In high school, I had a crush on this guy named Micah* and he was totally into George R.R. Martin. Micah and the nerds at school were freaking out over this new book, A Game of Thrones and talked about nothing else and I, desperate for Micah’s attention, decided to read it. For the most part, I was like, “What the fuck is this?” because I was deep in my Johanna Lindsey and Nora Roberts phase at the time. Then one day, he saw me reading A Game of Thrones at lunch while absently stuffing my face with a Taco Bell Chilito (seriously, what happened to the Chilito? It was my fave) that I had filled with crushed bits of Doritos Ranch (I was 90lbs at the time and didn’t think I was ever going to get fat) and he was like, “Oh, cool, you like George R.R. Martin too?” and it was the first thing he had ever said to me EVER and I almost fainted with delight and nervousness. I nodded like a deranged mime and he flashed me a peace sign and walked away. And I was pretty sure I had chilli grease and Dorito dust on my face because he never spoke to me again. I was three-quarters of the way through when he started dating this girl that I was WAY cuter than and I was like, “Fuck this,” and ditched the book (I picked it up again the next year to finish it and read half of A Clash of Kings).
And then the show came out and I thought to myself, “Ooookay, I don’t remember the book being filled with lots of skanky doggy-styling and incest and all sorts of naked craziness. I gotta pick the series back up.” And so I started from the beginning. Much to my surprise, it’s way better this time around, probably due to HBO providing eye candy and skanky nakedness for my noggin (I CAN HAVE THE SHOW INSIDE MY BRAIN). Light up your torches, bitches, ’cause it’s time to get fantastic with snarks and grumkins and dragons and direwolves!
“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”
HERE BE SPOILERS
Kindred is one of those books one might hesitate to review because—for me, anyway, I’m thinking, “Shit, I’m not worthy.” This is Octavia Frickin’ Butler we’re talking about here. Octavia Butler was a goddess in the world of sci-fi. Not only was she a frickin’ genius and wrote heavy, issues-laden, but ultimately engrossing books, she was a lady sci-fi writer. It’s hard to imagine in this day and age, but science fiction is still unfortunately a male-dominated field and for an African-American lady to come in, re-write the rules, and dominate? That is crazy-awesome. She also wrote about black chicks and made them the protagonist of her books even back in the day when people would refuse to read something just because the lead character is black. Shit, I’m pretty sure that’s still going on. She is admired and praised by veteran sci-fi writers, even by the alleged pompous sexist dickbag, Harlan Ellison. Can someone who writes snarky book reviews riddled with dick jokes that are not always funny really dare to *gulp* critique a book written by the great Octavia Butler? Pssssh…enough about me. Let’s get under the blankets, turn the flashlight on, and delve into… (melodramatic pause) Kindred.
Family reunions suck. Everyone knows that. You’re forced by your mother to hang out with people you’re barely related to and haven’t seen in years, eat bad food and drink flat soda, and then sometime before you leave, someone is bound to bring up something from your childhood that you’ve successfully managed to block out over the years…until now. Oh, then there’s the pictures. Why do all the aunties have a picture of you naked except for your grandmother’s flowered shower cap on your head and swimming in a large metal trashcan filled with water from a garden hose? Did your mother print multiple copies of it at the Kodak Store and pass it out to everyone she knows? But Libby Day doesn’t have this problem. Because everyone in her family, except for her brother and herself, is dead. And Libby told the police that her brother did it.
I have a meanness in me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it. It’s the Day blood.
I was probably about 11 when I first read this book (I’ve read it about eleventy billion times since then) and it was the first book I had ever read that made me go, “OH MY GOD! THEY’RE HAVING SEX! THERE ARE LURID DESCRIPTIONS OF A P in a V! AND THRUSTING!” Of course I became convinced that the Baby Jesus somehow knew that I was reading dirty books and that I was going to be punished severely for it, so I swore to myself that I was never going to read dirty books again. Moments later, I had myself convinced that if God didn’t want me to read dirty books, then He shouldn’t have created Sidney Sheldon to write them and He wouldn’t have let my grandpa buy them at the swap meet for $0.10 each and leave them where my precocious 11-year-old self could find them. So there. In my 11-year-old head, I saw it as permission from God to read all the dirty books I could get my little hands on.
I totally read this as a White Collar fan fic, by the way. I THINK ABOUT YOU NIGHT AND DAY, MATT BOMER! I LOVED YOU IN Magic Mike!!! ONE DAY WE WILL MEET AND YOU WILL FALL IN LOVE WITH ME!! Ahem. Turn the lights out… it’s time to get criminal… criminally hot, that is.
Boy meets girl. Boy and girl begin a courtship. Boy and girl get married. Boy and girl both lose their jobs in publishing. Boy and girl leave big city and move to boy’s podunk hometown. Girl disappears; Boy gets blamed for murder. Can’t review without spoilers. You’ve been warned.