Originally published in 1988, Alien Child is a young adult book that follows a human girl named Nita who is being raiMore reviews @ The BiblioSanctum.
Originally published in 1988, Alien Child is a young adult book that follows a human girl named Nita who is being raised by a catlike creature, Llipel, in the remains of a medical institute. Llipel’s companion, Llare, stays holed away from them in another part of the institute that she’s not allowed to access. Nita begins to believe that she’s the last surviving human on Earth as she learns more about what happened to the rest of humanity and how she, a human girl, came to exist in a world where humans no longer roam. Then, she discovers that Llare is actually raising a human boy of the same age named Sven.
This book seems typical fare for young adult books published during the 80s and 90s. I think if I’d read this as a kid, I probably would’ve liked it more. Reading it as an adult, it was a conceptually interesting read, but not the most compelling read. It felt a bit too juvenile, even for my tastes. This skews toward the younger side of young adult. We meet Nita when she’s young and follow her to her fifteenth year, and this book focuses on the issues that she goes through as she ages from precocious child to puberty. These issues are handled in ways that a child would relate to them and not in a way that could be seen as gross or inappropriate, except for maybe one scene between Nita and Sven.
The science fiction aspect of the story is where things get a little atypical. This book explores themes such as “nature vs. nuture.” It questions how would a human child behave if raised by a being that didn’t have an innate curiosity about things, who believed that all answers come in due time. As a mom of two, I could definitely see a human child being overly curious as Nita was, despite having a guardian who was cautious and patient. Honestly, I didn’t think Sargent addressed this as well as she could have. Nita didn’t really seem that much different from a child who hasn’t been raised in isolation, and she took to many things much better than you’d expect.
Sargent did a better job trying to explain the horrors of humanity to the children and what led to their destruction, questioning whether humans were even a race worth saving once the children had full knowledge of their heritage. It might not explore this as deeply as my adult mind would like, but keeping the age group this is aimed toward in mind, this is a great way to start challenging their ideas, especially what they feel the fate of humanity should be after learning something pivotal later in the story.
Twelve-year-old me probably would’ve lapped this story up, and I think it probably would be great for kids as an introduction to science fiction and perhaps as a starting point for some of those uncomfortable conversations parents eventually have to have with their kids but are not quite sure how to get there. Adult me thought this was an okay story, but can still see why this is considered a classic and brings out nostalgia among old science fiction fans....more
I’m not going to say a lot about this book because this book was somewhat unnecessary, in my opinion. The 4th book was the perfect ending. This book sI’m not going to say a lot about this book because this book was somewhat unnecessary, in my opinion. The 4th book was the perfect ending. This book seems to rehash many things from the earlier books as well as mentioning how Guinevere went on to live and die in a covent. Lancelot lived as a hermit. His last miracle to the world releasing a scent of Heaven upon his death. Mostly, though this book seemed to be a philosophical look at the recurring theme that might isn’t always right as once believed by the kings and lords. If there’s anything that I can praise this book for is that it does take a more philosophical look at war and Arthur’s moral standings....more
This is where it all comes crashing down. Agravaine hates Lancelot and Mordred hates his father, the King (child of the incesBest book in the series.
This is where it all comes crashing down. Agravaine hates Lancelot and Mordred hates his father, the King (child of the incest mentioned earlier). The conspire together to tell the king of Lancelot and Guinevere’s transgressions. Everyone knows of the transgressions, but once publicly acknowledged, Arthur will have to have Lancelot killed and Guinevere burned at the stake. Once Mordred has brought their transgressions to public, Lancelot flees and promises to rescue Guinevere.
He does rescue Guinevere from the pyre, but not before accidentally killing Gareth and Gaheris, brothers to Gawaine and Agravain, in the battle. The lovers flee, but their actions continue a course of events that lead to Mordred and Arthur meeting each other in an ill-fated battle. Sadly, their battle could’ve been avoided and would’ve been avoided, but a miscommunication ended in the death of Mordred and Arthur being mortally wounded and sent to Avalon (where he probably died, but could have possibly been healed, as well).
I think I appreciated this book most of all because it just so tragic. And it wasn’t just tragic because of the actions of Arthur having to sentence his closest friend and his wife to death, but the fact that this isn’t something anyone wanted to happen aside from Gawaine wanting revenge for his brothers’ deaths and understandably so. It was just the whole implication of the matter. It was a tragedy that felt avoidable and unavoidable at the same time. Nothing was beautiful and everything hurt in this book....more
“He would not call himself Sir Lancelot. He would call himself the Chevalier Mal Fet—the Ill-Made Knight.So far as he could2.5 stars. Hated Lancelot.
