I have these graphic and horrible and gnarly images seared to my brain's eye. Seriously. There were parts of this book that made me so squeamish I hadI have these graphic and horrible and gnarly images seared to my brain's eye. Seriously. There were parts of this book that made me so squeamish I had to set it down - a feat that has NEVER occurred and I've read Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door.
Because of the visceral reaction that I had, this book hands down earns a moment in literary brilliance. I cannot look anyone in the face and say that Ellis cannot write or that this book isn't gripping. BUT in the same sentence, I would repeatedly encourage the person to run far away from this novel and forewarn them that after reading this you will feel uber dirty.
American Psycho is a candid walk in the mind of psychotic Patrick Bateman. If he's not comparing business cards and discussing the morning talk shows with his yuppie friends from Wall Street, he's working out, commenting on hard bodies, or offing bums and prostitutes.
It's a downward spiral. I mean, you actually see Bateman fall further into psychosis with each horrid sexual fantasy, killing fantasy, or sociopathic act. Ellis creates images that shows like Criminal Minds imply.
Ellis is a mastermind at exposing society at its worst. Anyone remember Less Than Zero or Rules of Attraction? I mean, it's his THING. And he does it magnificently. He is not someone I would want to go out drinking with, but am happy that he is using his pen for his obvious need to release something wicked in his brain. ...more
“Mawidge...mawidge is what bwings us togewer today... Mawidge, the bwessed awwangement, that dweam wiffim a dweam... ... Ven wuv, twoo wuv, wiw fowwow“Mawidge...mawidge is what bwings us togewer today... Mawidge, the bwessed awwangement, that dweam wiffim a dweam... ... Ven wuv, twoo wuv, wiw fowwow you fowever..”
Hands down my favorite quote from the whole tale.
Er, well, at least one of them.
It’s interesting having watched the film so many times [enough at least where I feel as though I’m competent to answer some mad crazy trivia] but having little recollection of reading the book. And then the experience of rereading the book when I am much more familiar with the FILM only adds to it. Because, truly the story comes to life in a way that books don’t normally do for me.(1)
The Princess Bride Timeline
I was probably in elementary school, nearing the 4th or 5th grade when I first saw The Princess Bride: The Film. I wasn’t completely boy-crazy in real life, but my eyes were definitely on some Bop Magazine beaus. So lemme tell you, when Westley whispered “As you wish” he was golden in my book.
And then one day, while frequenting the used bookstores (Mom felt that the cost of new books in addition to how quickly I devoured them would put her in the poor house) I found a copy of The Princess Bride: The Book. Man oh man was I incredulous. MY FAVORITE movie had a book? I even wrote to Mr. Goldman(2) vehemently declaring – which means there were plenty of exclamation points – that he was MY FAVORITE AUTHOR EVER.
High school went by and both The Princess Bride: The Book & The Movie were nestled safely in the back of my brain until The College Years when I stumbled upon People Like Me and we would greet each other with: Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. Followed by an ambush of giggles.
Now I’m an adult and I fell in love all over again with The Princess Bride: The Book, but for different reasons entirely. There were so many things that I didn’t really pick up on as a kid. Like Goldman as the narrator. And how the author Morgenstein is a total fake out. Because really….that just hit me like a torched R.O.U.S. I seriously had to search out the netosphere double checking the facts of that one. Brilliant man. Absolutely freakin’ brilliant.
There are some books that people read as a child and then reread only to find that the memory of the book was sweeter.  In this case, the book allowed me to fall back into the world of Westley and Buttercup and stay there at my own pace.
My only meh about the experience, and it truly could have been avoided if my curiosity didn’t get the best of me was the addition of Buttercup’s Baby. Not a fan. At. All.
