Recent Good Reads – The Hollow City

This is the first in a series of regular posts that I’m calling ‘Recent Good Reads’ – because I read a lot – and I do like to talk about the books I read – but the only other adult in my house doesn’t share my passion for reading (I still love him, though) – so, congratulations(!) – you, dear readers will be subjected to my ramblings instead. (it’s an excessive hyphens sort of day)

Hollow City

Today’s book is The Hollow City by Dan Wells.

I got this book from my parents last Christmas and it’s been chillin’ on my shelf ever since (I did get a massive stack of books last Christmas and I make regular trips to the library so, you know, I have plenty of lame excuses). I read it as a reward for surviving NaNoWriMo. As I usually don’t do any reading during November, now I’m behind on my yearly goal of 50. I have ten more to go. Thank you GoodReads for helping me keep track (and reminding me that I’m six books behind and failing at life – so helpful of you).

I love Dan Wells’ books.

I’d never read anything in the horror genre, before picking up I Am Not A Serial Killer, but I’d been listening to the Writing Excuses podcast for awhile and wanted to check out his work. I loved I Am Not A Serial Killer, so I went and bought the rest of the series and loved those, too. And then there’s Partials – which is YA Sci-Fi (probably Stacy’s favorite genre). It’s awesome, you should read it – and Fragments is even better, so you should read that one, too.

Dan Wells is meticulous. You can tell the man does his research and really thinks about the worlds he creates. And then he comes up with these wonderful, flawed characters (sociopaths, schizophrenics, androids) and he makes us care about them and root for them.

I don’t even know how to classify The Hollow City – sci-fi horror maybe?

I didn’t know if I was going to like it – and only vaguely recalled what it was about (too lazy to read the front cover blurb) – but I couldn’t put it down!

One of the things that makes this book interesting is that you have a completely unreliable narrator. The main character, Michael, has schizophrenia so as a reader, you’re really not sure what’s real and what isn’t. And his thought process is absolutely fascinating. I was convinced that his delusions were real and Mr. Wells presents Michael’s point of view in such a way that his delusions and reasons for believing them made perfect sense.

And then the plot went in some unexpected directions…hey, I like being able to figure stuff out before I get to the reveal, but I like not knowing, too.

Conclusion: Dan Wells just writes fantastic books. Go check this one out!


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NaNoWriMo 2013 Retrospective

I’m back! And I’m a Winner!

What an…interesting month it was for me. I’m not going to lie – it was hard(!) – which was disappointing after the phenomenally positive experience I had in April and July for Camp.

This novel is also a mess (even more so than my NaNo novel from last November) – which is frustrating because I know I’m capable of writing something coherent. I’m supposed to be getting better, after all. Not worse!

During week two, I took a break writing my main character’s viewpoint and did some flashback scenes for another character. And I really like that character. A lot. What I tried to do was have the two story lines converge toward the end of the book – the main character being a linear timeline in the present while the secondary viewpoint is a series of flashbacks leading up to that character’s present time when the two characters finally have a showdown at the end. I still think it’s a cool idea and it could work but I didn’t even get close to having it ‘work’ here. Just figuring out how the main character was going to get from A to B was struggle enough (PS I didn’t figure it out).

My first problem was that I only gave myself a month to think about it. I was going to work on a novel I had already started back in August, but I changed my mind in favor of doing something ‘new.’ Bad idea. I really had too many ‘what is my character going to do now?’ moments.

My second problem seems to be that I might enjoy writing male characters more than females. Given that my protagonist is female…I struggled nearly everyday to write something interesting. My first instinct is to write female protagonists. I don’t know why that is – maybe because, being female myself, I think I know what a girl would say or do. It’s familiar and seemingly easier. But men and boys just have a swagger that female characters…don’t. They’re more fun to write. I suppose that’s a failure on my part to write engaging female characters.

So overall, I don’t feel like this NaNo was a success even though I ‘won.’ I am proud of myself for not giving up -because there were days when I really wanted to.

On a positive note, I had Writing group earlier in the month and loved it. I wrote a scene for my NaNoWriMo novel specifically to share with the group and it turned out pretty well. We’re still talking about a first draft here so there were some things I wasn’t happy with, but I am a perfectionist so I’m never completely satisfied. As I was listening to the others reading their selections I kept wishing that I could write as well as them. While I was reading mine (which was SO much easier this time), I realized that I enjoyed reading my writing, too. And maybe, just maybe, I’m doing alright at this whole writing thing…