Tried getting into this, but just didn't care enough about it to keep going. I find coming of age stories to be very hit and miss, and this was defini...moreTried getting into this, but just didn't care enough about it to keep going. I find coming of age stories to be very hit and miss, and this was definitely a miss for me. I haven't ever been tempted to pick it up again, and it was one that was highly recommended and I wanted to like.(less)
I have a feeling that if this were a short story, or at the very least 100 pages shorter, I would have enjoyed it quite a bit more. As it stands, thou...moreI have a feeling that if this were a short story, or at the very least 100 pages shorter, I would have enjoyed it quite a bit more. As it stands, though, Hawthorne is really the master of run-on sentences and paragraphs that have no real sway on the story. I understand what he was going for with some of the long (nearly chapter-length, at times) character studies of the various major players in the novel, but it really didn't make for fascinating reading.
There are some really amazing themes in here, and while the symbolism and themes can be pretty heavy-handed at times, I did appreciate it. Like Crime & Punishment, the mental guilt that this delves into is pretty fascinating at times. I loved the introspective nature of some of the passages, especially as the story progressed and there was more revealed about the father of Pearl and how his initial lack of admitting guilt had weighed on him through the years. His final scene was excellent, and I wish more of the novel could have been that powerful.
Really, if the pacing had been better, I would have rated this higher. It's hard to rate it, with how bored I was at times, but overall I liked the thoughts and ideas presented here, even if it did feel awkward at times. There are some big merits in here, and boy does it remind me of how happy I am to not be living in a Puritanical society.(less)
Natsuo Kirino does not deal with light-hearted issues. Like her other novels that have been published in English, this deals with very dark problems--...moreNatsuo Kirino does not deal with light-hearted issues. Like her other novels that have been published in English, this deals with very dark problems--a teenage boy murders his own mother. Four teenage girls, one of which is his neighbor, get wrapped up in the ensuing drama.
Something I've loved with each novel she's written is how vivid her description is of Japanese life. I've never felt like she does a half-hearted job at describing anything, no matter how dark or unpleasant it is, which really adds to the depth of her stories. The details really breathe life into the characters, who are all very different and very complex.
There's a whole lot of psychological studies going on in this--each character has deep-seated concerns that causes them to act the way they do on top of the normal pressures of Japanese high school students. It was really fascinating to see how different personalities might react to the same situation and just how far some people will go. I found the characters all to be incredibly realistic and complex, which is always a good change from the one-dimensional characters so many authors rely on.
My only complaint about this was it was so short! Then again, with how short it was it told the story very well and very powerfully, it's just I was so wrapped up in the characters that I wanted to continue reading about them longer. Real World was definitely one of those novels that I tried reading slowly to prolong but I couldn't help devouring it!
A fantastic book, but very dark and could be difficult for readers who are sensitive (but that just goes for Natsuo Kirino in general--she's definitely not for the faint-of-heart).(less)
I really enjoyed the overall theme of this novel (letting go of your fears and living your life), and it was beautifully written. The characters were...moreI really enjoyed the overall theme of this novel (letting go of your fears and living your life), and it was beautifully written. The characters were definitely interesting, and I really found myself caring about whether their love would work out or not.
This might not have been the best place for me to start my delving into Coelho's works. This was very steeped in Christianity and the Virgin Mary and it got a little overwhelming for me--I have very little interest in prayer and faith, so those parts wound up being pretty dull for me.
Still, I enjoyed it, and I'm looking forward to trying some of his other works that I might appreciate more.(less)
A novel comprised of six short stories, five of which are centered around the same family and their struggles to survive in post-World War II Japan wi...moreA novel comprised of six short stories, five of which are centered around the same family and their struggles to survive in post-World War II Japan with very little money.
At the core, it seems to be a love story between the un-named narrator and his young wife, Shino. The narrator struggles with his family history (two of his sisters committed suicide, his two brothers both disappeared without a trace, and his one surviving sister is disabled) that causes what he thinks is his "tainted blood."
It's very beautifully-written, and at times reminded me a lot of the haiku tradition. As always, it's hard to really be sure of what the original was like when a work has been translated, but it seems like the translator put a lot of work into keeping the novel powerful with the fewest words necessary--that's a relief after reading many wordy books that can't get to the point.
I was really thrown off by the inclusion of the sixth story, since the entire novel is in first-person and we're never once given the narrator's name. At first, I was confused because the name of his wife was different, and was worried that the couple I had grown attached to in the first six stories had somehow split up and the narrator had re-married... Not the case. Instead, it's a couple that has a very similar history. It was an interesting story, but it felt a bit awkward to footnote the novel with.