_____ (1) I think the cast for the film version was tres magnifique. Andre the Giant? Um, hell yeah. (2) Sad face. He never wrote back. I was dismayed for quite some time. (3) I admit, this normally happens with television shows more than anything ...more
LOVE the concept of this book something fierce: take ONE DAY from TWO PEOPLE'S LIVES for a random amount of years and observe it in a snapshot. SeriouLOVE the concept of this book something fierce: take ONE DAY from TWO PEOPLE'S LIVES for a random amount of years and observe it in a snapshot. Seriously! Kudos for Mr. Nicholls for writing a book like this. It is such a curious way of looking at someone'(s)' life and honestly I wish I had been clever enough to think of it. I mean, not to write. Gawd knows I have no desire to become a writer. But, how nifty would it have been if I had a collection of letters to myself or a pictures of a day: same day different year? Yeah, yeah, I surely could START doing it now. But, *le sigh*, let's face it. I'm a dreamer with no follow through. Oh arch nemesis of mine!
So now you know I loved the concept hard but let me tell you the Truth about the book itself. It lost its magic after the novelty. The characters were blerg and oftentimes I wanted to b1tchslap our dear Dexter. Plus...Dex and Em; Em and Dex. Seriously? Ad naseum.
Come, I will tell you why. But firstly, let me make it obvious: there will be spoilers. So, if you haven't seen the movie OR read the book BUT plan to do one or the other, move along. - - - >
Okay. Dexter. Seriously? Does a guy like Dex exist? He's SUCH an arse. Oooh looky me, I'm famous. I'm on the tele. COME ON Nicholls. I just can't believe that someone can be that irredeemable for that many years of his life. When did he finally grow up? When he was forty? Sure, sure money might make others more selfish than us middle class folks, but even when his mom is on her death bed?! Yeah, yeah, tell me that everyone handles grief differently. I get that, but still! Dex is handsdown one of the most detestable characters I've ever had to bear.
Which leads me to bring up Emma. Emma wasn't terrible, she wasn't plain, but she was a little whacked with her affection for Dexter. Once again, I continued to ask myself who pines for a man for that many years? I'm all about crushes, you guys, but this was some hardcore pining that only left her devastated.
It's like the premise was to show polar opposites and how their friendship and love could survive the test of time. Except, realistically it was more about the redemption of Dexter. And I think he spent way too much time offering sacrifices and praying to Narcissus.
The obvious question that you are probably asking yourself then is: why continuing listening for over thirteen hours? The answer is simple enough...even though the characters didn't interest me, the writing was actually pretty good, the dialogue chipper, and the storyteller was British (which always makes my ears warm and tingling). ...more
I think everyone already knows how awesome Hunger Games was. Likewise, I am sure it is common knowledge that Catching Fire is the incredible sequel toI think everyone already knows how awesome Hunger Games was. Likewise, I am sure it is common knowledge that Catching Fire is the incredible sequel to the Hunger Games and there will be a third book to wrap up the story of Katniss, Prim, Peeta, Gale, and the rest.
So what did I think of Catching Fire? Uh, it rocked. Sure, maybe not in the same rockstar-guitar-and-drum-session that The Hunger Games did, but it was the second in a trilogy, it's suppose to be the transitional book, right?
There were twists and turns and unexpected "are you kidding me" moments. I felt the frustration and chest tightening moments as the triangle between Katniss, Gale, and Peeta builds. Catching Firemaintained the same pace as The Hunger Games - once I started it, I didn't want to put it down. And geez louise, the cliffhanger of an ending. Argh. I have to wait how long until the third one?
(And a side note on series, trilogies, etc. I HATE THEM. I am not a patient person. I get frustrated because I forget important details while waiting in the down time. I felt that way with Harry Potter. And even to this day, I could not tell you what occurred in each book even though I read and watched them all. I have such a short attention span. Remind me next time people when a brilliant series comes out to not read them until they're all published!)...more
Nick, mixed c.d. genius and heartbroken boy, is in a band. Norah, sarcastic and fierce girl, is in the audience.Music is the backdrop of life.
Nick, mixed c.d. genius and heartbroken boy, is in a band. Norah, sarcastic and fierce girl, is in the audience. In a moment of randomness, Nick and Norah meet, kiss, and become a five minute couple. This event spars a long evening of heartache, laughter, adventure, soul searching, and oh yeah, a lot of music.
