ABSOLUTELY VILE. I read all the way to the end, hoping that something good could possibly come out of the horror that is endured reading this book. TheABSOLUTELY VILE. I read all the way to the end, hoping that something good could possibly come out of the horror that is endured reading this book. The irony, the metaphor, surely would truly to come to something outstanding in the end. No, it didn't. ...more
This isn't a masterpiece, and I didn't expect it to be. It is good old chick lit, with all its predictable plots and one dimensional characters, at itThis isn't a masterpiece, and I didn't expect it to be. It is good old chick lit, with all its predictable plots and one dimensional characters, at its best! An enjoyable way to while away a few hours, a fun read. ...more
The Blind Assassin is the best book I have ever read in my entire life, no doubt. This novel has cemented that, in my mind, Atwood is a genius.
It's gThe Blind Assassin is the best book I have ever read in my entire life, no doubt. This novel has cemented that, in my mind, Atwood is a genius.
It's going to be difficult for me to write this review without spoiling anything (I am desperate not to do this, because the truth, when it is revealed, is so shocking and brutal that I will leave it to the better writers) and also it will be difficult to review this book fairly without falling into hyperbolic language. But to be fair, words like "perfection" "jaw-droppingly superb" and "absolutely fantastic" really don't do it justice.
The Blind Assassin is a tale of two sisters, Iris and Laura Chase, who come from a very rich family. Their father is well-respected and the owner of a successful button factory; their mother is a kind woman, though it seems to me that they are raised essentially by the servant and housekeeper, Reenie. On the first page, you are told that Laura Chase died at the end of the war by driving a car off a bridge and drowning. The rest of the novel tells the tale of what happened in the past and present, masterfully weaving from present day to the 1930s to the time after Laura's death, to back again. As the tale goes on, numerous more characters die, a lot of their deaths shrouded in mystery. All that you know, in the beginning, is that Laura is the author of the novel The Blind Assassin, which is also fed to the reader in drips and drabs, with unnamed characters (they are simply known as "he" and "she").
So what's so great about this novel? Well... how long have you got?
The structure of this (very long) novel is quite different to most. Set in, I believe, fifteen parts, it alternates between excerpts of The Blind Assassin and newspaper cuttings, and Iris as an old woman reliving the past, which forms the majority of the novel. I love this. It keeps you guessing all along just who the characters of The Blind Assassin are, until the very end.
This is also done through imagery. Atwood is quite simply a superb writer, and her evocative use of metaphoric "drowning" throughout shadows Laura's untimely end. This is done almost constantly, and it wasn't until the end that I realised Iris's statue of the angel, where Laura is buried, epitomises Laura absolutely. Yes she has her faults, but essentially she is pure innocent, used and abused throughout by the other, humanly flawed characters.
The characterisation is another plus. No character can be absolutely hated (except maybe Winifred, but even there there may be something to pity). Reenie, despite being judgemental and critical, is a motherly figure, and when a certain character feels shamed by her, it hits home. Even Richard, perhaps a cardboard cutout villain, showed his humanity at the end by feeling love (who knew?!)- although perhaps it was self-pity which caused his ending (who knows?!). But it is Iris's character which interests me the most. So weak, yet towards the end- strong. Thoughtless and cruel to Laura, she loved her perhaps more than anyone. Who knows why she did what she did, though I could reflect on it all day. As you can probably tell, this book has me obsessed.
A review isn't complete without some kind of criticism, though I struggle to find it. I am biased, because I love this book wholeheartedly, though I understand not everyone will be the same. Perhaps it is overly long, and perhaps Atwood can be criticised as a cold writer. You don't see many tears at death, and there is no sentimentality. But I believe this comes from what is not said, and from what Atwood doesn't reveal- her characters do feel, but she does not feel the urge to have them spilling their guts and laying it all out on the table. This is left entirely up to the reader's interpretation.
All in all, for me The Blind Assassin will leave me thinking for a lot longer than it took to finish reading almost 650 pages. It is, in my mind, a masterpiece. ...more
**spoiler alert** This was a book like no other I've ever read, and I did enjoy it- kinda. This is purely my views on the novel, and I'm sure other pe**spoiler alert** This was a book like no other I've ever read, and I did enjoy it- kinda. This is purely my views on the novel, and I'm sure other people will disagree with me, but these are just the things that struck me when reading A Prayer for Owen Meany.
THE GOOD - John Irving is a good writer. I found that even when the plot was boring, I still enjoyed reading the book. Although I can't quite pinpoint the reason why, I love his narrative.
- The grandmother was fantastic, I loved her. I also loved her comic scenes with her various carers and housekeepers; Irving is at his best in comedy from what I've seen so far.
- I love stories about the Vietnam war and, although I wouldn't call this a story about the Vietnam war, it was definitely a theme. I find it so frightening yet fascinating at the same time; the dread those boys must have felt at being drafted to such a murderous horrible war.
