Saturday, December 19, 2020

Tommi Kinnunen: Ei kertonut katuvansa

The book talks about Finnish women who have escaped to Norway at the end of the Second World War. As the soldiers are sent home, they are left behind. They have no other good idea except to walk through destroyed arctic tundra with little food and only the most basic clothing. An excellent book that is very well told, with clear but creative language. The characters are well described and realistically depict the conditions they go through – altruism isn’t always the most important value when you are struggling for your own life.  

Finlandia ehdokkaanakin ollut kirja kirjailijalta, jonka kaikki teokset olen lukenut. 

Kirja kertoo toisen maailman sodan loppuvaiheista, jolloin suomalaiset naiset, jotka olevat tavalla tai toisella – työsuhteen, rakkauden tai molempien, vuoksi päätyneet vetäytyvien saksalaisten joukkojen mukana Norjaan. Kun saksalaiset evakuoitiin, Norjan joukot aluksi pidättivät miehittäjän kanssa yhteistyötä tehneet ja myöhemmin sitten vain laskivat nämä vapaaksi kävelemään takaisin Suomeen. Muutama nainen lähtee kävelemään Norjasta Rovaniemelle. Ilman varusteita, ilman kunnon vaatteita ja käytännössä ilman ruokaa tämä on raju taival, joka koettelee naisia viimeiseen asti fyysisesti ja henkisesti. Takana ei ole mitään, mutta myöskään edessä ei ole paljoa odotettavissa, kaikki on hävitetty ja aikaisempaan elämään palaaminen tuntuu – ja mitä todennäköisimmin on – täysin mahdottomalta. Matka on raskas, mutta sen lukeminen ei kuitenkaan ole. Kieli on hyvä, vetävää kuten aikaisemmissakin kirjoissa ja hyvällä tapaa helppolukuista. Naiset eivät matkallaan hirveän syvällisesti pohdi, mitä edes on, mutta tähän ei energiaa kyllä riitäkään, kun koko ajan on nälkä ja vilu ja jalkojen rakkoihin tulee rakkoja, mutta kirja ei tästä kärsi, vaan on hyvä kuvaus kovasta taipaleesta hyvin luettavasti kirjoitettuna. Kirjaa Tommi Kinnusen kirjoissa omassa järjestyksessäni toiseksi parhaaksi. 

351 pp. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

A Deadly Education (The Scholomance #1) by Naomi Novik

 I loved Naomi Novik’s last two books, which were separate works. This new book starts a series that feels in some ways partly juvenile, but is in some way very adult.

The premise is fairly standard: a wizard school where the young magic users learn to use their powers. But there is a twist: the school is a very dangerous place and surviving is anything but certain. There are no teachers, there is no leaving the school, all friendships are carefully calculated to ensure survival and beneficial alliances after school (if one somehow manages to survive). There is a constant threat of monsters who are hungry for the power of magic users. The outside world is even worse for the growing wizards, but even in the “safe” environment of the school, a significant percentage of the pupils won’t survive. (if the death rate of young wizards is on high double-digit percentage-wise. Large families in the wizarding world appear necessary - if 30% or more of all children die). The protagonist, El is a loner and she hasn’t really been able to make alliances to ensure her survival. She radiates negative energy and the first impression of her is usually fairly bad. She is a mighty dark wizard who apparently is destined to take over the world, but she wants to keep her dark side and powers in check. It is sometimes a bit hard, as many of the spells the school gives (the magical workings of the school give pupils spells to learn, that the school deems suitable for each student) to her are so powerful that they are unusable - if she doesn’t want to kill all the other pupils or cause a plague which will cause the extinction of most of the population of the Earth, so she plays a pretty low key and keeps her powers mostly very secret. And then there is that irritating boy who already has saved El’s life several times. It is very infuriating as she would have been perfectly capable of saving her own life in most cases at least, and being constantly saved gives the impression that she is weak and not worthy of alliances. And he seems to like to be in El’s company - so much so that El thinks people might think they are dating - which of course is absurd - who would want to be in a relationship with her?    

The book is pretty good, but not on par with the two earlier ones. There are places which felt like padding, for example, a history of the spell (with little relation to the plot) was explained in detail. The mechanics of the world was also fairly poorly imagined - considering the vast mortality of the young wizards, why have wizards not died out centuries ago? As a whole, it wasn’t a bad book at all and the character of El was very fascinating and interesting. I wonder if she really ends up conquering the world by the end of the series?

I saw some claims that the book has some racism in it. That feels like a totally unwarranted and stupid claim with some really, really farfetched interpretation of some passages. I understand that the passages will be changed - I think that is needless and even harmful, and it means giving in to someone who makes up stupid and far-fetched claims, and is dangerous in the long run.  

336 pp.