From the first page, I couldn't put the book down. I loved it! And as my love for the book Wicked and the Wicked Witch of the West grew, my hatred for...moreFrom the first page, I couldn't put the book down. I loved it! And as my love for the book Wicked and the Wicked Witch of the West grew, my hatred for George Lucas grew in direct proportion. How could he have gotten it so wrong? I never pretended to like the new trilogy. It could have been a new story. It could have really delved into the character of Darth Vader, or rather Anakin Skywalker and truly made him tragic. Instead of trying to fool the audience into liking Anakin by hiring cute kids and bad actors, George Lucas could have created an interesting character. He could have told an actual story. With Wicked, we get that. Either a person has read the book or since we live in a culture of anti-reading, most likely has seen the movie. Regardless of which one, the Wicked Witch of the West is a pretty clear cut character. She is evil. She is green. She is scary. What Wicked does is take this evil, green and scary witch and turn her into a person we can like and love. And it doesn't do it in a cutesy way where we say to ourselves, "oh what a cute green baby." She is born a freak. She was not only green, but she had teeth like a shark. And used them! Lost fingers, oh boy! And forget breast feeding! She had a severe allergy to water. Her upbringing wasn't too much better. She was outcast. She had to help raise and take care of her beautiful and crazily religious armless sister (who would eventually become the Wicked Witch of the East). She was ostracized in school. Her roommate Galinda, who would eventually become Glinda, the good witch, could barely stand her. And despite all that, we grow to like her. She's smart as a whip. She's funny and witty. She's sarcastic and actually quite fun. And she cares for all living creatures. Can you believe that? She even gets involved in a cause to help protect the capital A Animals (like the Lion, those that can talk), who are being rounded up, Nazi like, by the real bad guy of the story: The Wizard. We see her take a lover and fall in love. We see her lose her lover. The progress that leads to her becoming the Wicked Witch of the West is natural and logical. And even at the end, crazy as she became, we understand her and pity her, making her that much tragic. What a treasure trove George Lucas could have used to truly show us a young Anakin Skywalker. How about this (and I know I'm pilfering from Wicked a bit): What if Anakin Skywalker wasn't a cute kid? What if he was born disabled? What if to be mobile, he needed prosthetics to begin with? Oh sure, we'd still have that battle with Kenobi where he loses a whole lot more to become that scary guy in the black suit, but maybe he had to suffer his entire life being part machine. That'll make Kenobi's later line of "He's more machine now than man" even more poignant. And maybe he's just a little angry about having mechanical parts? Maybe his first awareness of the force is through his anger. Of course, the beginning would be about how, on his own, through his own strength and integrity, he overcomes the anger and the dark, and chooses the light side of the force. And he comes to grips with his deformity. And works on his charm and personality to such a degree that he wins a princess (or a queen, whatever). He could even have a cause that he fights for. Anakin built C3PO, so why not take up for droid rights or some such? After all, he is part machine. Why, oh why George, did you give us such crap?! It could have been possible. And then we could have had a sci-fi examination and analysis of the origins of evil. We could have brought more depth and substance to a classic space opera.(less)
Wow. While not a fan of Orwell's 1984, I was completely impressed with Animal Farm and was surprised that I had not read it before - or at least, hadn...moreWow. While not a fan of Orwell's 1984, I was completely impressed with Animal Farm and was surprised that I had not read it before - or at least, hadn't read it since being a child. It's bold and wonderful satire, and while very not funny, it was very enlightening and appropriate for any era, any political system, any culture, anyone. (less)
Better than the novelization of the movie and done in the style of the travelogues popular during the supposed Baron's time period. While I loved the...moreBetter than the novelization of the movie and done in the style of the travelogues popular during the supposed Baron's time period. While I loved the travelogue style and it matched perfectly with the character and story, it was unnecessarily obtuse. The writing was stilted and bare and overly complicated. The adventures were great and unbelievable and I would have loved to have actually seen and felt those adventures, but instead, they were buried in the heavy style. (less)
The cover of the book promises something akin to Monty Python. I first heard of this book being promoted on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Stewb...moreThe cover of the book promises something akin to Monty Python. I first heard of this book being promoted on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Stewbeef can do no wrong.
But this book is way wrong. Completely unfunny. And I've never liked Chris Elliot, so, honestly, I really should have known better. But I never expected it to be as bad as it was. It was almost as if Chris picked words randomly hoping that some cosmic mixture would produce humor. No. It was just random unfunny words. And page after page of them.
I would recommend this book to my worst enemies. (less)
Fantastically Fun! I had a great time reading this book. It was light and situationally horrifying Great wind up and resolution, however, the middle wa...moreFantastically Fun! I had a great time reading this book. It was light and situationally horrifying Great wind up and resolution, however, the middle was so much fun, I did want more. I felt that not enough to devoted to the actual war and I had expected to read more stories about surviving. I knew not to expect anything like "Walking Dead," but I did want more to happen, more perspectives, and more dealing with the horror. While it had situations that could be described as horror, I didn't think this book had enough to be labeled horror. Social commentary, like all zombie stories, sure, but not horror. Still, I can't complain. I had a great time reading it. (less)
Fun! And lots of it! This is my second disc-world book. My first was probably over a decade ago and I don't even remember which one it was. The only r...moreFun! And lots of it! This is my second disc-world book. My first was probably over a decade ago and I don't even remember which one it was. The only reason I didn't continue it then was time and not enough of it to devote to an ever expanding series. I had the philosophy to not start a series until it's all done. I've been burned in the past by author's dying before finishing the series.
Loved the twist on the greek hero formula.
All I can say is that I can't wait to get my hands on the next one.
