I am not completely beside myself after reading this book. It was quite alright. A fast read. Sometimes really interesting and intriguing. Other times...moreI am not completely beside myself after reading this book. It was quite alright. A fast read. Sometimes really interesting and intriguing. Other times it felt like a succession of anecdotes and trivialities and the story kept meandering and digressing. A device I usually enjoy a lot if it’s done right. Here it mostly felt like filler material and kept me wondering what all of this was about.
If you’ve heard anything about this book before you might have noticed that the publisher is working really hard not to tell you its actual topic. I am not going to spoil that either since its revelation was one of the best moments in the book. That, however, makes it really hard to talk about this novel at all.
As a fairly unreliable narrator, Rosemary Cooke tells us the story of her life; the story of how her two siblings had to leave the family and what it was like to grow up in a house filled with grieve and longing for the past. Just so you know, that there was not a spoiler!
Jumping back and forth in her retelling we get glimpses at the past and present and information is only given to the reader piece by piece and only when the narrator feels like it. This stylistic device turns afairly simple story into something more complex but it can sometimes come across as a cheap means to make the plot more interesting.
While Rosemary tries to find herself, some interesting themes are explored. Like the importance of childhood memories and how they can be changed, invented, re-invented, repressed, and denied. We get some background knowledge on psychology (that can be a bit too much on the popular science side) and one other very interesting field of study, which I cannot reveal here without telling you the main twist of the story – so I won’t. Other themes and topics are family life, dealing with a shared past, guilt, and how memories can define and shape our personality.
What I really did not like was how later in the book the author throws in that pinch of female solidarity as another theme. Maybe I just didn’t notice it earlier but I got the feeling that it was put in quite late and suddenly. It’s like the author thought “oh, I need some feminism in my book as well. I just put it in right here. I don’t want to go all the way back and make it a proper theme”. Meandering. A word that came to mind quite a lot while reading “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves”.
To end this review on a positive note: It was a fast read, I was caught up in the story and simply wanted to know what the narrator was not telling me. All that secrecy and “I’ll tell you later. When I’m ready. Maybe.” was what kept me going. And I was satisfied when all of it was finally revealed. It is a story about family and secrets, and if you like to read about these things than this might not be the first book I’d recommend but it IS a good one. (less)
Firstly, I need to get something off my chest. In terms of dystopian fiction this one is really not the greatest example.
There is no background infor...moreFirstly, I need to get something off my chest. In terms of dystopian fiction this one is really not the greatest example.
There is no background information whatsoever about how the society in these novels came into being. Dystopian fiction usually works by means of extrapolating society’s problems or the current state of things into the future and see where that might lead. This is not done in Divergent. The reader is put into this setting in a take-it-or-leave-it kind of manner. There are no explanations of the historical circumstances that lead to this point and we don’t find out how the factions that are so important to the plot of the novel came into being.
That said, this book was awesome and great fun to read. I love a writer that can be ruthless with their own creation. (view spoiler)[ e.g. by killing off characters we came to love or hate or have any type of strong emotion for. (hide spoiler)] In the YA section I have only come across two so far – Rowling, J.K. and Suzanne Collins. Veronica Roth is now number three on that list. She created an interesting environment and put a story filled with action mystery and – yes – love into it, which is never boring and can always be taken seriously. And, in turn, takes its readers seriously.
Even the love story makes sense in this one. YA series often tend to force the love interest on the protagonist in a way that makes me cringe and want to throw the book at the next wall. Here it is neither the centre of the plot nor is it random. It comes slowly and seems very realistic – that is I can understand why Beatrice is intrigued by (view spoiler)[ Four (hide spoiler)] and how she herself only realises this very slowly because she does have more important things to deal with. I also like that she is not absorbed into and weakened by this relationship but stays on course to finding and becoming herself.
All in all this is a great read that I would categorize as Science Fiction and not so much as Dystopia (of course this might change with next book in the series – which would be awesome!). ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The Cranes Dance is a story of two sisters, both professional ballerinas with the NY Ballet. Narrated by the elder of the two sisters, Kate Crane, the...moreThe Cranes Dance is a story of two sisters, both professional ballerinas with the NY Ballet. Narrated by the elder of the two sisters, Kate Crane, the novel deals with the pressure of professional dance combined with the already difficult task of growing up. The narrator’s voice is one of absolute honesty - when it comes to others. We witness Kate come to terms with her sister's psychological problems and eventually with her own.The descriptions of the everyday life of a ballerina with all the typical restrictions in terms of food and free time and Kate's problems to form meaningful relationships in such a competitive world are probably the most interesting aspect of the novel.
All of this is done while employing the metaphorical language of dance and especially ballet to convey relationships and emotions. Kate's view of professional ballet and the "literary" material used in this specific art form become a means of describing Kate's psyche as well as her relationships with other people. Even though we are in her head, we can never be sure to really know the narrator since it is only in the end that she starts to understand herself a little better.
