I love the entire Chronicles of Narnia series (with the possible exception of the first one) and Caspian is probably one of my favorites from the seri...moreI love the entire Chronicles of Narnia series (with the possible exception of the first one) and Caspian is probably one of my favorites from the series. I really love Caspian's character and how the four kids react to coming back and how it's completely different than they expected.(less)
This isn't my favorite Narnia book (The Last Battle takes that spot.) I actually like this one almost the least of of them all because it's the first...moreThis isn't my favorite Narnia book (The Last Battle takes that spot.) I actually like this one almost the least of of them all because it's the first book that the Pevensie children aren't in (except for The Magician's Nephew but I really don't like that one.) I feel that it just kind of deterred from the rest of the series.
I like Caspian though. He's my favorite character and I like seeing some of his traits being transferred to his son, Rilian. The witch returns (thought we're not specifically told if she is the White Witch or not) and I like her as a character. There is also less Aslan in this one. Aslan bothers me as a character because I think Lewis was too obvious with the symbolism. Often Aslan's the one teaching the children and is so all-knowing that it's condescending. This story ended with the "lesson" of the children but Aslan was absent as a whole.
However, you still have the very obvious overtures of the children needing to listen to Aslan and bad things happening to them when they didn't, which grates on my nerves a little. The religious overtones of the story get a little ridiculous and overbearing and, while some of the books in the series you don't really notice, this isn't one of them. Part of the reason that I like Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is because there are less of the lessons that Lewis insists on putting in his books.
The Silver Chair also doesn't hold quite the excitement that a lot of the other books in the series do. The Last Battle is my favorite Narnia book because it's full of a lot of action and excitement (not to mention ideas about the afterlife, which interests me to no end.) I didn't get that from The Silver Chair. It just seemed to lazily roll along and the resolution at the end seemed just too easy. The previous books the characters had to fight for their happy ending and Eustace and Jill did not have to nearly as much.
If you're reading the Chronicles of Narnia in it's entirety, then read this book because it's an important installment. However, if not, it wasn't really worth rereading it.(less)
**spoiler alert** I think I enjoyed this book more the second time than I did the first time. Lyra is a great protagonist. She's still young and naive...more**spoiler alert** I think I enjoyed this book more the second time than I did the first time. Lyra is a great protagonist. She's still young and naive but she's fierce. She loves her friends so much it pains you when she unintentionally betrays them. She is being thrown into a fate where she seems to be forced to continually betray those that she loves. She is determined to do things her way and not the way that adults have told her because they always seem to be telling her the wrong things. The adults have been trying to hurt children so why listen to them?
I liked that even the "bad guys" weren't always "bad guys" in this book. I did not like Mrs. Coulter but I still saw her as human by the end of the book. Everyone has their beliefs and, as strongly as I may disagree with them, in the end, she's just doing what she believes to be the right thing. She's also living her life in a large amount of fear.
Iorek Byrnison is probably my favorite character in the book and reading the book again made me realize how much I love him. He's so strong and commanding and doesn't take crap from anyone but on the flip side, he is intensely loyal. He gives this loyalty to Lyra, not necessarily because he is told, but because he has come to love and respect this small girl so much. She is always putting on a brave face, despite her fears and Iorek seems to love that about her. Bears aren't really emotion driven creatures, or rather they have learned to greatly control those emotions, but Lyra seems to break through Iorek's shell. The fight scene with him and Iofur is also one of my favorites, making me just love Iorek more.
The only real problem I have is one that I have with a lot of books. The love of Lyra is almost instantaneous. Few actually come to hate this girl. Some of it is because many prophecies have been told about the girl and therefore she easily and unknowingly sways people to her side. However, for most, this isn't the case. Some of it is "she is a child and we need to protect her" and the rest I can't really explain. Lyra is not an easy child and often does what she wants. Often what she wants and what everyone thinks is best for her don't coincide. I like that she's an independent kid but I feel like she would run into more punishment than she does.