Why did I read it?
Not only am I a big fan of the young adult genre, I have a soft spot for the teenybopper movies. Call it nostalgia for the John Hughes days; I can't get enough of them! When Nick & Norah first hit the screen it caught my attention. Feeling pretty strongly about reading a book before seeing the film version, I waited. And then, being the type of person that has a quick attention span and a poor memory, I totally forgot to pick up the book. Randomness brought it back into my sight and I checked it out of the library. ADORING the Nick & Norah made me return it to the library and order it off of amazon.
What did I like the most?
Ummmm, everything? Seriously. I had no idea what I was getting into. I read very few reviews, didn't know the authors, and just thought it would be a fun, light read. Within the first couple of pages, I was hooked, wished that I owned the book so I could highlight it up, and devoured it within hours.
The characters, the "scene", the music all come alive. It breathes. The words make me want to dance because they even have rhythm.
What did I like the least?
Uh, nothing? Oh wait. That's a lie. I HATED that it ended!
Do you recommend this book?
If you are a music fan *and* a young adult fan - ABSOLUTELY!
And the movie?
I watched the movie a couple of days and it was such a disappointment! I understand that there's only so much a writer/director can do in the whole book-to-film conversion, but *still*. It lost it's magic. ...more
Brief summary - Panem, a land created after the demise of the United States, is divided into t**spoiler alert** Kids fight 'til death; it's tradition.
Brief summary - Panem, a land created after the demise of the United States, is divided into twelve districts with one Capitol residing over them all. Each year a lottery system picks a boy and a girl from each district to compete in The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are a tradition created after a thirteenth district tried to revolt, a way for the Capitol to remind the people that they have ultimate control. So what are the Hunger Games? Imagine a mix between Survivor and the Gladiators, except the winner doesn't receive just money and prestige, they get to live.
My thoughts? I knew that this book would be brilliant. I mean, how could it not since so many people have read it, raved about it, fought tooth and nail to get to an ARC of the next in the trilogy...you get my point, right? So why did it take me this long to read it even though it's been on my shelf for over six months? Real simple. I'm not a big fan of dystopian, science ficitony books at all. Call it having read one too many of them in the past, I've just felt the originality of it all wore off. Soooo, I figured, sure, Hunger Games is gonna be good, I've got all the time in the world to read it.
Oh. My. God. (again!) Why did I wait this long? I picked this sucker up and read it almost in one sitting. The character development was incredible, the descriptions of the landscape, amazing! Oh and the action? Really. The whole time I was reading it, I couldn't figure out how it was going to end. It was disturbing, horrific, phenomenal, riveting. Emotional messy, heart-wrenching, and at times, highly spirited. This is just the book that I can recommend to my reluctant readers. In fact, I'm almost considering finding a way to fit this in for a read out loud.
Yay, Nay, or Eh? Yayyyyyy!!! Now, I can't believe I have to wait a month and a half to get Catching Fire. How will I survive?! ...more
Six Individuals. Six Months. Six Jane Austen books.
Jane Austen brings all walks of life together, and The Jane Austen Book Club illustrat Brief Summary
Six Individuals. Six Months. Six Jane Austen books.
Jane Austen brings all walks of life together, and The Jane Austen Book Club illustrates just that. While exploring the characters and plots in all six of Ms. Austen's books, we get to explore the characters within the book club. (I suppose this book is a bit meta, huh?)
Jocelyn - the ring leader of the book club, independent and proud, but a romantic at heart or she wouldn't enjoy matchmaking like she does.
Bernadette - the eldest, logging in at 67 years. She might ramble a bit but the stories she could tell if you listened!
Sylvie - Jocelyn's bestie from eleven who might not be enjoying the Austen of romance since she's having marital difficulties.
Allegra - Sylvie's daughter, an adrenaline junkie whose risk-taking adventures tends to get her new girlfriends.
Prudie - high school French teacher, who sometimes goes overboard and speaks French regardless of the group finding that frustrating. Her life looks perfect, too bad she's struggling with Momma issues.
