It was a fast, easy read. I breezed through it in about three hours. Voice wise, it's a typical YA book. Maybe a bit more sex. But it wasn't as bad asIt was a fast, easy read. I breezed through it in about three hours. Voice wise, it's a typical YA book. Maybe a bit more sex. But it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Actually, I wanted to hate it, but I couldn't.
While I had my problems with it, I'd say it's one of the better so-called New Adult books out there.
3.3 stars. Someday, perhaps I'll write a review.
ETA: Landon is hot, I suppose. Though I don't understand why tattoos and a motorcycle suddenly deem a guy a bad boy. I have tattoos. I know people of all shades who have bikes. I know a million people with bad pasts. The bad boy label is way overused. ...more
I don't care for Chuck Palahniuk. It's not the plot or the subject matter. It's the pacing. And the weird misogyny.
I'm surprised he isn't married toI don't care for Chuck Palahniuk. It's not the plot or the subject matter. It's the pacing. And the weird misogyny.
I'm surprised he isn't married to Bret Easton Ellis. Neither is able to write a particularly compelling main character, neither is able to fully express their MC's disdain for women without making us see that this is the MC's disdain for women, not the author's, and neither is particular brilliant when it comes to pacing their novels.
Interesting ideas. Mostly boring implementation.
I'll sum it up for you right now: Victor isn't Jesus. It's not a spoiler for anyone faintly acquainted with Palahniuk's writing style and half of their brain. The last ten pages are filled with faintly amusing plot twists the average reader picked up halfway through the novel. The insanity of the MC and his mother is overshadowed by the absurdity of the world he lives in. While some might become immersed in this novel, others undoubtedly will be unable to check their brain at the door. ...more
What the fuck did I just attempt to read? Did I really force myself through a third of this boring shit? Nothing hapBook #1 of the Hipster Experiment.
What the fuck did I just attempt to read? Did I really force myself through a third of this boring shit? Nothing happens. No, correction: many boring unrelated things happen. It reads exactly like you'd expect a diary to read. But that's just it—it's a diary, not a novel. I can't bring myself to care to read some guy's diary entries on the best time of his life, especially when said life is rather unremarkable as far as lives go. If Kerouac is the voice of the beat generation, my god.
If you enjoyed this novel, whoopdi-fucking-do. I could not find two fucks to give. And I tried. I really did. I gave this book far more time than I give many others.
I hope Into the Wild and the Motorcycle Diaries are better. Otherwise, I'll be tempted to say young twenty-something white males should be forbidden from writing about their lives until they reach an age where they realize no one gives a fuck except other twenty-something white males.
If you want a novel, not simply a diary about the jaded life of an adolescent male, go read Black Boy, by Richard Wright. Wright is a fantastic writer who knows how to thematize his life. Or fall back on the old American standard of petulant American spoiled bullshit—The Catcher in the Rye. Either choice is better than this.
I think it's cute when middle-class white males intentionally fuck up their lives to pretend to be poor or black or less-privileged than they are. Cute and pathetic at the same time. And also insulting.
As a sidenote, Kirsten Stewart stars as Marylou in the movie. Apparently, there's a scene in which she jerks off both Sal and Dean at the same time in a car. Call me crazy, but I think the movie is probably better than the book. Stewart's not bad outside of Twilight. And she's quite hot. ...more
I want to see more YA novels like Madapple. YA novels that don't pander to their younger audience and treat them like sugar crazed idiots who want not I want to see more YA novels like Madapple. YA novels that don't pander to their younger audience and treat them like sugar crazed idiots who want nothing but bad boys to imagine themselves dry humping with. Unfortunately, the general population does not agree with, as seen by the 3.36 average on this book and the general lack of buzz surrounding it. So, I took the pleasure of riding down review alley and discovered that one of the main pros/cons for and against Madapple (besides it being somewhat confusing) was that it read too much like Adult Literary fiction. It's even shelved as "Adult" by several readers. This is published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, so there should be no confusion here, unlike with Beautiful Disaster.
I'm actually quite surprised that some think this reads like AF Lit Fic. They should read more AF Lit Fic. This is far from it. Madapple follows the standard YA themes -- loss of identity, isolation, fear of moving into adulthood, etcetera, etcetera. Perhaps it's the voice, though I'm not quite convinced of that either. Many YA books have the same "smart, monotone girl" voice that can get rather old after a while. And it's certainly not the content. Rape, incest, torture and cults, are nothing new to YA. And, no, this book does not look at the above with rose tinted glasses because of a hot love interest.
Even the plot structure is pretty standard. There's a climax, a "resolution," and it hits almost every beat. It's not literary fiction. It just has better than average prose and the pacing is kind of slow.
So, I can't say I understand why this book has a lower average rating than Twilight.
