Friday, August 29, 2008

Book o' the week, better late than never

Yes, I know yesterday was Thursday. Big Girl has a pretty good handle on the days of the week now, so we talk about what day it is and what activities are scheduled for that day every morning. And today? Friday. Yesterday I should have posted a book post, but things got crazy. To make up for it, I'll post about multiple books!

If you are a big nerd like me, you may be quite fond of the Fox television series Bones. Hubs mocks me sometimes for my love of Bones (two-hour season premiere Wednesday at 8:00 Eastern!), and yet I still keep watching. I don't take crap from a guy who watches each episode of Top Gear multiple times, because he falls asleep and misses parts, and yet pronounces it an excellent and captivating show. Seriously. The man doesn't even have a well-developed appreciation of Jane Austen adaptations. But I digress.

Bones is based upon Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan character, although in all of the novels I've read so far, Temperance is older than she is in the series. The first of Reichs' novels that I read was Bones to Ashes. I picked it up just before my carpal tunnel surgery, so I would have something to read while I was in pre-op, to keep my mind off of the procedure. This is actually the tenth novel in the series, so it's not an ideal starting point, but I think it's quite possible to enjoy these novels out of order. Reichs provides sufficient context so that you aren't confused, without being too heavy-handed about it.

I enjoy Reichs' writing style - she has a dry wit, and she's technical and precise in her writing without being inaccessible to anyone who's not highly versed in the vocabulary of forensic anthropology. The novels are, at heart, mysteries, and yet the perspective - tracking behind a forensic anthropologist who is a well-developed and nuanced character - is somewhat refreshing. Reichs writes out of her own experiences and thus seems to me to offer a rather authentic viewpoint. Brennan uncovers some evidence and does some investigating, but she doesn't typically move beyond what one would expect from someone in her professional capacity. She has the knowledge of someone who has helped (and that's the key word) law enforcement for many years, and yet she is very much a scientist.

The humor of Reichs' writing is different from that of the tv series Bones. On the show, Bones herself sometimes becomes the butt of the joke due to her lack of certain knowledge. The idea is that she doesn't get certain jokes or pop culture references or allusions because she's too wrapped up in the scientific realm to pay attention to the "real world." Reichs' novels, however, don't seem to go for those easy laughs. The Tempe Brennan of her novels is emotionally awkward at times, and yet she also has more dimension and depth than the show sometimes attributes to her. They are, fundamentally, two different characters. The tv writers give their character a different background and different circumstances, and the influences that have shaped the Tempe of the novels are quite different. I didn't expect this when I picked up the novel, but it's not surprising and for the purposes of the novels, Reichs' choices work better.

Since reading Bones to Ashes before and after surgery, I've read several more Temperance Brennan novels. Monday Mourning was the last one I read, and before that, Fatal Voyage and Grave Secrets. I've picked up a copy of Bare Bones to read next. If you enjoy mysteries or crime stories, I encourage you to check out the series, and let me know if you enjoy it.

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