Grigg - the only male in the group. Poor sucker already has that strike against him. But then he admits to never having read an Austen novel.
My Thoughts. As many followers know, I read my first Jane Austen book, Pride and Prejudice, this year. Instantly, I understood the attraction. Obviously it made sense then to sign up for the Austen challenge. I picked up the Jane Austen Book Club because I didn't know which Austen book to choose next. I figured this would illuminate the intricacies of each novel through the eyes of the book readers. The concept seemed awfully cool to me. Then, as an added bonus, I expected to be pulled into each of the book members world. As I said earlier, pretty meta.
Unfortunately, the book didn't really live up to my expectations.
I liked the concept of each character getting a chapter that aligned with an Austen book as well as their own story, who they were and how that defines them presently.
I really liked Jocelyn's character. Maybe not so much her present interaction with the members, but definitely her story.
Oh, and Prudie's is perhaps the most interesting. Even though her husband absolutely adores her, there is a part of herself that she can't let go of because of her mother's inconsistencies. Prudie's story was definitely the most thorough.
It was a pretty quick read.
Ummm, I'm not quite sure how to politely say this, but although I thought the concept was pretty cool, the writing oftentimes felt rather detached. I wanted the characters to be more three-dimensional than they were. For example,
Grigg's story? Please. So he was the only boy in a house filled with overbearing sisters. I didn't really feel that type of relationship even when interacting with the his sisters.
Show not tell. Unfortunately, overall, I didn't feel like the author really did that. We were told about each character rather matter of factly. LIke Grigg and his sisters. I never felt that sort of attachment.
In fact, I was hardly attached to any of the characters.
And, finally, reading the Jane Austen Book Club did no assist me whatsoever in deciding upon my next Austen book. I read the author's assistance pages that briefed the ignorant reader, like myself, on each novel, but still found the character's dialogue over the stories confusing.
Yay, Nay, Eh? I'm going with Eh on this one. I feel that it might be more enjoyable if I had read more than one Austen book ? In the very least, I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt and not completely oust it.
Your thoughts? Have you read it and reviewed it? ...more
Set in post WW2 Germany, Sophomore Michael Berg meets the alluring Hanna one afternoon after getting sick. A chance meeting t**spoiler alert** Summary
Set in post WW2 Germany, Sophomore Michael Berg meets the alluring Hanna one afternoon after getting sick. A chance meeting that turned into a relationship that would last a lifetime.
It's in this first part of the book that lays the foundation of Michael's emotional pull with Hanna. He is mesmerized by her beauty and sexuality, giving himself completely to this older woman. She pushes and pulls him, always on the cusp of wanting more and giving more. Until one day, she packs up and leaves.
Life is just not the same for Michael. It's as though Hanna has spoiled him from other women. He grows up and begins studying law. Now, in the second part of the book, Michael meets Hanna once more. Only this time she is on trial for murder after having been identified as a guard in a concentration camp.
In the last part of the book, Michael's strained relationship leads him to a very hollow existence. He maintains contact with Hanna, but is distant, and unemotional.
My Thoughts (possible spoilers?)
The Reader is such a beautiful philosophical novel. Hanna, although an adult from the moment that we meet her, hides her child-like vulnerability. It's only toward the end of her life, after she's damaged it already, can she admit to her cracks.
And Michael, really, how infuriating can he be at times. I get the inability to come to terms with loving someone who did monstrous acts. I also get understanding why they did those acts, feeling a mixture of love, hate, and pity, and not being able to sort those emotions out, falling back into behavior that your comfortable with (in this case, reading the books onto the tape recorder). But it was the moment when he meets Hanna, the elder Hanna, and she is not the Hanna that he has in his mind, and his inability to look at her then. That's not about what Hanna did, who she is, or what she stands for. No. That's about him being ruined by the tale he had wove, the image of Hanna, maybe? Did the ending justify his behavior? Did her ending justify her behavior?
