Top 3 books recommended by Helene Wecker
Ursula Todd, born 1910, dies over and over again in Kate Atkinson's tour de force about the everyday choices that transform our world. In a lesser writer's hands it would be a high-concept mess, but Atkinson smooths the way with prose that feels wise and comfortable, whether she's describing the best or the worst of Ursula's lives.
Also recommended by: Philipp Meyer
What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can -- will she? Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original -- this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.
Outcast noblewoman Yeine Darr is called home to her grandfather's floating city, where she'll have to ally herself with a bunch of slippery characters if she wants to save her own skin. I loved it for the wholly original world -- including a fascinating family of chained gods -- and the whip-smart heroine who could go toe-to-toe with Ms. Everdeen.
In this brilliantly original debut fantasy, a young woman becomes entangled in a power struggle of mythic proportions. Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother's death and her family's bloody history. With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate - and gods and mortals - are bound inseparably together.
Before Snyder rose to comic-book fame with Batman and American Vampire, he wrote one of my all-time favorite short story collections, full of oddball loners and old-fashioned technology. Nothing exactly happens that couldn't in real life, but the stories have an air of improbability, as though they take place in a world just slightly crazier than our own.
Scott Snyders protagonists inhabit a playfully deranged fictional world in which a Wall Street trader can find himself armed with a speargun, guarding a Dumpster outside a pawnshop in Florida; or an employee at Niagara Falls (his job: watching for jumpers) will take off in a car after a blimp in which his girlfriend has escaped. But in Snyders wondrous imagination theres a thin membrane between the whimsical and the disturbing: the unlikely affair between a famous actressin hiding after surgeryand a sporting goods salesman takes an ominous turn just as she begins to heal; an engaged couples relationship is fractured when one of them becomes obsessed with an inmate at the womens prison next door. Dark, funny, powerful, this debut collection underscores the remarkable gifts of a fiercely original young writer. From the Hardcover edition.