Manor Farm is home to a bunch of downtrodden animals, who one day gather together to hear the speech of an esteemed colleague, Old Major, a boar, who...moreManor Farm is home to a bunch of downtrodden animals, who one day gather together to hear the speech of an esteemed colleague, Old Major, a boar, who calls them for a meeting in the barn. He tells them of a dream he had in which animals live together with no humans to rule over them. He then teaches them the song, The Beasts of England, which feature many times throughout the book. Inspired by his speech, three pigs, Snowball, Napoleon and Squealor make a plan to overthrow their master, Mr. Jones, which they manage to do. Then follows what usually follows a revolution - a means to reconstruct their lives, with plans to be self-sustaining and strong. Several rules are laid out and an order maintained. And of course, the bad decisions, power-control and political bad-mouthing also follow.
I've heard so much about George Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984, but both sounded very academic to me, which made me not want to pick them while I was doing my Masters. And I was kind of right in assuming that they were of academic merit, but very wrong in implicitly taking that to mean that the books would be hard to read and understand - at least Animal Farm was definitely not that. I listened and devoured Animal Farm on audio, and just couldn't stop laughing so many times. The book was hilarious, but it was also a very clever take on human nature. It is satirical, and the resemblances made me chortle so many times.
So let's see, we have a bunch of animals, who succeed (of course) in overthrowing their farmer, and then the pigs come out as the natural leaders, because only they knew how to read. This was very interesting, because even in real world, the ones with plenty of degrees to their name (though not necessarily more intellectual or wise), were usually the ones who won the posts to control a whole group of people. The pigs used that cleverly even insisting that none of the animals could possible do a proper thing, because they weren't learned. Hence, knowledge = wisdom.
The leader pigs, Napoleon, Snowball and Squealor, laid out seven commandments, which are rules that have to be abided by the animals at all times. The basic motif was no association with two-legged creatures (yeah, that's us) at all, and no killing the four-legged ones. As in any government, the rules get twisted and contorted to suit the needs of the leaders, till in the end, they become of the opposite of what they started out as. Don't we see that always? But of course, the subjects do not have a way to protest, because 1. they can't read, and 2. the pigs as extra precaution, keep rewriting the rules on the wall where they were originally published. So, knowledge = take advantage of others.
Initially, the animals bonded well, but then the autocratic nature of Napoleon, the "nominated" though actually "self-proclaimed" leader started showing out. Napoleon's assistant, Squealor did most of the talking on his behalf. He was a smooth-talker who knew exactly how to influence his fellow animals. So, dump your dirty laundry on your juniors.
That's only a portion of the lessons from this delightful book. Since we see all such drama every day, it was quite funny to read about it. The interesting attribute of Animal Farm, was how George Orwell easily created different kinds of human characters in the animals - the one who looks for materialistic prizes, the one who wants power, another that blindly obeys the master, yet another who is willing to see the good in others, the smooth-talker who plants ideas in the subjects' minds, the spy, the bodyguards, and so on. Animal Farm is not meant solely for enjoyment. There are oodles of lessons in the quirky animals' interactions. It shows how revolutions rarely set in motion something much better. Although the rebels start off with a lot of just plans and hopes, slowly the corrupt way of living turns to be the easier path, till eventually, they become their old rulers.
I'm not sure why I never had this book to read in school. This is a great book with lots of valuable lessons, because of the parallels to human life. But of course, there is a bit of gore and violence, which is not gory to me at all, but I can see the censor board sniffing its way through. Oh right, this book, its introduction and several plays have already gone through the ritual of being banned several times, but it doesn't yet fall into the usual basket of banned books. This book wasn't hard to read at all. Or listen either. In fact, I never had to look at any annotated notes, though I'm sure doing that would give me more insights - whatever I missed. I can't wait to read 1984 now.(less)
Ever had a book that you would go to when your brain's all fried and tensions are high? No matter what you set your mind to, you can't...moreRe-read thoughts
Ever had a book that you would go to when your brain's all fried and tensions are high? No matter what you set your mind to, you can't concentrate, and then you pick that one book. Much like having a glass of wine. Or going shopping. All those tensions just ooze out of your self. The Harry Potter series does that to me. Ever since I first read a Harry Potter book, I have always returned back to them once a year. Or at least to most of the books of the series, if not all.
The first book of this series that I read is actually the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. That happened after I caught the first raving waves about this series in the newspaper. I ignored the series. The news persisted. Every day, I would hear some gossip or the other about this series. I still ignored the series. After all, the idea of me @ 16 years of age reading this book that I branded "children's book" is indeed laughable! (You can see how obnoxious I was then!) And then, as things usually go, in to this picture comes the proverbial cousin with a copy of the book, literally. He wouldn't take "no" for an answer. So to appease him, I decided to bore myself for a few days with the book. The rest, as they say, is history.
