We’re still in January, I guess!! My absolutely least favorite month! I actually really like New Year’s, and symbolically January as a beginning makes me feel very relieved [despite the absolute garbage happening in the world right now] but as you know, I live in Minnesota, so I spend most of January feeling like my eyeballs are going to freeze right out of my face. So if someone wants to transplant my entire life to Arizona, maybe I’ll like January more! However, the first two books I read in 2020 are great and I’m excited to talk about them!
Welcome to Lagos – Chibundu Onuzo
I absolutely loved the characters in this book, particularly the five-person band of down-on-their luck strangers who latch onto each other for both survival and family. Chike, Yẹmi, Isoken, Fineboy, and Oma find each other early in the book and become the optimistic heart of the novel, surrounded as they are by cynicism and schemes. Together they’re just trying to survive in Lagos, but when their paths cross an embezzling politician on the run they all have a chance to discover a new sense of purpose. Every person in this book feels instantly and recognizably layered, real, and impossible not to root for.
I do think it either needed to be 50 pages shorter or about 150 pages longer, and I know that’s a wide span, but something about the pacing just didn’t quite work for me. There’s an extended section about two-thirds of the way through in which a character leaves Lagos and while I liked what it meant for that character, its function in the plot felt a bit roundabout, which I think might have gone differently for me if Onuzo had expanded the world of the book.
That being said, I really liked it and would recommend it. In some ways it reminded me of the movie Parasite, which came out this year and is excellently fun and devastating; they’re both stories about surviving in cities divided by capitalism into the extremely wealthy and extremely poor and they both feature characters who stick in your heart.
tw: sexual assault, discussions of past domestic abuse
Blitzed – Alexa Martin
As has become my pattern with Alexa Martin books, I picked this one up to read “just a little bit” before carrying on with the rest of the day’s plans, but then ended up cancelling the rest of the day’s plans (which, to be fair, was just going to a movie with myself, so really everyone won here) to blast through the whole thing in one day.
I expected this to be more of an “enemies to lovers” read [my catnip], but it turned out to be more of a “friends to lovers” story, which, while not being as much of an immediate “LET’S GO” for me, was very compelling. Brynn Larson and Maxwell Lewis do not start out this book on the best of terms; despite crushing on each other for years, a poorly timed incident at the end of Fumbled sets their relationship off on the wrong foot. If you’ve read Intercepted and/or Fumbled (both of which I highly recommend!) you know Brynn as the close friend of those heroines and owner of the bar they frequent, and Maxwell as the professional football teammate of the heroes.
The love story that develops between the two of the them is very sweet and earned, and I have absolutely mind-cast Brynn’s dad as Enrico Colantoni, Best TV Dad. As with the other books in this series, there’s a bit of ~intrigue~ throughout that I did feel was resolved a bit too quickly at the end, but the part I really cared about is the relationships between not just the love interests but the community around them, which is so rich and warm that they trick me into feeling that if I moved to Denver I would somehow be able to meet these fictional characters and become friends with them.
tw: discussions of past sexual assault
Stay warm out there, and go see Parasite!