- It is a fantastic story- a boy who is God's instrument, who saved all those children and had been building up to this moment all along, with learning how to do the shot, and even getting John out of going to 'Nam. It casts Owen Meany as a Jesus Christ like figure, and in that way it has some similarity to The Green Mile- one of my all time favourite books AND films.
- The end scene is absolutely fantastic in my opinion.
- Hester and John's relationship. Creepy creepy creepy. They technically don't have a relationship, but I just find it odd how lustful John is for her and it's treated as normal by Irving. Similarly, when Reverend Wiggin's wife (Barbara is it?) sexually teases Owen so he gets a hard-on when playing Jesus Christ- I mean wtf? I disliked these parts of the story, but then maybe I'm missing some symbolic importance. It wouldn't surprise me, considering how little interest I have in religion.
- The religion full stop. This isn't Irving's fault, it's a matter of personal taste and I personally am an atheist with little interest in it. This book is based entirely on doubt versus faith, something which I have no experience of religiously. That said, it can translate to other things- who hasn't experienced doubt or faith of another person, or another event, or of the future?
- I didn't like John all that much. I disliked his constant questioning of religion and his weakness, or maybe that's just my perception. Maybe John felt a little weak himself, for not being drafted to 'Nam. Who knows.
- The story didn't capture me. I felt it was long-winded and there were many bits which didn't interest me. About halfway through I really lost heart, and it didn't help with Irving's constant switching of time, which I didn't think worked all that well. I kept going however- I wanted to find out what the deal was with Owen Meany, plus I enjoy Irving's style, I don't know why. About 50 pages from the end, I started to love it- the end scene. However, I felt there had been such a long and weary buildup to it that I felt the wind had gone out of my sails. I should have been tearful, uplifted and overwhelmed. I felt a slight twinge of sadness and a little (tiny bit of) amazement, but that was all.
I should have loved this book. I loved The Cider House Rules, and I love love love the way Irving writes, but I felt a tad let down with this one. To be honest, I'm unsure how I feel about it. With that kind of writer and that kind of story, it should have been a masterpiece.
QUESTION- could anyone tell me the significance of John's mother being killed by Owen? That part was kind of lost on me, so I would appreciate anyone explaining it. I know obviously Owen is God's instrument but I don't understand why it had to happen. Is there some religious symbolism I'm missing here?...more
I was quite surprised to read the negative reviews here on Goodreads after finishing this book because on the whole I really quite enjoyed it.
The stoI was quite surprised to read the negative reviews here on Goodreads after finishing this book because on the whole I really quite enjoyed it.
The story is based on two sisters, Nadezdha and Vera, who unite to save their father from the clutches of Valentina, a Ukrainian "hussy" who wants to marry their father Nikolai to gain a better Western life. The story also takes a number of flashbacks, to when Nikolai (their father) and Ludmilla (their mother) were younger and enduring horrific treatment in the second World War.
In my opinion, it is their father Nikolai which makes the novel so great. I did actually find him funny, although it must be a matter of personal taste as I have read many reviews on here which didn't. I loved his dramatic political opinions and eccentric, almost arrogant views of him "saving" Valentina. He is a coward, but the author makes no pretenses of this, and he essentially becomes the anti-hero of the novel.
I was also intrigued by the different ideologies expressed in the book- Vera being a typical right-wing Conservative and Nadia being a left-wing liberal- and the way these were contrasted with the typical opposing ideologies of WWII- the extremes of fascist right and communist left. Despite the comedy and light themes, I think this book has a lot to say politically.
A great read- hugely absorbing and a great page-turner. Yes, there are faults- paperthin characters and cheesy cliche ridden plots, but who can resistA great read- hugely absorbing and a great page-turner. Yes, there are faults- paperthin characters and cheesy cliche ridden plots, but who can resist a romance? The writing is gritty and the plots hugely disturbing at times. I thought George Markham was a fantastic killer- frightening and sickening. Yet Cole gave him a past which justifies his actions. I can't say this is a classic but if you want a read that will make you forget everything else, this is it. ...more
Hopefully I will go back to this book, but to be honest it just didn't capture me. I'm about 150 pages in, and while it is beautifully written at timeHopefully I will go back to this book, but to be honest it just didn't capture me. I'm about 150 pages in, and while it is beautifully written at times, I'm just not loving Marianne's stories. Maybe later on they will tie in together with the present and become beautiful and captivating, but right not they just annoy me- I want to know more about the narrator and Marianne in the present. It does seem like a good book, and perhaps partly it's my fault- I read it in short intervals without ever having time to sit and really allow myself to delve into it- but for now I'm afraid it remains unfinished. ...more
As a massive SaTC fan, I was hugely disappointed by this book and Candace Bushnell's terrible writing and plot. I expected the novels as good as her eAs a massive SaTC fan, I was hugely disappointed by this book and Candace Bushnell's terrible writing and plot. I expected the novels as good as her excellent series. Sadly wrong. Full of cliches and I eventually put it down in disgust. Avoid at all costs. ...more
**spoiler alert** So disappointed. I'm not the biggest fan of the books anyway- Stephanie Meyer is in my opinion a terrible writer- but the books are q**spoiler alert** So disappointed. I'm not the biggest fan of the books anyway- Stephanie Meyer is in my opinion a terrible writer- but the books are quite addictive. Like Haribo sweets, they're more-ish and you could probably consume the whole thing in one go- but you feel sick, and probably a little disgusted, afterwards.