So here's a book that can't decide on what kind of book it is. While I ended up enjoying it, it's not a book I would recommend to all my friends. Rath...moreSo here's a book that can't decide on what kind of book it is. While I ended up enjoying it, it's not a book I would recommend to all my friends. Rather, any of my friends.
This is my first reading of Foer and was inspired to read the book because of how much I loved the movie. And this is one of those rare occasions where the movie was better.
Foer is experimental in his writing. The story is told with several narrative voices: one is the meta-fictional 'author,' writing a history of Trachinbrod. Another is a Ukrainian character who writes to Jonathan, the self-named hero of the story, regarding their journey together, Jonathan's book in progress, and responses to letters from Jonathan, we, the reader, never actually see. Then there's the third voice of the Ukrainian character writing his own story of his journey with Jonathan.
Between the different voices, creative grammar breakage, and varying tone, the book feels like a cross between William Faulkner and James Joyce. If either of those two authors drive you crazy, avoid this book.
The main complaint of the book - aside from it not being as good, as coherent, and even as thematic as the movie - is Foer's story of the history of Trachinbrod. The tone is uneven and presents various stories of either satire and/or ridicule and/or both. This could be a strategy to humanize this small Jewish village and make anyone from small hick towns to act like small hicks. Unfortunately, it was jarring from the traditional (que 'Tradition' from 'Fiddler on the Roof') view of Jews in small villages. This is not to say that stupid things don't happen and there aren't stupid people. But there were passages describing the towns people that were reminiscent of Terry Pratchet and Douglas Adams.
So my question is why? I can certainly see and even appreciate some surface reasons for some of the creative choices Foer made, but it ultimately, comes down to 'why'? What is the story that he wants us to know? The movie was clear and succinct. It had and explored the same themes that the book does, but without all the muddling tone.
My advice - see the movie and skip the book. Or, if you're an Literature geek, like me, then read and enjoy the book. There is plenty there to appreciate, but seeing the movie before reading the book will ruin it. (less)
Dickinsonian predictability, but not too bad. I'm surprised I didn't read this at a much younger age. My scoring may be inflated by the book being suc...moreDickinsonian predictability, but not too bad. I'm surprised I didn't read this at a much younger age. My scoring may be inflated by the book being such a famous classic. Great Expectations was better, but the archetypes present in this novel are so important (not necessarily good, but necessary) that my four stars are based more on that than the actual story.(less)
I was VERY surprised with how much I enjoyed reading this book. This is one of those pulp books that you can't put down that is a bit subversive. Whil...moreI was VERY surprised with how much I enjoyed reading this book. This is one of those pulp books that you can't put down that is a bit subversive. While the satirical aspects are obvious (or maybe not), it doesn't interfere with the story/plot or the enjoyment. It doesn't hit you over the head with the satire; just enough to let you know it is there. In comparison with the classic movie, it's got the same title, some of the same characters (some not, some different, etc), and a surprise ending. I don't think, iconically, there is not much out there that can top the surprise ending of the movie other than Star Wars - but the book's ending is deserved and pleasing. Much better than the movie (and that goes without saying), it was a great and fun read. And if the surprise ending wasn't great enough - there is also a not so surprising bookends effect. (less)
I can't think of another American author with the wit of Mark Twain. This collection of short stories was fantastic. The title story, more of a novell...moreI can't think of another American author with the wit of Mark Twain. This collection of short stories was fantastic. The title story, more of a novella, is simply fantastic and a surprising look at religiosity, considering Twain's religious background. Extremely insightful, and to add redundancy, enlightening, while still fun. The quick reads in this collection only go to show just how brilliant of a mind Twain had and ensures that his literary legacy goes beyond the classic novels and includes his short fiction and even his non-fiction travel adventure books. (less)
This book is a perfect summation why Americans have a bad reputation when they travel. Twain is bluntly honest and mocking of Americans and includes h...moreThis book is a perfect summation why Americans have a bad reputation when they travel. Twain is bluntly honest and mocking of Americans and includes himself in his own lampooning of his travels in Europe. Very cringe worthy - but still witty. (less)
Utterly fantastic. I grew up watching movies based on this play (even the one with Steve Martin - still watchable and beautiful), but it had been year...moreUtterly fantastic. I grew up watching movies based on this play (even the one with Steve Martin - still watchable and beautiful), but it had been years since my last viewing so reading this play had elements of familiarity, but enough was forgotten that I was still extremely amused and surprised by the plot development. Capital R Romantic without going overboard, it is a smart and witty read that truly makes the read care, not just about the title character, but just about everyone. Even the ones we love to hate get a moment of redemption. Cyrano, a Ayn Rand-esque objectivist and libertarian, before that was even a thing, contradicts his own philosophies again and again to the point where his only consistency is the fact that he's inconsistent (a line from some book I've read years ago). He stays true to his belief system through and through - expect when he doesn't. A true character of whim and whimsy - but with a strict sense of honor. Except in the case of love - something he knows nothing about and had entirely given up on. But his heart betrays him and he does fall in love and his wit, whim, and whimsy, he allows to flow to another - who he sometimes seems to revel in leaving him to his own floundering and hysterical accord.
The French really know how to write a fantastic story, with engaging characters, witty and sharp dialogue, and then have the worst things happen to them. Why, after reading and loving Les Miserables and Count of Monte Cristo, I would think that this time, maybe this time, there can be an ending that wraps up nicely with a bow and everyone leaves happy. But this is no Shakespearean comedy. And while I would never admit this aloud to anyone I knew, there may have been a sniffle or two at the end.
I haven't heard of this book being taught in high schools anymore. I hope there are some out there that still do it. Someday, I may even teach it. Someday, I may even leave myself no choice but to teach it, just to share in its wonderfulness. (less)