The novel was all the more interesting when I read the "about the author" spiel in the back of the book, and apparently the novel is semi-auto-biographical. Tesuo Miura also had four of his five siblings either commit suicide or disappear, like the narrator, and he considers writing to be his way of coping with his own "tainted blood." (less)
This is an absolutely silly narrative following the exploits of Professor von Igelfeld, told in Alexander McCall's Smith rather whimsical voice. This...moreThis is an absolutely silly narrative following the exploits of Professor von Igelfeld, told in Alexander McCall's Smith rather whimsical voice. This had me cracking up quite a bit, and the voice reader felt spot-on for the tone of the book. (less)
This is a very charming novella that, at it's core, is a musing on reading and how it changes lives. I really enjoyed the idea of Queen Elizabeth II,...moreThis is a very charming novella that, at it's core, is a musing on reading and how it changes lives. I really enjoyed the idea of Queen Elizabeth II, while walking her corgis one morning, happening upon a bookmobile and decided to give reading a try for really the first time in her life. It's a really interesting little story, and it's quick to finish and really was a great reminder of why I love reading so much.(less)
I enjoyed this, well as much as I really could when it's a story of people getting their brains and other gooey bits splattered across the scenery, bu...moreI enjoyed this, well as much as I really could when it's a story of people getting their brains and other gooey bits splattered across the scenery, but I was so bugged by the vagueness towards the end.
The first half of this seemed very clear and, while it was stark in terms of prose, it told the story very well and I never felt confused. Around page 250, though, I swear McCarthy rushed it or something because he skipped some scenes which I would have thought would be pretty important to show. And, since I was reading it late at night after I should have been asleep, it turned into some really annoying minutes when I had to flip back to previous pages and skim over what I'd already read because I thought I had missed the major events--nope, they just happen and we get the information second hand!
I can handle some vagueness and leaving things up to the reader's imagination, but it just bugged me how so much of the end of the book is so vague. Still an entertaining read, but I definitely could have used some more solid facts.
Chigurh was an interesting villain, one of the better I've read in a while. There's something incredibly more threatening and creepy about a man who kills at random and not necessarily for any real reason other than to kill, over the usual villains that kill for a purpose. Outright craziness is usually scarier for me than someone who's just mean but purposeful about it. I liked that I wasn't able to predict what he'd do, let alone the course of the novel, and that's something because most novels these days are pretty easy to predict.(less)
This is in turns extremely ridiculous, absolutely enthralling, and in general just an entertaining adventure story that the influence can be seen in s...moreThis is in turns extremely ridiculous, absolutely enthralling, and in general just an entertaining adventure story that the influence can be seen in so many other stories these days. Haggard wrote this on a dare that he couldn't write something as adventurous and exciting as Treasure Island, and he went majorly overload on quite a bit of it, but the result is really a fun read. This is the archetype for the Lost World/Lost Tribe adventure story, which can be found in so many novels and movies (James Rollins and Indiana Jones, for examples). It has quite a few of the hilariously goofy bits that one could expect, but for me that didn't detract at all from the enjoyment.
Parts of this were pretty trippy to read with a modern day mindset. There's a whole lot of sexism, racism, and general acceptance of the exploitation of nature. Not only are racist terms tossed around, but Haggard does paint the natives as the typical ignorant and awestruck-by-the-white man. But, considering it's a Victorian novel, there are some concessions to be made.
It was pretty obvious this was written quickly and without much care, but it sure was entertaining. Definitely worth a read for fans of adventure stories, especially as a look into the history of the genre.(less)
This was just not worth the effort it took to get through it, at all. I could have gotten over the main character murdering her mother (which is withi...moreThis was just not worth the effort it took to get through it, at all. I could have gotten over the main character murdering her mother (which is within the first sentence, so don't panic about being spoiled) if she weren't so unpleasant in every other respect. First she murders her mother, and then she goes on to do other things that are just as cringe-worthy.
I also could have gotten past how horrible a person Helen was...if they novel had any kind of point at all. I kept reading in hopes that it would resolve anything, and it doesn't. All it does is confirm mental illness and a horrible childhood, all of which is pretty obvious from the first chapter, and that's it.
