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Childhood's End
Arthur C. Clarke
Brian Michael Bendis, Olivier Coipel
Scrivener's Moon - Audio
Philip Reeve
Nothing - Janne Teller When picking up Nothing, a reader needs to be prepared to suspend their disbelief an extraordinary amount for what is meant to be a realistic, contemporary story. A young (13-14) boy decides that nothing means anything, so he decides to spend his days in a tree yelling what are, in translation, irritating slogans about how nothing means anything. His parents and teachers? Apparently content to let him stay throughout the winter. His classmates? Actually deeply bothered by him, instead of finding him simply weird and annoying. So deeply bothered that they decide to gather things that do mean something, so they can prove he's wrong. You need to be able to accept all of that to even have a hope of making it through the story.

I finished the book, knowing that the plot was absurd and unrealistic in the extreme, mostly out of morbid fascination. It starts small, with one teen demanding a greater sacrifice from another. And so on, and so on, in a bizarre and grotesque display of one-upsmanship. It's very, very difficult to get through. The end result of all this is... nothing. The pile of meaning gains them nothing, costs them much, and has alarmingly few consequences. I'm not even sure what the author was trying to say about meaning. Maybe all she was trying to say is that children (people?) can do some very nasty things to each other.

The style used here didn't work for me. It was broken, oddly repetitive, and detached. (An example, describing a friend's blue hair: "Blue. Bluer. Bluest." A pattern repeated far too often.) But this is a translation. How much of this is the original author, and how much the translator? And does it work better in the original Danish? I couldn't say.

Nothing does have the saving grace of being a short, quick read. It's a small, thin book, with lots of white space, and morbid fascination can really increase my page count. But in the end, that morbid fascination was all I got out of it.