POVone: The First Person Perspective

Rants and Reviews on Novels Written in the First Person Point of View

Tag Archives: Betrayal

Book Review: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

Author: Joanne Harris
Title: The Gospel of Loki
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Saga (Simon and Schuster)
Number of Pages: 315
Narrator: Loki
Quality Rating: 84.5

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

What’s It About?

Loki is born in Chaos, a murky underworld lacking form and substance. Curious about Asgard, the world of the gods above, he wanders from his home and runs into the Allfather–Odin. Forming a pack with the Allfather, Loki agrees to use his dark magic and cleverness for Odin’s cause in exchange for a home among the gods.

The other gods are not so taken with Loki. And, when Loki gets himself into a pinch from a bargain he makes with a contractor, the gods wish to put him to death. Thus begins a series of exploits Loki pulls off to cunningly get himself back into the good graces of the gods.

Eventually, Loki realizes that he’s never going to be truly accepted among the gods. So, instead, he sets out to destroy them. One by one, he begins to seek out weaknesses to exploit in the gods–playing them against one another to his own end. Nevertheless, as he becomes increasingly entangled in the world of the gods, he wonders whether his mischief is only going to end in his own demise.

Should You Read It?

If you are a fan of Norse mythology, you’ll love this book. The tales of Loki incorporate many well-known legends–amending them slightly with cynical and capricious slants. If you enjoy the kind of story where the archetypal villain is cast as the victim, you’ll also enjoy this story. The narrative is written in a sarcastic and whimsical manner, so if you enjoy that sort of tone, you’ll be intrigued by Loki’s account. If these criteria sound appealing to you, you may want to give this book a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: The Guardian, The Independent, Kirkus Reviews, SFF World

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Joanne Harris: Runelight (2011), The French Maket (2005), Chocolat (1999), many others

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Book Review: Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

Author: Kimberly McCreight
Title: Where They Found Her
Genre: Literary; Suspense
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Number of Pages: 336
Narrator: Molly Sanderson
Quality Rating: 84.2

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

What’s It About?

Molly Sanderson is a new reporter for a small newspaper in Ridgedale–a university town in which her husband has gotten a job as an English Professor. As she seeks recovery from a recent mental breakdown, she wants to make the best of the job in order to become a better mother again for her young daughter. When a lead reporter takes a few days’ leave for minor operation, she receives the opportunity to cover a major story. There’s just one problem: the story involves an investigation into the discovery of an infant’s dead body–and Molly’s recent bout of depression had stemmed from the miscarriage of her second child.

As Molly investigates the story, despite her misgivings, she stumbles across a large cast of characters from a police chief, an overbearing mother, and the “town whore” to a university president, a campus security guard, and a school teacher–all who may or may not be connected to the baby. As she digs further into the case, she discovers a dark history buried for decades by some of Ridgedale’s most long-term and well-respected residents. As the truth slowly begins to come to light, Molly herself is drawn into the story in unexpected and heartbreaking ways.

Should You Read It?

If you like the kind of psychological mystery that climatically brings a slew of disconnected characters together in a web of dark secrets, you’ll love this book. The story is heavily character-driven, with the inclusion of perspectives from several other characters in addition to Molly’s first person account. But the mystery surrounding the identity of the baby and its parents also gives the story a suspenseful momentum that readers of authors such as Gillian Flynn would enjoy. Essentially, if you love a mystery built around the secrets of rich, fleshed-out characters, you may want to give this story a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, Books on the Table, Jen’s Book Thoughts

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Kimberly McCreight: Reconstructing Amelia (2013)

Book Review: Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo

Author: Jo Nesbo
Title: Blood on Snow
Genre: Suspense
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Knopf (Random House)
Number of Pages: 224
Narrator: Olav
Quality Rating: 68.34

Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo

What’s It About?

Olav is a “fixer.” He works on commission for a wealthy man who gives him assignments that he carries out with precision. Olav has no family and no connections. He is a ghost…and that’s what makes him the perfect contract killer.

