Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Monday, February 15, 2016

Upstairs Downstairs

I tend to read two books at once. An upstairs book and a downstairs book. I typically try for different genres, or at least different enough plots the two don't blend together.

Sometimes, one will be so engaging I push the other aside. I'll read the greater book both upstairs and downstairs while the lesser one sits, waiting, till I finish devouring its better. This probably happens a few times a year.

I can't remember the last time I wanted to promote both books to solo status at the same time. But that's what happened this past week. It was like a Mexican standoff. Only, you know, with neither book written in Spanish.

The upstairs book, Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig, was a well-written and entertaining affair. Basic plot: Miriam Black can tell, with one touch, how and when someone will die. But when she meets a person she actually cares about for the first time in ages, she learns she'll be present for his murder in a few weeks' time. From there, things get a little crazy.

Wendig's propensity for profanity and graphically descriptive metaphors may turn some people off, but his intriguing characters and plot twists kept me rapt. I'll be seeking out the next in the series in short order.

The downstairs book, on the other hand, was one of the best I've ever read. When a novel hits all the bestseller lists and gets uber-popular, I always assume it won't live up to the hype. Usually, that's the case. Not so with Andy Weir's The Martian.

Hot damn it's a good book.

Basic plot: An astronaut gets stranded on Mars, and the only way he can survive is by MacGyvering his way out of life-or-death situations left and right. Each peril is entirely plausible, the science employed is legit, and the narrative is punctuated by a stellar sense of humor. The couple third-person omniscient scenes feel a bit heavy-handed, but overall The Martian is a gripping, fantastic story. It's one of only a couple books I read this past year which I utterly loveloveloved. You should read this book.

Of course, now that I've dispensed with each of the above, I need to find a new upstairs book and a new downstairs book. Any suggestions?


  1. I've read some of Wendig's books, and I own this one, but I haven't read it yet. I like his work, though.

    I read The Martian just before the movie came out, and it is a very funny, intense read.

    1. This was my third Wendig. I enjoyed Zeroes, but actually gave up on his first Atlanta Burns story when it didn't grab me. Not sure what made this one different, but within a few chapters it had me hooked.

  2. I absolutely agree on The Martian being an all-time favorite. lovedlovedloved is right!