And of course the book was so much more than that. There's the unnerving feeling that I am suppose to despise Hanna for what she did, the crimes she committed, and yet I equally feel sorrow for her. And enough feelings toward her that I feel bitter toward Michael's reaction.
*sigh* Then, even while being frustrated and tormented by Michael's behavior and choices, I have another layer of emotion that understands his motives and find them valid. After all, the poor young man was only fifteen when he embarked on this love affair with a thirty-something lady.
Oh, and the reading of the novels. Am I the only one that finds that almost more intimate than the lovemaking itself?
"Again, Hanna became absorbed in the unfolding of the book. But it was different this time; she withheld her own opinions; she didn't make Natasha, Andrei, and Pierre part of her world, as she had Luise and Emilia, bu entered their world the way one sets out on a long and dazzling journey, or enters a castle which one is allowed to visit, even stay in until one feels at home, but without ever really shedding one's inhibitions. All the things I had read to her before were already familiar to me. War and Peace was new for me, too. We took the long journey together."
I really have so much more to process. I feel as though my mind keeps making jumps to the next thought without thoroughly exploring the first thought. I quite like that freedom. I'd rather not outline my reactions to The Reader because reading it often felt primal to me. My reactions to the book were solely emotional.
Yay, Nay, Eh? Yay. Most. Definitely. This definite falls in the short list of books I'd like to re-read. ...more
It's hard to tell someone that you really enjoyed a book when the book is as disturbing and discomforting as We Need to Talk About Kevin.
The novel isIt's hard to tell someone that you really enjoyed a book when the book is as disturbing and discomforting as We Need to Talk About Kevin.
The novel is told in letters written by the narrator, Eva to her husband Franklin. We quickly find out that Eva is an independent, free-spirit, who has strong beliefs about the "establishment" (even though she's quite well off), and although she might be a good friend, does not appear to be very nurturing. Alternatively, we have her husband, Franklin, who through the reminiscent letters, is portrayed as being more American than apple pie - an all-around-guy who would love to be zapped right into a Leave it to Beaver episode.
So are we really surprised to find out that Eva is disinterested in her pregnancy? Of course not. And while at first, told in a different story, we might feel animosity toward this woman and how she interacts with her son, Kevin, in this story we partly understand.
You see, Kevin was always a little "off", a quite unhappy little boy who couldn't be pleased, bothered, or amused. His adolescent years are no different, but we begin to sense he's a bit "off" *and* malicious. Oh, and did I mention that he's sitting in jail for killing nine classmates, a teacher, and a cafeteria worker?
In a time when the press was perhaps becoming a bit desensitized with all of the school shootings, Shriver embarks on this incredible journey where we hear from not the mother of the victim, but the mother of the murderer. The novel is substantial, frustrating, and pulls the reader into questioning the roles of nature vs. nurture. ...more
Now what's interesting is there is no summary to be found on the inside of the book jacket.
Instead, Boyne explains that "[they] thought [the summary]Now what's interesting is there is no summary to be found on the inside of the book jacket.
Instead, Boyne explains that "[they] thought [the summary] would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about."
I admit, I was a little disappointed that I already knew with such an introduction.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a tale about the Holocaust, told differently. The point of view is a 9 year old German boy named Bruno who has been been transplanted with his family from Berlin to Poland. Bruno knows that his dad is a very important man, he wear a uniform and all the soldiers that come visit his dad always seem in awe. Still, he is quite mad at his father for moving them to this wretched place out in the middle of nowhere. There's nothing around, and even odder, on the horizon, there's a whole bunch of people in striped pajamas that mill around these grey buildings. Gretal, Bruno's know-it-all 12 year old sister, finally concludes that they are Jews. Around this time Bruno does what any 9 y.o. would, he begins to explore. Along the fence he goes for hours. He's about to give up until:
"Bruno slowed down when he saw the dot that became a speck that became a blob that became a figure that became a boy."
We soon find out that the boy is Shmuel and he quickly becomes Bruno's friend. The rest is a journey of friendship through the ugliness of war, cruelty, and death.
