Solid Expose Of Media Bias From An ‘Inside Man’. This is one of those looks from the inside of a controversial institution – the so-called “main stream media” – where the insider points out that almost no matter what your reasoning is on claiming “media bias”, you’re most likely at least partially wrong. Not that there isn’t bias – Krakauer pretty clearly shows that there is quite a bit of it. But more in how a math student can arrive at the correct answer despite somehow getting crucial or even every step of the way completely incorrect when showing their work. Indeed, as an expose of media bias, this is both one of the more balanced and more incisive books I’ve read on the topic – and I’ve read at least a few, as well as having my own thoughts and experiences on the margins of at least local news reporting. The reasons for the three stars ultimately come down to two single star deductions which are both fairly common in my reviews: One star was lost for dearth of bibliography. Here, we clock in at around 14% bibliography, which is short of the more standard 20-30% in my experience with similar advance reader copies. (Indeed, even texts I get much earlier than the two months or so I got this one routinely have at least that, and sometimes as much as nearly 50%.) The other deduction is also common in my reviews, and is because of the frequent discussion of COVID. While I completely understand that topic’s relevance to some of the trends and timeframes Krakauer discusses here, I also have a longstanding rule automatically deducting a star for any discussion of it, as I still would rather avoid the topic altogether in my reading. Still, for what it is, this book is quite good, and many similarly objective-ish readers will likely rate it more along the lines of 4-5 stars. Very much recommended.
A Lot Going On. This is one of those books that has a lot of extra plot stuff going on outside of the central mystery. There is a decent examination of what happens when a halfway house opens up in your neighborhood, there are various guards/ cops doing various naughty things, there is the friendship between a reporter and an activist – an activist who happened to get a job inside the house. In other words, enough side stuff to maybe justify the 400 page length of the novel… but the side stuff tends to detract from and/ or muddle the central mystery. So if you’re a reader who prefers a more “clean cut” tale with fewer side jaunts interwoven… I can see where you might rate this tale lower on a subjective scale (and let’s face it, despite my *attempts* at some level of objectivity, *all* reviews are *entirely* subjective). For my own attempting-to-be-as-objective-as-possible purposes, there wasn’t really anything here truly *wrong* to hang a star deduction on, and thus it gets the full five stars. With its quick chapters and multiple perspectives, this is actually a book that seemingly “reads” shorter than its actual length would indicate, and the rather novel concepts here combine with this storytelling style to make this tale one that can easily be read in small chunks – which turns even a book of this length into a potential vacation/ beach read. Very much recommended.
This week we’re looking at a sequel of sorts that takes its original’s much more imminent question of actual physical survival and turns it around to ask questions of survival after less life threatening, but similarly life shattering, trauma. This week we’re looking at Moment In Time by Suzanne Redfearn.
Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:
Interesting Sequel Of Sorts. This book takes as two of its primary characters some of the characters from her 2020 hit In An Instant – and pretty majorly spoils that book almost from the get-go. For those who don’t mind such spoilers (particularly such major ones), this one *can* be read first. But based on reading other GR reviews where the reader hadn’t read In An Instant first… I’d say go back and read that one first. There are also two other key characters introduced later in the story from Redfearn’s 2021 book Hadley and Grace, though their characters are developed enough here and without any truly overt ties (that I remember, hundreds of books later) to that one that it isn’t *as* essential to read it first to understand them. Overall I do think In An Instant hits harder, but I think this one shows a more “everyday” survival that far more people face than the truly life threatening scenario in In An Instant. Both books do great jobs of showing how even seemingly minor choices can have major impacts on how major events play out, and indeed this one seemed all too realistic. Furthermore, Redfearn does a tremendous job of showing the aftereffects of rape on both the victim and those around her – *without* showing the rape itself on screen (which, let’s face it, is difficult at best to read even for those who *haven’t* been through that trauma). Overall a solid and compelling book, and very much recommended.
Interesting And Well Documented Read. In this book, Duffy shows that what the media so often (and so lazily) proclaims to be “generational” divides… usually aren’t really. Yes, there is a generational component to at least some things, but time period (specifically for that “coming of age” period but also more generally throughout the individual’s life) and life progression play equally critical roles, and in many cases *more* critical roles, in showing how a particular group of people generally feel about a given issue. One of the things that makes the book a bit interesting is that even while presenting this much more balanced view of this particular field, Duffy exposes himself as a “climate” alarmist/ extremist, either not knowing about or outright denying similar work to his own in that particular field. (Ie, work showing that even though media lazily points to one thing, there are actually several different things at play and in some cases far more critical to the issue at hand. One work here on that topic similar to Duffy’s on this one is Unsettled by Stephen Koonin, released just 6 months or so prior to this book’s publication).
Still, this book is truly a remarkable work in its field (at least to someone who is *not* a fellow academic or in that field at all) and seems to be fairly comprehensive in its focus, even as its primary and secondary national emphases are the UK and the US, respectively. It looks at many, many issues from the social to the political and even to the personal, from housing to gender identity and sexual activity to political leanings and many, many more. This is also a fairly well documented text, with its bibliography clocking in at about 32% of the overall text – while not the *highest* I’ve noted in my work with advanced review copies, easily among the higher echelons there. Very much recommended.
Awesome Yet Also Problematic. This story is Beck’s usual excellence as far as storytelling itself goes. Beck sucks you in with the aftermath of almost a Hangover (movie) type night (though to be clear, not *that* wild) where three women – two sisters and their friend – have made life-changing decisions… and now have to handle the repercussions. We open the story the morning after, and only ever get the high level details of what happened that night – the story is about life *after*. And for two of the three women, Beck does *amazing* work showing that even in screw-ups, good things can happen. The other lady’s story is the more problematic one, and it comes from Beck’s own unfamiliarity with the growing subculture of the childfree. Seeming without meaning to, Beck confronts this particular issue as much of society at large does… and unwittingly causes many eyes to roll. Having been a part of this community for several years (I’m a 38yo DINK – Dual Income No Kids and happily childfree), know that if you’re a part of this community and in particular a woman in it, this storyline is going to make you want to throw this book off the nearest dam or into the nearest bonfire. But don’t, because the other two subplots are truly excellent, and even this one is dealt with *some* degree of realism. Overall an excellent book, and let’s face it – even with its growing popularity, the life of the childfree isn’t exactly dominant yet. Meaning most readers will enjoy all three subplots very much. Very much recommended.