Despite killing people for a living, Olav has somewhat of a soft spot. He expresses pity toward some and indifference toward others. When his boss offers him a large sum of money to kill his adulterous wife, he at first thinks it’s going to be just like any other job.

While preparing for the execution, Olav watches his boss’s wife and is drawn to her. Then, he discovers they her “lover” is more of an oppressor. The man is raping her. She keeps quiet, he assumes, because he has information on her that she doesn’t want her husband to know. Instead of killing the boss’s wife, Olav decides to kill the man exploiting her.

When Olav tells his boss about what he did, he discovers the man isn’t just any man. He is someone important. Suddenly, Olav and his boss’s wife find themselves on the run. As he eludes people who are trying to kill him and falls in love with the woman whose life he’s spared, Olav must use all of his cunning to survive while he gets to the bottom of a conspiracy he’s been drawn into.

Should You Read It?

I haven’t read other books by Jo Nesbo, but I’ve heard this one is quite different. The narrator is somewhat of a mentally disturbed and semi-psychotic individual. He is driven by an ambivalence toward human life that manifests itself in many philosophical musings throughout the development of the story. The tone reminded me a lot of Normal, with the crazy narrator being a contract killer rather than a serial killer. While there is much introspection, there are also several interesting plot twists. So, if you enjoy a good thriller with somewhat of a philosophical bent, you might appreciate this story.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Interview with NPR

Book Reviews: Boston GlobeThe Guardian, Paste Magazine

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Jo Nesbo: The Son (2014), Phantom (2011), The Leopard (2009), The Snowman (2007)

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Author: Sabaa Tahir
Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill (Random House)
Number of Pages: 464
Narrators: Laia and Elias
Quality Rating: 87.98

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

What’s It About?

Laia is a “Scholar,” the oppressed class in a world divided between masters and slaves. When the remainder of her family is slain by her oppressors and her one remaining brother is taken captive, she goes out in search of the only people she believes can help–The Resistance. This ruthless band of rebels agrees to help free her brother with one condition: she must become a spy for them. Secretly working for the Resistance, Laia must become a personal servant of the most feared woman in existence–the cruel and merciless commander of the oppressive regime that slaughtered her family.

Meanwhile, Elias is graduating from the military academy to become a “Mask,” the murderous infantry of the ruling class that oppresses, exploits, harasses the slaves of the land. Elias hates the violence and despairs over the blood which will inevitably fall on his hands. Not only is he destined to become the very thing he despises, but he also has the misfortune of being the son of a mother who hates him–the commander of the army. Despite risking torture and execution, he plans to desert the empire before they can make him a muderer.

Just as he is about the leave, he is persuaded to stay by an Augur–the empire’s class of wisemen, in order to fulfill an obscure destiny. Shortly after deciding to remain, Elias and several of his classmates are selected to perform in the Trials–a prophesied and long awaited event whose victor becomes the next emperor and losers are promptly executed. As the Trials begin and Elias’s world becomes interwoven with Laia’s, both characters must fight to overcome their bleak circumstances and attain their own forms of freedom.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy darker young adult, dystopian fantasy, you will probably love this book. It’s a lot like Red Queen and The Fire Sermon in terms of class divisions, but the divisions are less on genetic lines and more simply on political lines. Although there is a vague semblance of a love triangle, the attraction between characters is less composed of flighty romance and more composed of shared identity and purpose. The story is told in alternating narration between the two protagonists–giving the reader insight into what it’s like to be both the oppressor and the oppressed. Themes include the interplays of betrayal and friendship, slavery and freedom, cruelty and mercy, and death and survival. While classified as YA, the realities of an oppressive regime are not hidden–and the resulting tone is somewhat dismal. And, while there are certainly dystopian and fantasy elements, the writing is layered and somewhat complex–so it would also be appealing to those interested in more literary works. If this sounds appealing to you, I would definitely pick this book up.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Book Reviews: New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, Redeye Chicago

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Sabaa Tahir: An Ember in the Ashes is Sabaa Tahir’s debut novel.

