I know, I know. Too long, Robyn. Mea culpa and whatnot. So what have I been doing instead of blogging? Um, homework? Ha! As if. I managed to escape fake London for a weekend–huzzah! It was good to get back to Toronto for a reprieve. Went to the Game of Thrones exhibition at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. It wasn’t bad, kind of scant, and no pictures allowed. Now, being the bad-ass, stick-it-to-the-man stirrer that I am, I normally laugh in the face of such no pictures edicts, but Christ on a cracker, there was an army of grim-faced TIFF goons policing the area like a bunch of old-timey police officers in a Chaplin picture (I swear to the Seven they were swinging billy-sticks!) so, alas, I’ve no sneaky against-the-rules pictures to share with y’all. I wasn’t risking getting tossed out onto King St. to take some pictures of…pictures. Cuz yeah, it was mostly pictures. Nice pictures, but still. That’s what the internet is for. Bit of a let-down, to be honest.
Highlights? There were four costumes: Jon Snow’s Ranger outfit, Catelyn Stark’s grey dress (which one? Exactly), Daenerys Targaryen’s khaleesi leather stuff, Melisandre’s red ensemble, and, best of all, one of Cersei Lannister’s gowns. It was turquoise and gold and embroidered with birds. Birds! I also liked seeing the handful of props, and if you’re an uber-fangirl like me, the sheer awesomeness of cavorting beneath a model of Sean Bean’s head stuck on a pike is too transcendent to describe. Oh, yeah–and then I got to sit my ass in the mother-flippin IRON THRONE!
It. Was. AMAZING!!! And then I had no choice but to engage in an epic Game of Thrones season 1 marathon as soon as I got back to the old casa de familia. Hm… what else… saw some folks I like, and some folks I don’t like, and went book shopping at Book City in the Beaches. That’s about it. I certainly haven’t been maniacally devouring the craptastically engrossing Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. No, sir, definitely not. Moving on…
Before a certain Brotherhood robbed me of my sanity and good taste in books, I read Rebecca Makkai’s The Borrower. Synopsis time!
Children’s librarian Lucy Hull is struggling with life after college and a boring job in small-town Hannibal, Missouri, when she begins to suspect that her most ardent patron, voracious reader ten-year-old Ian Drake, may be in need of more than smuggled books that don’t fall under his conservative mother’s definition of ‘good’ books. Her suspicions are confirmed when Ian runs away from home and co-opts Lucy into kidnapping him. In a bizarre and inventive take on a buddy road-trip, Lucy and Ian cross the country, tangling themselves even deeper in the faux-kidnapping plot, and it quickly becomes clear that Ian isn’t the only one fleeing life in Hannibal. Amusing, touching, tender, and thoughtful, the story of Lucy’s quest to save Ian is an enjoyable and intelligent story, and will make readers remember the many way that books, libraries, and librarians can change lives.
I quite liked this book. It was nice to read about a librarian who was close to my own age and shared my propensity for lazy subversiveness. The story was well paced, and I found Makkai’s style to be highly readable. The little parodies of classic children’s books peppered throughout the novel were a nice touch as well. I thought Lucy, Ian, and Lucy’s father were excellently realized characters, although the rest of them, particularly Lucy’s best friend and Ian’s mother, were a little flat for my tastes.
I’ll be honest. I loved the little asides about Lucy’s Russian heritage (oh, Russians!) and the insights into the cultural dilemmas of first-generation Americans.
There’s wasn’t a whole lot that I disliked about this book, aside from the flat secondary characters. I would have liked a bit more of a resolution. It was a bit of a cop-out. I felt like Makkai got to the end of the story and had no idea how to construct an elegant, meaningful conclusion. It was okay, it just wasn’t as great as the rest of the story. And there’s the flimsy premise of the story. It requires a dedicated suspension of belief to go along with Lucy and Ian’s complicity kidnapping ruse. It was funny, though, and clever, so once you accept it, it stops bothering you.
But come on. If I were going to steal anything, it wouldn’t be a ten-year-old boy. It would be cake.
Now tell me you’re not craving cake.
Back to the book. Favourite quote: “What is one Russian? A nihilist. What are two Russians? A game of chess. What are three Russians? A revolution.” (Chapter 2). Hahaha. (Oh, Russians!)
Rating: 4 out of 5 lovable larcenous librarians. (+10 for alliteration!)