Read 50 pages of part 1, abandoned, part 2 a little interesting.. yet abandoned near the end, part 3 abandoned after 10 pages, then I read reviews to...moreRead 50 pages of part 1, abandoned, part 2 a little interesting.. yet abandoned near the end, part 3 abandoned after 10 pages, then I read reviews to see if it got any better; apparently the 300 page part 4 contains nothing but detailed descriptions of the murder-rapes of innocent women. No thanks!(less)
Possession is a heartfelt mystery containing a beautiful sync of double-plots. Two researchers are getting to the bottom of a secret love affair betwe...morePossession is a heartfelt mystery containing a beautiful sync of double-plots. Two researchers are getting to the bottom of a secret love affair between two Victorian poets. One poet is a spiritual Darwinist (if that's not an oxymoron) and the other is a devout lesbian (if that's not another oxymoron!). Along the way the researchers decipher old letters that poise enigmas behind the secret relationship, while trying to maintain distance from the corrupt establishments that are hot on their trails in the wake of this discovery. As the novel progresses they discover new feelings about their own relationship as well. The two plots mesh fantastically at the end as all the mysteries come to a satisfying conclusion, with several ironies to wit. There is a twist, and it's kind of predictable, but that doesn't detract this from being a phenomenal book. It's one of those books that are absolutely perfect for cuddling up with near the fire on a cold, wet day. The intermittent snippets of poetry & letters fit in perfectly throughout the book (I can see how this might bother those who are only interested in researchers' plot). The poetry is fantastical, epic, and beautiful: the letters, while being highly revelatory, are incredibly diverse in prose as Byatt writes from the perspective of numerous peoples of past and present. There are convincing themes of "biological feminism" that recalls the mythology of Gaia while the fringe science of the Darwinist era still attempted to reason from spiritualism. There is also a strong emotional undertone of familial congruence that blossoms delightfully, like all the vast species of flowers Byatt recalls throughout the book. I highly recommend this to intellectuals, lovers of mythological poetry, romantics, and people who don't mind a massive amount of detail in describing quaint, petite settings. This didn't win the 1990 Booker Prize for nothing, I promise you!(less)
This is a masterpiece of staggering genius, and one of the best books I've ever read. There are six nested stories in the novel and each of them follo...moreThis is a masterpiece of staggering genius, and one of the best books I've ever read. There are six nested stories in the novel and each of them follow six separate lives of a reincarnated soul(s?) whose archetypal drive is to rebel against the powers that be. David Mitchell uses an impressive repertoire of styles to distinguish each of these lives, from the grammatically elitist english of The Pacific Journal Of Adam Ewing to Zachry’s wild southern U.S. slang-uage in Sloosha’s Crossin’ An’ Ev’rthin’ After. As far as genres are concerned, there’s a little something for everyone including the funny & entertaining Ghastly Ordeal Of Timothy Cavendish and the dystopian-scf-fi-mystery-thriller An Orison Of Sonmi-451. But I’ve never read anything quite like the stream-of-consciousness tragic comedy Letters From Zeleghem, my favorite of the stories. The dark romance between the quirky musician Robert Frobischer and Eva the tease won my heart. Sloosha’s Crossin’ was another unique and beautiful tale set in post-apocalyptic Hawaii, my second favorite. The story I haven’t mentioned, The Luisa Rey Mystery, is by no means weak due its stellar plot, but the narrative is formulaic and easy to understand, so I found it the least intriguing but it’s probably the most accessible to other readers.
Underlying all this abstraction, Cloud Atlas leaves these intricacies & clues scattered about that relate each story with one another sequentially. After reading this great quote from Sloosha’s Crossin’ it all came together: “I watched clouds awobbly from the floor o’ that kayak. Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies, an’ tho’ a cloud’s shape nor hue nor size don’t stay the same, it’s still a cloud an’ so is a soul. Who can say where the cloud’s blowed from or who the soul’ll be ‘morrow? Only Somni the east an’ the west an’ the compass an’ the atlas, yay, only the atlas o’ clouds.” How true n’deed, n’ how relev’nt to th’ scope o' th' novel. It did seem to me that the idiosyncracies in personalities carried through each story, and even multiple ones too. With all the implicit romances it seems like there might have been reincarnated star-crossed soul mates in each tale (I made a chart of all the relationships because I was so intrigued by them, see below). Maybe I think too damn much, but this book's Escher-esque complexity absolutely floored me and I’d recommend it to anyone.