I thought this book was incredible. From the moment that I began reading, I was pulled into Bruno's perspective on what was going on in Germany during World War II. I've read complaints from other reviewers expressing disbelief in Bruno's ignorance and naivety. It was questioned whether it was believable that a 9 year old would be as clueless to the war and even more oblivious of the concentration camp his home neighbors. I can understand those doubts especially when we think about how much our children are exposed to now from the media, their peers, music, etc. I don't believe that the people were as aware as we would expect, whether this unawareness is specific to the censorship going on or the inclination to not see what you should be seeing. My grandmother lived in Germany during World War II and I grew up listening to stories from my grandmother about what East Germany was like. She was a tween when Hitler came to reign and their impression of this man was so further than the reality of him. These personal stories that she shared of war-time Germany shadowed my reading of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Shmuel and Bruno became real to me.
I also thought the authenticity of voice was an incredible asset. Bruno refers to the Furor as "The Fury", his sister as the "Hopeless Case", and Auschwitz as "Out With". The father is very much the patriarch, his is the breadwinner, the foundation, and the ultimate decision-maker in the family. He is of a serious demeanor and it's easy to see Bruno both respects and fears his father.
Finally, the ending...oh wow! The ending was one o those endings where, a few pages before the end you know how it's going to end and you keep thinking to yourself "No! No! No!" as if shouting inside your head could stop the characters from playing out their role. I closed the book and was at a loss.
[side note: evidently Boyne said that he wrote the rough draft in two and a half days, barely sleeping.]...more
The Freedom Writers Diary is a collaborative effort from high school dubbed "The Freedom Writers" at Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. TheThe Freedom Writers Diary is a collaborative effort from high school dubbed "The Freedom Writers" at Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. The collection of journal entries are published anonymously. Within these entries are the experiences of Mrs. Gruwell's 150 students, each who began their freshman year believing that they were worthless, and ended their senior year with a diploma and a vision for the future.
Erin Gruwell, a young teacher at Wilson High School, found herself teaching students who were considered unreachable. They were loud, bitter, hardened, and ultimately those that the school wished would disappear. In fact, these students had a lot in common with the educational system - they had given up on themselves as well.
"I hate my neighborhood. It's surrounded by gangsters and drug dealers. There are too many opportunities that seem out of my reach. What goals do I aim for? I don't aim, because I don't have any goals; instead, I deal with what comes." (Diary 9).
And then comes this teacher who is "always trying to give meaning to everything" (Diary 15). Erin Gruwell has these kids study Ann Frank and Zlata Fillipovic - young people who had to find inner strength in times where they were being persecuted. She taught them reading comprehension and writing skills, but she also taught them how to survive and what it means to be tolerant of those that are different from you.
Overall, it sounds like a pretty touching book doesn't it? And I suppose I should have been touched more than what I was. But something was missing. Something was missing in the journal entries. I just didn't feel the emotion that should have gone along with some of the stories that these kids were writing about. They were pouring out their daily struggles - the gangs, going to court, watching friends get killed, parents using drugs; and yet, it all seemed contrived. Over-edited. Forced to be grammatically correct before it was published. Sterile and void of any real emotion. I compare the entries to the retelling of a nightmare later in the day. The heart pounding moment upon first waken is long gone and now that you've existed in 'reality' for a few hours, the nightmare seems so far away that you are completely desensitized. When you share the nightmare with a friend it seems so far away from the truth that your retelling is almost bland and you might throw in a shrug after almost as if to say, "so yeah, I know it sounds far-fetched but I really was scared."...more
**spoiler alert** The first thing that might strike you odd if having just picked up this book is how the narrator introduces themselves - Kathy H. Sh**spoiler alert** The first thing that might strike you odd if having just picked up this book is how the narrator introduces themselves - Kathy H. She has no last name? Why is it so secretive? And a 'carer', does she mean 'caregiver'? After reading further only a few sentences she shares that she's pretty good at her job, as most of her donors' recovery times are quite impressive. Donors, huh? So I'm kind of thinking what I think the author means - after all, the only time I've understood the definition of donors is in context of donating blood, plasma, organs?!?
