I’m Looking Out for a (Blind) Hero: Books 28, 29, and 30 of 2011 [BOOK WEEK 2]

I know, I know: “What the eff, Ernessa? Why no book reports since the summer?” All I can say is that things got just ridiculously busy, but I do fully intend to get my full 52 reports in by the end of the year. I’ve actually been reading tons to the point that I’m going to be doing a lot of group posts, recommending books with a certain theme. For example, I’ve read not one, not two, but three 5-star books with blind protagonists this year — and two of them were written by Canadians! Check them out:


What I Loved: Mr. Auxier (the first Canadian) is an alum of the same dramatic writing MFA program as me, and reading this book made me wish that we had attended Carnegie Mellon at the same time, as I’m sure I would have enjoyed his earlier works. This middle-grade novel has everything: great adventures, wonderful writing, an amazing story, and a sightless-but-wonderfully-capable hero that you can’t help but love. A lot. Suitable for ages 10 and up, I really can’t wait to read PETER out loud to my daughter when she’s old enough to appreciate this well-written tale.

What I Didn’t Like: Not available as an e-book. Wha??? Get on that, Amulet.

Writing Lesson Learned: If you’re going to go with an omnipotent narrator, give her or him a very strong voice. Though I read this as a physical book, it felt like being read to by a wonderful grandfather.

Click HERE to buy it at Amazon and check out the trailer below:



What I Loved: The second book of “The Inheritance Trilogy” by N.K. Jemisin, who is one of our best living African-American fantasy authors. I only gave the first installment, THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS four stars, but this one, which follows a blind artist named Oree Shoth about ten years after the ending of the first book, gets a full five. I really can’t talk about what makes this book great without giving away a ton of spoilers, but I loved Jemisin’s blind protagonist on a story-level, an emotional level, and even on a political level. Jemisin does a stunning job of making you care about Oree then fear for her at every turn. I can’t wait to read THE KINGDOM OF THE GODS, the final installment of this trilogy, which just came out a few weeks ago.

What I Didn’t Like: Same not-good-enough narrator as before on the audiobook. It speaks to the strength of Ms. Jemisin’s writing that this voice actor does not completely ruin the book with her poor choices and limited range.

Writing Lesson Learned: Make your protagonist one-of-a-kind. This would seem to go without saying, but I found it insanely refreshing that I had never come across a protagonist anything like Oree. It reminded me that truly interesting trumps liked by all every time.

Click HERE to buy the book at Amazon.


WAKE by Robert Sawyer

What I Loved: I reviewed Robert Sawyer’s adult sci-fi novel, FLASHFORWARD (way better than the series bt-dubs) last year, and in the case of the first installment of his “WWW” YA series, I was once again impressed by how he manages to make both hypothetical and real science really interesting. Reading one of his books is like getting told a story by a favorite science teacher. It’s not as flashy as your usual sci-fi, but you learn a lot, and it holds your attention. In WAKE, we meet Caitlin Decter, the blind daughter of a renowned physicist who undergoes an experimental signal-processing procedure in the hopes of restoring her sight. We also meet a hybrid primate, a Chinese blogger, and a newly born artificial intelligence. These stories are all interrelated somehow, and though this is mainly Caitlin’s story, it is all completely fascinating. (And because I’m me, I have to also add that I really loved that the main character is really good at math).

What I Didn’t Like: Caitlin is ostensibly from the American South, but has a very corny, rather Canadian sense of humor.

Writing Lessons Learned: There are many ways to be a good writer. Sawyer proves that you don’t have to be overly crafty or have a ton of flashy things happen in order to rock a story. In this case, a firm knowledge of subject matter, simple writing, and great ideas get the job done quite nicely and without too much fuss.

Click HERE to buy it on Amazon.