Surznick Reads: February 2015 - The Surznick Common Room

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Surznick Reads: February 2015

We're so happy that March is here! That means spring is just three short weeks away. Are you excited too? February was especially cold, so it was a great month to snuggle up with a book. Here's what we read this month!

Sarah's Reads!

Feed by M.T. Anderson
From "For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon - a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world — and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now."

Nick and his friends read this book several years ago and really enjoyed it, so I thought I would give it a go. I should have known before I started that I wouldn't care for it. I'm just not a fan of dystopian novels. 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451 are some of my least favorite books ever, yet I read Feed anyway. I will say, I didn't dislike this story as much as those others. The characters in Feed are similar to my age and use technology that isn't too far off from what we have today. This made it a little easier to follow along and relate, but still... just not for me. I think the thing I disliked most was the language used by the characters. It was very hard to understand and become accustomed to while reading the story. I will say though, the plot of this novel doesn't seem like a complete impossibility for the future, which is a little unnerving. Overall, I didn't hate it or love it.

My Rating: 3 Stars

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom
From "Lucky Us is a brilliantly written, deeply moving, fantastically funny novel of love, heartbreak, and luck. Disappointed by their families, Iris, the hopeful star and Eva the sidekick, journey through 1940s America in search of fame and fortune. Iris’s ambitions take the pair across the America of Reinvention in a stolen station wagon, from small-town Ohio to an unexpected and sensuous Hollywood, and to the jazz clubs and golden mansions of Long Island. With their friends in high and low places, Iris and Eva stumble and shine though a landscape of big dreams, scandals, betrayals, and war. Filled with gorgeous writing, memorable characters, and surprising events, Lucky Us is a thrilling and resonant novel about success and failure, good luck and bad, the creation of a family, and the pleasures and inevitable perils of family life, conventional and otherwise. From Brooklyn’s beauty parlors to London’s West End, a group of unforgettable people love, lie, cheat and survive in this story of our fragile, absurd, heroic species."

Did you read that review above? Okay, well my thoughts are basically the complete opposite. This book was just not for me. I found it boring and disjointed with zero memorable characters. This was my book club selection this month and I was relieved to find that I wasn't the only one who felt this way. In my opinion, this story could have benefited from more character development and a more cohesive writing style. The book is comprised of both letters (most of which are never even sent or received) and stream of consciousness narrative (which made it hard to tell who was speaking.) I don't understand any of the characters, I didn't understand or care about anything that was happening to them, and overall I just found the story anticlimactic.

My Rating: 2 Stars

Nick's Reads!

Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk
From "Penny Harrigan is a low-level associate in a big Manhattan law firm with an apartment in Queens and no love life at all. So it comes as a great shock when she finds herself invited to dinner by one C. Linus Maxwell, a software mega-billionaire and lover of the most gorgeous and accomplished women on earth. After dining at Manhattan's most exclusive restaurant, he whisks Penny off to a hotel suite in Paris, where he proceeds, notebook in hand, to bring her to previously undreamed-of heights of gratification for days on end. What's not to like? This: Penny discovers that she is a test subject for the final development of a line of feminine products to be marketed in a nationwide chain of boutiques called Beautiful You. So potent and effective are these devices that women by the millions line up outside the stores on opening day and then lock themselves in their room with them and stop coming out. Except for batteries. Maxwell's plan for battery-powered world domination must be stopped. But how?"

This book was completely absurd. That being said, I absolutely enjoyed reading it. I've been a big Chuck fan for a while now, and I was excited to receive this book as a gift, as it has been a long time since I've read anything of his. However, at times it felt like he was trying SO hard to live up to the "Chuck" expectation. Going into a book of his, I already expect unique plots, dark and dirty details, and strange characters, but so much of this seemed completely blown out of this world. I don't want to reveal any of my favorite parts or mention any specific plot points, because I think you should read it! Though I only gave it 2 stars, I still highly recommend it.

My Rating: 2 Stars

Sarah & Nick


  1. Aww man, it looks like you had a bad month for books! I hate when that happens! A few of my friends read "Lucky Us" and pretty much had the same opinion as you guys. I have never heard of the other 2, but I will make sure to steer clear of them. lol

    1. I know! :( haha I thought the same thing. I'm enjoying the book I'm reading right now, so hopefully March will be better!