Since I started being more monogamous (I’ve used the word monotony instead of monogamy in previous posts because English is hard and my brain likes to take naps without warning mid-writing), I have been reading more books, but I have also been reading at more comfortable momentum. I’m not sure if that means that my speed has increased or decreased. All I know is that I’m not feeling compelled to blow through the book so that I can shift my attention to other unfinished titles. This has been providing me with the opportunity to truly get a feel for whatever I am consuming in the moment.
With anime and Asian dramas, or even films, I always get certain vibes about what I think will happen, or I will start to feel a peculiar way about the overall technical aspects of the show (animation quality, action sequences, chemistry, etc.) within the first episode or two. When I read really fast, or make the attempt, a lot of those first impression moments get left behind in the dust. Yet, with this new method of gradual reading, my experiences with the stories that I engage with feel far more fleshed out and better developed. There are also far less annoyances or frustrations that stem out of sheer impatience. As such, I can finally start to do bookish first impressions more regularly!
Aside from obtaining a more rewarding and deeper connection with whatever the hell I’m reading, first impressions also help me formulate a foundation for crafting well thought out reviews after I’m finished with the novels. Plus, it’s super fun to see how much my perception of a narrative can shift from beginning to end, if it shifts at all. My impressions shall be based off the first fifty to one-hundred pages of reading (for books with 400 pages or less; anything more will focus on seventy to one-hundred-fifty pages).
The first set of bookish first impressions I’ve done were for Aru Shah and the End of Time and Sea of Rust. My second set—and hopefully the start of a more steady segment—shall focus on Storm Glass by Jeff Wheeler and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. The only reason there are two books in this shindig is because Sir Besty demanded that I read Good Omens ASAP so we can watch through the series together. They are obsessed with that damned book, no pun intended… okay, maybe a little bit.
Storm Glass by Jeff Wheeler
Storm Glass is a fantasy novel and my first one from this author! I have heard many great things about Wheeler’s writing (after I checked it out), and after reading the first eighty-some-odd pages, I can see why.
The story thus far has been following a little girl—Cettie—who lives in the slums of a large city with a foster guardian who only helps kids in order to take advantage of their presence financially. One evening when a friend of hers gets busted for stealing food, a prominent figure of the realm stops by her foster home to investigate matters. An eccentric sort of connection is formed between her and this dude, and he ends up rescuing her from these horrid circumstances by adopting her into his family. She quickly learns that he’s very wealthy and lives in a large manor that is located on a flying mountain of sorts, that magically floats above the city slums.
The two things that have stood out to me most from the first eighty pages are the pacing and the world-building. I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting much when I grabbed the book from the library. If you asked why, my reply would be that I honestly don’t know. The basic premise and the cover seemed so substandard, then something about it made me hold on to it. Up ‘til now, though, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
Wheeler’s descriptions of the surroundings and atmosphere cover most, if not all, of the basic senses rather well. It was quite easy for me to visualise what the poorer parts of town looked like, smelled like, sounded like, and even what it felt like when relevant. Then as we transition into the wealthier parts of the world, the descriptions for hunger and tasting food unlike anything else also felt very real. It has been so immersive and effortless to get lost in the pages of Cettie’s new experiences. All of her feelings of awe, loneliness, and uncertainty are also expressed in ways that make it impossible not to empathetic. This is probably the number one thing that I look for when reading fantasy: world-building and the crafting of ambiance to help create a truly escapist environment.
The progression of events is the second thing that has impressed me thus far. We are introduced to the Cettie and her saviour fairly quickly. There are snippets of information about her current predicament in poverty, some minor morsels that hint to her past and potentially who her parents may have been, and also that she may be magically inclined, although that part is far more inscrutable, as is the magic system itself. The sequence of events that unfold have been moving so fast, yet without ever feeling unnecessarily rushed or unfulfilling. I do question if the story shall maintain this motion, or if it will slow down later. As it stands, it’s wonderfully pleasant, and I cannot wait to see where the story shall lead me.
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Good Omens is a stand-alone British, supernatural, comedy novel that I finally picked up became Amazon released the limited series over on Prime a couple of days ago, and Sir Besty has been asking me to read this book for the better part of a year. I just kept getting distracted. Now that the series has finally arrived, I’ve been banned from reading anything else for the next couple of days. After testing the first seventy pages, I feel like an arse for putting it off for so long.
The novel, in a simple nutshell, is about the apocalypse and two individuals who are sent out to deal with it—an angel and a demon. That’s all that I know about the story and that’s all I want to know. Sir Besty has told me that this is a tale that must be experienced more than anything else.
I have one complaint about Good Omens and that is the chapter set-ups. There aren’t any. Instead the book is broken into sections that revolve around a specific time period, so to speak. No distinguishing chapters exist. The only reason this irks me is because my OCD likes to stop with the end of a chapter and that becomes far more difficult when the “end” has seventy to a hundred pages in between.
Aside from that, Good Omens is fricking hilarious. Being unapologetically British with a snarky and wicked handsome demon dude, there is very little to not like. The writing style can feel convoluted at times, more so if you’re unfamiliar with British vernacular and pretentiously dry British humour. But that is a humongous part of its charm. I laughed out loud quite a few times already, particularly when I least expected to. Crowley is a stylish asshole that I know I will be crushing on until the end of my days. Discovering that he’s played by David Tennant only makes him that much more fabulous. The dude screams kindred spirit!
I’ve never read anything by Pratchett, nonetheless you can definitely tell there is a unique concoction of Gaiman’s writing mixed with another individual’s, and they work so brilliantly together. Having scene changes, or character POV changes without set chapters, isn’t easy to pull off. It’s done in Good Omens quite naturally. There isn’t a lot of time spent on explaining every little detail. In the realm of expressing the atmosphere, settings, and character exchanges, everything is straight-forward and depicted in the simplest of ways. However, the word usage and the way that the whole lot is draped in sarcasm and exasperation that is akin to a corporate office setting, is marvellously engaging and so damn funny.
I don’t normally read a lot of comedy or satire because those aspects always seem to be compensating for shortcomings of other vital parts. Not here, at least not yet. I’m still in the early stages of this narrative after all. Somehow, I don’t believe I will face that issue in Good Omens.
My goal is to finish reading this book by tomorrow evening, so we can binge the series on Tuesday! If you have read Good Omens, please let me know what you thought of it without giving any spoilers if possible. I’m curious to hear your musings.
Storm Glass will be on break until after I’m done with Good Omens, but I should be able to finish them and review them both by the following week.