Kathy begins reminiscing about her days at Hailsham - a private boarding school where the arts are promoted. Hailsham sounds like a marvelous place where her and her dear friends go from art classes to music classes to poetry readings. Guardians run the school - are the students orphans? In her early years (elementary?) when she's not in classes, her time is spent with her dear friend Ruth and other girls gossiping about the boys, especially angry Tommy. As they grow up together, naturally, Tommy becomes the boyfriend of Ruth.
Kathy and all of the children know that they are different than those outside the walls of Hailsham, but she doesn't really quite explain how. As they get older, for example, they are told that they cannot get pregnant, and that they must especially pay close attention to whom they sleep with because it is worse for them to get a sexually transmitted disease than anyone else. In fact, they are taught early on how important it is for the whole lot to remain healthy -which is why they get weekly visits to the nurse on campus. Talk of their future and destined career is also spoken of, but quietly. It's as though the students understand their fate while simultaneously don't understand it.
Which is exactly how the reader - especially if one had forgotten why they added this book to their TBR list (like me!!) - feels through out most of the novel. You see Ishiguro is doing everything but using the C-word.
Clones. Cloning. All told from the point of view of, you guessed it, a clone.
This novel is not set in the far future. It's not even set in the near future. No, Ishiguro sets Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy's life "somewhere in the 1990's". Uh, like fifteen years ago? He also weaves their lives and their destiny together so quietly and without fuss, that I felt as though I needed to take a shower and was the horror of England's decision to clone away. I know, look at me becoming so adamant and political over a fictional group of friends. But oh how many times were there that I wanted to say to Kathy, "Run. Go somewhere. Hide. Don't you know what they're going to do to you?"
Ishiguro definitely sets the stage through Kathy's voice to pose philosophical questions - specifically, how can a society continue using clones if the clones have personalities of their own?
At what point do we use science to move ahead and at what point does science end our sense of humanity? How many times have I casually made a joke about cloning one of my best students? Or even my cat! It's a joke when I say it, of course, I take no significance in it. But just suppose that cloning was a natural (as 'natural' as one can get) choice in present day life. The intent, of course, is initially pure, isn't it? Science is what has created cures for illnesses that would have killed us decades ago. Science is what allows us to live longer, healthier. In Never Let Me Go, science has just taken it a step further. Have pancreatic cancer? No worries, we have donors available. Let's not concern ourselves to question whether or not clones have a soul. What is a soul even? Especially when we can save 'real people'.
I admit. This book gave me the heebie jeebies. There were times when it was difficult to read. And it showed; I think it took me at least a week to get through all of the pages. It was trying to wrap my head around what was happening. I know that it wouldn't have worked had Ishiguro written the novel any other way. He was not preachy nor was the topic shoved down the reader's throat. Instead, he whispered it in your mind. Let's not speak about their deaths, rather let's rather speak about their "completion".
If you are not someone who leans toward science fiction (as I'm not), I think that you will be pleased reading Never Let Me Go. It's a dystopian that doesn't read as one. I'm glad that I randomly chose this off of my TBR list. I've not only broadened what I normally would read, but have found a new author that I would like to read more from. ...more
After reading the Twilight series, The Host reads as though a completely different author wrote it. (I felt this way about Breaking Dawn as well). TheAfter reading the Twilight series, The Host reads as though a completely different author wrote it. (I felt this way about Breaking Dawn as well). The novel has two voices, that of an alien life-form Wanderer, or "Wanda" and human host, Melanie. The conflict of the novel is rather philosophical. Wanderer is an alien life form whose sole purpose is to be a "soul" in the beings on various planets. After living on many planets, she finally takes home on Earth and is placed in the human host, Melanie. Melanie, of course, spends the first part of the story fighting to keep consciousness while Wanderer tries to deny it. Fortunately for Melanie, she is persistent, bombarding Wanderer with images of human emotions, primarily her love for her younger brother Jamie and Jared. Wanderer eventually "wanders" her last time, seeking out Melanie's loved ones and the other rebels who have resisted the alien invasion.
