- A Fierce Radiance, by Lauren Belfer
A Fierce Radiance opens in the days following Pearl Harbor but the more immediate historical context is the development of penicillin and similar drugs. With this background, the novel develops both a love story and a murder mystery among a photographer, her family, and players in science and government looking for a medical breakthrough.
I'd give this 3.5 out of 5 if I could. I really enjoyed the background story much more than the feature plot. It feels unimaginable that just 70 years ago a simple scraped kneed could be fatal due to infection. This context story held me much more than the more personal events affecting the photographer and others in her world. I didn't really care to found out what happened in the love story or with the mystery...I obviously knew that penicillin would eventually be productive, but that journey interested me more than the other plots.
I did find the writing style enjoyable. It was a fluid read, not overly difficult but requiring some level of attention. The shifting of focal characters from chapter to chapter was a bit confusing a few times but generally worked and held my interest more than a traditional narrational style might have.
- Five Days Apart, Chris Binchy
I don't enjoy giving negative reviews. I took enough education courses to want to find something to praise in every book. Unfortunately, this one really did nothing for me and all I can say is that it was a really quick read so I didn't have to endure it for long.
The basic plot is Shy Boy spots Girl. Shy Boy points her out to Friend. Friend (maybe misunderstanding) dates Girl. Relationships evolve. In a way, it might be termed Boy Lit...more of a guy tale but in the Chick Lit mold. I'm picky with my Chick Lit though (I like some but it's a tough bar) and this didn't cut it for me. I never grew to care much about the characters...I don't need to "like" a protagonist but I need to feel compelled by at least one character and that didn't happen there. I do see the tie to Nick Hornby in terms of the simple narrational style, but it didn't pull me in and I can't see myself recommending it for any type of reader.