So now, I am re-reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone after more than two years. Believe it or not, I think I became an adult only recently. The last time I read this book, I lapped it happily. This time though, I got bugged by small nuances that a teenager wouldn't complain about.
- Such as, for the first time, I realized that this book is not written for an audience like me, but for those more than half my age. Which is to be expected, seeing as the protagonists are 11 years old! It's amazing though comparing the first and last books of this series - both in writing quality and in their darkness. The dangers surrounding Harry are only felt tangentially in this book.
- J.K. Rowling's writing is nowhere near as captivating as it is in her later books. That's to be expected, of course, but I had never noticed that before. The ever-prevalent humor still makes me laugh! This series has some very unforgettable humorous quotes. Fred and George are as funny as ever!
- The story rushes through certain parts while strolls lazily through others. Previously, I thought the supporting characters had a great depth! I couldn't feel that now though. That could be because each time I re-read, I was going into the book, already knowing the supporting cast well. Moreover, my first time with this series was with the fourth book, which is the first coming-of-age book in my opinion. When I was reading this time, I made sure I wasn't biased by any of my earlier knowledge. So I can't really blame Chris Columbus for not giving much character to the supporting cast!
- For the first time, I gave it only 4 stars. I had never given it less than 5. I wonder how my ratings of the remaining series will be affected!(less)
It's as different as possible from the Twilight series. But it still has Meyer's style and elements in it. For instance, a lot of poignant scenes late...moreIt's as different as possible from the Twilight series. But it still has Meyer's style and elements in it. For instance, a lot of poignant scenes later being set right in a Happily-ever-after manner. It's written well though, but it is a slow start, will take some time before you get the drive to sit through the book. I liked the ending and how things worked for all. If Meyer comes up with a sequel, I will probably be reading it.(less)
Nice book. At the core, it deals with notions of beauty and its importance in society. I liked how it was packaged in a sci-fi genre. Not really one o...moreNice book. At the core, it deals with notions of beauty and its importance in society. I liked how it was packaged in a sci-fi genre. Not really one of my better reads, but definitely well worth the time. And as most YA novels go, things don't always go HEA. I liked Scott's use of language here. Although it's a young adult fiction, the language is definitely great. Not that YA fiction authors write well, but most such novels I've read are either immature or too simplistic for the likes of me.
I also appreciated how well Scott has described Tally's dilemma, her mixed emotions and her desire for being pretty while not wanting to do the assignment she's being tasked with. I liked it that it was not so black-and-white as most YA novels liked to define, but something more realistic.(less)
Over the past fortnight, I re-read the third book of the Harry Potter series - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. For the first...moreRe-read thoughts
Over the past fortnight, I re-read the third book of the Harry Potter series - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. For the first time, as I read these books, I pause to think. I've been reading with breaks in between and also writing up posts on my re-read experience, while also marking out my favorite quotes from the books. (Previously, I just raced through the pages. It's hard to slow down.) It's been a thrilling ride!
The third book has always seemed to me the "coming-of-age" book. The series is beginning to take shape slowly. Some of the principal characters of the rest of the series (Lupin, Sirius, Wormtail, Buckbeak, Trelawney, Dementors) make their first appearances here. The relationships between the characters are defined strongly. In addition, we are introduced to the Knight Bus, Divination class, Hogsmeade and the Marauder's Map.
Moreover, this book had some of the best magical vignettes ever. I enjoyed the DADA class the best of all. It is interesting that this would be the only enlightening DADA class that they would ever have, in the whole series, not considering the meetings of the Dumbledore's Army in the fifth book. Another interesting feature was Quidditch! I loved the extensive coverage that J.K. Rowling devoted to this fun sport. Three games! Harry's receiving the Firebolt only added to the excitement!
On the other side, I admired Hermione's role in this book. I feel she totally came into her own. Her desire to take every class offered by Hogwarts was endearing. But when she cracked due to the workload, I was relieved. It felt good to see that she had human limitations too. When I first read the Harry Potter books, I was studying. Hermione's total dedication would in turn inspire and intimidate me. Like Harry, I could never fail to marvel at the amount of effort she put into her homework.
The best part of this book, though, is the Patronus and Harry's attempt to conjure one. I truly enjoyed the idea of a bright glowing guardian that is unique to the wizard or witch that conjures it. The Patronus charm would be making many appearances in the remaining books of the series, and one of my best scenes is the patronus charm training that Harry gives in the fifth book. I would love my patronus to be a cute little elephant - not huge but small, cute and cuddly. I guess because they are my favorite animals.(less)
This weekend, I re-read the second book of the Harry Potter series - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This has always been my...moreRe-read thoughts
This weekend, I re-read the second book of the Harry Potter series - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This has always been my least favorite book of this series, because of which I never read this book too many times - in fact, probably only slightly more than the number of times I re-read the last two books of the series. When I scouted for opinions of other Harry Potter fans, I heard the same feeling echoed by most. What is it about this book that has made us like it less than the others? Is it because it is geared towards a much younger audience? But the first book is also geared to the same crowd. Is it because there is lesser humor in this book than there are tragedies? If you like this book the least, I'd like to hear your thoughts.