As much as I enjoy Pullman's religious controversy in his book, I think in some ways he might take it just a bit too far. Showing your disdain for an organized church structure (in this case, the Catholic church, though I wonder if he has something against the Catholics in particular or if he just used the most powerful church to represent all religious structures) is one thing. I think accusing organized religion of separating children from their souls might be taking it a bit far. I personally believe that organized religion has far too much influence in a person's life (being raised Mormon) but not everything that happens with religion is bad. Good morals and actions come out of a lot of churches.
Another way to see it is that Pullman simply believes that churches abuse their power. I agree that often, church power gets abused. It has been that way for centuries. Even agreeing with that, however, I'm still not sure that I would have gone so far as Pullman did.
That being said, I like the obvious metaphors he creates. Do I think that the idea that people become soulless when they join a church is extreme? Yes, but he's telling us that churches often go too far. They abuse power and it isn't until they do something truly terrible that we stop them. Even then, we don't always stop them immediately.
I love this book and I recommend it to anyone with an open mind. It's very controversial book but it's also just good. It's well written with a good plot line and characters that you'll love.(less)
**spoiler alert** There was a lot that I forgot about this book and that just made it all the more enjoyable. It says a lot if a book can make me feel...more**spoiler alert** There was a lot that I forgot about this book and that just made it all the more enjoyable. It says a lot if a book can make me feel just as emotional about it the second time around (especially when the last time I read it was only a few years ago.)
I loved Lee Scoresby so much in this book. His character really comes out like it didn't have a chance to in the first one. Granted, that's probably because he didn't show up until nearly the end in the previous book but you definitely get to know and love him in this one. He is so incredibly protective of Lyra and so humble, you can't help but admire the man. Therefore, his death is that much more tragic. Not only does a great hero die, but he dies protecting this girl he loves more dearly than if she were his daughter.
I like Will, but I liked him less reading this book a second time. You feel bad for him (his mother being sick and then his father being killed seconds after they realized they had found each other) but there's just something about him I don't like. Pullman seems like he's trying to make Will a kid and an adult, all at once but it's not working correctly. Instead he just seems too grown up when he should be like a kid and too like a kid when he should be an adult.
Will and Lyra are also too comfortable with the thought of murder in this book. I understand the need to protect what you love even if it means doing something like killing another human being, but I feel like that's not something people, and especially children, think of as often as Lyra and Will thought about it in the book. It seemed every other chapter it was mentioned that they would kill if they had to and it didn't bother them in the slightest, as if it were totally normal to be at ease with taking another life. Lee Scoresby had to do it to save himself and he STILL mentioned how he hated taking another life. I was hard pressed to believe that these children, who have been through so much, would be so at peace with the idea of murder. Especially Lyra, who watched Roger die.
I liked watching the witches this book and thought they played a good part. Pullman manages to incorporate a mythical thing without making it a lifesaver. The witches have powers, yes, but they're not unlimited. They don't save Lyra every time she's in trouble and I like that. Too often authors use their powerful beings to get their protagonist out of tight situations.
I forgot how much sexual innuendo was in this book. I have a tendency to read things for the pleasure of it the first time I read it and turn off the analytical part of my brain (as best as I can.) Usually it works pretty well but I miss all the double meanings and symbolism and intricacies that an author puts in them. When I know how the book is going to turn out, I pick up on all these things more. Mrs. Coulter is a tease and Pullman makes it really obvious when she's getting information out of Lord Boreal. "Would you like me to really please you?" It surprised me a little at first and made me wonder how I missed it the first time. Also, the reference to the witch that went to see Lord Asriel and how she saw him in his chambers and the other witches "knew what happened then." I am no stranger to sexual themes in a book but I feel there's a time and place for everything. I could see Mrs. Couter seducing Lord Boreal and that made sense. I don't see why we needed to know that the witch did it with Lord Asriel.
Through the whole book, you were so anxious about Will and his father. You knew that they needed to meet, that they needed to see each other and such peril was coming to them both. I knew what happened and I was still turning the pages as quickly as I could to see if they would meet. When John Perry was killed before he was able to have at least a small reunion with his son, I was heartbroken.
I'm glad that Pullman used this book to really focus on moving the story forward. Everything came back to Lyra and Will in this book and, even though there were times that were focused on other characters, those other characters were doing things for those children. I didn't have to hear about Mrs. Coulter who, honestly, I don't really care that much about. I didn't have to listen to Lord Asriel and his quest to contend the Authority. I liked that I saw Lyra and her journey and her mistakes.