(view spoiler)[I take that back. I know exactly why it has a lower average rating than Twilight -- there's no love interest to swoon for without feeling like a pervert. (hide spoiler)]
Madapple is the story of Aslaug, daughter of Maren, a fifteen-year-old girl who's been raised in isolation for the entirety of her life. She's on trial for the murder of her mother, cousin, and Aunt. She's also believed to be the second coming of Christ. Throw in a splash of the occult, crazy cousins, botany a variety of religions -- and you've got one weird novel.
It is rare to come across a YA novel that doesn't handle Christianity with fire-proof, thumb-less mittens, but Madapple isn't afraid to take it the extreme.
Now, I'll admit to being rather slow on the uptake when it comes to plot twists, but even I was able to follow along with this story. There's not much mystery here and there's certainly nothing confusing about the narration. It's very, very easy to keep up with. First chapter = Prologue. Court Room = Present. Aslaug narration = Past. The present and the past alternate by every other chapter.
I could have done without the court chapters, to be honest. The constant objections from the lawyers were annoying and the only reason they were included was to give another layer of "is Aslaug a liar" when they were rather unnecessary. We already know Aslaug is an unreliable narrator. We don't need more "proof."
Now, a few things did bother me:
(view spoiler)[What is with authors refusing to write proper endings for their books? I understand that wrapping up a novel is difficult, but you should not leave your reader hanging.
We're given all these hints and spoilers that lead to nowhere. Rune and Rebecca come back -- who obviously did not get their stories straight when they barged into the courtroom -- and we're treated to a one chapter wrap up. We never find out if Rune went to jail for raping Aslaug, or if he even raped Aslaug because Aslaug is so disconnected from reality she cannot tell if she lost her virginity hours later simply by looking at her sheets and/or feeling somewhat odd after having sex for the first time.
We never find out if Aslaug is Rune's cousin/sister or his cousin/aunt.
We never find out why Sanne is so insane. From her rebellious nature, it would stand to reason that she wouldn't give too shits about religion or Aslaug's return -- especially since she's a gifted child, far too gifted to actually believe her cousin is the second coming of Christ, rather than just her cousin/sister or cousin/aunt. Occam's Razor. Surely the genius child has heard of it.
Who is Aslaug's father? And who is the father of her child? DNA tests could tell us, but in attempt to be mysterious, the novel never reveals this information, even though it is blatantly obvious.
This is still a good book, despite its flaws. If you're prepared to be somewhat annoyed by the ending and want a taste of original YA with dark content, I would recommend this book to you. There are no graphic descriptions of anything, just fyi.
Goddammit. I really wanted to hate this book. There's so much about it that I abhor, but I can't bring myself to give it less than three stars.
SometimGoddammit. I really wanted to hate this book. There's so much about it that I abhor, but I can't bring myself to give it less than three stars.
Sometimes, I joke with my sister that she needs to expand her character repertoire. Usually, her stories feature a nerdy, lonely, odd teenage boy who's hopelessly in love with a girl, usually a manic pixie, who'll never have him. That boy spends most of his time staring at the girl, wondering if she likes another guy, complaining about how she treats him like a child, and writing voyeuristic stories on his computer about said girl.
As I read Haruki Murakami's most popular work -- Norwegian Wood and Kafka on the Shore -- I am forced to come to the conclusion that his stories are exactly like the stories that the nerdy, lonely, odd teenage boy would write whenever he wasn't staring at his manic pixie. Murakami's characters wish they could be Holden Caulfield, but for them, that's a hefty aspiration. No, Murakami's protagonists -- if you can even call them protagonists -- are borderline self-inserts, almost akin to the male leads in those horrid bro-comedies, written for nerdy, lonely, odd teenage boys -- and nerdy, lonely, odd men.
Before you dismiss my criticisms, lets take a moment to think about this. What female characters can you relate to in his novels? They aren't actually characters. They're meant to force our so-called protagonist through his arc, often through eye-roll worthy sex-scenes that these nerdy, lonely, odd teenage boys wish they could have. And, mind you, these protagonists don't just have regular sex -- they have mind blowing sex. And they don't just have it with one girl -- they have it with multiple girls, who all praise his sexual prowess.
These girls don't develop past their base stereotypes -- stereotypes typically found in any popular manga. Like Naruto. Or Clannad. Hinata, Sakura, Ino, Ryou, Nagisa, Naoko, Midori, Reiko, whatever.
But these nerdy, lonely, odd teenage boys are too pretentious for manga. Therefor, they need their literary novels, strife with plotless melodrama, navel-gazing, and lots of sex with luke-warm females.
Please don't tell me that I don't get the brilliance behind Murakami's words. I've read Salinger, Maugham, and Fitzgerald. They do it better. They don't write self-inserts for their audience. And while their female characters are occasionally woe-fully underdeveloped, they don't worship the protagonist of their respective novels. As a female, I wonder what these women see in Murakami's males. They're nothing more than the Japanese version of the manic pixie. But then I remember that these females are just kuunderes and tsunderes -- nothing I haven't seen in any slice of life manga filled with nerdy, lonely, odd teenage boys who stare wistfully into the sky while cherry blossoms fall upon their silvery, wispy hair.