I'm not sure why this was my least favorite either. (Yes, I say was. More on that later.) I guess it had something to do with Aragog and his clan, or even the Basilisk. These are the creatures I was least impressed with in the entire series. There is also not much "variety" as there is in the other books. It's mostly the attacks and the voices.
One thing I decided when I started re-reading this series, was to walk into the adventure with no prior biases. That helped greatly this time. When I closed this book, I was surprised to see that I actually enjoyed this book much more than I ever did previously. That was one of the biggest surprises to me this time. I like it when re-reading brings to my attention things I missed earlier. Though, truth be told, there really isn't anything I've missed in this series, having re-read it too many times.
I had forgotten that this book introduces so many firsts. It gives us our first glimpse to the Burrow, the gnome hunting, Harry's connection to Voldemort via his ability to speak Parseltongue and similarities in upbringing, Dumbledore's impressive office, Dobby - my favorite elf, Lucius Malfoy, Ginny. I think that's why I liked it a lot this time. This is actually the first book that's setting the stage for future events (Riddle's diary, Harry learning how to do the disarming spell - Expelliarmus at the Dueling Club, Dobby's obsessive dedication, are just some of them).
Don't you just wish the Burrow was your home? I can very much understand Harry's love for that place and how much he wished he could stay there. The ghoul in the attic, the talking mirror, the gnomes in the garden, the crooked house, a vociferous family, Fred and George (who wouldn't love to have them as brothers!). Another scene I re-enjoyed in this book is Lockhart's Valentine's Day celebrations. All those dwarfs running around all day, interrupting class to deliver valentines.(less)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I thought it was one of the best-written YA novels, which folks beyond their teens do not have to cringe at while read...moreI thoroughly enjoyed this book. I thought it was one of the best-written YA novels, which folks beyond their teens do not have to cringe at while reading!
It started pretty well, and ended in a suspense! Now how promising is that! I loved the novel theme, the thrill of a game building up (much like the Olympics), except that killing is the sport here. It was a real page-turner, and very engrossing. I loved Katniss' character, and appreciated even more that try as she might, she couldn't change some of her hard-set characteristics.
Some things I didn't like though - the excessive crooning over all that romance, and the killing. I sure hope our society never comes down to that! The scene with the mutts was especially horrific. I still can't digest that and that seemed very out of place even in the games, especially considering that all the tributes could have died! Their mauling of that tribute also seemed nauseating! Reading about kids killing each other was torture enough, watching them being mauled to bits was even more so. Reading about what happened to Rue was saddening. So much of the book was too sad. But that's probably what Suzanne was aiming for.
I give this book 5 stars for aiming to achieve what it was intended for. Adoration for some of the tributes, respect for some other principal characters, and disgust at all the violence!(less)
I loved this book. Other than for the obvious reasons of nice humor and suspense, and how Lara always...moreMy first Kinsella. My favorite chick-lit to date.
I loved this book. Other than for the obvious reasons of nice humor and suspense, and how Lara always seems to be in an embarrassing situation, I liked it because Sadie, who dies as a 105 year old woman returns as a ghost in her 23-year old elements (tastes, dressing, appearance and attitude). Made me look at my grandparents in a totally different light. I wish I had asked them more about their youth, how mischievous they were, how many crushes they had, how many times they sneaked right under their parents noses, and so on. So much for regrets!
I'd recommend this book to all who enjoy chick-lit. It's very entertaining and easy-to-read.(less)
I wrote and rewrote this review about 4 times before finally being happy with this. (Whoever said writing reviews was an easy job?) I was struggling b...moreI wrote and rewrote this review about 4 times before finally being happy with this. (Whoever said writing reviews was an easy job?) I was struggling because there was very little to review, without giving too much away!
I had been pining for a good paranormal book for quite some time, ever since reading the Twilight series last year. But I was mostly hesitant to read any of the interesting books I came across, simply because many of them sounded so similar, that I couldn't feel compelled into reading them. Besides the zillion challenges I was participating in made sure I picked mainly adults-oriented books, so I'm slowly trying to invite more paranormal and YA activity into my bookshelves! I finally chose to read the Mortal Instruments series, after two of my book clubs in Goodreads voted for City of Bones as the group read. What stronger wake-up call did I need?
My opinion City of Bones starts out pretty well. When I read the synopsis, I wasn't pleased. Bodies disappearing? Invisible men? Puhleez. But the book starts out better than the way the synopsis was put. The fact that only Clary could see the 3 people who just killed a green-eyed, electric-blue-haired boy in her presence, got me hooked enough to wonder what species the book is dealing with.