I also liked that there was less of the instantaneous "I love Lyra!" syndrome. Dr. Malone, though she told Lyra things, was still wary of her and ONLY came to trust her when she saw that Lyra could manipulate the machine. The children in Cittàgazze really hated both Will and Lyra, were suspicious of them from instant one. The suspicion of Lyra and Will was a lot more realistic to me. I'm also really glad that people didn't get "I love Will!" syndrome, because I might have cried if they did.
The second installment of His Dark Materials was a lot more satisfying than the first (and I liked the first.) A lot of the problems in book one ironed themselves and there was a lot more excitement.(less)
**spoiler alert** This book kind of falls into that weird place between Children's and YA literature. At 13, Sal isn't really firmly into her teenage...more**spoiler alert** This book kind of falls into that weird place between Children's and YA literature. At 13, Sal isn't really firmly into her teenage years yet but certainly isn't a kid anymore. It's really a weird inbetween place in literature.
And it's an in-between place in her life. Now, I read this book as a little girl and then didn't read it again for many, many years. In fact, I didn't pick it up again until college, so I had forgotten most of what had happened in the book. Including the major plot twist at the end that Sal's mother had passed away. Through most of the book, Creech has us believing that Sal's mother is alive and Sal is going to be able to convince her to come home.
Now, when I reread it in college, I figured it out in about chapter three what was actually going on. I don't know if that was because I had already read the book, or because I just used my powers of deduction. Reading it this third time, I think that any adult could figure out what was happening (Creech makes it pretty obvious that the mother has passed away even though she doesn't come right out and tell you) but for the age that this book is marketed towards... I don't think they would. I know that I didn't when I read it as a kid. I was stunned.
I like that Creech keeps it hidden. I like how she parallels Phoebe's story to Sal's. I like how Sal doesn't GET that Phoebe's is like her own in so many ways. She is telling this story to her grandparents, telling them how ornery and ridiculous Phoebe was being, how the whole situation with her mother leaving wasn't her fault, the whole time still not realizing that her own mother leaving wasn't her own.
Creech weaving a story well. She doesn't dump Sal's story on us. She gives us glimpses of it as we learn about Phoebe's. I like how everyone seems to interconnect. How tragedies seem to bring everyone together.
I like that Sal isn't this perfect character who can do know wrong. She is a kid who is grieving. So she's a pain in the butt. She hated moving, hated that her dad was spending time with a woman that wasn't her mother, so she was being horrible to Mrs. Cadaver because she didn't want her father to be happy with someone that wasn't her mother. Sal and Phoebe were being little pains in the butt together because they didn't know how to deal what was happening to them.
I like that the book doesn't shy away from hard topics. Creech writes about death and grief and mothers leaving their family and affairs and divorce and all sorts of things and kids have to deal with in their everyday lives. She trusts that they're mature enough to deal with this kind of thing and I like that. I like books that take that approach.
I also like that the book was simultaneously feel good and depressing. Yes, it was sad but it ended with a kind of hopeful note to it. They went back home, to their farm. It's hard, and grief is hard, but Sal and her dad were dealing with it. And that was ok.
I really love this book, and I've always had good memories of it. Whether you're adult or child, I really recommend picking it up.(less)
**spoiler alert** It's been so long since I've read the Harry Potter books. I remember liking them but didn't really remember why. The other thing is...more**spoiler alert** It's been so long since I've read the Harry Potter books. I remember liking them but didn't really remember why. The other thing is that when I read these first books, I was in middle school and much younger than I am now. Rereading them as an adult reminded me of all the things that I enjoyed about the books.
I forget how just plain entertaining these books are. I mean, there are some hilarious parts to them. Like when Ron gets the howler from his mother and all the things that Dobby does to try and keep Harry from going back to Hogwarts. I also liked that we got to see the Weasley family a lot in this one. I was reminded how much I liked Mrs. Weasley.
JK Rowling does an amazing job fleshing out even her minor characters. I feel like I'm really getting to know them, to really get a sense of who they are. They're engaging and interesting, even characters like Filch. We don't see much of him but we still LEARN things about him.
