Tuesday, June 25, 2013

O Brave New World!

One of the things I love most about books is that some of them will spark interesting conversations.  Not all of them are intelligent, in fact some of them are volatile, but I always enjoy that two people can share a moment based on a book they've both read.

Today, my coworker, we'll call him Al, came into my office looking bewildered.

Al: Ok, I was on the elevator going to C1 (our basement/storage/mail room level) when this woman got on.  She asked if me I knew I was going to C1. I told her yes and she asked me if I was sure and if I realized that was the basement.  I mean, I pressed the button, didn't I?
Me: Weird.  She got on one of our floors (we rent floors 2-5 to the Dept of Justice)?
Al: Yeah. 
Me: Why would anyone from one of our floors question going there?  Everyone goes there to mail something or get something out of storage.
Al: It was weird.  And especially from someone on 7.  Don't we breed them for their docility?
Me: So they're Gammas?  What are we, Betas?  Let's face it, we sure as hell aren't the Alphas.
Al: We can dream, Susie, we can dream.
Me: [mumbling as I walk off to get tea] But I like being a Beta. Alphas work too hard...

Brave New World

If you haven't had the (for some, dubious) pleasure of reading Brave New World, then that exchange will mean nothing to you.  However, if you have read it, you may remember that in this futuristic dystopian novel, people were made in petri dishes to fit into one of three groups: Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, the blue collar laboreres; Betas, the middle of the road beings; and the Alphas, the high intellect, upper class people.  Gammas love being Gammas because Betas and Alphas have to think too much.  Betas love being Betas because they're smarter than Gammas but don't have to work as hard as Alphas.  And Alphas love being Alphas because they are superior to the two other groups.  Etc.

While I didn't love this book - it's way too disturbing for me and depressing at the end - it provokes a lot of interesting conversations.  There are so many themes in the book: technological advances, the caste system, lack of self, hedonism, Freud's Id, Ego and SuperEgo, etc. Again, I didn't like this book, but I appreciate it for the brilliance and the importance of its themes.

This isn't why I read books, but it is an added bonus.  I love to have a conversation about them and glean some other insight, to see how someone else responded to it.

My favorites to discuss are: Brave New Work, The Handmaid's Tale, The Hunger Games, World War Z, and, just because I hate it SO much, 50 Shades of Grey.  Oddly enough they're all dystopian.  Except for 50 Shades, which is just awful.

So what books have you found relevant in today's world?  Ones that spark conversations or arguments?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Colour Wielders by Dawna Raver

Colour Wielders (Heirs of the Magykal Realm, #1) 
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Rating: 4 stars

Twenty-two year old Quinn thinks she's losing her virginity to the love of her life - to the man she's seen in her visions.  But after the deed is done, things quickly go bad.  Not only is Thaene not who he seems, he is much worse - an evil changeling. Quinn's world continues to be turned upside down when she discovers that her father is a Magyikal (Fae) King, her mother is a Fae Goddess and she is a Princess.  Also, an evil Magykal is going to use her to get out of his prison, so she is in danger.  She needs to learn to trust new and magical (magykal even) people and beings to help keep her safe. 

Six hundred year old Arik - nephew to Loki (Norse God of Mischief) and son of Tyr (Norse God of War. Side note: his name is Tiw in Old English, and Tuesday was originally Tiw's Day.  Fact.) and Morgana le Fey (evil sorceress of Arthurian legend) - feels pulled to Quinn but is fighting it tooth and nail. 18 years prior, he had a falling out with his father and Finn, the man who raised him (coincidentally, Quinn's father)and after threatening the Princess, he banished himself. Living only for himself and between the Light and Dark, no one trusts him except for the one person who shouldn't: Quinn.  And she may be the one who can turn his life around and save him.

So to start with, readers should know the basic mythology here: Norse and Fae/Arthurian.  Magykals are people with colorful powers who live in another world (like old Ireland), Flaitheas Draiochta.  Their main god is Dagda and Quinn's mother is a Goddess, Corra.  They are able to shift from one place to another, change their clothing and each have "special" powers specific to them.  Also, their eyes change colors depending on their emotions.  Norse gods also live in this world, hence Loki and Tyr.  No other Norse gods are mention, nor any other mythology, so you don't need to worry too much about that.  The Magyicals and Gods are ruled by the Triarchia.  They are mystical, not so nice beings who somehow got power after Morgana le Fey entombed Merlyn (who in this book called Myrddin Emrys).  The Triarchia made a ruling stopping procreation, so any Magyikals who want children are banished to the Mortal realm (our world) and are outcast as Bizzarelings.

So now that you've got that, you can read the story and not be quite as confused as I was.  The reader learns all this at the same time that Quinn does.  Turns out there is a glossary at the end of the book, but I didn't know that until, well, the end.  Anyway, about half way through, things start getting explained.  This also coincides with Arik and Quinn interacting.  At this point, the story is easy sailing and totally enjoyable.  Arik is swoon-worthy and his romance with Quinn is just awesome.  Sure, he's a bad boy with mommy and daddy issues, but he's still pretty awesome.  Quinn is naive and I have some serious issues with her boy-craziness and decision making skills (lack there of), but she's an immature 22 year old, so I suppose it's to be expected. I look forward to seeing her mature in future books.

The ending leaves us with a cliff hanger for book 2, and it is quite an ending: a jaw dropping, OMG did that just happen ending!  I cannot wait to see how things progress from here.

You can find Colour Wielder's on: