Friday, May 24, 2013

Pyg: The Memoirs of Toby the Learned Pig, by Russell Potter

Pyg, by Russell Potter, promises much and delivers little. For a book that is supposedly the "memoir of a learned pig," a subject which sounds at first inclination to have the potential to be most amusing, the actual narrative is very dry and lacking in much plot development. Essentially, Toby the pig is rescued from the slaughter, learns to spell as part of a performing act, and when it is recognized that he can actually read and understand the words in front of him, he gets the chance to become more educated. Nothing else of interest takes place that is not articulated in the cover description. Pyg is neither a comedy nor is it a social commentary in the style of Animal Farm. It is simply a matter-of-fact narrative that, had its protagonist been human rather than animal, would have no interest to readers whatsoever. As it stands, Pyg might be more interesting to advanced middle grade readers, providing that they have the necessary vocabulary and sufficient patience to wade through this text.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, by Ayana Mathis

This novel is actually more like a series of interwoven short stories, focusing on the various children of the central character Hattie. Although most of the stories are riveting in and of themselves, none of the individual characters are adequately developed, nor are the relationships between the siblings particularly well defined. More disappointingly, Hattie herself is a rather shadowy figure, not coming together well into one cohesive portrait from the depictions of her rendered by her offspring. There are simply too many points of view at work here, tearing the narrative in many directions, and Mathis would have probably done better to focus on only a few of the children as her main characters. Fans of The Help by Kathryn Stockett will doubtlessly be interested to read The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, but will not necessarily find this tale as moving or articulate.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Leopard, by Jo Nesbo

Riddled with anti-climactic moments, The Leopard lacks the full-out suspense of some of Nesbo's other Harry Hole novels, such as The Snowman. The ending crosses the surrealism of Lee Child's Reacher series with the contrived revelations of an Agatha Christie mystery. Nevertheless, the character of Harry Hole remains compelling, and the detective as much as the case is the driving force that makes this a page turner. Fans of Scandinavian noir mystery featuring strong character relationships will also enjoy the works of Camilla Lackberg, including The Ice Princess.