I’ve been reading a lot this summer, and I love it. I don’t get the chance to read a lot during the academic year, and many times, that carries over into the summer. This time, however, I’ve made sure to make space for my reading, and I’ve read so, so many books I enjoy. Here are my mini-reviews for Summer 2018 (part one)!
A FEW GOOD MEN by Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin’s (The West Wing, Molly’s Game, etc.) Broadway début takes on the issue of military ethics. When a Marine is found dead at Guantanamo Bay, two other Marines—Lance Corporal Dawson and PFC Downey—are put on trial for the murder. A young Navy lawyer, Lt. Junior Grade Danny Kaffee, is put on the case, and while at first apathetic (after all, he’s only in JAG to please his deceased father), soon realizes just how deep this case runs. Along the way, Kaffee comes into himself, questioning his own values and what he really wants out of life. An excellent exploration of the military mentality and the abuses let slip past in a close-minded system. However, I was disappointed that the play doesn’t really explore sexism in the military, despite the presence of only one female character, Lt. Cmdr. Jo Galloway. 4.5/5 Wagging Tails. A great play, and the movie’s not too bad either!
SADIE by Courtney Summers
Growing up poor and motherless, Sadie always played the role of caretaker to her sister, Mattie. So when Mattie is found murdered, Sadie sets off on a quest to seek revenge. A few months later, though, Sadie is missing too, and her foster grandmother enlists the help of radio personality West McCray to find her. Narrated from the perspective of Sadie’s first-person account and McCray’s podcast, Sadie covers Sadie’s hunt to find Mattie, and McCray’s hunt to find Sadie. Although this book deals poignantly with several heavy themes without feeling too weighed-down, it seems that nothing really happens over the course of the novel. Sadie failed to engross me as a psychological thriller, but deserves praise for its commentary on social issues. 2/5 Wagging Tails. It seems like I’m the exception here, so maybe check out some other reviews before you decide whether to read it.
HOPE NEVER DIES by Andrew Shaffer
Six months after POTUS44 has left the White House, the country’s going down the toilet, President Trump is being manipulated by Putin, and… former President Obama hasn’t bothered to call ex-VP Joe Biden even once. Soon, Biden’s favorite Amtrack conductor is found dead, Obama shows up on his doorstep, and the police are ready to close what Biden knows isn’t an open-and-shut investigation. In this published fan fiction, fictionalized Obama and Biden team up as amateur sleuths to solve the case. While a cute idea and funny for a few chapters, Biden’s angsty whining about Obama got old, and the author begins to speculate a little too much about Biden’s political ambitions in 2020. Ultimately, there’s not much “bromance” in this novel, but the murder mystery was good, and it was, at least for a little while, a good escape from this wreck of a political situation we’re actually in. 3/5 Wagging Tails. Read it if you really love Joe Biden.
THE DRY by Jane Harper
Australian Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns to his rural hometown for the first time in years for the funeral of his childhood best friend, Luke Hadler, who appears to have killed himself, his wife, and his young son. But there’s more than what’s on the surface: Falk believes Luke’s death might not have been the suicide-murder it appears to be, but may instead be connected to the apparent suicide of Ellie Deacon, a girl he and Luke knew when they were teens. Told in Falk’s unofficial present-day investigation into the Hadlers’ death and flashbacks to his teenage years, Falk tries to uncover the truth of what happened in his tiny hometown. While it attempts to break the bounds of the murder mystery genre, The Dry is a pretty standard cop-returns-home drama. While Falk is likeable enough, the secondary characters aren’t terribly well-fleshed-out, and there is very little urgency or suspense to the novel. The setting was well-described, and the book felt more solid than your standard crime novel, but this ultimately paled in comparison to my favorites of the genre. I guessed the killer towards the middle of the book, and while there are some twists and turns, Harper failed to completely engross me in the dusty tiny town featured in The Dry. 3.5/5 Wagging Tails. Your average read, although more atmospheric than most murder mysteries.