I’ve been reading Robin Hobb for what feels like my whole life, and she’s one of my favourite authors ever. I read the first Farsser novel when I was in my early teens, so I’ve been waiting for this book for a long, long time. Assassin’s Fate is the final book featuring Fitz and the Fool, two of Hobb’s most compelling, heart-breaking and fully realised characters. She dedicated this book to them, and I completely understand why – if they feel like lifelong friends to me, they must be so much more to her. I managed to snag a copy of this book a few days before release, at an event in Waterstones, and then spent the next two days doing nothing but reading (852 pages in 2 days seems pretty good to me). I was not disappointed. Hobb’s writing is wonderful and characters were as magnificent, frustrating and heart-breaking as they always are. This book is a fitting end to many different plot threads and Hobb pulled it all off with consummate skill. Suffice to say, if you haven’t picked her up, I heartily recommend anything Hobb has ever written (but start at Assassin’s Apprentice… and bring the tissues!).
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Seriously, not even a publisher would have the temerity to label the second in a series a bland ‘Vol.2’; it sounds like one of those crummy collections of pop that come out with monotonous regularity (eg ‘Summer of Love, Vol. 39’), but the throw away title belies the beautiful wit and irony of this worthy successor to ‘Vol 1’. Peter Quill goes in search of his parentage with…. cosmic results. Beautifully tongue in cheek, retro funny, action-packed, immortally wonderful characters… I was laughing and crying, sometimes at the same time. Yes, you will have to love Baby Groot, and, once more, Rocket and the imperturbable Drax:
Ego: I created what I imagined biological life to be like. Down to the most minute detail.
Drax: Did you make a penis?
Peter Quill: Dude!
Gamora: What is wrong with you?
Drax: If he’s a planet, how could he make a baby with your mother? He would smush her.
Peter Quill: I don’t need to hear how my parents…
Drax: Why? My father would tell the story of impregnating my mother every winter solstice.
Peter Quill: That’s disgusting.
Drax: It was beautiful. You earthers have hang-ups.
Ego: Yes, Drax, I got a penis.
Drax: Ha! Thank you.
Ego: And it’s not half bad.
A pint-sized tree with limited vocabulary dancing to Electric Light Orchestra doesn’t sound like anything much when you try to describe it to somebody who hasn’t seen the film, but the opening scene of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is the hardest I’ve laughed at any TV or movie, ever. While his space-faring family save the galaxy again, Groot mostly gets into adorable hijinks like fist-pumping while he should be fighting an Abilisk, or bravely offering up a mystery severed toe as a device to help Rocket and Yondu escape jail. The whole film is uproariously funny, and the thing that seems most admirable about Guardians is how well they can take on standard superhero pranks and kid-action-movie lines that would be meh in any other film, but the characters are so well-developed and so unique that they can make a joke about “famously huge turds” make even the most cynical of audiences bend over laughing. It’s also moving, and meaningful, and absolutely stunning – if you have access to an IMAX cinema, it’s well worth bumping up to a premium watching experience for eye-wateringly beautiful space-scapes.
I’m not been reading or watching much this month, but something that did catch my eye was Carrie Fisher’s autobiography The Princess Diarist (which must be one of my favourite titles ever). I expected Carrie to be a great writer, given she often worked as a script-writer, but was surprised to see lots of soul-bearing poetry from her days on-set (and I’m a big fan of soul-bearing poetry). Plus, there’s all the scoop on Carrie’s on-set affair with a then relatively-unknown actor called Harrison Ford.
Caveat: I have no knowledge of the Archie comics, and for some reason thought this was about aliens for ages because it somehow merged with Roswell in my mind. Anyway, despite my ignorance I am absolutely lapping up this series.
Now, I do not look for realism in my high school dramas. I spent most of my school life updating my Myspace and trying to impress my teachers with things I’d found out on Wikipedia. I do not want to watch a television programme that represents this experience. I want to watch impossibly attractive teens (who are in fact played by actors in their early twenties) engage in epic psychological warfare and go to lots of parties with red cups. Riverdale gives me this, and then some. It feels like delicious cross between Twin Peaks and Cruel Intentions, a pitch perfect high school drama that is in turns eerie, sexy and addictive.