The Council of Animals; Nick McDonell
Henry Holt & Company - 2021
This slim book (just 208pp.) was the strangest of stories that I've read in a while. It reminded me in some ways of what I remembered of Animal Farm (from decades ago). In this story there is an event referred to as "the great calamity" where humans were pretty much extinguished from the face of the earth except for about a dozen remaining who are frightened as to what will become of them. The event appears to have had something to do with climate change or something nuclear even but something caused by human actions or inaction.
Left to decide the fate of the few remaining humans are "The Council of Animals" which consist of dog, cat, bear, raven, cow, horse and baboon. Since the animals feel the humans are the ones that caused the calamity, should the dozen who remain be allowed to live or should they be killed and eaten? The manner in which the debate and finger/paw pointing goes made me smile as chaos erupted. The animal factions and their rationale was entertaining. Yes, it's political satire but, it seems in some ways to mimic the finger-pointing that has been going on in our own politics and the divisiveness that we witness day in and day out.
I started with the short audio book (3 hours) read by the author but, the narration and sound seemed a bit annoying so I switched over to the eBook which had some cool illustrations done by Steven Tabbutt. Although this wasn't the type of book I would normally read, I thought it had merit and was certainly thought provoking enough.
Rating - 3.5/5 stars
(Thanks go to NetGalley and Henry Holt Books for allowing me access to this book in exchange for my unbiased review.)
Sooley; John Grisham
Random House Audio - 2021
Samuel Sooleyman is a boy who loves basketball and is living in South Sudan. He is in his last year of secondary school and gets the opportunity of a lifetime. He will join other basketball players from his country to play in a tournament in the United States. Sooley, has led a sheltered life and has never even flown on an airplane but, this is an opportunity for the seventeen year old to be seen by scouts. He isn't the best of the best, in fact he's the last to be chosen but, he's determined and practices every opportunity he has even when others have stopped. He improves and his determination pays off as he gets noticed. Meanwhile back home in South Sudan, a civil war is raging, he father has been killed and his sister abducted, terrible things happen.
This is not a book just for sports lovers as I enjoyed it even more than I expected. My husband really loved it as well. It's a story about basketball and a ags to riches stories. It's also a story about a country devastated by civil war and the dreams of a better life elsewhere. Sooley was a character to root for and I loved the way his character developed and how he transitioned into a life that was so different. I must say that we hadn't anticipated the way the story would end (don't look for for spoilers). I do recommend this one - especially on audio.
The audio book (10 hours, 27 min) was narrated by Dion Graham who did a fantastic job. BTW: In case you have never listened to this narrator he is also narrating Colson Whitehead's new book: Harlem Shuffle which I plan to begin soon.
Rating 4.5/5 stars
(Thanks go to Penguin Random House audio for allowing me access to this book in exchange for my unbiased review.)