This coming of age novel was recommended to me by Rida and while I didn’t like it as much as I had hoped to, I did find it very stark and honest in itThis coming of age novel was recommended to me by Rida and while I didn’t like it as much as I had hoped to, I did find it very stark and honest in its portrayal of life on the poor side in Paris, France. I don’t know about you guys but I have a very selective way of thinking about Paris. To me, it is the city of lights, romance and fluffy pastries. Before I read this book, I didn’t think about the people who populated the city, who breathe, live and animate this city. There’s this authenticity in the narrator’s voice, this matter of fact manner of relating facts that I could not help but respond to.
It did not surprise me when I read the author’s biography and found that the author experienced the same life she writes about. I don’t know whether it is the translation but this novel reads less like a fictional piece and more like documentary – raw, real and right there, in front of you. Doria’s observations about the hierarchy, the pain of being a girl when your father wanted a boy, wearing clothes that make other people smirk and laugh – these are just so on point. So on point that the line between reality and fictionality blurs significantly.
Some people have claimed this to be the French Catcher in the Rye and I don’t know if this comparison is apt. I do know that while the novel has no beginning, middle and end, there is no main narrative, it does give you a slice of the pie and ask that you taste it and make up your own mind about how much you like it. So yeah, while I didn’t love it unequivocally, it has merit and if you want to experience life in a very different pair of shoes, you should read this....more
Skellig came rather enthusiastically recommended by our MACL chair and so I read it because it seemed interesting and well, because I am on a missionSkellig came rather enthusiastically recommended by our MACL chair and so I read it because it seemed interesting and well, because I am on a mission to immerse myself in all sorts of literature for children. In a genre that is overflowing with teen angels who are more angsty than you would think, Skellig is refreshingly different. This is middle grade rather than YA and not exactly paranormal in the ordinary sense of the word. The titular character is one of the most fascinating characters I have come across in literature – complex layers, ambiguous origins that remain obdurate even at the end, contradictory personality that successfully shows the vulnerability in the character.
For a children’s novel, Skellig is extremely sophisticated in its character construction. It is sensitive to gender issues and tackles themes of actual learning (which can be done anywhere and perhaps with greater richness) and school learning (that occurs in the rarified air of a classroom and is a particular type of learning that does not have the richness of learning that should be present in childhood). The main character is going through tough times – moving, a very sick baby sister and general isolation from things and people he is familiar to and absent parents. His fascination with what looks like a hobo in the garden shed is instantly worrying. Who is this odd character? Does he mean harm? Skellig is presented as an adult in this children’s world and to modern readers, there will be shades of villainy in his presence in the story.
However, Almond succeeds in narrating Skellig as this owl/angel character that defies all stereotypes one may have of his species. The book is almost uncomfortably realistic in its portrayal and yet there is this element of hope that becomes turgid with each revelation. The portion where the owls feed Skellig is one of my favourite sections of the novel. It just adds so much potential to his character.
Michael’s friendships with the girl next door and his school friends are realistically portrayed. I liked how Almond avoided melodrama and pathos but sustained this genuine feeling of grief where the sick baby is concerned. All in all, this was a worthy piece of literature that lingers long after the last page has been turned. It is also a short read so if you have time and are curious about owl/angels, I reckon you should give this a try....more
I watched the movie first. In fact, it was entirely accidentally that my cousin and I, in the midst of this loud, busy family reunion, came across theI watched the movie first. In fact, it was entirely accidentally that my cousin and I, in the midst of this loud, busy family reunion, came across the movie version and were completely sucked into the tale of Sophie, Howl and Calcifier. So when the movie was done and I sat back with a sigh and some sadness that another good thing had come to an end, I thought of reading the book to prolong the loveliness. Because everyone knows that books are always better, right?
In this case, the book was just as good as the movie in a couple of very different ways. The movie takes some liberties with the narratives, clipping away some characters and giving more importance to others than the book graces them with; all the changes made, however, work to present, or should I say, transfer the story from one medium to another with a seamlessness that, were you not to read the book after all, you would not find anything lacking in the movie narrative. The movie and the book both preserve the most important parts of the novel: the characterizations. Though the movie changes the kid a fair bit, the personality remains intact.
