- Berger, John — Ways of Seeing (149 pages)
- Vonnegut, Kurt — God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian (72 pages)
- Roth, Joseph — The Legend of the Holy Drinker (100 pages)
- Hrabal, Bohumil — Closely Observed Trains (87 pages)
- Bloomfield, Barbara & Chris Radley — Couple Therapy: Dramas of Love and Sex (171 pages)
- Feist, Raymond E. — Magician (689 pages)
- Feist, Raymond E. — Silverthorn (424 pages)
- Faber, Michael — Under the Skin (296 pages)
- Gourevitch, Philip — We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: Stories from Rwanda (351 pages)
- Feist, Raymond E. — A Darkness at Sethanon (518 pages)
- Remarque, Erich Maria — All Quiet on the Western Front (215 pages)
- Jones, Gwyneth — White Queen (318 pages)
- Page count
White Queen, a novel by Gwyneth Jones about first alien encounter, pops up in lists of the top science fiction novels of the past x years. I was more than a little intrigued by the praise and descriptions, so I picked up a copy.
On the plus side, Jones' aliens are convincingly alien. Not in a Lovecraftian weird-shit sort of way. Initially, in fact, they seem human enough that they are able to blend in and observe humanity for a period of time before contact is made. But appearances and origin aside, they are alien in profound ways which drive much of the tension in the story. The inability of the two cultures to understand one another, the sometimes comically mistaken assumptions made by both sides, leads to conflict and division with often tragic consequences.
This all sounds very good. However, I found the novel incomprehensible at times and Jones' style impenetrable. I also found some of the reactions by characters in the book puzzling. It's one thing for aliens to be alien, but so many of the humans seemed alien as well. And the constant shifts from human to alien perspective and jumps in time made the plot even harder to follow.
I wanted to like this book. It contains much that is thought-provoking and bits here and there that I found enjoyable. I'm not one to shy away from difficult books, but overall there was too much to dig through to be able to enjoy the story.