Okay, so I admit it. My renewed interest in this book (and anything by Roald Dahl, really) is entirely because of the musical Matilda (now on BroadwayOkay, so I admit it. My renewed interest in this book (and anything by Roald Dahl, really) is entirely because of the musical Matilda (now on Broadway!). With music and lyrics by Tim Minchin and a wickedly clever script by Dennis Kelly, the musical is just as gleefully funny and witty as Dahl's original story.
Truthfully, I have always been one of those sheepish readers who "doesn't get" Roald Dahl. I always thought his books were nonsensically weird and a tad macabre. I remember reading Dahl's books as a kid and not knowing whether to find a particular passage funny or disturbing. But now that I'm solidly 'grown up,' and finding out that this story has been adapted into an award-winning musical, I wanted to read it again. And I did, and I loved it!
Yes, the adults are either negligent (Matilda's stupid and shallow parents), abusive (the Trunchbull), or sweet-but-useless (Miss Honey). But isn't it nice, every once in awhile, to read about a child hero who saves the day? The 'unlikely hero' paradigm never gets old! At least, not for me :)
Meanwhile, my suggestion is to youtube-search for "Matilda the Musical." It looks incredible. The soundtrack is great as well. On an unrelated note, it appears that the "crappy-musicals" slump on Broadway may be coming to an end. Once again, it's great and glorious London theatre to the rescue!...more
So glad to all my lit-buddies who recommended this to me. I see what you mean - The Book Thief is absolutely extraordinary and meaningful.
I needed toSo glad to all my lit-buddies who recommended this to me. I see what you mean - The Book Thief is absolutely extraordinary and meaningful.
I needed to go ahead and finish this - so I'll read it again for more detail later (possibly summer).
The Book Thief is easily the best WWII/Holocaust novel I've ever read, and I love how it focuses on a unique aspect of the time-period - what was it like to be a German youth growing up in the Reich?.
Truth be told, it took me a few pages to get used to the writing. Death is the narrator (imagine Sherlock saying "obviously" with typical deadpan delivery) and his voice was a bit hard to read at the very beginning. Plus, I thought he had a tendency to ramble in his commentary, but I found out this was due to the fact that I'd just finished Ender's Game, which is a very concise narrative style.
I'll have to write more later, but I can recognize the literary genius of this novel. So many books are all show and no substance (which, in my opinion, accounts for about 60% of the Young Adult market and 85% of the adult market)...so it's a nice change to encounter a book that is truly deserving.
I love finding books I can recommend to friends and students, and now I'm going to try and figure out how to incorporate this into my units but it's so long!...more
Coming soon: An actual review of the entire series.
*shakes head* Rick Riordan, my fellow Texan. You have gone from one of my favorite writers to oneComing soon: An actual review of the entire series.
*shakes head* Rick Riordan, my fellow Texan. You have gone from one of my favorite writers to one of my least favorite. And you know why? It's because you just can't quit while you're ahead.
I have watched now, for the last 3 years, as this new spinoff series has progressively (yes, pun intended) gotten worse and worse, losing the charm of the *original* series that I found so endearing. As a sidenote, maybe this is why my favorite authors are Lloyd Alexander, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. There's no way any of them can disappoint me with new material. But beginning with The Lost Hero, I've seen less and less of the things that endeared me to the original Percy Jackson series.
Yes, this is more of an assessment of the entire series, but House of Hades was the final straw. I have now lost all interest in this spinoff series. Thanks, Riordan. You took a great concept and you killed it.
Basically, it comes down to this: - POV doesn't work for me. In my opinion, the PJ series' greatest asset was Percy's 1st person narrative. Getting to read his thoughts was, for me, where most of the enjoyment came from. And now...this series is written in 3rd person. DOESN'T WORK. AT ALL. - TOO MANY CHARACTERS. This just...arrggh! This is primarily the reason I can't take these books seriously. I mean, honestly? I know Riordan was a teacher before he became a full-time writer, but that doesn't mean he needs to recreate his classroom in his books! I mean, the HEROES OF OLYMPUS series has more characters than some school districts have students! Leo, Jason, Piper, Hazel, Reyna, Nico (well at least he was in the original series)...the story is spread too thin. I can't even say whether they all have separate identities because I simply DON'T CARE about any of them. And now, with this book, Riordan has indeed sunk to the depths of creating stock characters. Well, actually he did that back in The Lost Hero with Piper... Too many characters scattered throughout the story when really I only care about two: Percy and Annabeth. - BATCRAP CRAZY STORY. So...are these Greek gods schizophrenic or something, that they respond to both Greek and Roman names? Is there any coherent explanation for this?
