I loved Carrying Albert Home, a charming tale based on the tall tales the author’s parents told him about that time they took their pet alligator to FI loved Carrying Albert Home, a charming tale based on the tall tales the author’s parents told him about that time they took their pet alligator to Florida. It’s a testament to oral storytelling on a family scale, where the events are embellished but hold a grain of truth. Who knows if Albert really was a team mascot or starred in a film…
Albert is the star of the show. Baby Albert was sent to Elsie as a wedding gift from Buddy Ebson, the man she never stopped loving. As he grows, Albert’s a constant reminder to Homer that his wife’s heart is elsewhere. But even Homer can’t resist Albert’s charm as the journey unravels. I’m not convinced an alligator would act so dog-like but I still loved him. He’s on the younger, and smaller, side so it’s more believable that he wouldn’t be trying to eat people, despite what Homer may think in the beginning.
Elsie never wanted to be stuck in a coal mining town, married to a coal miner. She yearns for a more exciting life, with a more exciting man. Yet their journey south isn’t exactly boring and maybe the couple can meet halfway; Homer can grow beyond the coal mines and Elsie can realise a good, kind man is better than the exciting, dangerous type, any day. The fact that the story is introduced by their son (the author), means we know it must work out some how.
Who knows how much is true? It seems it really doesn't matter at all...
All the Light We Cannot See has received bundles of praise and a Pulitzer Prize so I’ve been left wondering if I missed the point. With the exceptionAll the Light We Cannot See has received bundles of praise and a Pulitzer Prize so I’ve been left wondering if I missed the point. With the exception of the last 100 or so pages, I felt the prose was unemotional and the characters were rather romanticised.
Marie-Laure loses her sight aged just six. It didn’t portray any of the frustration you would expect of a young child going blind and her father is so perfectly patient with her. By nine years old she is a proficient braille reader, reading Jules Verne, imagining worlds she will never see. During her childhood, war breaks out across Europe and France is occupied. Yet she still seems to lead a mostly privileged lifestyle, even if she must stay indoors.
Marie-Laure’s story just didn’t seem to go anywhere. The chapters are short and alternate mostly between her and Werner’s stories, which had the very tenuous link of radios. For the most part, I felt like I was reading two different stories, constantly being torn away before I could connect with either.
Understandably, Werner is something of a spectator to his life, an orphan with no choice to follow the desires of the state. A state whose ideals he’s not sure he believes in. He stands by while awful things are done, so his portion of the story seems distanced. There are glimpses of a boy who cares, but it takes him time to do anything noteworthy.
The plot regarding the mysterious and valuable diamond might have been more enjoyable in a short novel, but I’m not sure it bound together the narratives. There’s a German on the hunt for it, who becomes obsessed, maybe believing in its curse. Not to forget an immensely talented forger who can make faultless copies of a rather unique gemstone.
There’s a completely unnecessary rape scene. It does nothing to further the plot or characters, in fact it’s minor characters that are involved and it isn’t revisited. It was a bit like the author thought he hadn’t got round to mentioning how awful the Russians were in this war, so let’s throw in a rape to show that.
It’s all just a bit meandering and went on far too long. There’s better examples of WWII novels and portrayals of blind characters out there. I spent ages being annoyed by the use of the term terrorist, which seemed modern and out of place. However I did look it up, and will let Anthony off, as it was originally coined during the French Revolution, so it is possible it was commonly used in France during the war....more
Imagine if you set an artificial intelligence the task of protecting your country. Imagine if humans are the biggest threat to that country. BarricadeImagine if you set an artificial intelligence the task of protecting your country. Imagine if humans are the biggest threat to that country. Barricade shows us a bleak future where no parameters were set to safeguard the protection of the human race. Once Control had finished protecting the borders, it went to war against the very people who made it.
Told from the perspective of one of the artificial life forms, it soon becomes clear that whilst they look like humans, the Ficials aren’t human. They are lacking emotions and empathy, the destruction of one of their kind, does not register as something they should be upset about. They were not built to care. Flashbacks to Kenstibec’s past reveal several scenarios where they just do not react the same way as us, that we shouldn’t expect them to think like us either.
The introduction of Starvie, a female designed as a pleasure model, worried me a little at first. There is one point where they wish to hand her over as a distraction to be used. Neither her or Kenstibec see this as a problem, it’s what she was made for. Yet in the end, she turns out to be a more complex, kick ass character and does the job of highlighting how different they are. Fatty, their human companion has to become their moral compass, when his is set pretty low to start with.
The flashbacks also show how the war between Reals and Ficials started and how, in the beginning, there was a goal for something better. Yet the Britain in the pages is diseased and polluted. Fatty is on his last legs, suffering from an illness name Blue Frog which is slowly destroying his body, and turning him blue. Of course, his repulsive state solicits no sympathy from the Ficials.
It’s a brutal future. I loved the world building but it’s not a book that’s easy to read in small portions as it takes a while to get back into it. I would advise on giving yourself some time over to reading it in one go....more