I remain a sucker for dystopian novels, so I perked up when I read about this super-hyped new futurist novel with its evocatively gritty (though, let’s face it, not exactly original) title. Mercifully, Maslin disabuses me of my blind interest immediately. The Bone Season has already been optioned by a movie studio, and it’s appeared on the Today show, despite the fact that nobody seems to know what it’s about, let alone like it. So what is it about? The Hunger Games with vampires, seasoned with teenage psychics and “a rigid, color-coded class system.” Excitement crushed, dreams dashed. Yeah, that stings. Quite possibly the nicest thing Maslin says about it is that it’s a “one-note dystopian portrait of London.” One note is more than zero, you know? Let’s pretend we never heard of it (although the review is quite amusing and worth checking out).
While Hu’s thesis is patently absurd (she claims that a plotless meandering Joycean novel “feels like a new model for contemporary fiction”), a sharply rendered, well-written novel—the only kind that can survive without a plot—is always a welcome thing. She calls Crain’s first novel “fervently alive and frequently hilarious.” Elsewhere at the Slate Book Review, Javier Marías’s characters discuss the unnecessariness of plot even as they are steeped in it.
An interactive biography of Van Gogh steals the headline of this iPad-book roundup, but most interesting to me—and the most simpatico with Biersdorfer’s thesis that art education books can be better on a tablet—is this rerelease of Josef Albers’s seminal 1963 color study book. It comes with the complete original text, dozens of extra “study screens,” and two hours of videos featuring artists and designers. Sounds like one of those rare cases where the app part of a book-app is actually useful.