Bryant & May Series
Currently reading
by Christopher Fowler
Finishing up the oddball detective series.
I happened upon one of the Bryant and May mysteries at the library about 10 years ago. And I read about 5 or 6 of them, out of order. I decided I wanted to catch back up with these characters and stories, so I've been reading and re-reading all 13 books so far (there is a 14th, but won't be released in the US until next year). I'm finally on my last stretch of books (taking 4/5 at a time) and I think this series has gotten a lot better with time.

Bryant and May are two very old, archaic detectives in London who run the Peculiar Crimes Unit - a police force tasked with solving crimes that no one wants and are oddities. Which is great - Arthur Bryant is this idiosyncratic curmudgeon who consults witches and psychics and old books for help in solving his cases. The books are enamored with London's rich history and the off-beaten paths of the city. May is his faithful companion, a more by-the-books man who is the yin to Arthur's yang.

I will say I think Memory of Blood was treading water with the series, but Invisible Code felt like a big leap forward (much like the 7th installment which shook things up). This time the writing and characters and story felt much more important and serious. Things from past novels come to a head in this story and it feels like the Unit is more integral to society than ever, whereas past novels I felt the PCU was seperated from present-day London. I'm halfway through the books and I cannot wait to finish these books.
All the Birds in the Sky
by Charlie Jane Anders
Magic and science collide in a bizarre story.
Patricia and Laurence had some really messed up childhoods. Abusive parents and harassment at school by bullies, they find each other in school and their bond helps them get through the hell that is their lives. After drifting apart, they both find their respective niches in life - Patricia, a witch and Laurence, a scientist - but also find themselves fighting each other when it comes to the fate of the world.

I don't know if I could classify this as a young adult novel, but it certainly plays out like one. I'm not a huge fan of books about magic users and witches, but so far the more fantastical parts are more fun than fleshed out. I don't know if the author intended to be mysterious when it came to describing how magic worked in the world, but it's a good hook nonetheless.

The characters have been really good. They both can be assholes and hurt eachother and some of the inner dialogue happening feels real. It's an emotional story more than I thought. If you're looking for a hard science fiction book, this is not it. This is more about the two characters and them colliding and drifting together over and over throughout their lives.

Read my final review here.
S. by J.J. Abrams & Doug Dorst
Sleuthing it out amongst the margins.
S is a wholly unique experience. I say experience because it's not just reading a book. You have to get involved. And if that's off-putting to you, then you should just avoid this book at all cost. I'm about half-way through reading the book and I still have no idea exactly what I'm reading. S. is at once a 1949 book titled Ship of Theseus written by an elusive writer named V.M. Straka. And within that book's conveniently wide margins lies another narrative - one of correspondence between Eric and Jen who find themselves caught up in the mystery of the book and author itself. Two scholars who become obsessed with finding out who V.M. Straka really is. The book comes with an assortment of letters, postcards and paraphernalia to help to guide you along the modern story.

And it's fascinating. I know the ending will leave me with more questions than answers (thankfully the internet has got that covered), but damn if I'm not enjoying trying to figure things out. The original story - Ship of Theseus - is a weird time-traveling tale of a amnesiac protagonist and his inevitable encounters with revolutionary figures. And Jen and Eric see the novel as a metaphor with coded/hidden messages that reveal who Straka is and the mysterious and secret "S" organization. 

This is going to take several read-throughs to fully form a picture of what's happening, so I don't know how I'll feel after I close the book for the first time. It's an astonishingly grand endeavour for the writers and I cannot help but admire their ambition.

Read my final review here.