Apparently, it is species in the plural. Suddenly Clary's human world and the other invisible world merge, and a lot of questions start emerging. Now you see what I mean by finding this a difficult book to review? I'd rather not spoil any surprises for you if you plan to read this.
There are a lot of paranormal creatures in this book that I remember feeling initially overwhelmed trying to keep track of who was good and who wasn't. I couldn't blame Clary either for feeling confused. There are vampires, werewolves, faeries, warlocks, demons, angels, and the ruler of all - the shadowhunters. And of course, we poor mundanes (Did that remind you of muggles? That's the first word that came to my mind.)
The twists in the book were pretty riveting. This one is a meaty 485 pages, full of twists and turns. Much as they were engrossing, I felt that tool to be over-used. There were many times when a character was about to tell a spicy teaser, only to be interrupted by someone else and I had to turn page after page to find out what that juicy piece of news is. And by many, I mean almost every other page. A tad overused.
Just when I was cozying up to the romance in the book, there's a really disgusting revelation made. I couldn't see a point to taking the story in "both" directions, the romance and the non-romance direction, since both the elements combined to make me feel very disturbed. I would have branded this courageous writing, because it's not a situation anyone would like to be in, but I wouldn't since it didn't leave me with any kind of achievement or satisfaction, rather with a confused disarray of feelings.
Although I enjoyed this book a lot, I wish most of its themes were original. Instead, I felt a lot of the book's world to be borrowed. The "mundanes", the stele, the 3 mortal instruments, a central villain who wants to raise an army of the most feared and dangerous creatures and cleanse the world of all beneath him. In the end, I felt as if most of the detailed descriptions of the creatures were forced to fit into the story rather than the other way around.
Overall, this is a gripping read if you love suspense, plus has a high paranormal activity to keep you entertained. (I am guilty of neglecting my work when I started reading this). But I wasn't so impressed by the writing, which I felt quite lame both in the many similes used in the book, as well as in the dialogues.(less)
I had read the first part of this series, Uglies, and that pulled me into this one. I should say I am not very happy with this book. Probably because...moreI had read the first part of this series, Uglies, and that pulled me into this one. I should say I am not very happy with this book. Probably because some of the things happening in this book seem too unrealistic even from the Ugly/Pretty point of view. I liked this less that the first book in the series. Though I will definitely read the remainder of this series at some point, it will probably not be now. I need to get out of all the pretty-making / fashion-missing / bubbly / bogus teen speak for now.
The book is definitely fast-paced. So I was able to read real quick without any drag. It started well enough, an Tally's thoughts and character are well etched out. I didn't like the way it ended. I found it too forced, too unbelievable plus it was going against the will of a person without that person's consent at all, and I strongly resented that. Scott was possibly laying a foundation for the next book in the series, but I hated the way it had to be done.
Overall, not one of my best books and/or writing.(less)
At the outset, I should say I have been very hesitant to read this book. I was initially interested in the blurb at the back cover of the book, but fr...moreAt the outset, I should say I have been very hesitant to read this book. I was initially interested in the blurb at the back cover of the book, but from the instant I picked the book from the library, I have pretty much been dumping other books on top of it. What put me off? The cover! I guess the illustrator could have done a better job on that, I'm not sure. Or it could just be me. Somehow that magenta-pinkish-red color was repelling me. The book was screaming "fantasy" at me, fantasy of the school-kid type, though I knew it wasn't, both from the size of the book, and the small-type print.
Anyways, I finally picked this book to read 2 days back, and I have pretty much been reading non-stop for the past few hours, except when I went to sleep and had to attend to the basic necessities of life. Now that I finished it, I would tell anyone who was as repelled by the cover as me to Please Hang on!!!. It is totally worth it.
Sure, it was fantasy, a fantasy composed from all sorts of bookish characters. And sure, it was a sort of HEA. But it was much much more than that. For one thing, it was hardly predictable. For an instant, I expected the characters to do something, and they end up doing the total opposite. For the other, it was a very novel concept, very radical, but very identifiable. If you read the blurb, you probably wondered about the "evil ruler escapes the boundaries of fiction and lands in their living room" part. That's just the beginning. Much as I initially scoffed the idea, I found I was drawn into it the more I read it, and then it made ME WANT to do that, what Meggie's father did.
Another thing I enjoyed a lot is Cornelia's writing. It is really beautiful, and much as I don't enjoy too many descriptive passages and usually just skim them over, this is one time I thoroughly enjoyed that. It was almost poetic.
There is a lot of book worshiping here, and that is another aspect a book-lover will enjoy. The reverence and intense love that some of the characters display, while probably being overkill in today's world, was something I could respect in Inkheart. Heck, the 12 year old kid has even read and liked The Odyssey! I've stayed away from that book for ages now.
