Sometimes, when I'm out backpacking or even just on a particularly beautiful day at the park, I'll get the feeling that my heart is both full and heavSometimes, when I'm out backpacking or even just on a particularly beautiful day at the park, I'll get the feeling that my heart is both full and heavy. This is what I think makes beauty strike me to my core - knowing that it is fleeting. Sunsets, childhood, cherry blossoms, moonlight: all these things will end. This is what makes the apocalypse the perfect setting for this elegiac novel. It is an ode to all the things that the character loves and has or will someday lose. As I love these things too (okay, not flying, but the rest of it), I connected very closely with Heller's writing.
I find myself often looking at my cat, knowing someday he will die and I will be heartbroken beyond imagination. I also think about this in the context of the apocalypse. So, thanks, Heller for showing me how to keep going when that happens.
If you aren't into violence or apocalyptic fiction, I can see where you might want to steer clear of this book. But the plot and setting, while arguably essential, take a backseat to the love poems Heller writes to life, to happiness, to humanity. I wonder if in some way, though, by romanticizing the end of all things, Heller isn't dooming us to give up on saving the planet? It is a danger. (But a lot more enjoyable than books that illustrate merely that life is ugly, brutish, and short!)...more
*groan* So hard to review a book when I don't know what I thought about it. I wasn't really into it, but could tell it was building up to something, s*groan* So hard to review a book when I don't know what I thought about it. I wasn't really into it, but could tell it was building up to something, so I tried to suspend judgement until the end. And then the end came, and I thought, "huh, what is the author trying to say?" On the one hand, I think that's the beauty of art - that it allows the reader/viewer to layer their own meaning onto it. Like an abstract painting, with the ghosts of forms, it's a Rorschach test. Do I believe that Frida and Cal took the easy way out, or the hardest one of all? What would I do?
On the other hand, there's also beauty in reading and saying, "ah HA!" - that purest moment of revelation when you realize what an author is trying to say, when she gets you there, not directly, but by leading you through a maze of Forms that are foreign, yet made of enough familiar parts to weave meaning out of nonsense.
So, if you're in the mood for making your own meaning, I'd give it four stars. If, like me, you're not, it's still a solid 3 stars - worth reading, if not re-reading. ...more
After much back and forth I ended up giving this four stars instead of three because it was such a fun book to read, and my favorite topic, too! My biAfter much back and forth I ended up giving this four stars instead of three because it was such a fun book to read, and my favorite topic, too! My biggest issue is that Kunstler picks up the story just as something exciting is happening in the town (after many years of not exciting things) and then drops it suddenly when the action is done. (I kept counting the pages, going... wait, is there a sequel??) On the one hand I guess real life is like that - something crazy happens and then life goes back to normal - but on the other hand I'm used to grand drama in my post-apocalyptic fiction. So... that's both good and bad.
Otherwise it was well thought-out, making use of both innovative thinking and the usual conventions of the genre. It was oddly up-beat and "fluffy". Or just not as gritty as most. A far cry from "The Road", for sure! The protagonist was lacking the overwhelming fear and pessimism I've grown used to in the genre. I have not read his other books, so for those of you starting out - this is fine as a stand-alone novel. I imagine I will pick up his others after this....more
Ilsa J. Bick, another author, wrote in a review, "Lynn's story is what Laura Ingalls Wilder might've penned if she'd traveled a frontier imagined by CIlsa J. Bick, another author, wrote in a review, "Lynn's story is what Laura Ingalls Wilder might've penned if she'd traveled a frontier imagined by Cormac McCarthy." That just about sums it up. I think that the reason so many post-apocalyptic novels are being grabbed up is because we still have the romanticized image of the pioneer days, but we know that we'll never get back there. Instead, the next frontier to conquer is our own self-imposed climate change exile. Apocalypse is the new frontier.
Some of the parts I liked best (spoiler alert later in this paragraph): Lynn had to learn compassion and a new way of evaluating right and wrong. Teens all go through this as the black and white of childhood slides into the greyscale of adulthood. I also think kids raised in abusive situations will find that they can relate to having to adjust when entering non-abusive relationships. So I felt Lynn's growth in that area was strong. I also appreciated the realism (spoiler) of Eli getting killed. They couldn't all make it out alive, right?
It was a little unique from other apocalyptic novels in that there was no journey. Usually these stories involve taking off for somewhere else, and this one didn't. So that was interesting....more
I'd like to give this 3 and a half stars. Usually my 3's are "Meh, I have no objections, but it wasn't spectacular" and 4 is "Heck yeah!". This was soI'd like to give this 3 and a half stars. Usually my 3's are "Meh, I have no objections, but it wasn't spectacular" and 4 is "Heck yeah!". This was somewhere in between. The premise is great, and I am glad that he confronts some of the moral dilemmas inherent in an apocalyptic scenario. As a survival manual it's probably somewhat useful. But the action sequences and general plot direction was pretty standard for this type of book. In that way it's good if you're a fan of the apocalypse genre and just want something predictably good to let your brain munch on. I did enjoy it a lot, and there wasn't a dull moment....more
I read this around the same time as Varley's "Slow Apocalypse". Both are examples of the apocalyptic novel, but both tackle the issue in very differenI read this around the same time as Varley's "Slow Apocalypse". Both are examples of the apocalyptic novel, but both tackle the issue in very different ways. Aside from the fact that the end of the world comes about in different ways (here, through a slowing of the earth; there, through a peak-oil type crisis), the feel and pace of the novel are different. This one is much slower, both in the actual events and in the pacing of plot. I was disappointed by the character development - I didn't feel I really got to know the narrator, let alone her parents, who were key in this book. I thought her grandfather could have played a much bigger (and more interesting) role.
