September 8th, 2011

family, child

September Books 6) With the Light... / 光とともに..., vol 4, by Keiko Tobe

Next in the series of manga volumes about bringing up a child with autism. Apart from the main story line about Hikaru and his mother Sachiko, there is a sub-plot (bolstered by appendices) about Hikaru's father Masato setting up a factory which will employ people with disabilities, and a couple of disturbing threads about children being abused in residential care. The book ends with Hikaru preparing to leave elementary school, the next stage of his education not at all clear. Beautifully illustrated as ever.

September Books 7) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

This really is as gripping and un-put-downable as they say; a brilliant detective story set in contemporary Sweden, as an investigative journalist is asked to research a murder in a wealthy family from the mid-1960s, and recruits the eponymous girl as his partner. The plot is topped and tailed by a largely separate vendetta with an Evil Capitalist (as opposed to the old man who wants the 1960s mystery investigated and is a Good Capitalist). But apart from that I was captivated both by the central mystery, whose brutal nature only gradually becomes apparent - and the solution to the original murder took my breath away - and by Lisbeth, the hacker and investigator of the title, a damaged but super-competent heroine. Excellent reading.

September Books 8) All Clear, by Connie Willis

Chewed my way through the second volume of this year's winner of both Hugo and Nebula awards for Best Novel (having read the first half in June).

It is a mild improvement on the first volume, in that there are actual signs of plot around page 400 and again around page 600. But the tone is wearyingly sentimental as ever, and the characters just dull apart from the two cheeky kids; and in the end, if the time continuum is going to respond to time travellers in such a way as to preserve History As We Know It - and there is never any good reason for Willis's characters to think otherwise apart from her need to inject emotion into her writing - it's difficult to get excited about it. I also spotted more errors of setting here than I had noticed in Blackout - premature mention of the Jubilee Line by over three decades, and reportedly vast distances separating the Tower from Stepney (actually about a mile and a half apart) and St Paul's from Bart's (five minutes' brisk walk).

I suppose the good news is that it will probably take Willis another six years to publish her next book; the bad news is that it too will probably win awards it doesn't deserve.