I was going to write something smart and intelligent and not at all redundant, and then my computer clicked off, and, during the three subsequent batt...moreI was going to write something smart and intelligent and not at all redundant, and then my computer clicked off, and, during the three subsequent battery pulls and restarts, I forgot it. Whoops.(less)
**spoiler alert** I want to give this book a decent, valid, intelligent review. I find myself having difficulties.
I found it a little difficult at fir...more**spoiler alert** I want to give this book a decent, valid, intelligent review. I find myself having difficulties.
I found it a little difficult at first, to get used to the narrator's interruptions; and when the narrator first told me that the neighbor boy dies before he gets his kiss, I was rather upset. I suspect now that, had I not known it was coming, the neighbor boy's death would have totally ruined the experience of this book for me. I will admit to tears (but I'm not telling you how many).
I took this book downtown as my only "fun-book", as I found myself reluctant to read it if I had other, more traditionally or immediately thrilling/interesting/captivating book to turn to. I came to be glad of my hour-long lunch break and my forty-minute train rides, as I adjusted to Death's style and grew comfortable with it. (The shorter chapters also made it easier to finish a chapter before getting off the train or going to class.)
My sister asked me to tell her what I think; I came to the silly conclusion that perhaps she's looking for alternative history-class readings, and tried to read it with an eye towards that topic. I failed; I have no clue if this would be a good book to have a class read for history (though it might be kind of interesting to reread it with an eye towards English classes). If that's what you were thinking, Jennie, sorry. If you were just thinking of reading it yourself, I think I'm going to say that it isn't a waste-of-time book. (Not that I think any books are waste-time-books, but I can tell which ones other people might think are waste-of-time books, and this isn't one of them.) Overall, I (obviously) consider this an excellent book for personal enrichment (a.k.a., fun), and, were I a teacher, I might even try having a class (don't ask me which class) read it for, well, something.(less)
This is one of those ones that I might like more if I hadn't been forced to read it. Or it could be one of those ones where I read it on my own and go...moreThis is one of those ones that I might like more if I hadn't been forced to read it. Or it could be one of those ones where I read it on my own and go, "Why does everybody like this damn thing so much?" I remember my teacher thinking my sarcastic glossing-notes were amusing. That's all I'll say.(less)
I found this book to be perfectly paced for a tome of nearly 600 pages that follows the characters from the age of 10. I feel that books that follow c...moreI found this book to be perfectly paced for a tome of nearly 600 pages that follows the characters from the age of 10. I feel that books that follow characters for as long as this one did tend to have a plodding exposition of too many chapters as we "meet" the character(s). This was not the case with this book, since I had a hard time putting it down, as my unfinished tai chi paper proves. I may love to read, but I'm also fairly good at judging when to pause, which I couldn't this time. I was further riveted by the story when I flipped to the back about halfway through and learned that it was based on actual events, however loosely. Not just the struggle for England's crown, but that our main characters had once been actual people. The author admits to playing with the facts, but I agree with her assessment of its forgivability, given that she's writing fiction. I'm even considering reading a non-fiction book outside of a class and might read the titles she suggests.(less)
"...[the air] is continually afloat with answers to even the prayers people haven't the wit to pray. They are always swarming all about them like midg...more"...[the air] is continually afloat with answers to even the prayers people haven't the wit to pray. They are always swarming all about them like midges over a pond."(less)
I really liked this novel because it articulated religious ideas that have been half-formed in my mind for years, or ideas that I've had but been unab...moreI really liked this novel because it articulated religious ideas that have been half-formed in my mind for years, or ideas that I've had but been unable to explain without muddling it all up. There's a really beautiful passage at the end that I want to quote, but I won't because of spoilers, that explains exactly how I feel about things. I don't want to gush too much, so I'll just say that I plan to start keeping an eye out for this at my used bookstore, because I look forward to reading it again and rediscovering the concepts and ideas that I identified with so closely. I will warn traditional or old-fashioned believers of the Old Testament/Torah (for example, people who read Genesis denotatively and reject modern theories of evolution, as opposed to people to read Genesis connotatively and think that perhaps the Higher Being of Many Names had a hand in evolution) that some of the ideas Elliott proposes or makes use of in this novel are more radical than some traditionalists prefer. However, I have some rather radical ideas myself, so the ideas Elliott offers via the novel resonate with me without throwing my entire world-view out of whack. yay!(less)
So, I won this book on First Reads way too long ago. But now that I've finally read it, I can try to write a coherent review. And mostly fail. My firs...moreSo, I won this book on First Reads way too long ago. But now that I've finally read it, I can try to write a coherent review. And mostly fail. My first note is that I started this book around my birthday. So, almost exactly three months ago; take what meaning from that you like. I didn't have the problems with it that my sister had; I was more accepting that how things occurred in the book is just how things were. I rather liked Temujin, particularly when compared to his brother Bekter. But I think I would really appreciate a novel about his youngest brother, Temuge. He seems like a much more interesting character to me, and I think I would find his personal struggle to be accepted by his brothers despite his dislike for killing much more compelling. That said, Temujin almost feels like Eragon, in that they're both so very perfect. I know that to have conquered like he did, Temujin could not have lost a raid; that would mean he died. But all we ever see him struggle with are the threat of starvation in the middle of winter when he's twelve and really heavy iron armor. Oh, and his emotions; he has a hard time reigning them in, sometimes. Is there anything he's actually bad at? I find such un-flawed characters difficult to identify with, though I sympathized with Temujin's situation and could see the justification for his conquering ways. Overall, I would say that this is an engaging read, but I wouldn't want my sons reading it and saying, "I want to be just like him!" largely because, physically, he is presented as an unattainable dream: good on horseback, good with the bow, good with the sword, with strength, stamina, and speed... Who needs that kind of pressure?(less)
**spoiler alert** ('Scuse me whilst I ramble.) This book was quite a lot easier to get through than my last first-reads win, but it was also... fluffi...more**spoiler alert** ('Scuse me whilst I ramble.) This book was quite a lot easier to get through than my last first-reads win, but it was also... fluffier. The first chapter or two had me nearly weeping with its/their fierce, fierce cliché. Happy couple, multiple kids, husband dies, widow experiences strife, multiple suitors, marries again, new happy couple, kids have good new dad. Yay! However, I will give the author some benefit of the doubt, as it's likely that some of the cliché seen here is cliché because that's how things were in the 1830s, when this novel was set.
