These Are Some Mini-Reviews: NeuroTribes, In Cold Blood, and Sorcerer to the Crown

May 04, 2016

Like that handy headline says, here are some quick and dirty mini-reviews of some of my recent reads!

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, by Steve Silberman (Audio)

When I saw how much Shannon raved about NeuroTribes, I added it to my list. When I saw it for sale on Audible, I couldn't resist diving in immediately.

I went into this book knowing next to nothing about autism—not its history, nor the various ways it can manifest, nor (most importantly) the experiences of those on the spectrum and of their loved ones. Silberman covers it all, from the development of the diagnosis (and how Hans Asperger—and the syndrome named for him—was nearly lost to history) to the stories of individuals and families all fighting to be heard, to be supported, and to be understood as different rather than deficient.

While it is by no means a breezy read (it runs to nearly 19 hours/544 pages and is stuffed to the gills with good research), it is well worth your while if you've ever wanted to learn more about the history of autism and the reality of living with it. I highly recommend William Hughes's crisp narration.

In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote (Audio)

This one was on my largely abandoned Classics Club list, and I managed to burn through about half of it during Readathon.

For those of y'all who have been living under a rock with me, In Cold Blood tells the story of the quadruple murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas. The story profiles the Clutters before their untimely demise; their murderers, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith; and various members of the tiny Holcomb community leading up to and after the murderers' arrests and subsequent executions.

I've mentioned before that I was absolutely floored by the extent of the research* that Capote and Harper Lee conducted to make this book possible. Everyone in the story is (sometimes overwhelmingly) fleshed-out and human, even the men responsible for the Clutters' merciless slaughter. Another person might find the attention paid to Hickock and Smith's psychologies gratuitous and unnecessary, but I appreciated Capote's dedication to laying it all bare for us to judge ourselves.

I gotta say, it was sure was nice to hear Scott Brick's voice again after spending almost 40 hours with him for Chernow's Alexander Hamilton. He's an excellent narrator, and I think I enjoyed his reading of In Cold Blood far more than I would have enjoyed a print copy.

*'Bout this asterisk: there is a lot of evidence to suggest that Capote took immense liberties with his storytelling, including downright fabricating certain scenes and dialogue. While this definitely deflates the book's magnificence for me, particularly in how it affects the portrayals of the killers, I still say that any true crime fan worth his or her salt ought to check this one out.

Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho

Hyped from seemingly all sides, I had such high hopes for Zen Cho's fantasy debut.

Zacharias Wythe is the Sorcerer Royal, the highest magical office one can hold in Regency England, but he has two problems: 1) his dark skin and the mysterious circumstances of his mentor's death have combined to turn most of society against him, and 2) Great Britain's atmospheric magic is dwindling away seemingly without cause. Now it's up to Zacharias to prove himself, and he might just get some help from the spunky, determined Prunella Gentleman to do so.

A magical adventure with an eye toward racial injustice should be right up my alley, but it simply wasn't meant to be. I tried the book at two different times, and, on both occasions, I abandoned it less than halfway through. Though I can't quite pinpoint the cause—slow pacing? too much focus on magical politics?—all I know is that I kept wishing I was reading something else. Let's boil it down to a case of "good for [someone else], not for me."

Thanks to Ace Books for providing me with a copy of Sorcerer to the Crown via NetGalley for review consideration!

Have you read any of these? Talk to me!

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