What is most unique about this novel is the difficulty in hating the antagonist. I could empathize with the struggle of both Wanderer and Melanie. Wanderer was not developed to be a heinous villain, nor were the other aliens in their species. She was just existing in the ways that she existed. It is of course, easy to empathize with Melanie. She's the human that has to struggle with this new personality that has taken over hear mind and body. I can understand her animosity and disdain for the creature that has captured her.
Rachel over at American Bibliophile is hosting monthly book discussions (which I'm thrilled about). These are her questions for The Host.
1. Would you classify The Host as a dystopian read? Why or why not? If so, how would you compare it to other dystopian novels?
I struggled with this question. In fact, I read the questions that Rachel came up with even before finishing the novel. I then completed the book on Friday and had to mull over this question again all weekend. Would I classify The Host as a dystopian? I still don't think that I've come up with a convincing answer one way or the other. Here's my struggle: In many ways, I can easily see how someone would immediately refer to the book as dystopian. After all, it is a blatant commentary on humanity. There are many obvious passages where Meyers paints humans as being selfish, violent, and unforgiving. Alternatively, the alien "souls" are the human foils - they are kind, benevolent, cringe against violence, and over all peaceful. It is also mentioned via Wanderer and others that the Souls came to Earth because they viewed it to be too violent and self-destructive. But here's where I'm a bit hesitant on declaring The Host dystopian and closing the book - the Souls were not coming to Earth with the intent of transforming themselves to make the necessary utopian qualities needed to make Earth a better place. What I mean by that is, the Souls were just being who they were. They did not craft a government or creed or create ideals on how life should be led and then follow it. They just existed on Earth as they would have existed on any other planet. Their immediate purpose in life was to find hosts to inhabit. Had we read a chapter of their life on one of the other many planets where Wanderer lived, would we have viewed that as dystopic? Probably not, (1) the other life forms that became hosts did not seem nearly as conscious and aware as humans, thus (2) the souls inhabiting those life forms might not have seen as ghastly. The novel is still a commentary on the human race and perhaps how we treat each other and what changes we need to make. It also poses the question, 'What does it mean to be human' regularly. I just don't know if I'd throw the towel in completely and mark it as dystopian.
2. What do you think Meyer is trying to say about Christianity and religion? What do you think she is trying to say about our society in general?
Maybe I need to re-read the book, maybe I missed some huge obvious symbolism about Christianity and religion. I didn't really catch that as being much of the focus, not nearly as much as Meyers questioning what is human or the ridiculousness of making general all-assuming sterotypes. The illogic of "if I am human and I feel compassion, all humans feel compassion" is no more true than "if the middle east has terrorism, all middle easterns are terrorists" I believe that Myers is fighting against that type of false logic, among other things.
3. A lot of people have speculated that those who liked the Twilight series might not like The Host. Why do you think this is?
The two are definitely on opposites of the spectrum. The Twilight saga was a quick fun read and left very little food for thought. The Host opens the doors for more discussion and internal thoughts. I don't know if all Twilight lovers are going to wrap their heart and soul around The Host as they did with Edward and Bella, but do know that even my students who have read the saga and read The Host were not disappointed. (Some even said they preferred The Host!)
4. Was the ending satisfying for you? Why or why not?
I hated the ending. I really truly was disappointed that everything wrapped itself up in a nice neat little bow. In fact, the ending is the reason why the book was given a "B".
5. Which characters did you find likeable/unlikeable and why?
Even if I didn't care for all of the characters, Meyers did a wonderful job of making me understand them. What more could you ask for as a reader?
6. What overall theme in the book did you relate to most and why? I really liked that this book had philosophical undertones. I wish that I had been reading it with a companion so that I might have stopped at some point and say "Hey, what did you think about this...".
I think that it's important to remember that just because we are human that does not mean we always behave in the most humane way. ...more