I liked the characters, particularly Molly, though I do feel they were all fairly lacking in dynamics. A large part of the reason I like Molly is because she weaves. On a loom. I think I might like to weave. On a loom. Other than that, she's a lot like a lot of other historical-fiction lady-characters: Spunky; determined; gets called a "spitfire" by someone (often a suitor, though how much she likes said suitor varies) at some point; pretty enough to have more than one of said suitor knocking on her door, but unaware of her good looks; self-reliant but unsure that she can handle all the ordeals thrown at her.... I like spunky, determined, and self-reliant females when I read, especially when they're in novels where spunky, determined, and self-reliant weren't considered "appropriate" things for a female to be; I want to be a spunky, determined, self-reliant female, and the self-doubt they often experience makes them feel more relatable (learn to spell, GoodReads). However, females such as this are kind of the template for historical fiction, particularly in novels that are set between the Revolutionary War and the advent of the car in America. At least, they're the template in the applicable novels that I've read when said females are the protagonist.
In addition to this, all of our other characters have very little character development. This is probably because there isn't a lot of development for our main character. Oh, sure, I can describe Molly's personality pretty well, but she doesn't really develop much. "Oh, goodness, I did the same thing Future Husband did; I must apologise (seriously, GoodReads) to him, because I was wrong and mean." People just don't always see the error of their ways so quickly. And this is one of, oh, three instances where Molly grows, as a person and character. She becomes more capable, yes, but she doesn't grow. (I apologise if I sound like a nut-job.)
For other characters without development, let's take a look:
Arthur: Matt's wife's uncle. Helped raise Matt's wife. Awesome. (HOW is he so awesome, but he's married to mean ol' biddy Ruth?) Brody: Brother to Samuel (deceased). Meanie-head. (Why is he so mean?) Stole Samuel's (you can't even recognise a possessive, GoodReads? Or "recognise"?) stuff from Molly. Matt: Molly's brother. Wife and four kids. Preacher. Mr. Wolcott: Conductor on the UR Patience: Brody's crazy, mean wife. (WHY is she crazy and mean?) Reuben: Betsy's love interest. She thinks he's yummy. Ruth: Matt's wife's aunt. Raised Matt's wife. Mean old biddy. (WHY is she a biddy?)
What motivates these people? Why are they the way they are? I could talk about all of Molly's suitors, but I'm starting to get tired of my rant. I think I've made my point. And while I understand that some characters, but the nature of books, are going to remain static, those closest to our main character, such at Matt, or most involved in causing her troubles, such as Brody and Ruth, should be more than "Preacher" and "Meanie-Head" and "Mean Ol' Biddy." It doesn't have to be a lot. One little anecdote for each, say. What directed Matt toward preacher-hood? What was the straw the broke the camel's back – or, in this case, Brody and Samuel's sibling bond? Is Ruth such a biddy because her mother was a biddy? Or was there some key event that caused the biddiness? What prompted Karl to become a doctor? What's the whole story with that Lydia character? That kind of stuff is kind of important to making a character likable. And memorable. I hate when I can't keep characters' names straight because they have no story. (Luckily, that didn't happen this time, but they still had no story.)
All that said, rant wound down, I still found this novel enjoyable. Not particularly intellectual or even involving, but enjoyable. If you're just looking to get lost for a few evenings, and finish up with a "happy ending," this is an excellent novel to turn to. I was in the mood for a lack of character development and a clean historical romance template. (That's an important point; no raunchy sex scenes. Or glossed over sex scenes. The widow remained pure. Go her!) And because this is what I was in the mood for, I liked it more than any hoity-toity lit critic would give it credit for. But since we aren't all hoity-toity lit critics, it might be worth the week of evenings.(less)
I can't decide what to think of this book. I finished it on the train home and, I hate to admit, had to do the really fast I'm-not-crying blink. It wa...moreI can't decide what to think of this book. I finished it on the train home and, I hate to admit, had to do the really fast I'm-not-crying blink. It was a little depressing, but realistic, and I'm never quite sure how to evaluate those. I like when my books and movies end realistically, but it kind of ruins my day when the realistic ending is such a downer. It was a good book, with a lot of insight into both cultures and into why they couldn't get along. I'm actually kind of surprised that, since this is supposed to be a children's book anyway, it isn't used during relevant history units in elementary or middle schools. Or maybe it just wasn't used in my district.(less)