Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

This will be a short one.

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion is a collection of essays, each of which delves into a specific aspect of the culture in which Jia Tolentino grew up. For the most part, I got the references. I didn’t watch reality tv shows growing up, but my friends made me watch a few episodes of Jersey Shore back in 2019—found it weird, but it was good for context. Even then, the essays fell short for me. Perhaps I wasn’t too into the topics of choice; I only enjoyed reading two of them: “Ecstasy” and “The Cult of the Difficult Woman.” Everything else simply reminded me of how disadvantageous it is to be a woman. No thanks.

The writing, on the other hand, is a different story. It was impeccable. Despite my aversion to the essay topics, I continued reading because I liked Jia Tolentino’s writing. Her points were clear written and based on fact, and, equally important, her tone was not shrill. So the bright side of having read Trick Mirror was that I was introduced to Jia Tolentino’s writing. If I see her name on some article in the future, I’ll most likely read it.

Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

It’s been years since I last chose to read instead of to sleep. I was captivated, consumed by this new world. Mistborn isn’t simply a world of magic and wonder; no, it’s full of logic and physics and politics and religion. I wanted to know how this world worked, and I could not stop thinking about how everything in the Mistborn world simply made sense. I read the whole trilogy in a span of two weeks, which is very, very fast for me. It could have been only one week, too, but I had to resume work after the new year and could no longer spend the whole day reading.

World building aside, a major selling point for me was that each book in the trilogy was complete on its own. There was just enough of a cliffhanger at the end of each book, enticing readers such as myself to read the next one, without sacrificing the conclusion and wholeness of the current book. This is a big deal. Some trilogies have books that seemed to be written simply as a lead into the final book. (I’m talking about you, Catching Fire, even if I did inhale The Hunger Games trilogy.) Brandon Sanderson made sure each book had its own complete plotline, all of which kept me hooked.

I also loved the characters. I fell in love with Elend Venture right away, and I loved his character development. I also liked how every main character got their fair share of screen (or page) time, and I was particularly interested in reading Marsh’s plotline. I don’t think there was any character in Mistborn that I didn’t quite like, yet all of them were so different that it was interesting to read how they interacted. This includes the humor thrown around in the trilogy. Even when the world was falling apart and all hope seemed lost, the characters found some humor in their situations. I thought this was a nice reprieve from impending doom that the characters were definitely going to face.

Final thoughts: I am so glad I read this series. If I’d read this a few years ago, I might not have appreciated it as much I do now. I feel that high fantasy is a genre I’d work towards reading, so I would not recommend this to someone who has only started dabbling with fantasy. (Case in point: I read Eragon in high school and could not appreciate it then. Only after reading several Neil Gaiman and VE Schwab books did I start appreciating other worlds outside of Harry Potter. My friends recommended Mistborn to me after I’d told them I was reading The Name of the Wind.) What next? A newfound friend recommended the Wax and Wane series and another recommended The Stormlight Archive. I could go deeper into this world or search out new ones by the same writer. Til next time.

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man’s Fear is the second book of the Kingkiller Chronicles, a trilogy that is probably never going to see its final book published. I don’t understand the hype. It took me three months to finish The Wise Man’s Fear, and towards the end, I was only reading for the accomplishment of having finished that 1,347 page book. Overall I had the same feeling as I did with The Name of the Wind—the books didn’t feel like their own stories; they were obviously written to be part of a series. That said, I don’t feel too invested in the trilogy, and I think I will survive if the third book simply never comes out. (However, if the third book does get published by some miracle, I would still read it.)

Let’s talk about The Wise Man’s Fear more. Although I finished The Name of the Wind in a significantly shorter amount of time than I did The Wise Man’s Fear, I enjoyed the events in the second book more. Although the first book introduced us to this interesting new world, I liked that Kvothe was more established in the second book. His interactions with his friends were fun to read, and his adventures had more consequences to them. He now had some things (bar money) to lose, and he needed to take more calculated risks. However, similarly to the first book, some events dragged out. While the events at the university were interesting, I found myself asking when the rest of the story would unfold. I also felt his conquests in the Fae dragged out, but I did enjoy reading about his training with the Adem. It’s always interesting to learn about different worlds and cultures.

Despite the number of pages I’d read, I still don’t like Kvothe. There’s something off about his personality that, while I am impressed by his accomplishments, I simply don’t find myself rooting for him. I did love his interactions with people—Wil, Sim, Devi, and Tempi were all interesting characters (Tempi is probably my favorite supporting character, but Devi is an obvious favorite, too), but I didn’t particularly like Kvothe’s arrogant air and dramatic flair. (This is one of the reasons why I couldn’t get too invested in the trilogy.) So let’s see. If a third book does get published, I’ll read it and see if I still feel the same way about Kvothe. If not, meh, oh well.