“Every man you ever meet in nothing but the product of what was withheld from him, what he feels owed.”
ebook, 236 pages.
Read from March 20, 2022 to March 24, 2022.
“The West you talk about doesn’t exist. It’s a fairytale, a fantasy you sell yourself because the alternative is to admit that you are the least important character in your own story. You invent an entire world because your conscience demands it, you invent good people and bad people and you draw a neat line between them because your simplistic morality demands it. But the two kinds of people in this world are not good and bad, they are engines and fuel. Go ahead, change your country, change your name, change your accent, pull the skin right off your bones, but in their eyes they will always be the engines and you will always, always be fuel.”
An 8(ish) Sentence Review:
This novel came in fourth during the Canada Reads 2022 debates. This novel was not the author’s first to grace the debates and his strength as a writer along with his personal refugee experience offer readers a rich and unique read.
What Strange Paradise follows the struggles of a young boy named Amir, who is the only survivor of a refugee boat crash. Every day new boats, wreckage, bodies and people show up on the shores of Vanna’s country. Vanna is a teenager but she is watching this humanitarian crisis unfold and can barely stomach the way her government and military are handling it. Luckily for Amir, it is Vanna that finds him and is willing to help him. The narration of the story moves from present to past, allowing the reader to slowly build the events that led to Amir’s arrival and meeting with Vanna.
This story puts a human face to those that have been forced to leave their homes for fear of death or persecution. Beautifully written, the author successfully creates a moving story, though it fell short of meeting the theme of the debates. I would highly recommend this novel to those looking for a novel on current political topics with a rich and engaging story.
“They are not demons, not devils…Worse than that. They are people.”
ebook, 352 pages.
Read from September 19, 2021 to October 3, 2021.
An 8 Sentence Review:
It’s been a pleasure to read this book while also playing and being completely engrossed by the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt video game. There are so many characters and story references that are alluded to in the video game that come from the book series that would make no sense to anyone who has not had the pleasure of reading them.
After finding the last two books in the series full of too much lore and politics, this was a much needed change of pace. Geralt can’t find Ciri, the child of prophecy, and war is erupting all around. The plot of this story focuses mostly on Ciri and how she manages to escape the capture of a terrifying bounty hunter, as well as realising how much of the prophecy involving her is true. The writing style still feels a bit clunky, similar to the others in the series, but it’s hard to determine if that’s the fault of the translator or the author. The story itself is still immensely gripping, however, and I would mark this book as my favourite next to The Last Wish. A must-read for lovers of the the Witcher series and video games.
“You were more concerned that slavery should be a moral stain upon white men than by the actual damage it wreaks on black men.”
ebook, 432 pages.
Read from February 25, 2022 to March 6, 2022.
An 8 Sentence Review:
The runner up of this year’s Canada Reads 2022 debate, this is not the author’s first stint in the annual debates.
Washington Black is an accessible and unique story that paints a picture of slavery and racism while taking readers on a unique journey with varying plot points that include aeronautics, marine biology, art, and an arctic expedition. Washington’s story takes him from a plantation in Barbados to the Arctic circle, Canada and even London. It’s by a strike of luck that he gets away from the plantation and that his talents for drawing are recognised by people who both help and use him. Washington spends most of his life on the run but no matter how far he gets he can’t seem to escape his past.
Washington Black is an immersive and enjoyable adventure read but feels more fantastical than most historical fiction novels on this subject. Washington’s story is engaging but was not as potent as some of the other contenders in terms of meeting the Canada Read’s 2022 theme. The author is a talented and capable writer and I would recommend this book to those that are looking for an engaging, easy, and unique historical fiction.