Book Review: Still Waters by Ash Parsons

Author: Ash Parsons
Title: Still Waters
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Philomel (Random House)
Number of Pages: 320
Narrator: Jason

Still Waters by Ash Parsons

What’s It About?

As a senior, Jason is known by all as the tough guy from the wrong side of the tracks. He gets into a lot of fights and has a scary reputation among his peers. But, in his view, he doesn’t start trouble; he is simply very efficient at finishing it. Defending himself and his sister against the abusive tirades of his father, experience has taught him to stand and fight rather than to walk away.

Jason is a loner. He is guarded in his relationships and only has one friend that he really opens up to. So, when he is approached by the most popular kid in school with an odd proposition, he is naturally suspicious. Seeking to build his reputation for an undisclosed reason, this other boy offers to pay Jason to hang out with him. Reluctantly, Jason agrees–because the money may just give him and his sister their ticket to freedom.

As Jason begins to hang out with the popular crowd, he senses that something is off. The more time he spends with them, the more he feels like he’s being set up. As new people come into his life, he isn’t sure who he can trust. Suddenly, the lines aren’t so clear. Who will he need to fight? And who will he need to fight for?

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy the kind of young adult story that centers on a kid dealing with a bad home life, you’ll probably really love this book. For a YA novel, it was really gritty and disturbing–so it’s not for the faint of heart. The focus on a disadvantaged kid trying to make the most of the situation reminded me a lot of Where All the Light Tends to Go. There is a lot of mystery and intrigue built up throughout, leading to a dramatic conclusion. Also, there’s a good balance of introspection and fast-paced action–so it would appeal to lovers of both literary and genre works.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Dee’s Reads, Bibliophile Gathering, Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Ash Parsons: Still Waters is Ash Parsons’s debut novel.

Book Review: The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

Author: Francesca Haig
Title: The Fire Sermon
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Gallery (Simon and Schuster)
Number of Pages: 384
Narrator: Cassandra

The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

What’s It About?

Cassandra has been born into a post-apocalyptic world in which all people who procreate give birth to twins–one who is perfectly normal and another who is plagued with some sort of deformity. The parents keep the healthy offspring, called Alphas, and exile the unhealthy children, called Omegas to live in poverty and subjugation.

Omegas cannot procreate, but they do have one advantage that keeps the Alphas from getting rid of them altogether. The Omegas stay connected somehow to their Alpha counterparts such that when one twin dies, so does the other. The ruling party of the Alphas, called the Council, is on a perpetual search to understand how to exterminate Omegas without affecting their Alpha Twins.

Cassandra is an Omega–but a rare and special kind. Called a Seer, Cassandra receives premonitions about the future. Though her “deformity” gives her certain advantages, she is still cast out by the Alphas and even finds it difficult to be accepted among the Omegas. At the beginning of the novel, Cass is taken captive by her Alpha brother–who has risen to a position of influence in the Alpha Council.

After months in imprisonment , Cass finally receives the opportunity to escape. Freeing another prisoner as she flees, Cass ventures out in search of a fabled Island–in which Omegas are allowed to live in freedom and safety. As they travel from town to town, avoiding the Council, Cass and her companion begin to understand the political upheaval going on in the Council and the sinister role her brother is playing in the future of Alphas and Omegas.

Should You Read It?

If you are a fan of the post-apocalyptic dystopian genre, you will probably enjoy the book. The story takes place in the future after an alleged nuclear holocaust at some point in the distant past. In this dystopian future, people are divided into two classes–much like in the recent Red Queen. The storyline also has a genetic element–some akin to that of the movie Gattaca. The writing is straightforward, with a lot of movement and little introspection. If this sounds like an interesting read to you, I would try it out.

Links and References

Author Information: Author Page (Publisher), Goodreads, Twitter

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, That’s Normal, Civilian Reader

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Francesca Haig: The Fire Sermon is Francesca Haig’s debut novel, but she has written a collection of poetry called Bodies of Water (2006).