Out, by Natsuo Kirino (11 January — 14 January)

Out was an optional novel for the class on mystery novels I took last spring, but I read something else instead. After reading it, I can definitely see why it would be on a class syllabus, though I’m not sure it can really be called a mystery.

The book follows the stories of four women — one who kills her husband and the three who end up disposing of the body. All four of them are intent on covering up the crime, and it seems they will when another suspect turns up, one who has a murder on his record already. The mystery, as it were, is whether or not these women will get caught. It’s a distinct possibility throughout, what with detectives asking questions and certain of the women just being generally stupid. It’s more of a thriller, really, and the story really picks up steam near the end when all the carefully laid plans start falling apart.

Kirino lets you see scenes from the point of view of all of the characters, sort of rewinding the tape and starting over so you can see what’s really going on. It’s a good story-telling device, but it started getting tedious after a bit when I just wanted the story to get a move on, already.

Rating: 6/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2003, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

The Well of Lost Plots, by Jasper Fforde (22 November — 25 November)

The Well of Lost Plots is the third book in the wonderful Thursday Next series in which our hero, Thursday, vanquishes foes who seek to upend literature.

The previous book focused on time travelling; this one is mostly about book travelling. Thursday has entered the world of Jurisfiction, those in charge of policing the fiction shelves both published and in progress, and is at the same time taking a respite from the Goliath Corporation who are still out to get her. She and her pregnant tummy are hiding out in an unpublished book called Caversham Heights until Thursday can figure out how to get her husband back — if she can remember him.

Yeah, it’s pretty much that confusing. Thursday is also out to solve the mystery of several dead and missing Jurisfiction agents and requite the love of two generic characters. I love it.

It wasn’t quite up to the standard of the first two books — a little too much babying of the reader with unnecessary repetition, and also a few too many typos! — but it was definitely intriguing enough (along with those two books) to cause me to move the next book, Something Rotten up to my new current read. Then I’m going to have to take a break from all the alternate universe-ing, I think. 😀

Rating: 7/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2003)

The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo (3 August)

I saw a trailer for a movie based on this book when I went to see WALL-E. It looked adorable, and I like an adorable story. This book definitely fit the bill.

There’s this mouse, Despereaux, who lives in a castle and doesn’t act like a mouse − he can read, he likes music, and he’s not at all afraid of humans. When he is caught at the foot of the king, the other mice send him off to the dungeon to be eaten by rats. We follow the mouse for a while, then move on to a rat, the princess, a serving girl, and various other players in the huge series of coincidences that makes up this story. It’s very cute, but the author tries a bit too hard to be Lemony Snicket with a couple of definitions and a lot of talking to the reader and I have to say that Daniel Handler did it much better.

Rating: 5/10

A Fractured Truth, by Caroline Slate (12 June − 14 June)

At the beginning of the story, this chick Grace is out of jail on parole after 7 years served for the murder, and she’s trying to readjust to life — including e-mail, because this book was published in 2003. There are some fishy things about Grace’s life before this event: her father is killed or possibly has just gone missing, he was involved with some loan sharks and some iffy money practices, her husband caused her business to go bankrupt… it’s not a good time. She’s also now being followed around by a reporter that wants to write the “true” story of her husband, which Grace doesn’t even know because he was basically a pathological liar. This is a pretty good novel — the conceit of a liar’s history is neat, and I definitely wanted to find out why Grace killed her husband (it’s revealed at the end of the book, no worries), so it went fast.

Rating: 7/10