What I finished reading….
The book opens with our protagonist, Henry Lee venturing down to the Panama Hotel, once a premier hotel in Seattle’s Japantown. The new owner has found, in the hotel’s basement, the belongings of Japanese families. As families were rounded up and sent to internment camps they stored their belongs wherever they could. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.
Seeing this umbrella takes Henry back to the 1940s. Through young Henry’s eyes we learn about his his father, who is obsessed with the war in China along with his hatred of the Japanese. Henry is a scholarship student at a high end school. There as the only Chinese student Henry is bullied. Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student when she also transfers in and there are put on the school lunch line together. They form a deep friendship over their love of jazz, despite The feelings Henry’s father has for the Japanese. Keiko and her family are eventually interned and they both pledge to wait for the other.
As Henry searches the hotel’s basement hoping to find the Okabe family’s belongings we also learn about his present, his somewhat strained relationship with his son and his attempts to find his way as a new widower.
What I liked
The depictions of Seattle and the local music scene during World War II
A glimpse of how Chinese and Chinese Americans might have been feeling during the war. We rarely hear anything, if at all, about their perspective.
The relationship between Henry and his son – though I would have liked to see more of that relationship over all
What I was less enthused about
The story felt emotionally bland to me. We are talking about a very emotional subject and the emotions Keiko and her family must have felt when being relocated were, to be polite, very nuanced – not much emotion shown there. At one point in the novel someone even says that the camps weren’t that bad. The author also skims over the amount of bullying both Henry and Keiko must have received.
The story was also a little too saccharine for me and the love story a little too idealized.
I’m afraid that, for me, it was sort of a meh read.
Cold Storage by David Koepp
The story opens with two operatives Roberto Diaz and his partner Trini accompanying a biologist to a remote part of Australia. Some space junk had crashed there and shortly after it did all contact was lost in the small village near the crash site. Once there they find everyone dead and a deadly, fast acting fungus as the cause for the death. They realize that this organism could cause and was sent to investigate a suspected biochemical attack, he found something far worse: a highly extinction-level event. The place is then nuked but not without a small sample being removed (because of course you always take a sample of the deadly fungus with you) The sample is contained and buried it in cold storage deep beneath a little-used military repository.
The repository is eventually decommissioned and another type of storage facility is built on top of the top secret one.
There might be possible misfortune in store for the two security guards who work the night shift they discover an alarm going off and decide to investigate. In the mean while though it looks like the fungus may have already escaped and infected the baby daddy of one of the guards. As fate would have it he has arrived at the facility just as Naomi (baby mom) and Teacake (hapless second guard) are off investigating the alarm.
In the meanwhile Diaz, now retired and somewhat creaky, has been notified of the breach and races across country on his lonesome (because of course he is on his own) to prevent the fungus from spreading.
I had the best fun with this book. I love biological mechanisms that will destroy the world type story lines and this book did not disappoint. I enjoyed the characters, particularly Teacake and there were humorous bits throughout the book. Mr. Koepp is a screenwriter and the book very much as a feel of a thriller type of movie. Yes belief must def. be suspended but the book is meant to be a fun b movie romp and nothing serious. I needed this fun read right now.
What I’m reading now…
Continuing from last week I’m still reading The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett and listening to Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter.
I’ve started reading something of my TBR, The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield, huzzah! I’m about 149 pages in and really enjoying it so far.
In non book related news
I watched a couple of the fall pilots – Prodigal Son and Evil.
My husband was intrigued enough by Prodigal Son that I suspect we will keep watching it. I personally liked Evil, it does have some chill inducing moments, both leads are very personable and Michael Emerson of Lost fame does a lovely job of being creepy.
So what are you all up to? Any good movies, shows or books you’d like to mention?