Maybe I've just grown up since I first read the first PJ book. But this series just seems like another grab at more money. (view spoiler)[I mean, dude. You live in San Antonio. Get over yourself, the cost of living isn't that high. (hide spoiler)]. If not that...then what? I just don't understand the point of this series. Heroes of Olympus is silly, it's sophomoric, and it holds none of the charm of the original series for me. Even the subplots are sophomoric: so much attention to who likes who, and so forth. Too over-the-top cutesy. The one single romantic subplot of Percy and Annabeth carried the entire 5-book series. Now...it's like reading the transcript of a Disney Channel series
But...just for old time's sake, I can't give one of my former favorite authors less than a 3. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I read this book over two years ago, so it's definitely been awhile. What made me remember Here Lies Arthur was a conversation I overheard ye3.5 stars
I read this book over two years ago, so it's definitely been awhile. What made me remember Here Lies Arthur was a conversation I overheard yesterday in which a mother was looking for more Arthurian tales to recommend to her 13-year-old, who "just loved 'The Mists of Avalon.'" When my eyes uncrossed themselves at the madness of a 13-year-old reading that piece of crap clearly adult novel or watching the miniseries (which I did - accidentally - at 13 and was incredibly disturbed/scarred by it)...I remembered Here Lies Arthur, and how I would have offered it up as a suggestion just to be cheeky.
First, though, a confession: I have not had the best of luck with Philip Reeve books. I tried and ultimately gave up on that steampunk novel of his a few years ago. (view spoiler)[Frankly, I think his books are weird as hell, kinda like Garth Nix's books. (hide spoiler)] However, I remember liking Here Lies Arthur enough, and actually finding it rather interesting and entertaining, which brings me to my next confession: I have a deep loathing of King Arthur stories. Seriously, I hate them with every fiber of my being. The only non-gag-worthy King Arthur story or rendition, in my opinion, is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Ah, for the saving grace of humor. But like most people in the US, I'd reckon, I had to read the King Arthur legends in high school. For us, we compared/contrasted Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur with White's The Once and Future King. I am still waiting on someone to explain to me where "virtue" and "chivalry" come into the mix with these stories, because I've always seen Arthur - and his knights (except Galahad) - as wanton, misogynistic, and somewhat authoritarian. I've never understood the "great truth" that these stories supposedly represent. For me, Arthur is kind of like King David from the Old Testament: seen as heroic by everyone else but me, who sees them as disgustingly flawed and with little-if-any redeeming qualities. Like I'm waiting for someone to come up and pull the wool over my eyes, too, so I'll see what everybody else sees.
So what do I do with a novel that imagines legendary, "heroic" King Arthur as a brute and a bully? I devour it. In the caes of Here Lies Arthur, Reeve goes in the direction of realism, trying to portray a 5th/6th century England as it probably was: grim, gritty and violent. Yeah, okay. Frankly, the work of any fiction author is, at the end of the day, just guesswork, no matter how much research they say was undertaken. I don't actively seek out realism in the books I read, mainly because I get enough of the "real world" and all its amorality/existentialism in real life, so I actively seek out fantasy. So while I'm not one to usually like stories in which humanity-in-general is devoid of goodness or virtue, I do think that it worked in this story. Why? Because like I said, I didn't think the original source material had any of these positive qualities, either. In my opinion, "huzzah" to Reeve for showing Arthur as I've always seen him: a brutish brigand who manages to achieve renown not by his own efforts, but by the ensemble cast working around him.
You can read other reviews to get the 411 on the general premise of this book. A servant girl named Gwyna is drawn in by the bard Myrddin ("Merlin," seen here as the ultimate Spin Doctor) to create a legendary king out of a warlord thug. In order to observe the action, girl-Gwyna spends most of the story in disguise as a boy (*yawn*). I do remember thinking that most of the characters fell a bit flat - but then again, one does not read Here Lies Arthur for the character exposition. Rather, I'd say that the worth of this novel comes from the overall idea of taking a legendary premise and flipping it around. The best part of the story, for me, was in reading the portrayal of the Mordred character (he goes by a different, more Welsh-sounding name in this novel). But I've always been intrigued by Mordred's character (since I can't stand Arthur, see). (view spoiler)[In fact, The Once and Future King cycle is one of few times in fiction when I all-out root for the "bad guy." The Da Vinci Code is another time - go, creepy albino monk, go! (hide spoiler)]. I have always had a "thing" for Mordred and though he only plays a supporting role in this story, I still thought that his scenes were among the best.
I do agree with many other reviewers who question the appropriateness of this book in the "young adult" label. The violence is pretty excessive (and I have a pretty high threshold for war violence), and some of the themes here are pretty mature (yeah, Gwenhyfar still has an affair with Whosit, though she's thankfully given more sympathetic treatment here, from what I remember - (view spoiler)[that always bothered me, by the way. Arthur and his knights get to sleep with anyone they want, on account of their renown, but when Guinevere does it, she's given the total pariah treatment. Not cool (hide spoiler)]. The weirdest thing about the story, though, was the boy-who-dresses-like-a-girl character. My WTF-o-meter was off the charts with that one. But still, Here Lies Arthur is much, much more suitable to young adults than The Mists of Avalon (although frankly, I wouldn't give either to a young reader. Instead, I'd refer them to the first and second season of the BBC's "Merlin." Good stuff, even if the writing is a little simplistic).