I loved most of the characters in the book. Meggie was a sweet and normal girl, not someone shown off as some heroine at 12! Elinor, for all her adamant nature and lack of affection for fellow humans, was quite a darling. I loved her the most. Her frequent complaints and indignant response to being captured and humiliated was very endearing. Next to her, I loved Dustfinger, and for my own selfish reasons, I wanted him to "stay on" (those who read the book will understand what I mean here), though he definitely didn't want that. I thought he was really well-etched out. A coward and a hero rolled into one.
I can't wait to pick the next book in the series! And I recommend this book to all. To be frank, this book really is not the kind I usually read, but I loved it all the same. And I also suggest that you disregard the book cover if you tend to forgo books with unappealing covers!.(less)
After months, I finally finished this book. (Yeah, months! I feel so guilty about that.) I started this book a long time back, but sorry to say, each...moreAfter months, I finally finished this book. (Yeah, months! I feel so guilty about that.) I started this book a long time back, but sorry to say, each time, I gave it up as a bad job. I finally put this book on my TBR challenge for 2010 and finished it last night. I'm sure this book was not meant for me. I did get into the story after about a 100 pages. But it still failed me, especially the ending, which I just found too ridiculous and awful.
My thoughts Firstly, I didn't find this book gripping or suspenseful. I read about a hundred pages, before I felt drawn into the story. It was hardly gripping though, more like slippery ice. You managed to stay on, but you could just as easily fall down.
Occasionally, there were some interesting twists. Some of these had the potential to be turned into great angles. That was when I kept turning the pages. But some of the twists just didn't make sense to me. All through the book, the existence of vampires was played off as a disease. That concept raised more questions than it offered answers.
I definitely found the ending awful. I hate to say this. But it just didn't make any sense to me. There were two plot twists in the end that were just too err... lame. The book might have fared better without the epilogue. Somehow the epilogue just set back the rating I would have given to this book.
One thing I enjoyed about Night Runner is its humor. There were quite a few light moments, and they were funny. Not rolling-on-the-bed funny, but funny, nevertheless.
There was not much character description, except for some focus on the main character, Zack. Most characters just came and went through the story. They hardly had much presence in the book.
Overall, I didn't enjoy the book at all. I wish I could say better, but it just didn't sit well with me. There was a lot of promise, from the blurb on the back cover of the book. That interest just didn't translate into the story.(less)
In Jonas' utopian world, adult males and females are matched to be a couple based on their traits so that their dispositions balance out. If their 'ma...moreIn Jonas' utopian world, adult males and females are matched to be a couple based on their traits so that their dispositions balance out. If their 'marriage' works out for three years, then they can apply to bring home a child. There are separate birthing females who deliver children, and these children are sent to be cared for by couples who have applied for a child. Each couple can have only two children - one male and one female. In December, there is a two-day ceremony during which each child between the ages of one and twelve celebrates the milestone of completing another year. Depending on their age, a child is given a bicycle, assigned volunteer hours, gets his/her hair cut, or given a life career. Jonas himself is approaching twelve years of age, the age at which he will be assigned his career, and he is feeling apprehensive about it. What if they assign him a career that doesn't fit him? But then, the committee gives him the highest honor of being the Receiver - the one person who receives all the memories of the past (including all the horrible things that happened - hunger, pain and war, and the good things like color, snow, happiness and love) from the previous Receiver (who is now the Giver). Except, now Jonas feels strange about the life that he took for granted thus far.
This past weekend, I drove to my friends' place in Raleigh, which is just a little less than 3 hours from my home. As I always do on those drives, I popped in a Newbery Medal winner in my car CD player and settled in to listen to the one book I was most reluctant to read, for reasons I don't remember any more. But as the narrator started reading the first few passages, I was hooked. For the first time since I started listening to audiobooks (or rather the second time - Dracula would have the honor of first place), I began to find ways to lengthen my drive, especially on my return - driving through tiny towns en route or taking unnecessary pit stops. Just as Kira-Kira (another Newbery Medal winner) wowed me, The Giver also had me intrigued from the first page.
Lois Lowry creates a very utopian world in The Giver - a world where the concept of "Sameness" has been adopted. In this world, everyone is same - they have the same skin tones, same hair color, same eye color and have their decisions made for them by a higher authority. Since there are no differences to exploit, there are no competitions. It's easy to see the appeal of such a world, where you get your perfect career, where there is no bigotry or racism since everyone has the same basic physical attributes, where the old are taken care of in a housing by professional people whose job is to do that, where couples move in with other childless couples once their own (assigned) children move on to their careers, where rudeness, bragging, and wrong use of language are all punishable offences. For someone who has tasted freedom (people like us), we can immediately spot the failings of such a community - while it may be a great idea never to have to worry about your career, the fact that people don't have freedom of choice would be a huge put off for us. But, for people like Jonas and his parents and friends, who have not known any other world, the idea of choosing one's own career is a hugely laughable and impossible idea.