“He would not call himself Sir Lancelot. He would call himself the Chevalier Mal Fet—the Ill-Made Knight.So far as he could see—and he felt that there must be some reason for it somewhere—the boy’s face was as ugly as a monster’s in the King’s menagerie.”
This story begins the downfall of Arthur. Readers learn a great deal about Lancelot the son of a French king who decides from a very young age to dub himself Chevalier mal fet–The Ill-Made Knight because Lancelot is supposedly ugly, looking more like an ape than a man, which is very unusual in Arthurian lore for him not to be some handsome, shining prince like Jaime Lannister. Lancelot trains from a very young age to become one of Arthur’s knights after he begins to hero worship Arthur after a meeting where he’s decided he already loves the King and he will be everything the king wants him to be. He strives to be the best, and he wants Arthur’s attentions for himself (not like that… what kind of book do you think these are?). For this reason, Lancelot loathes Guinevere at first because she commands Arthur’s attention. Arthur seeing that the two people closest to him are unable to get along has Guinevere assist Lancelot in falconing.
Despite his appearance, Guinevere acquiesces that he isn’t attractive in any conventional way, but she see his looks as more interesting than appalling. Lancelot only begins to fall for the Queen after he insults her and sees the real harm he’s done. It’s here where the book explains that Lancelot can’t care about things unless he’s done some grievance. Then, he feels he has to atone for his grievance, which leads to a love affair between the two. Lancelot still loves both his king and now, his queen, which puts in him constantly in odds with himself. He takes on quests to avoid her, but we know how fate goes.
This book didn’t make me like Lancelot at all. Not even a little bit. It’s not even actually like he was a “good” person. It made me despise Gawaine for the most part, too, who is known to fly into rages and harm/kill even women, but somehow he’s still considered chivalrous. I also hated the way that White wrote Guinevere and just women in particular, straddling them with unnecessary pettiness, blaming them for their “downfalls,” which surely was their own fault and worthy of the extreme violence bestowed on them.
The only thing I really liked about this was the obvious conflict in all parties involved in the love triangle. All these characters love one another–Lancelot loves the King and the Queen, and they both love him in turn. They also love each other in their own way. Arthur isn’t blind. Even without knowing what Merlyn has told him, he knows Lancelot loves his wife (and vice versa), but he cares deeply for both. I appreciated that White tried to give this some complexity because it’s not always as simple as “YOU CHEATED ON ME! YOU GOTTA GO!” Sometimes, very complex and conflicting feelings come into play during such situations....more
“Indeed, they did love her. Perhaps we all give the best of our hearts uncritically—to those who hardly think about us in return.”
This book i3.5 stars
“Indeed, they did love her. Perhaps we all give the best of our hearts uncritically—to those who hardly think about us in return.”
This book is where Arthur’s story starts to take a darker turn, and plays on the ideas that the sins of the father revisit the son. This book follows Arthur as he begins to think of ways to unite the people, which brings about a lot of philosophical debate tinged with humor about war between Arthur, Kay, and Merlyn. This is the story that introduces us to Arthur’s round table and his reasoning for deciding to make it round (to foster camaraderie between his knights by making them all appear equal at a round table rather than at a traditional table where a knight might feel his seat is further away from the head and therefore an insinuation that he wasn’t as good as those before him).
However, largely this book follows Arthur’s Gaelic half-sister–the queen of Orkney, sister to Morgan Le Fay, and a witch herself, Morgeuse–and her sons (eventual knights of the round table), Gawain, Gaheris, Gareth, and Agravain. Morguese’s husband, King Lot, wages a failed campaign against the young Arthur. Morguese and her sons play a large role in the eventual downfall of Arthur. This book gives a glimpse of the people the young boys will become in time and the dark machinations of their mother whose attention they clamor desperately for. Arthur isn’t aware of who his mother is, even if he’s now aware that his father is the deceased king Uther Pendragon. When he meets Morguese and her sons, he doesn’t know that they share a mother, and well, she is a really beautiful woman. I have such a soft spot for books where characters have so many psychological issues with the loved ones in their lives that shaped them, so my rating of this part is largely due to the Orkney clan....more
In the future world of 1992 (give him a break; this book was written in 1969), Joe Chip is working for an anti-telepath organization. What are anti-teIn the future world of 1992 (give him a break; this book was written in 1969), Joe Chip is working for an anti-telepath organization. What are anti-telepaths? Simple. They’re people who can neutralize a telepath’s abilities. Many people employ these anti-telepaths to help protect their businesses. Glen Runciter and half-lifer (a half-lifer is someone who is deceased, but kept in a cryo state that allows their consciousness to continue to be accessible for communication for a certain period of time depending on how strong they are) wife, Ella, run the organization.
