Tag Archives: reading

Cannonball #6

I am not ashamed to say that I am a Jodi Picoult fan. Apparently, I enjoy formula and even more than that I enjoy not taxing my brain too much. Heather Gudenkauf’s The Weight Of Silence promises a Picoult-like premise: Toni Clark’s young daughter Calli and her friend Petra go missing. Complicating matters further are Toni’s relationship with her abusive husband, and the history she shares with a local cop – as well as the fact that Calli is a selective mute. Calli has not spoken a word since an incident involving her parents years ago.

Gudenkauf attempts the multiple-narrators style, and in all honesty, it doesn’t work that well for her. She writes wonderfully for Toni. She then writes everyone else like Toni, and when ‘everyone else’ includes her teenage son Ben, her ex boyfriend (now deputy sheriff) Louis, and Calli herself, it has a jarring effect on the story. Possibly the only character who stands out from Toni is Martin, the father of Petra; however, they are shallow differences. That’s really the whole problem with ‘Silence’: it’s shallow. The characters are typical, without depth, and therefore you don’t really care about them or how things work out for them. After awhile, they blend into one, and the story takes on a ‘check the boxes’ feeling. Young girl with unexplained medical mystery? Check. Alcoholic father? Check. Mother with murky romantic past? Check. Red herrings thrown in to keep the mystery alive? You betcha.

By the time the story gains some momentum (and it takes awhile), I found I was reading merely to find out why Calli didn’t speak. It was a strong enough hook to keep me reading until the end, but unfortunately I was disappointed by the reasoning behind Calli’s muteness. There’s also a fairly unnecessary epilogue that undoes any of the goodwill Gudenkauf may have built over the course of her story. The resolution of the central mystery is also unsatisfying – you’ll work it out fairly quickly for yourself. Stick to the Picoult if this is your kind of thing.

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Cannonball rima.


Warning: sort of spoilers to be had if you haven’t read The Declaration.

I had the sequel to Gemma Malley’s The Declaration on standby and was intrigued enough by that first book to carry on with the second soon after I’d put it down. The Resistance switches its focus to Peter, Anna’s Surplus friend (now boyfriend) from The Declaration. They’ve set up house together with Anna’s baby brother Ben and are slowly trying to work with the Underground to get to the heart of Pincent Pharma, the company responsible for Longevity.

The events of the last book are recapped succintly, and it’s on with the action fairly quickly as Peter finds himself working at Pincent Pharma, under his grandfather, Richard. Richard has plans for Peter and Anna; as Peter attempts covert operations at the company, Richard is busy working in details to snare our heroes. There’s also some focus placed on Jude, Peter’s half brother, and Sheila, Anna’s acquaintance from Grange Hall. At first this appeared to detract from the story, but as it progresses and Malley begins to pull her knots tighter, having these different perspectives becomes a strength.

In saying that, it takes awhile to learn what happened to Mrs. Pincent, something I thought would be quite major – however, the information is given in a couple of throwaway lines. An interesting choice, but perhaps the right one, given that what happens near the end of the book is a clustertruck of awful. I don’t mean awful as in unreadable, but awful as in ‘ohmygoodnessohmygoodnessthat’sHORRIFYING’. The Resistance’s big bang shock is a good one, and I admit I gasped when I read it. It seems dark for a book like this, which reads like it’s geared to the younger set; but really, The Resistance is altogether more grown up than The Declaration. The characters have been through a lot and, if the ending is anything to go by, have a lot more left to do. The dialogue is much less stilted here; the characters more fully fleshed out, and despite some implausibility regarding an escape, it’s fun to switch off and see what happens. I think I’ll be picking up the next book (The Legacy) but it’s not a rush-out-and-read-er.

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Cannonball wha.

Everyone knows death is inevitable. The Declaration explores what would happen if it suddenly was off the table – if, with the simple use of a pill, we could in fact live forever. But it wants to go deeper than that – what does an eternal existence cost?

The world Malley presents in The Declaration is set in 2140, yet in all honesty it does not seem much different from our own time, but with one crucial difference: the use of Longevity, a drug designed to make the user stop aging. However, in exchange for the privilege of using Longevity, one must sign a declaration promising never to have children. This is in order to preserve the world’s dwindling resources. With so many adults – or Legals – choosing Longevity, the strain on resources is enormous, and there are massive penalties for having a child after signing the Declaration. Such children are called ‘Surpluses’, and it’s through a Surplus teenager named Anna that we discover more about this strange and rather bleak future.

The Declaration is definitely in the ‘young’ camp of young adult, or at least for those with a high tolerance for some shoddy prose and basic dialogue. That’s not to say that it’s not enjoyable – though Anna herself is a bit of a blank, her male counterpart Peter is more interesting, and the villains are suitably malevolent. The story checks all the requisite YA boxes and more often than not does so very well. Again, the writing is not the best, yet something keeps you reading until you finish; I’d put this down to the author’s understanding of a good winding mystery. The twists towards the end were surprising and solid enough so that I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time on an inferior book.

As with every second YA book out there, The Declaration is the first in a series (a trilogy, I believe), and Malley is clearly setting up a card house to play with in the coming books. It’s an easy read that won’t tax anyone (the preteen set included), so I’d recommend it if you’re after something interesting and quick!

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Genesis and Cannonball #4-5.

Can’t read the start of Genesis without getting this stuck in my head.

Thanks, Ned Flanders. Hey, have a good day with that cycling through your brain, too!
To Cannonball news – recently I finished CBR4 book 4, ‘The Declaration’, by Gemma Malley…review will be up soon. I’m working afternoons this week, so I’m trying to cram as much stuff in before 12.30 as possible. I just started the second book in the series, ‘The Resistance’; these are fairly quick, easy reads so I feel as though I’ll need to push myself for my next CBR4 pick (unless I just review the whole bible?)

And, eep, starting the popular couch to 5k programme in about ten minutes. Got the podcast. Got some shoes. Got no motivation. But we’ll see how we go.

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