Review | Books in the Quarterly Literary Box | Fierce Kingdoms by Gin Phillips

Awhile ago, I told y’all about the contents of this quarter’s Quarterly Literary Box, aka PageHabit and like 20 other names. You can read that post to learn more about the box and find other reviews of it and on and on. You can read this post to learn what I thought of the books.

Fierce Kingdom coverFirst up was Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips herself. Man, I wanted to like this book. The premise was intriguing – basically, a woman was at the zoo with her young son when a shooter(s) went nuts. Said woman had to hide with her son. She spent a lot of her time trying to somehow relay to her son that it was a very serious situation and he needed to shut up his crying, while also preventing him from freaking out.

This would have worked as a short story. It also would have worked as a novel if about 85% more things happened. As it is, believe it or not, a lot of this novel is boring. A lot of it is this woman sitting around thinking about her life and going over what her options are. That could have added to the tension but it didn’t. It sucked all the tension out and made this book read like one that was just telling the story of a couple falling in love in the fall. It was slooowww and boring in some parts and even the interesting parts weren’t as good as they should have been.

There were also some really ridiculous plot points that drove me up the way. Like, I know that people act strangely in these situations, but . . . just trust me when I say there were more than a few ridiculous passages in this book.

Rating: 6/10 I feel like there is a reader for this book. That someone wasn’t me.

Recommended for: I can’t think of anyone?

Does it pass the Bechdel–Wallace testYes.

Author of color / main character of color / female author / female main character: no / no / yes / yes

Run coverBook number two was Run by Ann Patchett. I was really shocked to read all the negative reviews after finishing this book. I liked it! A lot of people complained about it being “too PC” but I guess by that they just mean that the book was (partially) about a white couple who adopted two black sons? And the book explored some of the complications of such? I don’t know why that makes it P.C., unless P.C. now means not white supremacist?

So the book was about them and it was also about their parents and it was also about a host of other characters but I don’t want to say too much about it because the way the characters are connected is an important issue and it’s not always clear.

I liked this story because I found all the characters believable. I liked this book because I cared what happened to the characters but wasn’t disappointed when many strands were left unsewn at the end of the book. I thought the tension was great and the stories were interesting and I found myself wishing that the book had been an 800-pager.

Rating: 8/10 

Recommended for: People who like character development and complicated decisions.

Does it pass the Bechdel–Wallace testYes.

Author of color / main character of color / female author / female main character: no / yes / yes / yes

island of teh blue dolphins coverThe final book was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. I think most people know the story: A native girl is left on an island when her people sail away for a safer place than their ancestral island. She lives alone on the island for many years before she’s saved.

I loved this book as a kid and was surprised by how much I didn’t love it as an adult. That’s fine – it’s a book for children after all – but I did think it would pull me in at least for nostalgic sake. Instead I found myself wishing O’Dell would just hurry up and tell us what he was trying to tell us.

I would still recommend it to a ten-year-old though because I remember loving the adventure of it and I hope that some kids still feel the same way about it.

Rating: 6/10

Recommended for: People who are ten years old.

Does it pass the Bechdel–Wallace test? Yes

Author of color / main character of color / female author / female main character: no / yes / no / yes

This wasn’t the best box for me, no doubt, but it wasn’t terrible either.


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