I'd need to glue my eyes to not snooze while I'm reading this. Dragged out stories aren't popular with readers, Murakami should know it. He had a good...moreI'd need to glue my eyes to not snooze while I'm reading this. Dragged out stories aren't popular with readers, Murakami should know it. He had a good premise, suspense, and mystery, but his insistence to include routine in the book is what ruined it.
I don't want to be reading about what the narrator has done today if that's what he has done for the past week; he eats, he reads, he does whatever guys do alone--I don't want to know. I want a story, a plot, not some sleezy boy's mindless actions.
I liked that he liked to read; the narrator has a soul, at least. (less)
There's something about Yamamoto's stories that dampen your emotions and play with them. While reading the seven one-shot stories, it became obvious t...moreThere's something about Yamamoto's stories that dampen your emotions and play with them. While reading the seven one-shot stories, it became obvious that all of the narrators had distinct voices that you couldn't help but feel fondness for. I loved all of the characters as if I knew them--it was as if they put their all into the storytelling. I still don't understand it, but whatever it is, it worked.
About the sci-fi aspect of the story, the book revolved around the interactions between a robot with TAI (Truly Artificial Intelligence) and a human storyteller. We don't know the year, but we know it's after 2080. That's almost a century away in the future, but it's not as extremely different as dystopian books go. It's only that humans' population decreased to twenty millions and they've been living in colonies for decades and robots are the bad guys.
It would be a little hard to get into this book if you're not accustomed to sci-fi though I guess this isn't exactly sci-fi hardcore. There were times when I thought the writer was trying to explain to us something, show us what humans are doing wrong in his opinion through the only thing he knows: technology. He seemed to softly be chiding the readers, making them see what they don't want to see. We're creatures of contradiction, of missing logic and reason sometimes. It became glaringly apparent when compared to AI's straightforward kind of thinking.
I loved this book, and I'll see about reading another sci-fi book in the future. Maybe not Star Wars (my cousin would be disappointed, because I don't understand half of the things he says) for now but something a little less hard-core. --
Lines that touched me:
A man who has spent his whole life fighting and thrived on emerging victorius now found himself up against an enemy he stood no chance of ever defeating. It must have shattered his worldview.
From story 6, "The Day Shion Came".
"It may not be able to understand everything, but we're going to give it everything we have...our joys and sorrows, surprises and fears, friendship and trust, courage and love--everything we've experienced during our four-year voyage."
From story 1, "The Universe on my Hands".
I do not write poetry. It's beyond me, as it demands a certain emotional sensitivity I lack. Sometimes I pretend to be human just for fun. I activate a humanoid reception unit, go outside of myself, and gaze upon the visible spectrum with the unit's two camera eyes.
Whoa. When I started the book, I thought I was getting one serial killer but I got two instead.
The good part:
It wasn't hard for me to be completely a...moreWhoa. When I started the book, I thought I was getting one serial killer but I got two instead.
The good part:
It wasn't hard for me to be completely absorbed in the book. The crimes in the book were just too messy and twisted. If I didn't read the author's background, I would've thought him nuts. Are you freaking kidding me? Here's a chilling part from the tenth page (it doesn't reveal more than the synopsis at the back):
Hunter stood perfectly still. His eyes absorbing the scene as the adrenalin flooded his senses. On the stone floor just outside the confessional, surrounded by a pool of blood, the decapitated cassock lay on its back. It's been purposely positioned. Its legs were stretched out. Its arms crossed over it's chest. But Hunter's main focus was on the head. A dog's head. It's been attached to a wooden spike and then rammed down the neck's stump, making the body on the floor look a qrotesque, human/dog mutation. The dog's lips were dark purple. Its thin, long tongue has stained black with blood and was hanging to the left of the deformed mouth. The eyes were wide open and a dull milky white. Its short fur was caked a dark red. Hunter took a step forward and crouched down next to the body. He wasn't an expert in dog breeding, but he could tell that the head used was that of a street mutt.
I almost forgot the feeling a good crime book can bring. The Executioner was a perfect suspence novel--the suspense made me go from short chapter to short chapter like a maniac. Not a single moment (almost) was spent for nothing. With every page, a new thing has been discovered. I only was able to deduce who the killer was correctly in the last 100 pages, so I guess that must count for something.
The bad part:
I thought Detective Robert Hunter was too good. It annoyed me how typical it was that he was the detective that never missed a thing and his parter was the one of lesser intellect. Hunter was doing most of the reasoning and thinking while Detective Garcia wasn't contributing to much except for legwork and continuing Hunter's sentences when it's too obvious. It doesn't make sense for him to be such a high-leveled detective with the deducing skills of an amateur. Carter hadn't thought of this well.
Another thing that annoyed the living daylight out of me was a fling scene in the middle when things were getting too good. It didn't affect the storyline at all and was even with a character that we never got to know. There doesn't have to be any romance subplot in crime stories. Who even made that rule?
And how come 99% of the women in the book are attractive? I swear, if you read the book, you'd notice most of it's female characters (even secondary characters) were attractive.
Plus, Hunter's character was one-dimentional. He was there because of the plot and not the other way around.
This book automatically wins brownie points for having a five year old narrator for something aimed at adults, with all its dark and bleak-slash-hopef...moreThis book automatically wins brownie points for having a five year old narrator for something aimed at adults, with all its dark and bleak-slash-hopeful themes. How the author managed to write up Jack convincingly I’m still wondering.