I've said this about other books, but I think it holds true here - this is a book you have to read with someone else and discuss. It is a book where the author doesn't give you all the answers, and I suppose it's my fault that I'm not patient enough to find them myself. For some, this will be a frustrating thing, and they won't like this book for that reason. I'm content to let some things be a mystery - like why the world slows down....more
This is a rollicking romp of a book, pulling the reader around corner after twisting corridor, making quick stops and jumping off cliffs. Yes, this deThis is a rollicking romp of a book, pulling the reader around corner after twisting corridor, making quick stops and jumping off cliffs. Yes, this describes the Dauntless in action as well as the plot twists and action sequences. But it also describes the logic and the editing.
(A friend of mine has already pointed out in his review how Tris's dependency on others for her self esteem is a possibly damaging example for readers, something with which I also take issue, but today my focus is on the editing.)
Here's an example: Page 461 - Tris refuses to carry a gun, opting for a stunner instead. Page 471- Startled, Tris draws her gun (that she doesn't have) Page 476 - Tris realizes she forgot the stunner. Quote: "I am unarmed again." !?!?
But hey, I guess when you run your readers through your book as fast as they can keep up, they will either miss this stuff of choose not to care. Me? I'll forgive her for now, but I expect more if she wants four or five stars. Maybe I should wait for the second edition when this stuff gets fixed. ...more
I enjoyed this because of the premise and the page-turning speed, but I couldn't give it four stars because I think the author got a little sloppy atI enjoyed this because of the premise and the page-turning speed, but I couldn't give it four stars because I think the author got a little sloppy at the end. The protagonist's search for the code was too fast and easy, for starters. And was the ending supposed to be the opening for a sequel?
I labeled this "apocalyptic" but it's really not. I think fans of that type of fiction will enjoy this though. Fans of Emma Donaghue's "Room" will find this pales in terms of character development (though this book is definitely more appropriate for younger readers). ...more
I was ready not to like this, but somehow I did! I think it was the cyclical nature of it, the grand sweep of time it covered. It reminded me in thatI was ready not to like this, but somehow I did! I think it was the cyclical nature of it, the grand sweep of time it covered. It reminded me in that of Welles' "Time Machine". It wasn't something I will probably return to, but I enjoyed it as a break from all the YA I've been reading lately. ...more
The author is clever with her words, which I think would have appealed to me more as a teenager (duh, this is a YA book) than now, when the names of eThe author is clever with her words, which I think would have appealed to me more as a teenager (duh, this is a YA book) than now, when the names of each of the groups are pretty obvious. But what saved the book from three stars were all the extras, including the interview with the author at the end. Usually those are pretty vapid, but this one was interesting.
Some of my "looking behind the curtains" questions... Where are the children and babies? How do kindergarteners jump on moving trains to get to school? Who is controlling the population? I'm hoping my other more general questions are answered in future books - the "how did we get here" origin story type questions. If those aren't answered, I may have to downgrade my review to more "brain candy" appropriate level. ...more
This book has so much potential and lots of really interesting ideas. Unfortunately, the author either didn't have the editing help or the talent to dThis book has so much potential and lots of really interesting ideas. Unfortunately, the author either didn't have the editing help or the talent to delve deep enough to flesh it out. Consequently, it reads as a series of vaguely sociological premises tied together by a loosely explained plot and semi- coherent characters. Even more disappointing was the ending - after all that, things just went back to how they were. WTF?
Oh and the weird fantasy on page 296 between Mike and Laura? Creepy. Hopefully most readers miss that, as the author was thankfully (and weirdly) vague.
Luckily I didn't waste too much time with it. If you are looking for futuristic YA novels, keep looking. Jesse Karp - pick this back up and try again. You're not done yet. ...more
Overall this book was a great satisfying (and again, cliffhanging) sequel. There were definitely some minor details that didn't sit right with me, butOverall this book was a great satisfying (and again, cliffhanging) sequel. There were definitely some minor details that didn't sit right with me, but once I chose to just let it go, I liked it. Yeah, the love story is kind of annoying, and it's nowhere as well fleshed out as the third book of the Hunger Games, BUT this is a YA book, and as such, it is entirely appropriate. ...more
See my review of Tomorrow, When the War Began. Plus, I just wanted to add that I think this book especially is very truthful about what happens when pSee my review of Tomorrow, When the War Began. Plus, I just wanted to add that I think this book especially is very truthful about what happens when people come home from war (or anything that is incredibly life changing), which is really important to understand right now as so many people are coming back or running from wars in their own countries and overseas....more
If you liked The Hunger Games, but you liked the third book the best because of the anti-war sentiments, you'll probably like this series. I would havIf you liked The Hunger Games, but you liked the third book the best because of the anti-war sentiments, you'll probably like this series. I would have to say that I don't usually enjoy thrillers (movies or books), war novels, or a whole lot of suspense, but it was definitely worth it. I don't have the energy to review all seven in this series, so consider this review to cover the series as a whole.
