions
  • (★★): Didn’t care for it, would actively discourage people reading it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews. Finally, you can always check out my book review index page if you’re looking for my extremely important opinion on any book in particular.

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Upgrade by Blake CrouchRating: ★★★

Genre: Science fiction, thriller

GoodReads rating: 3.86 / 5 ( ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from the library)

Summary: After supposedly getting the all-clear from a bio-terrorist attack on the job, Logan Ramsay starts to feel different. Heightened senses, increased strength and bottomless knowledge are few of the upgrades he’s been experiencing. His genome has been hacked and he must use his new abilities to fight against those like himself to keep his horrible family legacy from becoming worse.

Warning: This book contains mention of suicide.

Thoughts: I was quite disappointed in this book. I’ve read and gave five stars to his other books Recursion and Dark Matter for not only their fascinating concepts but great character development and relationships as well. Unfortunately, this book had neither. It’s funny that Emily Fox and I had the same exact thought before I read her review: it felt very Jason Bourne, less in the plot for me (I don’t recall much of the movies) but more so in the played out feeling with a familiar plot and lone wolf middle aged man character. This book felt more like a dad action film (I love you, Da!) which isn’t the worst crime, it was entertaining enough but at this point, I expected more from Blake Crouch. This character sucked: he went to prison, met his wife while she was doing research at the prison (yikes), got a government job straight out of prison as basically a cop researching potential criminals (is Crouch aware this actually happens in real life?). But it’s okay because he feels ill whenever they do raids, he’s not really that guy… give me a break. All the bad guys were either women or dudes with some foreign connotation (the name Alexei, Burmese soldiers, etc.) so that also felt icky. At the end of the day, this felt very dated for something that was published just months ago.

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Frankenstein | Book by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Bernie Wrightson, Stephen King | Official Publisher Page | Simon & SchusterRating: ★★★★

Genre: Classics, science fiction

GoodReads rating: 3.84 / 5 (1,395,600 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from the library)

Summary: Victor Frankenstein has a hunger and passion for science that leads him to discover the elixir of life and create a “monster” of his own creation. While discover the world and its place in it, the monster reeks havoc on its creator’s life leading to an ultimate showdown years in the making in the arctic.

Warning: This book contains mention of incest and suicide.

Thoughts: This books needs no introduction, I liked it a lot. I find it much easier to read classics on audiobooks rather than read it myself and risk getting caught up in the unfamiliar language of the time. This story has gotten warped over time with the least of out concerns being that the creator is called Frankenstein rather than the monster and it was humbling to get back to its true meaning.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1) by Becky Chambers | GoodreadsRating: ★★★

Genre: Science fiction

GoodReads rating: 4.29 / 5 (38,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from the library)

PopSugar prompt: A duology (1 of 2)

Summary: “Centuries before, robots of Panga gained self-awareness, laid down their tools, wandered, en masse into the wilderness, never to be seen again. They faded into myth and urban legend. Now the life of the tea monk who tells this story is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered. But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how. They will need to ask it a lot. Chambers’ series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?”

Thoughts: This summary gives more information about the world than the book did, so it was quite overwhelming to be thrown into this book as someone who doesn’t typically read sci-fi. However, this turned out to be a nice cozy read just about a monk and robot who walk around and muse about life. Chambers had a really interesting take on robots (the invention, self-realization and conflict had already come and gone) and this was one of the first book I’ve read with a non-binary character. Even watching media with non-binary characters, it’s easy to fall into our conditioning of assigning certain characteristics as “boy” or “girl” and tallying the score to figure out what the character really is. But with nothing to base Dex on, this was a great reading experience if only for that character. I chose this for my duology mostly because these books are short and seem like a good, light sci-fi read.

In Defense of Witches by Mona Chollet

In Defense of WitchesRating: ★★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, feminism

GoodReads rating: 4.24 / 5 (9,780 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from the library)

PopSugar prompt: A book about witches.

Summary: “Centuries after the infamous witch hunts that swept through Europe and America, witches continue to hold a unique fascination for many: as fairy tale villains, practitioners of pagan religion, as well as feminist icons. Witches are both the ultimate victim and the stubborn, elusive rebel. But who were the women who were accused and often killed for witchcraft? What types of women have centuries of terror censored, eliminated, and repressed? Celebrated feminist writer Mona Chollet explores three types of women who were accused of witchcraft and persecuted: the independent woman, since widows and celibates were particularly targeted; the childless woman, since the time of the hunts marked the end of tolerance for those who claimed to control their fertility; and the elderly woman, who has always been an object of at best, pity, and at worst, horror. Examining modern society, Chollet concludes that these women continue to be harassed and oppressed. Rather than being a brief moment in history, the persecution of witches is an example of society’s seemingly eternal misogyny, while women today are direct heirs to those who were hunted down and killed for their thoughts and actions.”

Warning: This book contains mention of sexual assault, misogyny, murder, self harm, suicide and assisted suicide

Thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised by this book, it really hit on issues a feel a handful of feminist books I’ve read miss out on: ageism and the choice to be child-free. The day I finished this book, Shelley Duvall was trending online and if you Google her name, pictures of her younger self come up before more current pictures. On a similar note, if you image search Carrie Fisher you’ll also see mostly younger pictures than if you searched Harrison Ford, which yield more current pictures. I also loved the bit on being child-free, as I am and will remain for many reasons and independence and how an independent woman living or travelling alone a or focusing on her career is more often seen as sad and filling the “void” of motherhood, but when a man does something similar it’s admirable. I wish this book went more into the history of the witch murders, but I suppose that’s what history books on the topics are for. I liked that Carmen Maria Machado wrote the introduction and with the author being French I was introduced to some French feminism and ideas.


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