When a businessman by the name of Stanton Mick hires Glen’s team, including a woman who has the unique ability to change the past, to secure a base he’s built on the moon, they find themselves caught in a trap where Glen appears to be the only who’s died. The team rushes him to a half-life facility. However, reality starts to shift and warp for the team, leading them to the question of who’s really alive and who’s really dead. Maybe none of them are. Maybe all of them are, and how does this mysterious chemical Ubik factor into all this?
I really wasn’t feeling this book at first, and that’s abnormal for me because I love PKD. It was interesting reading about the half-lifers and the anti-telepaths, but I was just a little bored by the story at first. However, once it got to the heart of things I couldn’t stop listening. The narrator was okay, but I really, really hated the voice he did for Glen. It grated on my nerves for some reason. The ending of this book is probably why I rated it so high, though. I want to say it “disturbed” me, but that doesn’t feel like the right word for how I feel about it. Unsettling feels like the better word, even if it’s not that much different from “disturbed.”...more
1.5 stars. Don't ever let anyone tell you that a classic book can't be trash because they're wrong, and this books proves it. It was like reading a 171.5 stars. Don't ever let anyone tell you that a classic book can't be trash because they're wrong, and this books proves it. It was like reading a 1700s version of a Jerry Springer episode. Sure, it may have been the first gothic horror that paved the way for others, but it also has the distinction of being gothic horror garbage as well. I only rated this so high because it managed to be amusing trash at least....more
I'm reluctant to rate this right at this moment. I feel I need to read it again and savor it for a while. I read this because I'd read it may have beeI'm reluctant to rate this right at this moment. I feel I need to read it again and savor it for a while. I read this because I'd read it may have been the inspiration for things like Battle Royale, Hunger Games, etc....more
Occult scholar Dr. John Montague rents Hill House for the summer after hearing of the strange occurrences that happened there. No family has been ableOccult scholar Dr. John Montague rents Hill House for the summer after hearing of the strange occurrences that happened there. No family has been able to stay in house for more than a few days at a time. Even though they give a wide range of excuses, Dr. Montague believes they do this simply because it’s unfeasible to a rational person to say that some unknown fear drove them out. The only thing the families agree on is that no one should set foot in Hill House. Hill House is an eighty-year-old mansion built by a man named Hugh Crain, and there has never been a moment’s peace for anyone since it was built. Violent deaths, family squabbles, and suicide taint its brief history.
Dr. Montague invites guests to stay at Hill House with him to help him track any phenomena. These guests are all chosen for their connection to strange events. Only two end up taking him up on his offer. Eleanor Vance, a fragile, socially awkward woman who had an experience with a poltergeist as a young girl, and Theodora (no last name), a free-spirited woman who has exhibited psychic tendencies. The last person to join them is Luke Sanderson, a charming rake who represents the family who owns the property. Despite their different lifestyles and personalities, the four form quick friendships with one another.
The group begins to experience strange occurrences in Hill House with Eleanor being the most receptive to what is happening around them as she increasingly loses grip with reality. There’s some evidence to suggest that the event she witnessed during her childhood might actually have been some supernatural doing of her own that she is unaware of, a doing that may have followed her to Hill House.
I can only vaguely remember watching The Haunting with Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson, and Lili Taylor, and I’ve never watched the original one from the 60s. So, I didn’t have much movie lore to taint the book for me other than having images of Taylor as Eleanor Vance, Wilson as Luke Sanderson, and Zeta-Jones as Theodora. Liam Neeson did not fit the image of Dr. Montague, but I think I remember them calling him by another last name in the movie, anyway.
I’ve been a horror book and movie fan for a very long time. For quite a number of years (read: most of my preteen, teenage, and young adult years) horror was about the only thing I would read with the occasional read from other genres. The first horror novel that I can remember leaving an impression with me as a preteen was Stephen King’s It. Sure, I had read other horror books, mostly in the YA vein, during that time. However, even as a preteen, I was a bit numbed to the scary aspects of horror books, and I remember It being the moment when a whole new world of horror opened up for me. However, two subgenres of horror were never really my cuppa--zombie horror and ghost stories.