I loved this book! I've been a huge fan of dystopia for many reasons, but mostly because I stop taking things for granted when I come across great dystopian literature. While most of the worlds explored in such books will probably never come to pass, they explore ideas that are ostensibly the solutions to today's problems or ideas that are extreme versions of the troubles of the world. The Giver envisions a world where no one starves, everyone has equal opportunity, there is no pain and there are no bad feelings between people. Accidents don't happen, and everyone lives to a ripe old age. But to make a utopia, there would always be some sacrifices - to lock up all the badness in the world, the people were forced to also lock up the goodness as well. The people don't feel pain, but they also don't feel happiness and love, and family isn't a concept that's understood at all. There was a scene where Jonas experiences the memory of Christmas, and I was terribly moved by that moment, realizing that Jonas and his people don't celebrate life and living. All these good and bad memories had to be held somewhere - that is the Receiver's (Jonas) job. Ultimately, we begin to see that there can never be a utopia without an accompanying dystopia - a yin for a yang, heads for tails. Even for a book like The Giver, targeted to an audience far younger than me, I was hugely impressed by the depth of this novel, by the questions it raises, by how it makes the reader actually think about the consequences of wishing for utopia.
Although this book is slim and a fast read, Lois Lowry gives a well-etched description of Jonas' world. There were some aspects that weren't explained all too well, but they didn't bother me. The ending of the book was very ambiguous, but I don't want to give it away. It was an ending that's fitting in so many ways, and I could see two possible interpretations - one somewhat dismal, the other very optimistic, but however I chose to see it, the message is a happy one and I liked how the author left it to the reader to decide what could have actually happened. As I understand it, the question is resolved in the third book - Messenger, which makes me eager to go grab the next books right away from the library.
And there's a lot more about this book I want to keep talking about, but then I'll find it hard to stop. I was thrilled to discover that this book has two more sequels and there's a fourth book coming out next year. Mostly I loved how it becomes obvious that you cannot live in a world in any way than how we live in ours - would you rather live in a perfect world with no wars, hunger and famine but no happiness, sadness, family or love; or would you live in the world as we know it with all the horrible evil but with the ability to have feelings, appropriate or not.(less)
I thoroughly enjoyed Her Fearful Symmetry. Having heard plenty of mixed reviews about this one, I wasn't sure ho...moreThis is a very tricky book to review.
I thoroughly enjoyed Her Fearful Symmetry. Having heard plenty of mixed reviews about this one, I wasn't sure how I would find it. On top of that, it was soon due back at the library, and I had 4 other library books calling my name desperately. I needn't have worried. This book definitely got me thinking and I like it when a book does that - when it stays in my mind for a long time after I actually finished reading it.
Her Fearful Symmetry is definitely a challenging book. Challenging not because of writing style or incoherent ideas. Challenging because it questions a lot of accepted conventions that you might have. At least it did for me. I remember feeling the same after reading The Time Traveler's Wife. I would say that is the only similarity between the two books, that and Audrey's beautiful writing style.
This book got me thinking about a lot of things, but primarily about the relationship between twins. I have never known any twins, so I can't say how accurate Her Fearful Symmetry is on this topic. But I like to believe she took an extreme case for telling her story. The twins, first Elspeth and Edwina, and then Edwina's twin daughters, Julia and Valentina, are highly inseparable. After being together for years, cracks are bound to appear. What I found interesting, was how each set of twins responded to the troubles in their tightly-woven fabric. When the reason for the estrangement of Elspeth and Edwina was revealed however, I was a bit disappointed, since that wasn't something I would expect to drive close sisters apart, not after being so close and sharing everything for almost 25 years. Maybe I am seeing it differently, but I expected something more severe. It just didn't seem a reasonable excuse to drive two twins apart, and worse, stay apart for years and not let any communications between the two parties. I almost got the sense the twist was included as an afterthought, like it didn't really fit in there. This was the only problem I had from this otherwise riveting read.
Another huge element of this book is the relationship between lovers. How far are you willing to go to keep your other half from finding some secret? Especially if that secret is built on a lie. Do you never wonder if your husband or boyfriend really loves you for who you are or for who he imagines you to be? I found this question come up many a time in the relationships of both sets of twins. It is tragic because it leads to a lot of doubts that could have been avoided. It is sad because no one knows what's true anymore, and something the twins' father, Jack, asks Robert towards the end gives an idea of the enormity of this predicament.
