A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend

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This week on Novel Ideas, we are discussing a listener suggested book, A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner. In this episode, we have a bit of a role reversal at the top of the episode due to an attempted technical workaround that didn’t end up working. Or perhaps it’s better if we don’t explain these things and you just chalk up it up to Ben’s idiocy. In fact, from now on assume that all issues you have with the show are related to Ben’s idiocy. Issues like repeatedly referencing The Hunger Games even though it has nothing to do with this book, or not knowing the proper terminology for bike riders cyclists. In this episode we will also delve into the YA teen death genre, shy survivor types, unusual treatments of sexuality, and shallow characterization. We also discuss why teen writing sucks, the dead girl is annoyingly perfect, the badassery of Quakers, and causes of YA death. We’ll also cover, though not specifically (nor in detail) what the acronym in the episode title stands for (it’s also in the tags.)

Administrative note: We said a bunch of stuff about the next episode that is not correct. For example, Cursed Child has already been posted. Next episode will be Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

The music bump is “Ninjas of the Night” from an Youtube video of ancient vintage, but is nonetheless perfectly in line with the depiction of ninjas in this book.

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend (AFBAADT)

Our Recommendation: Meh. It’s kind of two books trying to be one book.

Ben: 5/10. At various points I was pretty sure I disliked this book. And then when it was over, I still didn’t like it. But I didn’t dislike it enough to argue for or against. So it has that going for it.

Gabs: 8/10 for could have been with the bike trip story. 5/10 for what actually happened with mediocre ninjas.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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Novel Ideas, in a completionist turn, brings you Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling (but really by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany). In this episode we discuss insane bestselling sales, the nature of long delayed sequels, time travel plots, and how plays differ from novels. We also talk about the influence of cocaine (probably none), that Voldemort is likely a virgin, alternate Ron, and the inadequacy of riddle based security measures. And much, much more.

The music bump is “Sybilla Delphica” by Orlando di Lassus in honor of <spoiler of gobsmackingly stupid plot twist redacted>, Delphi.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – A Thing That Doesn’t Need To Exist

Our recommendation: This sequel was a smashing (financial) success. Otherwise, it doesn’t really feel that much like Harry Potter.

Ben: 4/10. I’ve never been a fan of unnecessary sequels. This falls into that category for me.

Gabs: 4/10 faulty Time Turners. Because it failed to turn back the clock and recapture the magic.

Also, if you have suggestions for future episodes, please share them with us! We’re trying to be a bit more responsive to our six or so listeners this year.

Little Women

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Happy New Year! We’re back with a classic in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, a book that many would call a quintessential American girl’s tale. Do we agree with this assessment? You’ll find out if you listen to this episode. You’ll also discover what we think about feminism in historical context, question certain self-improvements, agree with the narrator’s opinion on spinsters, and discuss the lack of passion in this story. We also talk about ladies who don’t like ladies, the creation of shipping, obnoxious children, and (perhaps oddly) lobsters.

The music bump is Chopin’s Mazurka in A minor, op. 17 due to period appropriateness. Feel free to imagine Beth playing it in heaven if that makes you feel better about it.

109 – Little Women – Marmee is the Worst

Our recommendation: Short version is that it doesn’t really hold up that well.

Ben: 5/10. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. I liked that there were a lot of things to discuss, as there usually are with classics.

Gabs: 5/10. 6/10 for part 1, 4/10 for part 2.

Quick administrative note: We’re hoping to post more often this year, though of course we guarantee nothing. As part of this “do more stuff” plan, we would like to be a little more responsive to our listeners. Please leave some requests/recommendations/suggestions for books for future episodes either in the comments for this episode or on our suggestions page.

The Obelisk Gate

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Novel Ideas apologizes for the delay, but we return with a new episode on N.K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate. This novel is the sequel to The Fifth Season, the Hugo award winner and a Novel Ideas favorite. We should warn you going in, since this is a recent publication, this episode is chock full of spoilers. In addition to spoilers, we also cover Chosen One plots, dark elements, shades of gray, and family. We also talk about how this story is not Harry Potter, adorable monsters, the importance of the moon, and how none of these characters are actually Gandalf.

The music bump is “The Unanswered Question” by Charles Ives in honor of all of the questions from the first book that were answered with more questions in the second book.

108 – The Obelisk Gate – Sympathetic Murderers

Our rating: A worthy follow up to the original with excellent depth of world building and characterization.

Ben: 10/10. I love the world building and the characters and anything else I forgot to mention.

Gabs: 9/10 moons. Darkness is slightly less shocking the second time around, but the complexity is great.

 

Me Before You

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Novel Ideas makes its return after too long away. This episode is about Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, a story about a quirky quirkster and a sad sack in a wheelchair. In this one we discuss ableism, depression, class, and assisted suicide, subjects which may cause you to feel icky. We also talk about our obscure theories (this book is secretly an eff you to rich people, this book is an anti-athlete author tract), what constitutes “a thing” (the internet, disabled people, therapy), why career counselors probably shouldn’t push you towards stripping, and that brief moment where Ben gets super judge-y.

The music bump is “The Queen Bee” by Sammy Nestico as performed by the Count Basie band.

107 – Me Before You – Feels Kinda Icky

Our recommendation: Reads easily enough, but you’ll feel icky if you think too hard about it.

Ben: 5/10 on the initial read, 3/10 by the time Gabs and I were done talking about it.

Gabs: 3/10 after we talked about it.

Holy crap, one of us did some research for this episode! Here are a couple of links that Gabs referenced:

Video:

http://youtu.be/Z9bkWJtm-mU

Articles:

http://cdrnys.org/blog/advocacy/hollywood-lies-i-prefer-my-disabled-girlfriend-alive/

http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.ca/2016/05/boycott-me-before-you-disability-death.html?m=1

Binti

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Novel Ideas returns with Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, the winner of the Nebula award in the novella category this year. In this episode, we discuss empathy, outsider perspectives, colonialism, and forgiveness. We also talk about the lack of snark, kindergarten level thinking, adult hair touching, and not being a hater.

The music bump is “All is Forgiven” by the Jellyfish, which is thematically appropriate in at least two ways.

106 – Binti – Angry Young Jellyfish at Space Harvard

Our review: Good to very good, a very simply told story. Gabs would like for the story to be more fleshed out, but nothing that is necessary is omitted. No ratings this time because I forgot to get one from Gabs before she disappeared into the wilderness for the month.

Since this is a recent publication, be mindful of our spoiler policy. Short version: we spoil everything.

Publishing Extravaganza Part 2

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Here is the second half of our conversation about the publishing industry, this time focusing on newspapers, magazines, and the internet. In this episode we discuss the possible death of newspapers, why magazines are still doing okay, clickbait, and whether the word “content” is overused. We also talk about how to break into the industry and our own tastes when it comes to content.

Music bump is still Richard Strauss’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”

Publishing Special Part 2 – 4 Insane Publishing Theories