The thing that drives me a little crazy is how Harry keeps insisting he doesn't want the fame he receives yet purposely goes looking for trouble. He is not the innocent that he makes himself out to be. Ron, Hermione and he frequently go looking for the adventures he claims not to want.
I like how Harry, Hermione and Ron's friendship grew this book. You really saw how they interacted and how they cared for each other, much more so than in the first book. The first book it was more feeling each other out. They still had a lot of problems in book one but I liked that they seemed to pull together for this one.
I also like that Rowling gives Voldemort more of a history than "he's the bad guy." You learn that he has a past he's ashamed of. While his persona is a little too Hitler like (pureblood perfect race), he at least has depth, which doesn't always happen with Villains.
This second installment of the Harry Potter series is a fun and engaging story and is really good for all ages. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy stories.(less)
**spoiler alert** The third Harry Potter is still easily one of my favorites. It's right before her books start to get really long and it also has the...more**spoiler alert** The third Harry Potter is still easily one of my favorites. It's right before her books start to get really long and it also has the introduction of my favorite character: Sirius Black. There are a lot of criticisms of the series, I know, but rereading them, I remember why I love them.
I grew up with the Harry Potter books. That's something that really needs to be remembered. They were written for MY age group. They came out when I was in middle school and as I matured, so did the books. I grew with Harry, I grew with these books and I grew with the complete insane fandom they became. Harry Potter, while popular, wasn't the monstrosity that it is today when I first started reading them.
So I guess I'm a little more biased towards them (though not as obsessed as some others I know. I just enjoy the books and that's about as far as I take it.) So why is the third my favorite? Well, I think Sirius Black is easily her best character. I think he's the most fleshed out in a lot of ways. He's had a pretty crappy life an he's not afraid to show it. Black is not a happy person and he's really the first person in the Harry Potter series to genuinely be not happy (for good reason. 12 years with Dementors will do that to you.)
I also like book three because you really get a lot of back story. You learn so much about Harry's past and his parents' and their childhood, which I really enjoy. We haven't learned much about them up until this point and to hear about it, and from his parents' best friends no less, is something that I really enjoy. Rowling manages to do this without pages and pages and pages of exposition. She works these stories in there while still keeping us interested in Harry and what's going on in his life.
Now, one thing that does annoy me, especially now that I'm reading for about the 5th time, is that this is the book your realize that Harry is never going to catch a break. He FINALLY might have something good happen to him, FINALLY might get to leave the Dursley's, FINALLY might get to have family... and Pettigrew gets away, leaving him in almost a worse situation. I think that this is the book where Rowling starts to get ridiculous with how much suffering Harry has to go through.
However, my favorite part of the whole book was when they won the Quidditch cup. I remember the first time I read it, sitting on the edge of my seat saying, "Come on! Come on!" Even now, after reading it so many times, my boyfriend tried to inturrupt and I shoed him away with a "Not now! Gryffindor is playing Slytherin!" It's an exciting scene that never fails to enthrall me.
I have a special place in my heart for the Harry Potter books. I think they're great books for any age, especially the early ones and I think if you haven't picked them up (of which I'm sure there are precious few of you) you should do so. If you have read them, revisit them. Remind yourself why you love them.(less)
**spoiler alert** I first read this book in my Children's literature class in college and absolutely fell in love with it. Two years later, I still re...more**spoiler alert** I first read this book in my Children's literature class in college and absolutely fell in love with it. Two years later, I still really love it. Neil Gaiman presents us with an interesting little girl and a scary but thrilling world that's similar to our own yet there's something not quite right about it.
Coraline is actually a little self-centered kid. She wants her parents to entertain her instead of entertaining herself, she doesn't want to eat anything she doesn't like and she does little things to rebel against her mother. Her mother has told her to stay out of the parlor. In the parlor, there's a door that goes to nowhere; it's just a bricked up wall. But one day, when Coraline opens that door, there's a hallway.
Coraline walks into a world that looks just like her own, with parents who look just like her parents except that they have buttons for eyes. The other mother feeds Coraline, plays with her and basically does everything that Coraline wants her own parents to do.