The writing itself drove me a mad, as well. It's written in more stream-of-consciousness, so the story jumps all over the place because Helen's mind jumps all over the place. One second she'll be narrating how she's panicking over what she did to her mother, and the next she'll be five years old and talking about some important event that happened to make her the way she is now. I can appreciate stream-of-consciousness, but not when it's so disjointed that it confuses me as to what is going on.
Yes, the characters are fleshed out. Yes, Alice Sebold has a great command of the English language and is very poetic at times...but this was just awful.
After I read the last page (which made the whole thing feel like there was no point, what with the lack of resolution and all), I felt mentally ill for reading the whole thing.(less)
I read a previous translation of this years ago and am unsure which translation it was. I'd really like to read this new translation again some day, w...moreI read a previous translation of this years ago and am unsure which translation it was. I'd really like to read this new translation again some day, when I have plenty of time to devote to it. I remember really enjoying it, despite not only the size but the incredible number of characters and complex plot.(less)
It's interesting to go back and read this as Jane Austen's first novel, especially as a fan of gothic novels and seeing her satirize the genre here. C...moreIt's interesting to go back and read this as Jane Austen's first novel, especially as a fan of gothic novels and seeing her satirize the genre here. Catherine is a pretty fun heroine to follow around--everything about her feels younger than the typical Austen protagonist, with her wide-eyed innocence and obsession with these wild gothic stories. Watching her try to find the the spookiest answers to common-day items or events was pretty hilarious.
Even with an ending that felt pretty rushed, this was a lot of fun and the romance aspect was pretty adorable.(less)
A very peculiar book, about two cousins who re-unite at an old castle in Germany after not having seen each other since childhood. Along with this, it...moreA very peculiar book, about two cousins who re-unite at an old castle in Germany after not having seen each other since childhood. Along with this, it's the story of an inmate in prison for shooting someone in the head. At first, the transitions seemed a little jarring, as well as the narration, but I found it pretty easy to get the swing of.
A lot of readers seemed put off by the vague narration style, and how at times you don't really know what happened or if things were just a dream. I'm a fan of more surrealist works, like Haruki Murakami, so I actually really liked this aspect of the book. It's one of those books that whether it happened or not doesn't really matter--what matters is the actions characters take because of what they thought happened.
I wasn't exactly sure how she planned on tying the two stories together, but in the end I really liked the result. Not a book for the more literal-minded crowd, but worth a shot if you can tolerate disjointed narration styles.(less)
This book was fascinating for a variety of reasons for me. Not only is it set in the jungles of Congo, but the structure really sucked me in so much m...moreThis book was fascinating for a variety of reasons for me. Not only is it set in the jungles of Congo, but the structure really sucked me in so much more than a lot of books. Barbara Kingsolver obviously spent a lot of time researching this book (according to the P.S. text, a couple of decades)--there's a huge list of references used, and the details within the text made me feel almost as if I'd actually been to a little town deep within the jungles of Congo.
Kingsolver had a very nice variety of character perspectives, rather than telling the story all from one person's point-of-view. All of the daughters have very different voices, as well as the mother. Leah is the most trusting of her father's preaching, and for a good chunk of the novel spends her time doting on her father and not really realizing how wrong he was on a lot of things. Rachel gets fairly annoying at times, with how stuck-up she can be, but in the end I did like her for her honesty. Adah, the "twisted child," is very poetic and I found myself looking forward to her passages the most, with her play-on-words and general pessimistic take on the whole situation. Ruth May felt a lot like a filler character at times, although in the end I did appreciate her innocent take on everything.
I actually learned a few things about the Congo by reading this--it's not an area I knew much about (just generals that are commonly known, like the diamond trade), so it was a bit of a history lesson mixed in with a very interesting story.
I was a bit iffy of the final 150-ish pages, where it seemed like the story was over...but it kept going. In the end, I was really glad Kingsolver decided to do the rest of the story in the way she did--in those 150 pages, she covers about 30 years of the after-effects on the family. You never get the full story of what happened to certain characters, but in a time of turmoil like that you wouldn't in reality...so it works. It's pretty interesting to see how much some of the daughters changed after the horrible failure of their father's mission, and how very little one daughter changed. It turned into more than a story of a failed Baptist preacher attempting to convert the members of a little Congolese town, but a story of the long-reaching effects of one man.
Definitely a powerful book, and I'm so glad I picked it up on a whim! It was slow-going most of the time (it took me much longer to read this than I expected--more out of savoring it than it being a difficult read, because it was definitely easy yet poetic language), but it was definitely worth the effort.(less)