Friday, November 19, 2010

Books of the recommendation variety

Normally I do not like books written in first person. There are several reason for this dislike, the biggest two being first, that it gives an extremely narrow view of the world and the events since you can only see through the eyes of one character, and can only know things that that one character knows, sees, and thinks about. The second reason is because the vast majority of books that I have read written in first person have been horribly mangled by the writer trying to give first person a bit of a flair that it really doesn't need. Anything written by Anne Rice comes to mind, her books are AWFUL. Usually, my rule for first person books is there is not a single book written ever in first person that would not have been 100% better in third person. First person is fine while a character tells a story for a paragraph, a page or two, or perhaps a chapter, but an entire book is usually stretching it more than a little too far.

However, I've recently found two books written in first person that are excellent, the first probably would not have even worked unless it was told in first person, and the second, though it might have been better told in third person, it was still a very good and well written book.

The first is "I am not a Serial Killer" by Dan Wells. This is a rather short book, but very entertaining. It is about a young boy, a diagnosed sociopath, whose family owns a mortuary. He's been fascinated with serial killers since a very young age because of all of the similarities between them and himself, but is deeply afraid of becoming one himself because he has many of the tendencies displayed by serial killers. He has given himself a set of rules to keep hiself from becoming a killer like the ones that he studies. When a serial killer strikes in his own little town he's ecstatic over the chance to observe a real serial killer up close and personal, but soon finds that this is no serial killer but a monster killing people for organs to replace faulty parts of its own body. In order to stop this monster he must become what he fears becoming, thinking and acting like a serial killer, and throwing his carefully crafted set of rules to keep himself in check away.

It's a really interesting idea for a story, and the writer has obviously done a whole lot of reasearch to make it accurate. I liked the protagonist quite a bit because he and I are a lot alike in the ways we view the world, though I am nowhere near as creepy and removed from humanity as he is. The writer did a very good job making a very creepy and disturbing person who normally would never be thought of as a hero into a hero. "I am not a Serial Killer" was short enough that I read in in one sitting in a few hours, and was well worth the money I spent on it. I've also found that there is a sequel that I have not been able to find in stores yet called Mr. Monster.

The second book is "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss. This is the first book in a trilogy, the second installment being released next march. I recieved this book as a birthday gift, and unfortunately put off reading it until this week because there were so many other books that had come out that were ahead of it in the queue. Looking back I probably should have gotten to it sooner because it was very good. It is about a man who is basically a living legend, sitting down with a writer to tell his story and give his reasons for doing the things that he did. This book tells the story of the earlier part of his life, growing up as part of a traveling acting troupe where his genius is discovered by his mentor, to living on the streets after tragedy strikes, to university in search of the answers, skills, and knowledge that he needs in order to seek his revenge.

Though being in first person for the vast majority of the book, this story is well thought out and written. The world is realitic and the magic used is a strangely believeable mix of actual real-world physics combined with mental tricks. There is a good ballance of humor and seriousness, and though there are two more forthcoming books the ending is satisfying. I very much enjoyed it and am very glad I recieved it as a gift as I probably not have picked it up until it was in paperback otherwise (I had heard of it from other sources prior to getting it).

So yeah, if you're looking for something to read, I would definitely recomend picking up "I am not a Serial Killer" by Dan Wells, and "The name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss.

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