I like that Coraline, the child, ends up being the heroine of this book. She leaves this other world, knowing that something that's not quite right. However, when she gets back, her parents are missing. It's Coraline who knows that she has to go and get them (with a little help from a furry friend.)
The cat in this book is one of my favorite characters. He moves easily between worlds and he's so snarky. He's smug but in a way that it's helpful to Coraline. Somehow, she manages to endear herself to him. So, he was the one who woke her up, "telling" her that the other mother had stolen her parents (because in our world, he can't speak. Or at the very least, Coraline can't hear him) and he was the one who told her to play a game with the other mother as a way to free her own parents.
I like how self-aware Coraline becomes in this book and how you can actually see her growth. The other mother says that she'll give Coraline everything she wants. Coraline can eat what she wants and the other mother will play with her all the time. Coraline comes out and says she doesn't want to get whatever she wants. The point of life is that there are times when she shouldn't get what she wants otherwise it would be incredibly boring.
Inevitably, Coraline saves the souls of three children that were stuck there along with her parents. It's not often that the child saves the adults in books. Usually, it's the other way around so that switch of roles, the child as the protector, is interesting and refreshing to see.
I also like that it didn't end with Coraline's escape. The hand of the other mother escaped the other world and found its way into the real world. Coraline had to use her wits to trap the hand. I like that Coraline had to be an intelligent kid the whole time. It was very much a story about her intelligence rather than her luck. The kids aren't always the smart ones in books, often they're not, so to see a kid rely on nothing but her brains in a book was very nice to see.
I recommend this book to everyone. It's a fast read but it's a good one. Even though it's classified as children's literature, it's really a book that transcends ages.(less)
**spoiler alert** It's been a long time since I've read this book but I've associated nothing but good feelings with it. While it's never the same, I'...more**spoiler alert** It's been a long time since I've read this book but I've associated nothing but good feelings with it. While it's never the same, I've seen the movie much more recently and enjoyed it just as I always have. Rereading this book as an adult was no less enjoyable.
In reality, you should hate every character in this book with the exception of Dickon (who is actually my favorite.) Mary and Collin (when we meet him) are two kids who are inexplicably spoiled and obnoxious and think they are rulers of the world because their parents have never been around to tell them otherwise. But instead of hating them, you pity them. They're acting this way because they never had parents to keep them in line, just servants who must do everything they're asked of.
I like watching Mary being thrown into her new world. Suddenly the servants don't do whatever she likes. In fact, they have little time for her, even Martha who is essentially her caretaker. Having to do things on her own, to entertain herself, are things that are completely foreign to her and it's interesting to watch her try and negotiate that.
The thing that I think is so interesting about this book is that it tells you how Mary is growing. The narrator comes out and says the ways in which she has changed. Yet, we also get to see those changes ourselves. We don't really need to be told but I honestly think it adds to the book. I like the narrator gently reminding me of how things were.
Mary's discovery of Collin was pure genius. She got to meet herself essentially, only herself as she was before she came to the manor. It was interesting watching her get so annoyed with all the things Collin did, not completely realizing that they were things that she did to other people. At one point she told Collin that he shouldn't order people around because it's not nice and they don't like it. What she doesn't realize is that she used to do the very same thing.
I love every part of the garden, this secret place that changes you. I love how this thing that is so simple, really, completely changes all of the kids, even Dickon. It also instills that sense of wonder and excitement over a secret in the reader. This book always made me want to discover such a place, a place that only I knew about, that I decided who else could know about my secret.
This is also just one of those feel good books. At the end of it, you can't help but smile. Yes, it's probably a little unrealistic in how it turns out; everyone happy and all the relationships fixed. Yet somehow you are able to suspend reality and believe that maybe it did just work out like this. I'm so happy that Collin and his father were finally able to have a relationship, that Collin could walk and would grow up to be his own person and that Mary learned how to do things like interact with people and make friends. By the time it's over, you just have a huge grin plastered on your face and you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
I recommend this book to anyone just looking for a heartfelt book. It's a good, wholesome story and a great book for kids. I remember adoring it as a little girl and subsequently gave it to MY little sister to read. I think it's one of those books that will always be a part of your life, especially if you read it young.(less)