A complex and thought-provoking read, you should definitely read this before you see the movie.
Watchmen is the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gi...moreA complex and thought-provoking read, you should definitely read this before you see the movie.
Watchmen is the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, published in 1986 by DC Comics, that changed the way many people viewed comic books. Originally published as a series of twelve issues, the the compiled series was one of the first, along with the famous Dark Knight series by Frank Miller, to be called a graphic novel. The simple name change was coupled with a darker and more realistic look at traditional comic subject matter - superheroes - and has led to widespread recognition of the literary merits of the medium.
Watchmen is set in the late 1980s and offers an alternate history whose main difference is the existence of superheroes. While most of these heroes are simply regular people who wear costumes to fight crime anonymously, there is one character with genuine superpowers, Dr. Manhattan. This simple but significant change has led to a vastly different present - America did not lose Vietnam, Richard Nixon is still president, and the Cold War rages more fiercely, if more unevenly. The plot centers around these heroes now living in and attempting to cope with a society that has rejected their help, even when most still feel compelled to give it.
The wide cast of characters and rich world are revealed slowly throughout the novel, with so many details that new ones continue to appear on multiple read-throughs. The art is detailed and incredibly expressive, with darker, moody colors, giving the story life and immediacy.
Watchmen explores themes of violence, sin, justice, and the impulse to do right. This was one of the first comics to turn the superhero mythos on its head, questioning the need for such heroes in the first place. In that it deals with superheroes dressed in silly costumes, has a male-dominated cast with a few attractive and scantily-clad females, and is bathed in violence, it holds to traditional comics, but it takes these factors and turns them inside out, sharply critiquing each while offering a host of other issues, political and moral, to wrestle. While it has been the inspiration for a whole new genre of the gritty, tortured superhero trying to operate in the real world, this original has substance and charisma to spare. (less)
Not only was this fascinating, insightful, thought-provoking, and very well-written, it serves as a blueprint for the Obama platform, and gives everyo...moreNot only was this fascinating, insightful, thought-provoking, and very well-written, it serves as a blueprint for the Obama platform, and gives everyone a working knowledge of the thoughts and intentions of President Barack Obama.
This book is divided into nine chapters, each addressing a major issue in American politics: Republicans and Democrats, Values, Our Constitution, Politics, Opportunity (discussing economics, health care, and education, among other things), Faith, Race, the World Beyond Our Borders, and Family. Each chapter is full of personal anecdotes, smooth and easy writing, and thoughtful analysis, giving an impression of earnest effort on the part of a real person concerned with the country at large, and people as individuals. For every issue he addresses, Obama clearly tries to present all arguments and perspectives in as respectful a manner as possible while still taking his own stance. Occasionally, this constant open-mindedness does sink into what seems like vague political waffling, but for the most part I found this balanced approach to be refreshing and fair while still taking a stand. A very thorough and polite "I see where you're coming from, but I still think I'm right and here's why."
There is a great deal of personal as well as political insight here. This was written during Mr. Obama's first term as a US Senator and I can't help feeling that it was even written with the Presidency in mind. Regardless, if it was meant to make the reader think seriously about thoughtless assumptions they've made about certain issues and to convince them of the validity of Obama's politics, it succeeded with me. Now, I've always been a die-hard liberal with no patience for conservatives at all, so I began reading this book prepared to love it and agree with it, but even so it caused me to revise some opinions. Perhaps my liking of President Obama made me more open-minded, but his considerate treatment of Republican and conservative thinking made me give serious thought to my casual assumptions about what motivates the other side.
In light of the election and President Obama's first month in office, most of these ideas seem familiar but no less powerful. This clear elucidation of what we can expect from the next four years made me feel all warm and proud inside. There is indeed a very tough road ahead for Americans, certainly tougher than when this book was written and Obama didn't expect a picnic then, either, but if this book is any indication, we are in steady, informed, good hands.(less)
Lovely writing but slow going. This is the first Murakami I've read, and I admit that I had a hard time making myself finish.
There is a lot going for...moreLovely writing but slow going. This is the first Murakami I've read, and I admit that I had a hard time making myself finish.
There is a lot going for this book - the writing (and translation, really) is beautiful and smooth. The characters are interesting and distinct, there is a wealth of detail on culture and atmosphere, and the story is interesting. It was bizarre, but it was meant to be - the supernatural elements of the story were well-handled, for the most part. The back and forth sections between narrators, complete with changes between first- and third-person perspective, kept the story fresh.
But while I was curious to see what happened, the story just took so long to become interesting that I was itching to move on to something else. I like character set-up, I really do, but it seems like half of this very long book is nothing but character set-up, and nothing of real significance happens for ages. The young main character is fifteen years old, and while the story hammers home (and hammers and hammers) how unusually mature he is, I still found it difficult to accept him as fifteen, in spite of that fact being integral to the story.
The ambiguous and open-ended conclusion fit with the story, but it was also one more thing that had me grateful to move on to something with a little more pizazz. Good book, great writing, glad it's over.(less)
Interesting, and a worthwhile read, but it didn't knock my socks off. It was well-crafted, with alternating chapters taking place in two different tim...moreInteresting, and a worthwhile read, but it didn't knock my socks off. It was well-crafted, with alternating chapters taking place in two different times and locations, only slowly letting the reader see how they are connected. Clues for understanding what was going on in one area were given in the other, which was clever, but I found the corresponding changes between first- and third-person a little jarring. The near future is thoroughly detailed and felt like a believable world, but the politics were so complicated I felt it slowed the story down, and I enjoyed the other world more. It did leave me intrigued about the sequel, and I think overall it's good and engaging sci-fi.(less)
Eh. Who were we supposed to be rooting for? What was the point? There was no suspense, no character development, no moral, no point. The cover would h...moreEh. Who were we supposed to be rooting for? What was the point? There was no suspense, no character development, no moral, no point. The cover would have you believe it's a thrill-a-minute crime caper. Instead, it takes half the book to get to the part of the story you discovered after reading the back cover, and if you keep reading to see if there's something else in store, you'll be disappointed. The writing isn't bad, really, and it was a pleasant enough way to waste a boring few hours at work. Some of the characters were interesting, even though some appeared briefly and for no reason, and the CIA-driven conspiracy was hilarious (unintentionally, I'm sure). But unless you have a few hours to kill on mindless fluff, don't bother. (less)
A fascinating and hilarious book. Brigid Keenan seems to have the most astounding luck - good and bad - and she writes about it with wit and honesty....moreA fascinating and hilarious book. Brigid Keenan seems to have the most astounding luck - good and bad - and she writes about it with wit and honesty. She recounts the adventures of her life as a diplomatic wife in an easy, engaging style that had me laughing out loud on every page. This book is therapy and an education combined. Even as I ached in sympathy for her traumatic moments and marveled at her composure, I was ready to pack my bags and sign up with the State Department. (less)