I noticed something recently. It’s been a while since I did mini reviews, most of my posts nowadays are either proper reviews or book tags, for shame. So I decided to get back to this for a bit of a change.
This time I am bringing you the absolutely delightful tale from a post-apocalyptic earth about a woman who work even after the apocalypse happened. A millennial’s delight with its fatalistic humor and serious moments, Severance by Ling Ma is seriously well written. Then we come to the slightly disappointing tale of two best friends who want to be something more and somewhere along everybody lost the plot. Or at least, that’s what it felt like to me with Kheryn Callender’s This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story. Oh, well. Then last but not the least comes Running with Lions by Julian Winters, this one warmed my cold, cold soul. Seriously, it’s such a wholesome book with tiny flaws. Seriously, go read it.
So, here are the mini reviews, hopefully they are actually mini-sized.
Severance by Ling Ma
An offbeat office novel turns apocalyptic satire as a young woman transforms from orphan to worker bee to survivor
Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-sequestered in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine. With the recent passing of her Chinese immigrant parents, she’s had her fill of uncertainty. She’s content just to carry on: She goes to work, troubleshoots the teen-targeted Gemstone Bible, watches movies in a Greenpoint basement with her boyfriend.
So Candace barely notices when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps New York. Then Shen Fever spreads. Families flee. Companies halt operations. The subways squeak to a halt. Her bosses enlist her as part of a dwindling skeleton crew with a big end-date payoff. Soon entirely alone, still unfevered, she photographs the eerie, abandoned city as the anonymous blogger NY Ghost.
Candace won’t be able to make it on her own forever, though. Enter a group of survivors, led by the power-hungry IT tech Bob. They’re traveling to a place called the Facility, where, Bob promises, they will have everything they need to start society anew. But Candace is carrying a secret she knows Bob will exploit. Should she escape from her rescuers?
A send-up and takedown of the rituals, routines, and missed opportunities of contemporary life, Ling Ma’s Severance is a moving family story, a quirky coming-of-adulthood tale, and a hilarious, deadpan satire. Most important, it’s a heartfelt tribute to the connections that drive us to do more than survive.
Things I Liked:
- The atmosphere of the book throughout, seriously, the way Ling Ma writes this novel is absolutely amazing. From jumping the scenes between the past and the future. It’s done so well and at no point did I feel like stopping.
- The sense of humour in this one is pretty much right up my alley. The fatalistic yet relatable mentality of millennials everywhere.
- The fact that the Shen fever epidemic is such a good metaphor for life nowadays. No, seriously, you’ll get it once you read it. This was made for people like me.
Things I Disliked:
- I think if I had one thing I wasn’t happy with, it would be the last part of the book. It was such a let down compared to the rest of the book.
- I wish it was a bit longer? I mean, despite me not being overly happy with the part near the end, I do wish it was longer.
This Is Kind Of An Epic Love Story
by Kheryn Callender
A fresh, charming rom-com perfect for fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Boy Meets Boy about Nathan Bird, who has sworn off happy endings but is sorely tested when his former best friend, Ollie, moves back to town.
Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings.
Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life.
Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend.
After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?
Things I Liked:
- From a representation point of view, this book had such potential! From LGBTQ+ to deaf/HoH, it was filled with it! I am glad that there was finally a main character who was deaf because it’s been a while since I had come across one of these.
- Also, best friends who grew apart for a reason and then get back together and become more? That’s exactly right up my alley so I was all for this.
- This was such a unique story and Oliver was the sweetest bean who deserved so much better than what he was given, tbh.
Things I Disliked:
- I really didn’t like Nathan Bird, no, seriously. He was really problematic, he didn’t treat anybody well, he would be rude to them and then be sorry but he would do something else just as rude afterwards.
- The actual idea of the book was brilliant, I think but somewhere the execution fell short. It really did have such potential to be so much more but it never reached the goal.
- I wish there was more backstory to the characters, more things I could really connect to, you know? We are given bare bones but that’s not enough, I couldn’t get emotionally involved, no matter how hard I tried.
Running With Lions
by Julian Winters
Bloomington High School Lions’ star goalie, Sebastian Hughes, should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing and he’s got a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood best friend Emir Shah shows up to summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team’s success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir’s trust. But to Sebastian’s surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town’s streets, and bonding on the weekends sparks more than just friendship between them.
Things I Liked:
- This was such a wholesome book, I am so glad I decided to read it! Seriously. From friendships to relationships to everything else, okay? From ex-best friends to being something close to friends while trying to find out if there’s something more between, it was an absolute delight.
- There is such a good representation too! Multiethnic characters to people of various orientations! Plus, it was all based on a sports camp, I don’t know why I should tell you more, to be honest.
- Even the side characters were absolutely cute and adorable and I would be willing to protect them all in a heartbeat.
Things I Disliked:
- If there was something I wanted to be mad about, it was the way Grey and her crush on Mason was handled. Being mean to her because he likes her is such a problematic trope and I wish there were at least few times where Mason’s actions were called out for what they were.
- I wish there was a flow to the chapters, sometimes the ending to chapters felt choppy and I wasn’t ready for that.
- I really want to find another point but it’s just cute enough that the third point I had about disliking can be ignored. (If you must know, it was about monologues that Sebastian had with himself, he talked to himself. A lot. At times, an alarming amount, ok? It’s okay, I do it, too. So, this is all fine.)
And that’s it for today!! I will definitely be looking forward to more of Ling Ma’s works because Severance was so good. I also wanna read more from Julian Winters, I am pretty sure his writing can only get better. I also wanna see what Kheryn Callender comes up next because that book had so much potential.
Have you read any of the books mentioned above? If so, what did you think of it? Tell me all about it in the comments.