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Most Surprising (Positive)

The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe

I knew that The Woman in the Dunes was going to be something I would enjoy from its description (and I almost never bother with blurbs, synopsis as they are geared to appeal to people with a different mindset from me anyhow), but I did not realize how good it would get as it moved along. Similar to Indignation by Philip Roth, it starts rather decent, presenting a rather well dissected info dump to get the reader acquainted with the persons who are voices of the novels, but then takes a major turn once the plot becomes obvious to be shockingly compelling. The plot is by no means complex, but the fixation on the movedness of the sand and how it topples his resolve to escape as it does the dunes every night and his futile struggle to maintain his rebellion, rejection of what has been worked into his life. As a short philosophical novel, it does a superb job of advocating adaptation over revolution.

Clade by Mark Budz

Clade by Mark Budz is a run of the mill, point a to point b dystopian literature with some unusual character, plot and setting choices. Its strong suit is not in breaking new ground by any means but by telling a predictable story in such a way that rarely drags on the reader’s attention span. There were only a couple of instances where I flipped ahead to see when chapter would end as most scenes in the book were concise and compelling enough that I didn’t have time to think about the things I really should have been doing while I was reading it (end of term papers and projects, anyone?). There was still plenty left to be desired, hence why it is not a favorite of mine, but the work is really well done and Mark Budz really deserves props for being able to hold the attention of an ADD snot nose like myself.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Truth be told, I already knew that A Series of Unfortunate Events was going to be very enjoyable for me. I had seen the film adaptation of the first three books long before I took the time to read the books and I have always found the mood, artistic direction and story fantastic. The books, while slightly juxtaposed in what complex emotional states they provoked in me to the film itself, I found them no less aesthetically pleasing but in fact more. No, what I actually found surprising was just how sinister and morbid they were and how they distinctly managed not to come off like children’s books. That isn’t to say they read like adult oriented work, but that moods and tones that were evoked were well beyond what I thought was even possible in children’s lit. I am much reminded of my experience watching Bridge to Terabithia (again, hadn’t read the book) and being absolutely dumbfounded and actually legitimately frightened by the sudden change in tone and plot-if you don’t know what I am talking about, you watch/read it. The Unfortunate Events series is my current favorite work of younger-than-adult lit and I am looking forward to his next project.

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