Peter’s picks: 3 works of fiction to contemplate over winter break

I have been a voracious reader for most of my life, constantly pushing away my upcoming assignments in order to spend an inordinate amount of time with a book. In order to share some of my favorite new books with you, I’ll be writing some reviews every month. Happy reading!

“Little Heaven” by Nick Cutter

When I picked up this 486-page horror thriller from Gallery Books, I had high hopes. What I found here left me a little surprised, but pleased at the same time.

“Little Heaven” is the story of three hired killers who accept a job investigating a cult, although they end up in way over their heads when the devil comes to walk the Earth. I particularly loved the opening and the introduction of each character.

As I started working through the book I came to a realization: “Little Heaven” is neither wholly a horror story nor a western, but a mixture of the two. Fans of both Stephen King and Quentin Tarantino will be able to get behind “Little Heaven” and its cast of roguish gunslingers fighting evil.

However, I did have a few problems with the book; despite the book being advertised as a horror story, I never felt remotely scared during my read-through. In fact, the narrative structure actively kills the book’s tension. Additionally, it feels like Cutter has simply taken “It” and “The Gunslinger,” two of Stephen King’s classics, and stitches them together.

Potential readers should be aware that this is a horror story about hired killers and depraved cultists and possesses violence and themes that are not for everyone.

“Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green

Green’s latest book meets all the expectation of a John Green book: witty dialogue seasoned with countless pop-culture references and a teen romance that’s a little unrealistic, but a good story all the same.

“Turtles” tells the story of Aza, a severe germaphobe, and her best friend as they navigate both high school and their own love-lives.

Despite possessing other subplots, the core of the story tells a really touching story of both living with and triumphing over mental illness

I went into this book wanting to hate it, but it honestly made me change my mind. Despite being familiar with Green’s style I was both surprised and pleased with how he handles Aza’s affliction. I don’t know how realistic the depiction is, but it made me reconsider mental illness. The characters are also complex, real people that make the book a pleasure to read.

“Turtles All the Way Down” is from Penguin Random House and comes in at 286 pages.

“Walkaway” by Cory Doctorow

I was enthralled when I first read the outlandish premise of this latest 380-page book from Tor Books written by speculative fiction master Cory Doctorow, and it proved even better than I had hoped.

Seventy years in the future, poverty is no longer needed due to tremendous technological advances, and society is now ruled by the uber-rich zottas. The story follows Hubert Etcetera and his friends as they choose to leave society and join the nomadic ‘walkaways’ that live outside of society.

The world is beautifully built, but Doctorow doesn’t do a stellar job of introducing it to readers, making acclimation to the world somewhat difficult. This can make the book hard to follow at times and detracted a little from my experience.

But this story isn’t a shallow sci-fi adventure. It tackles complicated ethical dilemmas that our society will face as technology develops. “Walkaway” highlights the nuance in each issue and inspired me to really ponder these dilemmas.

“Walkaway” is one of the most thought-provoking I’ve read in a long time, which makes it my top recommendation out of this month’s crop.

Again, readers, be warned: this book contains mature topics, language and themes. I’d recommend this to older readers especially because being able to understand and ponder the ethical conflicts presented really enhances the novel.