A long book, with numerous characters and a complicated mystery. But each character, each setting moved the story along. The story was well-told, and...moreA long book, with numerous characters and a complicated mystery. But each character, each setting moved the story along. The story was well-told, and I didn't mind the length of the book because it was engaging throughout. Because the protagonist experienced a wide variety of lifestyles during his "journey", the reader is exposed to many different classes and lifestyles during the Victorian era.(less)
S., the experiential book written by author Doug Dorst and "mega-producer" J.J. Abrams, is not especially compelling, and can be extremely frustrating...moreS., the experiential book written by author Doug Dorst and "mega-producer" J.J. Abrams, is not especially compelling, and can be extremely frustrating at times. So I waffled a bit with the 5 star rating. But it really was amazing! Here's why:
Five stars for anticipation (I haven't been this excited to start a new book since...?). Five stars for a multi-sensory experience -- the sound of the plastic wrapping, book sleeve, inserts; the smell (yes, the smell -- not old and musty, but special nonetheless); the visual appeal (yellowing pages, colorful margin notes, such attention to detail); and of course the feel, the heft of the book as well as all the inserts. Five stars for venturing into, dare I say (hope?) a new genre. Five stars for the ambitious undertaking.
This book is for those of you who love books (without the "e" in front) and who don't mind putting a little work into reading. It is not a light or easy read.
The Ship of Theseus story is mildly interesting, but not one I would ever choose on my own. It is the story of S., a man with no memories who finds himself somewhat unwittingly fighting against an evil corporation, and finding refuge on a mystical ship. I kept a dictionary handy while reading the novel.
Then there are the margin notes, which tell both the love story of Jen & Eric, as well as outline the mystery surrounding the novel's writer, V.M. Straka. While I attempted to read the margin notes in order (pencil first, then blue & black, then orange & green, then red & purple, and finally black & black), I still found myself frustrated, with more questions than answers. Occasionally, I would find one answer many chapters later, but many questions still remain.
Numerous websites have cropped up, providing more clues and discussions -- clearly the authors want the mystery to continue. And while I love the idea (and did engage at least that far), the mystery is ultimately not so compelling.
I do have some sense of satisfaction after reading the entirety, even though I still have many questions. But for those of you who like your books tied up with neat bows at the end, be warned this is not one of those books. (less)
My favorite novels are those that reveal a "truth" about human nature during the course of an engaging, well-written story. This book now measures amo...moreMy favorite novels are those that reveal a "truth" about human nature during the course of an engaging, well-written story. This book now measures among my favorites, exploring themes of darkness and light, solitude in a crowd, the distinction between a person and their story, and intimacy in the face of oppression (among others!). The author uses different points of view to tell the story of his protagonist in a way that is both funny and tragic, but always believable, always human.(less)
I thoroughly enjoyed is book, though I did hesitate before giving it five stars. The medical jargon grew tiresome at times, and I was disappointed tha...moreI thoroughly enjoyed is book, though I did hesitate before giving it five stars. The medical jargon grew tiresome at times, and I was disappointed that the book took a sappy turn. But I was delighted to read in the acknowledgements that Verghese has enjoyed a long friendship with John Irving. I can immediately identify Irving's influence on the work, which I might not have noticed had I skipped over the acknowledgements. Memorable characters and unique scenes set the stage for the author to reveal universal truths about life and human nature.(less)
Most books are about a who (biographies, character sketches) or a what (plot). Much fewer books are about a where/when or why/how. This is a where/whe...moreMost books are about a who (biographies, character sketches) or a what (plot). Much fewer books are about a where/when or why/how. This is a where/when book about Chechnya from 1994-2004. It is magnificently done, because although the author's main purpose is to give you a feel for the setting, he never loses either character or plot. The book follows just a handful of main characters, in a limited geographical setting, but by using a omniscient narrator and one-sentence tangents, the author is able to convey much more about the impact of the wars on the Chechen people. Beautifully written and cleverly told.(less)
Daniel Hannan, a Brit serving on the European Parliament, has written an engaging history book that offers insight into the modern political arena. Mo...moreDaniel Hannan, a Brit serving on the European Parliament, has written an engaging history book that offers insight into the modern political arena. Most of the book provides a history of the "Anglosphere", with an eye towards what makes us different (exceptional). (Hint: it's not a "Western" thing or even an American thing.) There is a strong emphasis on common law, property rights, individual freedom, and representative government. The role of religious freedom is discussed extensively. I gained a new perspective on pre-Norman Invasion England, the consequences of the Norman Invasion, the importance of the Magna Carta, the role of religion in the American Revolution, the role of the British in ending the slave trade and more. At times Hannan makes some not-so-subtle digs at left-of-center parties on both sides of the pond, but most of this is contained in the last Chapter. Well-written book that made me think about where we, as Americans, came from and what's worth fighting for as we move forward.(less)