I always knew Garth Nix books were weird, but now they're starting to get weird in a bad way. It's like Nix just said, "I'm gonna take the nastiest, mI always knew Garth Nix books were weird, but now they're starting to get weird in a bad way. It's like Nix just said, "I'm gonna take the nastiest, most godawful wretch of an antihero from George Martin's series and throw him in space." To be honest, it's a bit disturbing that there aren't more 2-and-3 star reviews. Did you folks miss the bit about mind-controlled thralls? Gross. Not for me. ...more
Hmm, I was just lamenting the style of modern high fantasies a few hours earlier, and look what I just found! A high fantasy I'm actually looking forwHmm, I was just lamenting the style of modern high fantasies a few hours earlier, and look what I just found! A high fantasy I'm actually looking forward to reading! What sold me is the fact that it's published by Shadow Mountain, one of the only publishing houses I (view spoiler)[still have respect for. If I ever submit my manuscript for publication, their house would be the one I'd be most comfortable with. (hide spoiler)]...more
ohh, que lastima. (view spoiler)[I knew this day would come. Deep in the Misty Mountains of my closet, I have an 86k unfinished manuscript from 2008. Wohh, que lastima. (view spoiler)[I knew this day would come. Deep in the Misty Mountains of my closet, I have an 86k unfinished manuscript from 2008. What is it? A fairy retelling of Hoffmann's The Nutcracker...well, there's another story I can never publish. However, MY manuscript at least had a Mouse King... :P (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>...more
Ahh I love Brian Selznick! This is one of my favorite books - wholly original and endearing. Definitely deserving of all the praise. And every time IAhh I love Brian Selznick! This is one of my favorite books - wholly original and endearing. Definitely deserving of all the praise. And every time I see a kid with this book, I want to do a cartwheel. :D
Plus, the Martin Scorsese movie is precious. He should have won Best Director at least, if not Best Picture! ...more
This Dark Endeavor is an incredible book! I don't know where Kenneth Oppel got the idea to write a prequel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein starring a tThis Dark Endeavor is an incredible book! I don't know where Kenneth Oppel got the idea to write a prequel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein starring a teenage version of the eponymous character, but what an ingenious idea!
Truth be told, I never had read Frankenstein in school (my class was on a different track and I had a teacher who made the famous declaration to our class that he'd rather teach 'that Dumas man' than teach Frankenstein. (view spoiler)[I also had a professor in college who referred to Mary Shelley as 'that nasty woman,' so no 'Modern Prometheus' in college, either (hide spoiler)] Basically, my knowledge of the source material has come from Kenneth Branagh's film version, and Mel Brooks.
Still, even I could recognize the level of detail, skill and panache that Kenneth Oppel put into this fascinating novel. And for those of you who did read Frankenstein, have you ever wondered what might have happened to make Victor Frankenstein the man who actually dared to create life? Here, it's simple: Victor has a brilliant, charismatic and practically perfect twin brother, Konrad. Light to his shadow, and all that. When Konrad falls ill with a rare condition, Victor takes it upon himself to find a cure, believing that practical science has failed. His course of study is the dark arts of alchemy - the first of many such introductions into dark and creepy arts. Joining him in his "studies" are his cousin, Elizabeth Lavenza (yes, *the* Elizabeth Lavenza...(view spoiler)[and it's not like we don't know what eventually happens to her(hide spoiler)]) and best friend Henry Clerval (yes, *the* Henry Clerval...not like we don't know what eventually...oh, you know).
I loved the way Oppel chose to portray Victor. It must have been hard to try and make one of literature's most megalomaniac characters into a sympathetic boy, eager-to-please and desperate for attention. I actually liked the guy! It was easy to root for him in his endeavors (dark and twisty as they may be) and I found myself even making excuses for him on several occasions. Even though you know, ultimately, that Victor Frankenstein is a completely doomed character, you still want him to succeed. That's powerful writing, and hats off to Kenneth Oppel for making me care about a character I never thought I could admire. And I loved seeing Victor gradually become more and more twisted, more aggressive, more desperate, and *still* remain sympathetic. I guess I'm drawn to characters with delusions of grandeur who want to prove their worth. Those must be the characters that leave an impression on me. :)
This Dark Endeavor was simply unputdownable, and I rarely say that. My little ADD-self can put down the most thoroughly interesting of books, too, so that should say something to this novel's overwhelming power of intrigue. If you haven't yet, I highly recommend picking up this novel. It clocks in at slightly under 300 pages, so it would be a quick read. And like I said, it's practically unputdownable (view spoiler)[as is it's sequel, Such Wicked Intent: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, Book Two). (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more