If You Liked x, Read y, Canada Reads 2017 Edition: Books 1 and 2

March 28, 2017

Spoiler alert! We've been keeping up on this year's CBC Canada Reads debates hosted by Ali Hassan, and we can't resist bringing similar books to you based on what got eliminated. Though we hate to see them go, we have the perfect literary bandage to soothe your Canada Reads elimination woes. Today we'll be discussing books one and two, and Thursday we'll be back with three, four, and the winner.

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Spoiler alert! We've been keeping up on this year's CBC Canada Reads debates hosted by Ali Hassan, and we can't resist bringing similar books to you based on what got eliminated. Though we hate to see them go, we have the perfect literary bandage to soothe your Canada Reads elimination woes. Today we'll be discussing books one and two, and Thursday we'll be back with three, four, and the winner.

 

 

Book One: The Break = Size of a Fist by Tara Geraux (Thistledown Press)
Defended by Candy Palmater, radio and television personality.

The break, in Katherena Vermette’s multi-narrated The Break, is a desolate strip of land outside the house of Stella, a Métis woman. One night, Stella sees someone in trouble on the break, and the undulating stories that come out of the people connected to that victim – an artist in mourning, a social worker left alone, a homeless teenager freed from juvenile prison – form an incisive telling of life in Winnipeg’s North End.

The Break finds its YA equivalent in Tara Geraux’s Size of a Fist (Thistledown Press): a gritty coming-of-age novel about a girl in seemingly hopeless circumstances. When Addy has to choose between leaving her small town for the city with her cruel boyfriend, Craig, or remaining with few opportunities, her plight is not unlike those of the Indigenous women characters in Vermette’s book.

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Book Two: Nostalgia = Rogue Cells/Carbon Harbour by Garry Thomas Morse (Talonbooks)
Defended by Jody Mitic, 20-year veteran of the CAF

M.G. Vassanji’s speculative-fiction novel Nostalgia is an examination of what people will trade for immortality, in a society where the rich enough remove their memories and are “born-again,” leaving their children orphaned by parents who don’t remember them. Protagonist Dr. Frank Sina, having undergone the procedure himself, is charged with helping fellow “NGs” (“new-generation-ers”) stopper any memories that may crop up, what they call “nostalgia syndrome.” While tensions between NG’s and the only-born-once “babies” increase, a larger conflict between the North American Alliance and Maskinia brews. Maskinia, an outside-the-border territory thought to be lawless and barbaric, comes into the public conversation when a journalist is supposedly eaten – on camera – while on assignment there.

Equally sprawling in scope to Nostalgia is Garry Thomas Morse’s second instalment of his Chaos! Quincunx series, Rogue Cells / Carbon Harbour (Talonbooks). Main character Oober Mann emerges from cryogenic slumber into New Haudenosaunee, an Indigenous nation at war with Nutella (a territory, not the spread), and fending off attacks from terrorist celebrities who adhere to all kinds of new religions (our favourite has to be the Stratford-upon-Avonists, who disagree, violently, about slight variations in Shakespearean text). Between the extended lifespans of Mann and other residents, the factionalism of Morse’s Carbon Harbour, and role-playing game addicts of “Putridworld” in their post-pollution society (not unlike the games that a patient of Dr. Sina plays in Nostalgia), this standalone novel is a standout for speculative fiction lovers.

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We'll be back Thursday with more Canada Reads picks! (Though we do this every year).


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