I have more mini-reviews today, because these both also fall under the category of wanted to/should have loved these books, But.
First is May B. by Caroline Starr Rose. This is a book that I really should have loved. It's written in verse, which I'm pretty sure most people know how much I absolutely adore. It's historical fiction — life on the prairie — which I've been totally fascinated with for as long as I can remember. And it's a survival story taking place in the midst of a crazy, nasty blizzard. Oh ya, and, the importance of reading and language plays a large part in the growth of the main character. Umm, yes please.
I was in love with the idea of a historical fiction story being told in verse. I feel like non-Contemporary verse novels are rather rare, so I was really excited for this one. But for some reason, the execution was really lacking for me. May is sent by her parents to live/work with a newlywed couple because her family needs the money her servitude will bring. But shortly after May gets there, the wife (who is from the city and really struggling with the vast prairie life) decides she is going to leave, and the Mr. goes after her. He's only supposed to be gone for a day, but he never comes home. May is left completely alone as winter approaches and she has no idea how to get home.
That is enough for a compelling story. But there were other things added to the story that I assume were meant to give depth to the story and to May's character, but instead just felt underdeveloped and tacked on to say — Look!! Character growth! May should have been a strong character, but I never really believed that she was, I only ever believed that I was supposed to think she was. I just never felt a true sense of connection with May and honestly thought the inclusion of May's struggles to read were overdone and unnecessary, constantly pulling me out of the story and severing whatever connection had started to form. I don't know why that was. Reading is (obviously) a big deal to me, but it never felt natural or necessary. It always felt to me like a plot device, and a poorly disguised one at that. This is actually a story I think might have worked better in traditional prose (although it pains me to say this) and although, overall, I did enjoy the story well enough, it's not a book I'll be recommending much, although if you are already interested, I suggest you give it a try anyway. I will definitely try the author again, and I think this is a book worth giving a chance, even if it didn't quite click for me.
On a completely different note, I have always been completely fascinated by true crime stories, and serial killers and other morbidly interesting stuff. So when I saw Green River Killer: A True Detective Story by Jeff Jensen on Netgalley, I was like — Yes! Win! The Green River Killer was a big deal for a lot of years, killing a tragically large number of women and eluding the police for a very long time. And, because I really am morbid, I was excited to read a story written by the lead detective's son and told as a graphic novel.
Unfortunately, the idea behind the book was the most interesting part of it. I found myself very disappointed in the actual contents of the book. The story had a very strange chronology that didn't flow well and it made it really hard to be interested in the story. There were random and unexplained jumps in time and setting that were never explained and it made the story really awkward to read.
And, the illustrations, while well drawn, weren't very distinct, and I'll admit that there were times I wasn't sure who was actually depicted. They all kinda just looked the same to me.
I feel like this is a story that could have been amazing. As the son of the lead detective on such a high profile case, you would have a lot of different information and a different view of the case than most people, and I feel like there could be a lot of really solid material for a book. Unfortunately, this one just didn't work for me and I ended up spending a good 85% of the book bored and wishing it were over.
*Disclaimer: Both of these books were electronic ARCs received via Netgalley.