SPOILER ALERT: This is for anyone interested in my soul mate theory. Autua is Robert Frobischer is Isaac Saachs is Timothy Cavendish is Hae Joo is Zachry. Adam Ewing is Eva is Luisa Rey is (Nurse Noakes?) is Snomi-451 is Meronym. The chronological "math" adds up, the behaviorism of them are all similar, and there's an implicit romance between each except for the Cavendish story, which is the only one that could make me dubious.(less)
The first 80 pages had me thinking that this would be one of the most exciting novels out there. Multiple clues and cliffhangers are thrown at you, ep...moreThe first 80 pages had me thinking that this would be one of the most exciting novels out there. Multiple clues and cliffhangers are thrown at you, epically hooking in their significance, and it seems like you're strapped in for a wild ride. Once Umberto went into "lecture about obscure hermetics like there's no tomorrow mode" I was slightly put off, but the chapters about Brazil made up for it. When I finally realized this was a satire about conspiracy buffs, around page 300, the wind left my sail and I slugged through the rest. He clearly put a lot of research into this, and it's unfortunate that he chose to make fun of his own work because I was really pulling for some mindblowing kabbalistic enlightenment in this one.
Comparisons to Dan Brown are tempting, but I don't even think it's close. Content may be similar, but Foucalt's Pendulum is much more cerebral, dense, and difficult to fathom without looking up things like secret societies, alchemical solvents, and mythical monuments. I enjoy Dan Brown a little more because his books actually go somewhere, his characters don't think like robots, and he's more explanatory when he provides mysterious information. I'll give Umberto another shot with The Name Of The Rose, but it will probably be some time before I read it.(less)
Drunk detectives solving a mystery case sounds like a funny premise, but somehow I didn’t find it as funny as some of Pratchett’s other work. It seeme...moreDrunk detectives solving a mystery case sounds like a funny premise, but somehow I didn’t find it as funny as some of Pratchett’s other work. It seemed like he was a bit timid, like he was testing the waters when he wrote this. I understand it was the first in a mystery series, which was a departure for him at the time, so the difference in style makes sense.(less)
Mr. Poe was one of the best writers of the 19th century and virtually all of his work is put into this 1,500 page monster (if the size of this book do...moreMr. Poe was one of the best writers of the 19th century and virtually all of his work is put into this 1,500 page monster (if the size of this book doesn't scare you then I'd be surprised if any of the actual horror in it does).
Included are some of my favorites: The Raven, Annabel Lee, The Assignation, Ligeia, A Descent Into The Maelstrom, and Eleonora.(less)
And Then There Were None is widely regarded as the best mystery novel ever written. Ten people who don’t know each other are summoned to an island a...more And Then There Were None is widely regarded as the best mystery novel ever written. Ten people who don’t know each other are summoned to an island and they don’t know why. None of them are aware of what they all have in common- they’ve each committed murder and were not convicted of it. After three of them are found dead the surviving members scramble to figure out which of them is the killer while getting increasingly paranoid.
Much of the enjoyment from reading this comes from figuring out who the killer is and what kind of psychological affect an atmosphere of death and paranoia has on its victims. There are about six solid suspects and you always find yourself second-guessing who the killer is by each twist of the plot. Christie has a talent for putting yourself in each character’s shoes and using that to play with your suspicions about them. First I thought the killer was Justice Wargrave, then I thought it was Blore, then Miss Brent, and about halfway through I settled on Vera (no spoilers- read it for yourself to see who it really is). It’s also easy to read and not a long book by any stretch; in fact most people could probably read it in the span of a day. Highly recommended for mystery fans and leisurely readers.(less)