Yes. That's right. I'm so flipping crazy-headed over a book right now that I just used a question mark and an exclamation point in sequence AND I DON'T CARE. What's wrong with me? What, or rather, WHO happened to me?
This weekend, I discovered Laini Taylor's latest series. Although, to be fair, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE has been on my TBR list for ages, I finally got down to reading it. Which I did in a day. And then the next day, I drove my behind straight to the nearest bookstore and bought the sequel, DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT. And I read it even more quickly than the first book.
And now I have to wait until APRIL 2014 to read BOOK THREE. *dies a little*
If you're thinking, wow, I can't wait to hear about these books . . . well, sorry. No book reviews here. I'll post those when I'm sane, after I've finished the grieving process. Because right now, my heart is so darn full of Karou and Akiva and their worlds and the flying and the death and the hope that I cannot be a nice, normal writer who provides witty and inspiring book reviews. I'm full-on fan-girling. And that makes me wonder:
Why does this happen to me? HOW does this happen to a reader?
Because I have loved books. I have loved so many books, over so many years, and every single time I fall in love I can't believe it's happened again. That someone else's WORDS could so easily capture me, kidnap me, and wreck me so profoundly that I have to mourn the book when it's over. It's ridiculous. It's consuming. And most importantly, it's essential. Because a life without these other worlds, these other people and their lives and their struggles and their triumphs, well, that life is not worth imagining.
What I'm pondering instead, as I sit here deep in the midst of my latest book-inflicted-grief, is what makes me fall in love with a book.
Well, for one, it's the characters. The few books I've failed to finish had lame characters--people I couldn't care about no matter how hard I tried (and believe me, I try. I'm a reader, guys. I WANT to love your book. I will sift through chapters of inconsequential, boring mess to follow a good character). But the books I love, I swear, I think I might run into the characters on the street at any moment. That they (be they humans or angels or demons) might, just might pop up on my doorstep, needing something, still caught up in the throes of their own narratives. I feel this way because the author LETS ME IN. They let me know the character and their every thought, feeling, and struggle. They let me care for them. It's a confluence of every small action, every adjective and verb, every nuance--and when executed perfectly, the result is love.
What else? Well, I have to have a good, solid storyline. Not too complex. Definitely NOT ludicrous (I can suspend disbelief with the best of them. The only movie I ever walked out of was SOLARIS, and I gave it a good hour before giving up. Too much weepy Clooney for anyone to endure). I've read books in so many different veins that I know it's not the content of the story that catches me. Laini Taylor's books are the very first angel & demon stories I've ever read. It's the strong construction of the universe, its rules, and the characters' motivations that make me love a plot. It's like stepping on the right roller coaster. Not a kiddie ride. And not a silly, thinly-veiled marketing toy. But a for-real, well-engineered, rolling monster of terror and delight. That's the coaster I want, although it takes many forms.
And finally, for this reader, THE WRITING. That's nice and ambiguous, right? Covers all manner of things--voice, and the quality of description, the flow of backstory, the knitting of words into gorgeous sentences. I've read many a book that didn't boast great writing. I've enjoyed them. But I've never LOVED them. To love a book, the writing has to take me there to that other place so completely that I forget my life, and in the end, leave me more than a little awed that a human being could have ever produced words such as these. I find great writing more often than I expect, from sweet and searching middle grade like WHEN YOU REACH ME to gorgeous young adult contemporary like THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, to sweeping, heart-wrenching fantasy like DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE.
I love them all. They wreck me. They leave me wanting for something I cannot have, but I would never choose to have it any other way.
The power of words is incredible.