Even though ghost stories aren’t high on my list that doesn’t stop me from reading them. I just found that most ghost stories never really got any better than your average 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey books. Enjoyable, fun reads, but kind of campy. Sure, there have been exceptions as always, but most of them read like the kind of urban legends you’d whisper to your friend. “Hey, did you hear the story about the cheerleader who died on the football field and now her ghost will chase you if you stand on the 50-yard line at midnight?” Yeah, that. I’ve always been more into the macabre, anyway. So, I went into The Haunting of Hill House expecting it to be kitschy.
This is a ghost story, but it manages to be more than just a story that’s told around the camp fires. Jackson brought a psychological angle that makes the reader question if these things are really happening to this bunch or if it is some unexplainable shared delusion. Maybe Eleanor made the whole thing up entirely. We learn early in the novel that she has a very ripe imagination that threatens to overflow. This imagination may be the consequence of taking care of her ailing mother for years before her death and never having much contact with others. Jackson spends a fair amount of time delving into Eleanor’s thoughts with poetic prose that can sometimes make you forget that you’re reading a horror novel.
At the same time, that same poetic writing can suddenly be twisted by Jackson to capture the eerie, dreadful feel of Hill House. It creates tension and scares that seem to be hidden just out of the corner of your eye. I wouldn’t say this book is necessarily scary, but it creates a fair mount of tension for the characters that they never really shake as the house seeds itself deep in their psyche. Jackson never takes the mystery out of the story, leaving so much of the happenings at Hill House up to the reader, which makes the mind run wild. Add to that the caretakers, Mr. and Mrs. Dudley, who both are depressing, dour people that help feed the groups’ edginess.
I should take some time out here to praise the narrator, Bernadette Dunne. Her raspy reading voice helped to accentuate the creepiness of the story, but she did an excellent job creating voices and personality for the characters through her voice as well. I don’t think this would have been quite as enjoyable without her narration of the story. I loved hearing her Mrs. Dudley, who was probably the most terrifying and the funniest person in the book for me partly because of these lines delivered so well by Ms. Dunne:
“I leave before dark comes […] We live over in the town, six miles away. So there won’t be anyone around if you need help. We couldn’t even hear you, in the night. No one could. No one lives any nearer than the town. No one else will come any nearer than that. In the night,” Mrs. Dudley said, and smiled outright. “In the dark,” she said, and closed the door behind her.
This is part of a much longer mantra that Mrs. Dudley recites repeatedly throughout the novel to the characters. She rarely says much else aside from these same words, and Dunne’s delivery really cuts down to the bone with those words. (Side note: If our small theater ever puts on a production of The Haunting of Hill House, I would so try out for Mrs. Dudley’s part.)
The Haunting of Hill House is a tense story that seems to ask if the house is truly haunted or could these things have happened because the group believed in them. Would they have been faced with this same terror if they hadn’t had certain expectations about what to expect or is the house truly some primordial evil waiting and watching for victims? It’s almost as if the story is asking the reader, “What do you think… in the night… in the dark?”
The story takes place in Portland, Oregon; the year is 2002. Portland, and much of the world, is existing under veryCrossposted at The Bibliosanctum.
The story takes place in Portland, Oregon; the year is 2002. Portland, and much of the world, is existing under very poor conditions. George Orr finds himself on a fantastic journey after being treated for a bad reaction to drugs he obtained illegally. Because his crime is seen as a relatively minor offense, since he obtained the drugs for personal use, George is referred to a type of rehabilitation program—Voluntary Therapeutic Treatment, or VTT for short—that involves him attending mandatory psychiatric evaluations. Even though Le Guin doesn’t go much into the detail of what tests and things George had to be part of, the doctors eventually send him to Dr. Haber, an expert on dreams and hypnosis—a man they send the “tough cases.”
George’s problem is this. He dreams what he calls “effective dreams” and things happen. He manifests new realities in his sleep, and in order to keep this from happening, he takes a drug cocktail to suppress dreaming. However, it’s not as simple as he dreams something and it comes into being much to the delight/horror of others. No, his dreams retroactively manipulate time, history, even science itself to build a continuum that has always been. Therefore, no one but George has ever been aware that time has changed itself.
However, after divulging this information to Dr. Haber, George becomes the doctor’s pet project once he realizes that George is not insane. Dr. Haber begins to feed George ideas while he’s hypnotized to ail the world’s current problems such as overcrowding, racism, and war. In each new reality, Haber becomes increasingly more powerful and fanatical about fixing the world to the horror of George. George knows the doctor means well, but the results are almost never as intended, and George firmly believes in the natural order of things.