I won't rewrite the plot (what little there is) for you; suffice to say I really enjoyed the first and second books, began to find the third a little tedious and hated this one with a passion. Here's why:
1) The pregnancy was... let's be honest... a little weird. It was more like something out of a Stephen King horror novel than a teenage romance, which so far had been pretty fluffy and cutesy, albeit with a vampire edge. Then all of a sudden Bella was pregnant with something that was eating her alive and she was drinking human blood- AS A HUMAN- to survive. The birth scene was horrific and not enjoyable at all. I had this vision of a baby with red eyes biting people's faces off! Then obviously it came out and was another baby Mary Sue! :) The whole thing was just wrong and made me want to puke a little. Which would have been fine if it was Saw IV, but it, quite obviously, isn't.
2) BELLA. I just want to shake her for gods sake. She is THE most annoying, simpering, stupid, ambitionless, STUPID girl ever. She had a few redeeming qualities in the first book (I was jealous of her getting to snog Edward, plus I sympathised with her clumsiness) but by the end... ugh. When we saw the pregnancy through Jacob's eyes I hated her even more. Yes, I know that Renesmee (STUPID NAME) turned out to be okay, but her stubbornness when the baby was sucking her blood annoyed me so much. She puts everyone through so much pain, like does she really give a flying FUDGE about Charlie? About leaving behind all her family and forgeting a future for a boy? URGH!
3) STUPID PLOTS. Where to begin? The unrealistic nature of Charlie's reaction to Bella going missing. "My daughter's ill, and I'm not allowed to see her... hmm seems dodgy since I haven't seen her for months, and she could possibly have been kidnapped/murdered, but I'm not going to do anything about it. Even though I'm the head of the police and all" WTF? Also, Renesmee's stupid name, Charlie's complete under-reaction to Bella being a vampire (it's an everyday occurence, didn't you know?!), the rushed ending (twelve new charactors in the last 200 pages of the book), the CRAP anti-climax (gather a massive army against the Volturi... Volturi can't be arsed and go home), the weird and rather boring Alice/Renesmee/Jasper/J.Jenks drama... I could go on.
4) THE CRAP WRITING STYLE. Other people have written about this a thousand times better than I ever could, so I'll just say- read any other review on the first page.
THAT SAID- I did enjoy the other books, and even this a very little. They're easy to read, and kinda romantic when they're not being cliched. Shame about the last one... ...more
This book was over-all better what I expected. It was an absorbing, delicious guilty kind of read. Okay, so the plot's a tad weak and generic, and theThis book was over-all better what I expected. It was an absorbing, delicious guilty kind of read. Okay, so the plot's a tad weak and generic, and the whole murder-mystery plat is crap (it's barely mentioned til 100 pages from the end and rushed) but I still loved reading it. It's a no-brainer. Of the women, Cate and Serena are really the only interesting characters. Venetia's affair temporarily caught my interest, but over-all she was a bit of a weak-willed sap.
It is generally well-written; Perry knows how to capture her audience, and as it has been described before, it's a "romp". The constant name dropping- "monkfish from Harrods food hall" and "Chanel dress with Vera Wang shoes" etc. got a bit annoying, but mostly just made it feel all the more decadent.
One massive gripe though- was Oswald really meant to feel scary? He was laughable; a cartoon cut-out baddie with all the cheesy "nasty" one-liners. I felt that the whole fear and hatred the girls all felt for him was just not justified. Yes, he did bad things. But he just was not intimidating.
I would recommend this book if you don't want to think too much. The lavish clothes make you feel jealous/depressed though... ...more
I read this book because I enjoyed it and I'm a sucker for a romance. That said, I agree with many of the reviewers on here who have criticised the prI read this book because I enjoyed it and I'm a sucker for a romance. That said, I agree with many of the reviewers on here who have criticised the prose, the lack of editing, wafer-thin characters and heavy over-use of adjectives and adverbs. I won't repeat their words- they've already done it ten times better than I could do. As a reader, it annoyed me so much words cannot describe. As a nineteen year old girl... I adored it. ...more