I liked how Ma created this whole independent environment for Jack with barely anything. Jack grew up a normal kid—as normal as anyone in his situation can get at least. He’s also pretty observant for a kid, it makes it worse on the days when his Ma’s Gone or especially upset because he’s not an oblivious child who’d just go on and play.
I can’t comment about the plot without giving it away but I thought it was convincing how things played out in the end (there was a part that was just crazy though).
Oh, and this is not really about the kidnapping or the crime itself, it's a lot more about this special bond between Ma and Jack, and the small sacrifices we don't really consider(crime fans would be disappointed but I recommend the book anyway).(less)
This is the first book I’ve ever read, as far as I recall, that has a plot that is almost insignificant throughout the book. The idea of Stevens, an o...moreThis is the first book I’ve ever read, as far as I recall, that has a plot that is almost insignificant throughout the book. The idea of Stevens, an old English butler, going on a trip for a week through the English countryside feels like a backdrop to a greater story that lies between the short passages of scenery and event descriptions.
Ishiguro literarily weaves paragraphs together—Steven’s memories alongside his feeble principals, and his observations of the day—and he does it seamlessly. I dare say to the degree of perfection.
Stevens comes off as a cold, emotionless ‘professional being’ as he puts it himself. He talks in an old-fashioned way that might seem relatively normal if you take in consideration the time period but is different than the others around him.
What was so horrible while reading Steven’s narration is the obvious holes and transparency of his ideas and ideals. He tries to describe what dignity should mean to a butler and the true meaning of greatness without leaving a chance for arguments, discussing such topics for pages.
It was sad to see him talking about the trivial things that his life had centered about while we know better.
I felt like crying at the depressing conclusion. He lost many things and it makes you wonder: did he achieve what he wanted at the end? (less)
It seems they were the perfect couple: Rob and Holly. Despite their different backgrounds and interests, they clicked and they were happy. At least un...moreIt seems they were the perfect couple: Rob and Holly. Despite their different backgrounds and interests, they clicked and they were happy. At least until the car accident happened, and Rob is dead while Holly survives.
Everyone is tormented after his death; Holly thinks it has something to do with her; Rob’s friends blame Holly. But none of them can understand what really happened that night.
Now Rob’s ghost haunts his loved ones after his death and Holly’s grandpa, Aldo, is the only one who can see him. Yikes.
It might look like the back cover blurb of a really dramatic and overly sappy book, but it’s not. This is not a paranormal story; this is not about Rob. It’s about coping with a loved person’s death, wondering if you really knew that person as well as you did.
I keep thinking, “If it was me in Holly’s shoes, what would I be doing?” but I can’t imagine myself handling all of the things Holly manages to do. She’s taking care of her grandpa and her sister, and she’s the one to cook and clean and be the adult. I’m not the one with the dead boyfriend and the mother who is never there because she’s working two shifts. We have it so easy we forget people like Holly exist.
But Jason, Rob’s best friend, is there to help Holly with everything she’s going through after Rob, as he tries to move on himself. Jason came across as a real sweet guy who has it bad for Holly. I did find it strange though that he only got interested in Holly after Rob’s death when he barely talked to her before. Rob was the common link between the two at first, but eventually, their relationship became more than a support thing.
Jason and Holly didn’t realize how dependent they were on Rob until they lost him, and it was like they were replacing his memory with this newly found love.
Maybe the greatest message of this book is love is the best healer. It won’t make you forget, but it will help a little to fill the void in your heart.
I liked the use of all three narratives and Davis’s writing style; it was simple but nevertheless, emotionally profound.
Jamie hears about all kinds of trouble, about girls that get pregnant. At a time when pregnancy out of wedlock is something to be ashamed of, when peo...moreJamie hears about all kinds of trouble, about girls that get pregnant. At a time when pregnancy out of wedlock is something to be ashamed of, when people look at you like you’ve done the unthinkable and call you names, Jamie finds out her best friend is one of those girls in trouble.
This is not only a story of teenage pregnancy; it’s a story of prejudice and ignorance. It’s a time when someone is condemned and imprisoned for speaking his mind; when people integrate the whites from the colored even though everyone’s born the same.
Jamie and Elaine are both naïve and childish, Elaine being the most silly of the two. I first thought Levine wrote her characters too young for them to be sixteen, but that kind of gullibility is what made the situation all the more horrifying.
It’s not a case of they knew the consequences but they still did it, it’s a matter of they didn’t know any better. Parents just have their sex talk too late, or never talk about it at all. At school, all they take is how an egg is fertilized, just not the details. There are no counselors to help them, no teachers or parents to explain to them that most guys just look for sex.
The society gives these girls the silent, outcast treatment, but they never ask about the father. No girl gets pregnant on her own. It just makes it all easier to guys to dump the girl and find another catch. Harsh, but true.
I had a hard time imagining the story to be in the fifties. There was talk of politics and Elvis when he just came to be famous, but that wouldn't be something most people would be able to relate to. Not to forget the use of letters and strange phone codes, but still, I had to remind myself at times that this supposedly happened sixty years ago. A star was lost for a not so believable time period.
There were a lot of complaints about the writing style, but I found nothing wrong with it. It actually reminded me of Judy Blume’s stories, even though Ellen Levine has a better grip on storytelling. I just loved the way the narration gave us a view into a troubled, sixteen year old girl’s mind; into her thoughts and struggles.
The topic is hard to stomach -a hit or miss book- but it does leave a lot to ponder over.