Although, I’ve got a stack of unfinished or even started Book of the Month picks to read sitting patiently on a shelf, I still managed to pick up three books for March. I can’t help that there are always such good options to choose from. Book of the Month has also added a new section to their selection, Non-Fiction, and honestly I tried to get a fourth book in my March box from there, but atlas, they only let you put three books in your box so I was focused to show some self-control. Probably a good thing when I think about it.
The March Book of the Month Picks were:
- Lot | Bryan Washington – A compilation of short stories about a young black Latino comes of age in Houston, Texas.
- Before She Knew Him | Peter Swanson – the usual thriller pick.
- Daisy Jones & the Six | Taylor Jenkins Reid – Drugs, sex, and rock ‘n’ roll, from the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, aka one of my favorite books from 2018, see my review HERE. A historical fiction loosely based on Fleetwood Mac.
- Queenie | Candice Corty-Williams – Good friends, bad breakups, and life as a Jamaican-British millennial. People have referred to it as Bridget Jone’s Diary type read.
- The Municipalists | Seth Fried – A surly bureaucrat and a smarmy robot walk into a bar…a science fiction novel ensues.
There was a decent amount of variety this month. Sometimes I look at what I’m reading and I feel that I don’t branch out as much as I should. I think that’s mainly because I like to use reading as an escape and honestly don’t want to HAVE to think too much. Which is why I tend to read less ‘real’ things and why I couldn’t bring myself to pick Lot.
Queenie and Daisy Jones & the Six, both had a ton of hype surrounding their release. I struggle with reading something after a ton of hype, generally because it doesn’t end up meeting my extravagant expectations, but I caved for Daisy Jones because I adored the author’s story of Evelyn Hugo, in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (my review HERE).
I was only planning on getting the one book, but my lack of any actual self control got the better of me. Since I couldn’t decided between a thriller (which as you probably know is my favorite genre) and a sci-fi book, I just got both. Don’t worry I scolded myself.
Title: The Municipalists
Author: Seth Fried
Published: March 19th 2019 by Penguin Books
Genre: Science, Fiction
Goodreads Rating: 3.76 out of 5 Stars
“In Metropolis, the gleaming city of tomorrow, the dream of the great American city has been achieved. But all that is about to change, unless a neurotic, rule-following bureaucrat and an irreverent, freewheeling artificial intelligence can save the city from a mysterious terrorist plot that threatens its very existence.
Henry Thompson has dedicated his life to improving America’s infrastructure as a proud employee of the United States Municipal Survey. So when the agency comes under attack, he dutifully accepts his unexpected mission to visit Metropolis looking for answers. But his plans to investigate quietly, quickly, and carefully are interrupted by his new partner: a day-drinking know-it-all named OWEN, who also turns out to be the projected embodiment of the agency’s supercomputer. Soon, Henry and OWEN are fighting to save not only their own lives and those of the city’s millions of inhabitants, but also the soul of Metropolis. The Municipalists is a thrilling, funny, and touching adventure story, a tour-de-force of imagination that trenchantly explores our relationships to the cities around us and the technologies guiding us into the future.”
The Municipalists was the first of the three from my March box that I actually read. I keep putting off Daisy Jones, partly because of the hype it’s getting and partly because I feel like I surly teenager being told I have to read this book and then staying true to my lack of liking to be told what to do, I keep pushing it off. I’m sure I’ll love it once I get to it, but today is not that day.
Being completely transparent, I started this book after consuming 1/3 of a bottle of wine after a long day of work. Not an ideal book starting situations. I made it 25 pages in and in utter confusion decided I needed to sleep instead. The second time I picked up the book, was after a dinner with friends and two dirty martinis. Once again, not an ideal reading situation but I managed to get another 25 pages in before stopping. So now that you know my situation, take my next thought with a grain of salt.
I almost decided to not finish this book (i.e. DNFing it). The first 50 pages are definitely being used to build out the world the story is going to be apart of and quite honestly I felt like I was reading a manual or a report from work. At first I thought the world we were going to be in was a futurist US and it kind of is, but the main city is called Metropolis and had me believe it was a New York City or a D.C of some kind. At the same time all the other cities referenced are actual existing cities in the US, such as Houston, Los Angeles, Toledo, and even San Antonio. So it was difficult for me to get a good sense of the geography of this future world.
The story revolves around The United States Municipal Service (USMS), which I haven’t decided if it’s a real thing or just made up for the book yet. The USMS’s main goal is to help cities to become more effect, efficient, and urbanized. A while I think it was important to understand what it was, I was terribly bored having to learn about it. I honestly, couldn’t tell you what the first couple of pages are talking about because it’s all official gibberish to me. Reminder I had a couple of drinks both times I read it and maybe I just wasn’t in the correct headspace for them or maybe I’m actually dumber than I think I am and can’t comprehend what was happening. Either way at 52 pages, I was not feeling this book.
But because I’m stubborn and hate to not finish things, I persisted and I actually grew to really enjoy the story at around 1/3 of the way through the book. Once we actually got to the plot of the storyline, there were enough twists and turns for me become invested and intrigued to keep on reading.
The two main characters are fun together and you do learn to love them. But Henry (human) would definitely not be someone I wanted to work with. He’s a rule following bureaucrat who can’t see anything outside of the square. On the other hand we have OWEN, who is an artificial intelligence who is able to project himself through a tie clip onto pretty much any surface, making him seems almost human. Owen, is the opposite of Henry, (other than not being human) he’s a little messier in his activities throughout the book and his fun commentary livens the story up. I thought it interesting that the human protagonist is more robot and linear thinking than the actual robot in the story. I don’t know if I would truly categorized this as a science fiction novel though, but I also don’t know what to classified it as if it isn’t a sci-fi novel. The only free form of science fiction involved in this book is the use of AI.
I will say that last couple of pages, maybe chapters, really make some good point about the role of modern American cities is and how that impacts the various classes. It also, as most AI focused books discuss, touches on what it means to be human and how to balance our humanity. I’ll probably give this 3 starts because I really did enjoy the writing and it was enjoyable once I got through a certain point. I don’t think I’d read it again or really gush recommendations on it though. If you’re interested in reading this quick read though, you can get it HERE.
WHAT IS BOOK OF THE MONTH?
For those who haven’t heard of Book of the Month club or BOTM, it is a subscription program, similar to audible or other box subscription services, where you get (you guessed it) a new book every month. Each month members are given 5 different books to choose from. BOTM generally focusing on debut and emerging writers, and is known for having helped launch the careers of some of the most acclaimed authors in American literary history. In an attempt to read more books outside my favorite genres without having to siphon through all the duds, I decided to sign up for the monthly subscriptions. It costs me $14.99 per month, I choose 1 of the 5 books on the first of every month, and it’s delivered straight to my door. You can skip any month or roll your credits over to the next month, at any time. Since I started getting BOTM in 2018, I’ve really enjoyed some of the new authors I’ve been exposed to. If you’re interested in joining BOTM, I’ve added my referral code to the bottom of this post, which if you use, you’ll be able to get your first month (book) free!
Interested in joining Book of the Month? Get a free book when you join using my referral link.