To many people George encountered, even Dr. Haber and George’s love interest, Heather LaLache, there’s nothing remarkable about him. In fact, people seem to think that he’s not living more than just existing, describing him as passive, timid, and frail. He appears content to allow life to happen to him rather shaping it. However, George has profound moments that surprise people, showing them that he’s not as fragile and meandering as they believe. George doesn’t show much initiative, but his reasons for his complicity are rooted firmly in response to his ability. He lives his life as straightforward and uncomplicated as possible, but he is nuanced.
On the opposite end of the scale is Dr. Haber, a man who not only is proactive but eventually exhibits a great need to shape himself and his world. Dr. Haber isn’t an evil man, but he lacks the ability to grasp that his vision of a perfect world is hardly feasible without some sort of sacrifice, that there has to be some conflict in the world for balance. George’s dreams confirm this as there is always some point of contention that has to be in play in order to fulfill Haber’s vision.
Dr. Haber can’t fathom that one person cannot take it upon himself to right what he perceives as the world’s flaws. His blindness to this fact is exemplified by his disregard of George’s fears. He feels that George’s ability isn’t something that George should withhold from the world. George’s fears combined with feelings about his trust being abused are not as important as, what Dr. Haber considers, the needs of the many. George and Dr. Haber presented countering arguments to the question of moral obligation/negligence while Heather served as a variable for readers to observe as she changed from scenario to scenario.
Speaking of Heather, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked the romance in this book. When it first became obvious that Heather was going to catch George’s interest, I feared that the romance might feel shoehorned into the book and would detract from the main story. Heather served a purpose as someone who’s swept along in Dr. Haber’s game and presents another view of how George’s dream affect those around him. It helped that the romance blossomed around these changes for better or for worse, and for most of the book, it’s just a cautious dance between two people who aren’t sure about their place in the world.
Even though I loved this book, the scenarios seemed to get more and more outrageous a bit as the story progressed. I preferred the subtle shifting from the beginning to the comical and outlandish scenarios George is faced with later in the book. It’s hard to concentrate on how thoughtful the story is when you’re reading a scene that reads like it came right out of a pulpy science fiction magazine. Maybe this was very deliberate on Le Guin’s part to mirror Haber’s increasing fanaticism in being the world’s savior, but that’s only a minor nitpick.
My first experience with Le Guin was during a college literature course where we read and analyzed her short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas which explored some similar ideas on a smaller scale as this book. It was always a story that haunted me throughout the years. To find out Le Guin published a novel that expanded on some of these ideas made it a must read for me.
For the most part, I enjoyed this novel. This book very much questioned moral ideas like “Is it ever okay to play God?” and “Should the needs of the many always outweigh the needs of a few?” It was a story that asked the readers to ponder these questions as we followed George on his journey. It was much more than just a science fiction novel....more
went into this with a Dandelion Wine mentality. I expected another story about a boy teetering on the brink of adulthood and childhood. This story wa went into this with a Dandelion Wine mentality. I expected another story about a boy teetering on the brink of adulthood and childhood. This story was that and much more. The story focuses around Robert. A twelve-year-old boy living on a farm in Vermont. He acquires a pig, which he loves because it is his, and well, his father butchers pigs for a living.
This book was just a little over 100 pages, and it is classified as a "children's book", but this book packs an awful powerful punch to be children's book. So many questions come to mind while reading that book. Religion, familial relationships, politics. I found the story very touching, and my eyes even misted over because of a scene or two. I don't know if Peck meant for the book to be this way, but it is.
In relating to Banned Books Week, I could see why some of the subject matter would get someone a little upset. I didn't so much care about the word "bitch", which wasn't used in a derogatory nature. There was a very graphic scene dealing with pigs mating. I mean, I wouldn't demand that schools stop reading this. Even in the "rape" of the pig, there's something to be learned. You can't just shield kids from things like this. Hell, they've probably heard/seen/read a lot worse than a graphic scene involving two pigs. ...more
Admittedly, I'm not well versed in Austen's works aside from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, but I think this just became my favorite bAdmittedly, I'm not well versed in Austen's works aside from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, but I think this just became my favorite book by her. There's just such a earnestness about this book that touched me on a deeper level than the two mentioned. Also, yes, I am a hopeless romantic no matter what I say! Longer review later....more