Books that stick

A recent Facebook question had me wondering at books that had stuck in my mind. Not necessarily good books, or ones that I liked. Just ones that stuck.

Here are three more that stuck with me, sometimes for reasons unknown, vague, or not all together solid.

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter – Cassandra Rose Clarke

Clarke examines the possibility of consciousness in robots through the eyes of a girl/woman. For Cat, the mad scientist’s daughter, there is no question and no hesitation that Finn, a robot acquired by Cat’s father, this is conscious and sentient. Further, she gives it no thought. It just is. Finn comes into Cat’s life when she’s a child, unassuming and sequestered from regular life because of her father’s work. Finn is a constant, and, to her, normal.

I found this book sticking with me because, about halfway through, I realized that Cat was more robot than Finn. It was interesting to view a sentient and “human” robot through the eyes of an unemotional, desensitized human. I find myself every now and again drifting back to this book, it’s content, it’s characters, and how things have changed (or haven’t) since Asimov’s I, Robot. Would I recommend this book? Yes, if only because it’s not what you expect.

Strange Country – Deborah Coates

I didn’t know this was the third book in a series; there was no mention of it on the blurb or cover. It wasn’t until I was a couple chapters in that I really wanted to know what happened before and consequently figured why I was missing out.  (Wide Open [#1] and Deep Down [#2] are the precursors.)

This is an interesting read for a few reasons. It doesn’t read like a fantasy or even speculative fiction. It’s too real. There’s a lot of reality and today in the story between the fantastical stuff. As well, it’s character heavy. There’s a lot of internal dialogue going on, a lot of baggage from before, and a lot of character-driven stuff going on between characters. There’s also no background download. You pick up what information she drops along the way and it ain’t much; you just go with it and ride the story. I finished the book, held it up, and thought, “Not a lot happened plotwise or mythology-wise. But there was 300+ pages of stuff going on. Character stuff. Character arcs, and lots of baggage-sorting via the sparse events.” If you’re not into internal monologues, pass on this book.

This book reminded me of the sense of place developed by Susie Maloney in A Dry Spell. It also reminded me of the mini-series The Lost Room. There are photographs of odd places and “objects” and it’s a twist on today’s reality. “The Lost Room” stuck in my brain because of it’s originality and this book is lodged into the mental bookshelf beside it. Would I recommend this book? The jury’s out; I’ll let you know when I finish the first two!

(As of this post, I have zoomed through the first two. Report: good! Great sense of place.)

Outrageous Fortune – Tim Scott

I picked this book off a table piled with books during the World Fantasy Convention in 2008. I picked it up because the cover reminded me of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (DON’T PANIC!). It is like HHGG, but only vaguely. Maybe with a side of “Total Recall” (not the original Philip K. Dick version, either). There are some lovely turns of phase, some nifty ideas, but mostly I was just along for the ride, as was the protagonist (I sense a pattern here…..). Again, I would recommend this book because it isn’t what you expect.

~YK

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