The following four books from my twelve total reads of January have received so much hype in the book community that I knew that 1) they deserved off my TBR and into my read pile and 2) needed a mini review from this hype-loving fangirl.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
After getting through the first seventy pages, I really thought I’d be DNF’ing my second book of 2019, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. This 2017 debut has received so much hype beyond the book community and will be adapted into a film by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. In these first few chapters, I struggled connecting with Eleanor’s narration and thoughts. A few reviewers that have similar reading tastes to me said that they also struggled in the beginning, but it worth continuing on—and I completely agree!
As Eleanor warms up to Raymond and other people in her life, I was really able to understand her more and see how her tragic past has affected her mindset and lifestyle. This book is truly a tearjerker—I often felt the tears coming on as Eleanor tells Raymond and his mom that they can come over to her apartment whenever they wish. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine may be a hard book for some readers (warnings for physical and mental abuse and mental illness), but it felt like a very honest and real depiction). While I can’t say that I could connect to her throughout, I love where we leave Eleanor in the end and I could potentially see some sort of sequel.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Rich People Problems (Crazy Rich Asians #3) by Kevin Kwan
The final book in Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Rich People Problems. Just like Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend, Rich People Problems was filled with laugh-out-loud moments and antics. This book was a tad more serious than the others, especially with Su Yi’s declining health. As much as I like Nick and Rachel as a couple, I really didn’t mind that they aren’t center stage in this one (I don’t understand why each novel’s premise exclusively revolves around them to be totally honest). Like China Rich Girlfriend, I loved Astrid and Kitty’s chapters, and I liked learning more about Su Yi and her family’s past. While I am sad to see this series end, I’m anticipating another film adaptation or two. I also really hope that Kevin Kwan comes out with more equally hilarious books.
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Severance by Ling Ma
Somewhat on a whim, I decided to put Ling Ma’s Severance on my library holds list after seeing the book pop up in a few Book of the Month Hauls. Described as an office novel meets apocalyptic satire, the book follows millennial protagonist Candace Chen as a plague called Shen Fever sweeps the world, including New York City. In charge of Bible production at a a publishing firm, Candace takes her boss’s big payout offer to be part of a skeleton crew as everyone flees the city.
Like the two books above, I simply could not put Severance down. The book flips between Candace’s many pasts, from her childhood with her immigrant parents to her office work, and the present, where she’s recruited with a group of survivors to live at a place called the Facility. This book is just so atmospheric. Ling Ma skillfully, yet scarily sets up the world similar to our own today, especially when it comes to capitalism. I think I enjoyed reading about Candace’s life in NYC and how the fever affects everyday life, but I also did like reading about her time at the Facility (talk about some people’s dream turned nightmare). While I wanted more from the ending, I do think it fit this apocalyptic, yet quiet read.
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
Bridge of Clay wasn’t exactly a planned book on my TBR, figuring that I would pick it up at least someday (given how much I loved The Book Thief). And for a 500+ page book, I’ve struggled a bit about what to say about it. I definitely enjoyed Bridge of Clay, but I almost DNF’ed it about 75 pages in and wasn’t totally blown away like I was with The Book Thief. I struggled connecting with the story in those first 75 pages, but I did appreciate how all the threads come together in each section of the book. However, there were parts of the book I didn’t understand, mostly in that first section with the Murderer and Clay’s running. It really took me starting that second section about the Dunbar boys’ mother to get into the story. Bridge of Clay is definitely an epic novel, between its length, character development, and threads between the past and the present.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
What books did you read in January? Have you read any of the books above? Share in the comments!