This whole story is set around a graveyard, and as expected, we have ghosts too. Elspeth returns as a ghost and is stuck in her apartment. Valentina especially gets to know her better, and in the process the two make some very unpleasant discoveries. I wouldn't go into that since it's a spoiler, but it's definitely a very strong issue and I think, unethical (even in a haunted world). The particular incident literally left me shell-shocked and, to use the expression, gasping for air. It's been a long time since a book did that to me. I've never been able to forgive the character responsible for it, but then Audrey Niffenegger's books don't really go in the directions you want them to. They more likely leave you with questions, tears sometimes, but in a strange way, satisfaction too, since they get you thinking more than if circumstances had taken a much "beaten" path.
There were some questions that I found unanswered as I read this book though, and one was, why only Valentina could see Elspeth's ghost (eventually), or even sense it, while the rest could only feel the coldness of her touch. It felt like a tantalizing mystery whose answer I waited for.
I love Audrey Niffenegger's writing style. That's something I enjoyed in The Time Traveler's Wife, as well, and I just found myself turning page after page, no matter how slow the story might be going. Not that the story is slow, but there were a few chapters, that I didn't care much for when I was reading. Like, one chapter showing Robert's nightly habit of sitting by the cemetery for a long time. Another one, detailing Martin's disease and how he behaves. After finishing the book though, I did realize they were important chapters since those attributes of the characters had great bearing on the story to follow.
As in The Time Traveler's Wife, the one thing I struggled with in this book was the ease with which the characters accepted that which is not normal. In the former, we didn't really have any one shriek with fright when a man came about saying he travels through time. I doubt I would sanely accept someone telling me that. In Her Fearful Symmetry, we have characters accepting that ghosts can exist. Sure, I know there are a lot of people who believe in ghosts. But wouldn't you still get that fierce creepy chill that emanates from your back? Here I just noticed acceptance. Maybe it is just as well, since the characters stay near a graveyard or work in it. But I would have loved it if someone just shrieked and ran out of the house, once, just once.
Overall, I loved this book and have a new respect for Audrey Niffenegger for writing about very unconventional issues. I think you need a great deal of courage to write some of the things she wrote about, since they are issues you will either be yay and nay for, and we readers can't very easily accept everything we read about, just because it is written in print. This one is a very different type of book from The Time Traveler's Wife, but nevertheless, a good one in its own right.(less)
As mentioned in my review of The Hunger Games, this series continues to prove to be one of the best-written YA novels I have ever read.
While the first...moreAs mentioned in my review of The Hunger Games, this series continues to prove to be one of the best-written YA novels I have ever read.
While the first book left me gasping for air due to some contents I found gross, this one was a little light on gore, and more packed with action. I found this book more exciting that the first book in this series. I liked how Katniss' character grew through the series and how Gale's character got a bit more attention. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and after a long time, I have finally come across a book I want to re-read in the near future itself.
While the first book in this series made me despair that not much fight was happening, I was glad to see the beginnings of an uprising in this book. I can't wait to see where this series will go ahead from here. The ending was a total bombshell! I didn't see that coming.
Overall, I recommend this to anyone who likes fantasy and adventure!(less)
To be honest, this is one of the best books on the horror genre that I have read. Probably the best. The first part of this book is so mind-chilling t...moreTo be honest, this is one of the best books on the horror genre that I have read. Probably the best. The first part of this book is so mind-chilling that you can't help but keep going on to know "what happens next". The language is all archaic, but that hardly bugged me. Now I see where all the current vampire novels get their customs from.
First page to the last - in one word, it was a thriller! A must-read. Bram has really done the settings well. The terror of the journey to the Count's castle, the horror of being trapped in a castle with no means of escape, the sheer frustration after not being able to escape, not seeing the Count in a mirror, and going to the castle with the sheer intention of killing the Count were all real chilling moments.(less)
World War I is on the horizon and the European powers are gearing up. On one side are the Clankers, who live and breathe machines. On the other side a...moreWorld War I is on the horizon and the European powers are gearing up. On one side are the Clankers, who live and breathe machines. On the other side are the Darwinists, whose weaponry consist of fabricated animals. Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run, after his father was murdered and his own people have turned against him. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men. Deryn Sharp, is a commoner and a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. When their paths cross in the most unexpected way, they go on an adventure aboard the Leviathan.
Leviathan is the first steampunk novel I read, and I was very unsure of how I would find it. Besides, alternate reality is not some thing I usually enjoy. I like my history untouched and untainted, thank you. But all these elements together worked really well for me. I was absolutely fascinated by the world in which Leviathan is set in. There is enough history in this book to anchor the reader to the specific time period and the catalyst that kicks off the World War I. But it is not overdone so I didn't really have to worry much about my history getting messed-up.
Leviathan is alternately told from Alek's and Deryn's viewpoints. One is a boy, the other a girl. One is from a Clanker country, the other from a Darwinist country. Both speak English differently and uses different idioms. And when they meet up, each struggle with the other's manner of speaking. I loved how both characters remained strong and authentic all the way to the end. They behaved as they would. Scott Westerfeld adds more credibility to Alek's mannerisms by using spellings that reflect their time and language, such as "mechanikal". Deryn especially impressed me with her oh-so-hilarious humor sense. Although she is disguised as a boy, I never felt that she was so boyish that I forgot that fact. Instead, I saw a character who acted boyish enough to fool the others, and yet thinking like a girl as she went through her duties as a midshipman.