Anyway, Howl's Moving Castle is so amazing, you guys. I don't know why you haven't read/watched it if you haven't yet. Obviously I lived under a rock for most of my life (also known as Fiji) so I hadn't even heard of it but what's your excuse? The story, the pacing, the lovely narrative voice, these are all so wonderfully done - they celebrate the loveliness of the story, the beauty of the imagination, creativity without being buried under its own importance. I think this is one of those works that parents should hand their children when they reach a certain age and let them enrich their own imaginations with the stories of the castle, the fire demon and Sophie. ...more
The second novel in The Tamir Triad trilogy loses none of the charm of the first. In fact, it makes an already intriguing world downright amazing. I lThe second novel in The Tamir Triad trilogy loses none of the charm of the first. In fact, it makes an already intriguing world downright amazing. I loved how the characters are developed and the faint stirrings of romance between the two main characters promises that the conclusion to the trilogy will pack a punch in more than one way.
So the pace continued in its languid manner and I'm not gonna lie, I did for a minute or two wish they could just hurry up and get the reveal over with. However, at the end of the novel I was glad that Flewelling took the time she did because it has more momentum when it happens the way it did. I was surprised by how Korin's character was developed and I thought that Flewelling's careful attention to the grey in a person's character was well done. The novel is populated by such wonderful characters that I wouldn't mind reading all their individual stories. There's Lutha and Nikides, Una, Ahra - it is actually an awesome compliment from me (ahem ahem) that I remember the names of the characters in the book because usually I don't even remember the name of the main character.
And this book won my love by having cats being mini characters. I am a cat person (future cat lady? ha) and Flewelling's portrayal of the felines was entertaining. Of course, on the other side of it, Niryn became slimier than ever. What is he doing with that Nalia? Okay, I'll stop pretending this is a review because honestly, I just want to talk about the book. I thought that Tobin going naked in front of all those people took balls he didn't have. I understood why it had to be done and I don't even have to any trouble with it. I just thought it interesting.
Oh also, I hope Flewelling keeps Tobin/Tamir as ordinary as possible and not, you know, on a pedestal. That would interfere with the original dynamic too much and I don't know...I kinda like it the way it is right now. I am not looking forward to see what that wizard has up his sleeve but I am looking forward to seeing how Ki copes with a female best friend. ...more
Oh my goodness, this had to be one of the most satisfying conclusions to a trilogy that I have ever read. It involved me fist pumping, beaming, readinOh my goodness, this had to be one of the most satisfying conclusions to a trilogy that I have ever read. It involved me fist pumping, beaming, reading breathlessly, awwing and you know, the whole spectrum of emotions. It was so so good to see Tamir come into her own as a woman, as a soldier and as a queen. It was very easy for me to forget that she was a mere fifteen at the time because the way she was written, seemed to be at least in her twenties. But experiences age a person far more and the incongruousness between Tamir’s voice and her age didn’t upset me at all. I had been afraid that Tamir’s character may develop Mary Sue-ish qualities in the last novel but I was wrong and she continues to display the same enchanting mixture of vulnerability and world-weariness that suits her position. She doesn’t stop growing in this last installment and her inability to move in the predicted lines of past rulers keeps the narrative fresh and intriguing.
I also really really appreciated how Flewelling dealt with Niryn. At first I thought it was somewhat anticlimactic and then I realized that Niryn was an instrument of the conflict but not the conflict itself. And the irony of Niryn’s fate was not lost on me. It is the subtlety that plays in the narrative, enjoining one event to another, one coincidence to another fact that makes the overall story so very readable. All the characters retain their greyness and I liked how Tamir manages to stay good and not become sanctimonious. The novel has a huge cast of characters – even more than the usual novel since it is the third installment in a trilogy but Flewelling manages to keep them all real in that they could really exist. Her characterizations are wonderful.
One of my favourite parts of the novel was how the romance between Ki and Tamir is approached. I loved how it wasn’t an instant attraction and culmination of that attraction. Flewelling spends time in developing and portraying the necessary confusion that arises when your best friend becomes a girl and you find yourself seeing him in ways that you don’t necessarily want to.
I would recommend this trilogy to anyone who likes high fantasy. I think you could easily term this one of the better young adult high fantasy trilogies (though it is not exactly marketed in that way, it can be seen as part of the YA genre since its protagonists are young adults, I think). The trilogy is more complex and more mature than what is normal to the genre but I think this is a good thing rather than bad. Read this especially if you like strong heroines with a dash of vulnerability and wonderful world building. Strongly recommended....more