Yes, this is a book about ballet, and yes it has long descriptions of the technique and plot summaries of various ballets - however, all of this is done in the slightly cynic and snotty voice of a character who has pretty much grown up on stage and has lost - or maybe never developed - that sense of sanctity and grace that tends to be associated with this art form. The writing is definitely beautiful and the narrative voice is unique and captivating.
The similarities to a certain ballet movie starring Natalie Portman are definitely there. Meg Howrey probably won't like that comparison but I kept thinking about the movie the whole time. The book seems to have been published after the movie was released and if I understood that part correctly there even is a little stab in the direction that production. I can only say that I loved that movie and I loved this novel - for similar reasons. (less)
UR is a really short novella that has been exclusively released for the amazon kindle. The first few pages actually read like an advertisement for the...moreUR is a really short novella that has been exclusively released for the amazon kindle. The first few pages actually read like an advertisement for the kindle. We learn what a great device it is and that even university professors of English who love books can see the huge advantages a kindle has. Yes, Mr.King, we get it. It’s a great gadget and we don’t have to be afraid that it will replace our beloved books; and even if it does, it’s just so cool that we won’t even care! Once the commercial break is over, however, the story becomes interesting. The kindle ordered by protagonist Wesley Smith is not like any other one; it gives the reader the possibility to access a kind of alternate literary reality – many different realities actually. These realities offer written material by every author there is and Smith is able to read unpublished – because in his reality unwritten – texts by various writers.
The plot is intriguing and of course there is the Stephen King mystery that keeps you reading. The novella left me wishing I had an awesome pink kindle that could access all the alternate material by Jane Austen and Scarlett Thomas and maybe even Stephen King. It’s a nice read if you have half an hour to fill and nothing else to do. It also was the first text by Stephen King that I was able to finish, probably because of its shortness.
By the way, I have not bought a kindle yet. (less)
Julie Powell is a person I most certainly would not want to meet.
The book is not bad at all but Julie Powell comes off as a not very likable person. H...moreJulie Powell is a person I most certainly would not want to meet.
The book is not bad at all but Julie Powell comes off as a not very likable person. Her style is witty and entertaining but her whining and her obsession with sexuality didn’t really suit the story. While the whining and I’m-not-good-enough-for-anything-parts were only annoying, the times when she talks about sex and likens cooking to it range from out of place to plain disturbing (view spoiler)[I’m referring to the episode with her parents sex book. Yes, you read that correctly. Sex book. (hide spoiler)]
However, once she’s done with these things and starts to talk about cooking, writing, her family and friends and Julia Child it gets interesting and actually entertaining.
All in all I would have much rather read the original blog entries (unfortunately the blog has been taken off the web fairly recently). The way this book is made up tends to be confusing at times because the author sums up several days (sometimes weeks) and recipes in one chapter and it’s easy to lose focus on where we are on the timeline of the experiment. Also sometimes it reads like a string of anecdote after anecdote and I got the feeling the blog entries would have been a bit more coherent.
Nevertheless it was a fast and fun read and the good parts were actually really good. Most people probably know that this book was made into a movie. The things I liked about the movie (the parts about cooking, about living in New York and about Julie’s friends and family) have their place in the book. These parts are well-written and more elaborate than a 2-hour movie allows. So in this case the book is recommendable.
The chapters are interwoven with the development of the relationship between Julia Child and her husband. How they met and fell in love and how she found her passion for cooking. Once again I have to refer to the movie. This was done much better on screen. In the book these short chapters tend to disrupt the story. I admit I only skimmed the last few Julia Child episodes because I just didn’t find them very interesting.
My advice is don’t read this book if you want to know about Julia Child. But read it if you like cooking, family stories and can tolerate women whining about turning thirty.
Question: Is it really this hard to get sugar cubes in the US? I was amazed by that fact...["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I wish I had a time machine so I could go back to 1998 and hand this book to my thirteen-year old self.
I would have loved this book then. It reminded...moreI wish I had a time machine so I could go back to 1998 and hand this book to my thirteen-year old self.
I would have loved this book then. It reminded me of another coming-of-age novel I read at that time- The Perks of Being a Wallflower. All the drama and teenage angst would have appealed to me at the time. Alsaka in particular is a character teenage-me would have adored - mysterious and intelligent and witty.
Now, at 27 (although I would not consider myself all grown up) the novel does not speak to me. Which is good since it is not supposed to. While reading it I was trying to remember the time when I was a teenager and I imagined myself reading it then.
So, if past-me and present-me were to discuss the merits of this novel, present me would point out how the plot is predictable and the characters - especially Alaska - are obnoixious and pretentious.
Past-me would tell me that I do not understand what it's like being thirteen and how meaningful it all is.
I think we’re both right. And Looking for Alaska is by no means a bad novel. I wish this kind of literature would have been available when I was a teenager.
3 Stars for the novel from present-time me and five stars from teenage-me equals four stars in all. I am glad that there are authors like John Green that seem to care enough about literature and teenagers to create such beatiful YA-novels.(less)