At the beginning of each book, Ellie (the narrator) spends a certain amount of time waxing poetic and generally going on about "how things are". I didn't particularly enjoy these parts, though I sort of understand why Marsden put them in. You have to remind people what was going on, especially when these first came out. Now that I can borrow all seven at once from the library, it's less important. Still you can't jump right in to the scary stuff without some warm-up.
I've always wondered what I would do in a situation like this one. Whenever I go backpacking, especially on long trips, I wonder, what if something crazy happened and nobody was alive when I came out? So I enjoyed reading someone else's idea of this particular "what if." Some of the situations were a little far fetched that they could get away with all that, but Marsden kept it realistic by killing off some of the characters and allowing them to get hurt. Sometimes this was pretty nerve wracking, reading the jacket flap and wondering, who's not going to make it? Like I said, I'm not so good with suspense, so I spent a whole lot of time with my heart racing and my blood pressure up, gnawing on my knuckles.
I did love the slang. I'm pretty sure whenever I see an outhouse from now on I'm going to call it a dunny. That was my favorite one. The glossary of slang at the start of each book was essential.
Another book you might like (especially if you don't want to commit to reading seven books) is How I Live Now. It's set in England, and while it's not as complete as this set is, it still has a lot of the same elements....more
You might be tempted to say this book is like Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale, but besides the post-apocalyptic setting and the baby motif, it isYou might be tempted to say this book is like Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale, but besides the post-apocalyptic setting and the baby motif, it is definitely it's own book. O'Brien sets up the characters and the action so that the reader can't help but be pulled along. It was a tiny bit predictable at times, but not so much that adults would be put off. In fact, I found this on a list for adults who like YA lit, and was very satisfied....more
Collins did a splendid job with this last novel in the series. I was very pleased with how she built on the characters and situations from the last twCollins did a splendid job with this last novel in the series. I was very pleased with how she built on the characters and situations from the last two, especially with the second one ending in such a cliffhanger. My main concern was actually that - I didn't remember quite enough from the last two, and wished I'd read them in quick succession (which wasn't possible of course, seeing as how she hadn't written them yet!).
*** Some Spoilers Below ***
The first thing I liked about Mockingjay was Collins' exploration of the morality of war. This was especially clear in the way Katniss was taken aback at what Gale was willing to do to win. I found some strong ties to Ender's Game in this and other themes. Both books ask, "what are you willing to do to win a war?" as well as "who is the enemy?" Both use children who feel they are very alone and become reluctant leaders as their protagonists. Both also ask, and to some extent answer the question, "what do you do with a hero when the war ends?"
I thought that Collins took on these questions in a way that both adults and teens can relate to, and which give real, deep answers, not just surface stuff. These are tough questions, especially when so much of the world's populations are facing wars and armed conflicts. Particularly moving was the grief that Katniss gives in to towards the end when her sister's cat shows up in district 12. That made me cry!
As in the other books, everything moves really fast, but it's not too fast to follow, and generally everything flows really well and connects back up in the end. Some of the deaths are not explained or grieved by characters, and I can see how younger readers might not understand why Katniss chose to end up with Gale, but I felt that Collins had a stellar team of editors and readers to help her answer all the questions....more
I don't know if I'll read subsequent installments in this series, but the first book was intriguing. The politics were the most interesting part. YouI don't know if I'll read subsequent installments in this series, but the first book was intriguing. The politics were the most interesting part. You have three factions: 1. The winged ones, who have all the wealth but fairly little power in the end; 2. The groundlings who are lobbying for change; and 3. The groundlings who want things to remain the same (both regular folks and the priests).
Politically, my sympathies should have been with the labor party - obviously the ruling class isn't helping them lead more fulfilling lives, and treats them they're basically slaves, or worse, like they don't exist. But because Jay Armory introduces Az and his world first, that is the group to which my loyalties default. Nobody can have much sympathy for the priests, except maybe catholics.
There are obviously connections alluded to here with capitalist society living on the backs of sweatshop labor, but it goes a lot deeper. Even though the plot itself wasn't entirely to my taste, I was pulled in by all the layers the author puts in place....more
Pretty run-of-the-mill, formulaic sort of post-apocalyptic teen book. For all that, it's not bad. It's just not in my top 20, and it's a little simplePretty run-of-the-mill, formulaic sort of post-apocalyptic teen book. For all that, it's not bad. It's just not in my top 20, and it's a little simple for most adults. I say this because the main character lacks much subtlety, and his development is somewhat sudden, not nuanced and full of grey space like some great characters I've read. But teens who are just getting into the post-apocalyptic genre will probably enjoy this (and possibly those interested in the holocaust), as it has all the requisite elements....more