Deryn had always reckoned herself a tomboy, between Jaspert's bullying and Da's balloon training. But running with the other middies was more than just punchups and tying knots - it was like joining a pack of dogs. They jostled and banged for the best seats at the middies' mess table. They taunted each other over signal reading and navigation scores, and whom the officers had complimented that day. They endlessly competed to see who could spit farther, drink rum faster, or belch the loudest.
It was bloody exhausting, being a boy.
At the core, Leviathan is not just a fantasy story set in WW1. It is also about machines looking like living creatures vs living creatures being used as machines. Clankers find the Darwinist creations surreal. I agreed with them too. Fabricated animals of the magnitude mentioned in Leviathan are not going to find acceptance in a world where even cloning for medicinal reasons is frowned upon. The Clanker inventions however resemble giant versions of humans, and animals, including some eight-legged machines. While this way of life is a lot easier to imagine, considering that we live in a world dominated by machines, we do see several cons to the Clanker inventions as well. I liked how Scott Westerfeld used this novel to encourage a debate between the two sides.(less)
I read this book as part of the LOTR Read-Along, that is hosted @ A Striped Armchair, The Literary Omnivore, Shelf Love, and Just Add Books. Although...moreI read this book as part of the LOTR Read-Along, that is hosted @ A Striped Armchair, The Literary Omnivore, Shelf Love, and Just Add Books. Although The Hobbit is a classic that most of you should have read growing up, I first heard of this book and its sequel epic fantasy only much later! Talk about not enough visits to the bookstore or the library! Even when I heard of this fantasy, it was when I watched the LOTR trilogy movies. Months later, my brother garnered a copy of the trilogy and that was my first introduction to the books that inspired my favorite book-based movies of all time!
When I was reading the Lord of the Rings, I always assumed The Hobbit to be a glossary of the life of the hobbits. I guess it had to do with the book title, than anything else. Besides I didn't have access to this book so I forgot about it!
Until, last year, that is.
Borders was giving 50% off on some books plus free shipping on one grand day. I was happening to go through a LOTR fever at the time, and the copy that my brother had bought long back was at home in India. So there, one thing led to another, and before I had time to think again, the books arrived home in a nice big box that had me grinning from ear to ear, as if Christmas had come early! :-)
After years of waiting, I finally read this book, and was glad to dispel so many notions I had had earlier. (Like a glossary! How crazy of me!)
My opinion Read about my expectations going into this book.
Read about my opinion half-way into the book.
Since I have already raved a lot about this book in the above two posts, I will keep this review short. I enjoyed The Hobbit! It was very different from what I expected, and had a very different writing style from what I remember reading in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Bilbo Baggins is just enjoying a yet another beautiful day with his pipe, when on comes Gandalf asking for his help on an adventure. Bilbo thinks it is all a joke and when he knows it is not, he just squirms away. Gandalf, of course doesn't take "No" for an answer, and invites 13 dwarves over to Bilbo's place for tea the next day when their talk first scares and later inspires Bilbo to join the treasure hunt.
I found I liked Bilbo quite a lot. His grumblings at being inconvenienced (his biggest complaint was forgetting to take a handkerchief on his adventure), were very endearing. He was in the habit of having two breakfasts each morning, and it definitely was a testing phase for him, as he tried to make-do with much less food than he would usually have. I found his character well-written, and especially enjoyed his "coming-of-age" as he transformed from the very picky hobbit that he was to someone more endeavoring as he withstood the many dire challenges on his journey with the dwarves.
Since this book is oriented towards children, the narration is a lot pleasanter, considering some of the events that do happen are treacherous - spider attack, anyone? Although I did get distracted sometimes by the narration, I didn't get bogged or disappointed by it.
There are plenty of adventures all along the book to keep the reader engrossed. Right when I thought all is well, there comes more trouble on the horizon! Of course, how boring it is to walk through the woods, without any elves to abduct you or spiders to coil you up for dinner, or even the to-be-famous Gollum to ask you riddles, while he plans how best to eat you?
And when it all ends, it does so as it should, without dragging too much and without any twists to make the plot ending ambiguous. Reading this one first, it's hard to envision the possibility of a sequel, unless Bilbo himself returns back to the wild for more adventures. That might have happened, but they are not documented. Instead Bilbo's favorite "cousin", Frodo Baggins center-stars the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which I look forward to next! I remember not liking Bilbo much in the trilogy, but that was before I knew anything about Bilbo. I want to see how my opinion of Bilbo forms now that I read The Hobbit.(less)