Lately I’ve been reading some truly gripping fiction, the kind of novels you simply can’t put down for an archaic, old-fashioned notion like “bedtime.” If you’ve ever tried to resist the power of a page-turner, you know that the temptation to finish “just one more chapter” frequently leads to bleary-eyed, yet satisfied, book-finishing, usually around 3 or 4 a.m. And while you may find yourself at a temporary disadvantage the next day, the satisfaction of having read an excellent story usually makes it all worthwhile.
Here are a few of the books that have recently kept me up late, reading:
Veracity, Laura Bynum. In the wake of a pandemic, the government places electronic implants in citizens’ necks and shocks anyone who utters forbidden words. Fueled by the mythic “Book of Noah,” a resistance group struggles to create a government where speech is truly free again. Caught between her lofty government position and her daughter’s freedom, Harper Adams decides to flee. A must-read for fans of dystopian sci-fi and freedom of speech.
Under the Dome, Stephen King. Those of you wondering whether or not it’s worth even beginning such a hefty novel can take comfort in King’s familiar style and delivery. Cut off from the rest of Maine by a mysterious, transparent dome, the people of Chester’s Mill begin to reveal their worst natures in ways that are all-too-plausible. King delivers a scathing commentary on the decline of both liberty and civility in American culture in the guise of a horror novel…or maybe it’s just a book about capricious aliens. Either way, you won’t be able to put it down.
Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins. Having burned through The Hunger Games in several hours, I picked up the sequel with high hopes. Happily, I was not disappointed. Katniss Everdeen gets to return home after the Hunger Games, but even though the cameras have been turned off, the real games are just beginning. As accustomed to dystopian fiction as I am, I was completely shocked by Katniss’s further adventures, and mightily impressed with Collins’s plot twists. Grab these now, immerse yourself in Katniss’s nightmare world, and then jump in line for the third installment, Mockingjay, which will be released on August 24, 2010.
House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski. Experimental fiction soars to new heights in this multi-layered novel about a mysterious house in Virginia, the documentary its owners made about it, the book about the documentary, and the diary of the young man who found the book. Confused yet? It gets better, as the physical text mirrors the narrative by playing with visual representations that frequently force the reader to flip back and forth, turn the book upside down, and engage in other contortions. Replete with footnotes, color-coded text conventions, poetry, madness, nightmare and heartbreak, this is truly the novel to end all novels (sorry, James).
One person’s meat being another person’s poison, what constitutes an up-all-night read for me might not be your cup of tea! When was the last time you had a close encounter with a book that simply wouldn’t let you sleep? Leave us a comment and let us know what kinds of books you simply can’t put down.