In fact, if you're a fan of this novel, I'd like to introduce you to Makoto Shinkai. He's a director with a style akin to Hayao Myazaki and a pen that lacks his talent. His characters stare at each other and wax emo poetry, akin to what you'd find on deviantart, in voiceover while pretty pictures float over the screen. That is how I felt while I was reading this novel. The prose is quite good, but the story, plot, and characterization fall short on every mark.
What exactly was the purpose of this novel?
Contrary to popular belief, The Catcher in the Rye has a purpose. I'm lost at the comparisons between Holden and Toru. Holden's little brother died from cancer a few years prior to the novel's opening. I think that's enough to justify his angst, considering that during that time period, his death was probably more painful than it would be in present day. If you've read the misery-porn that is My Sister's Keeper, you'll have an idea of how cancer effects fictional characters.
Toru's best friend committed suicide. I'll give his depression a pass. That's about it. His countless sexploits honestly made me want to introduce him to Anita Blake. They'd have fun together.
And yes, I know there are guys who attract multiple women and have various sexual relationships. Toru's sex life, however, was not presented in a realistic light. It was voyeuristic. I did not know why these women liked him and, more importantly, why they deemed him a sex god.
If you're wondering why so much of this review is devoted to sex -- here's the answer -- the novel is equally devoted to sex. Sex, death, loneliness, depression, and extreme oddities that even James Joyce would raise an eyebrow to.
The sheer pretentiousness of the protagonist and his friends is enough to elicit an exasperated sigh.
The better I got to know Nagasawa, the stranger he seemed. I had met a lot of weird people in my day, but none as strange as Nagasawa. He was a far more voracious reader than me, but he made it a rule never to touch a book by any author who had not been dead at least 30 years.
"That's the only kind of book I can trust," he said.
"It's not that I don't believe in contemporary literature," he added, "but I don't want to waste valuable time reading any book that has not had the baptism of time. Life is too short."
"What kind of authors do you like?" I asked, speaking in respectful tones to this man two years my senior.
"Balzac, Dante, Joseph Conrad, Dickens," he answered without hesitation.
"Not exactly fashionable."
"That's why I read them. If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. That's the world of hicks and slobs. Real people would be ashamed of themselves doing that. Haven't you noticed, Watanabe? You and I are the only real ones in this dorm. The other guys are crap."
This took me off guard. "How can you say that?"
"'Cause it's true. I know. I can see it. It's like we have marks on our foreheads. And besides, we've both read The Great Gatsby."
Because of course, special snowflakes, literature is only good if you deem it worthy, and if someone doesn't like what you like they're a hick or a slob. Please, jump thirty years into the future and become acquainted with your indie-than-thou hipster counterparts. They enjoy sipping coffee at bistros while they twirl their thriftstore eco-friendly scarves and discus the plights of starving African children while they listen to The Smiths, watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (and complain about the American adaptation of Open Your Eyes -- Vanilla Sky), while they read pretentious novels such as this to feel like they're superior to their peers. They probably jerk off to their liberal arts degrees at night while they fantasize about Charlie Kaufman.
It doesn't surprise me that this novel was popular amongst teens and young adults. Here, they have a lackluster Holden Caulfield to look up to. One who never realizes that, he too, is a "phony". We get the occasional dismissal of Nagasawa's ways, but they come late and are rather pathetic. Our passive protagonist does nothing but watch his so-called friend destroy his girlfriend bit by bit. He comforts her, offers her advice, but never tells Nagasawa off.
As I read through the scenes with Nagasawa, I couldn't help but roll my eyes. And, of course, this special Gary Stu -- who reads American literature, has a huge penis, can hook up with any girl, charm anyone, get anything he wants, who's rich, who's bound for success, who's one of the best students in their university, has a nice, intelligent, steady girlfriend, and claims to have slept with seventy girls -- chooses Toru as his friend. Wish fulfillment anyone?
As for Toru's sexual relationship with Naoka? He took advantage of her. This could be considered rape. She was not emotionally sound. She could not give consent. Would Toru have had sex with her if she was drunk and he was sober? Knowing him, probably so. And he'd have some artistic, pretentious excuse. But here's Toru's take on it:
I slept with Naoko that night. Was it the right thing to do? I can't tell. Even now, almost 20 years later, I can't be sure. I suppose I'll never know. But at the time, it was all I could do. She was in a heightened state of tension and confusion, and she made it clear she wanted me to give her release.
Because, of course, when a girl is crying over her dead ex-boyfriend, you just have to have sex with her. It's the only thing that'll make her feel better. And, of course, she's a virgin. And, of course, she has an orgasm because Toru is just that good.
What I don't understand is his hypocritical attitude towards sex. Doesn't he realize that he's just like the girls he has random one night stands with? He's no better than they are, but he describes them with such disdain, as if by being male, he's better than they are for wanting meaningless sex, but dirty for being with them. Later on in the novel, he regrets his attitude towards sex -- for two paragraphs. And that's only for his six month girlfriend. The other eight girls are "stupid" girls for whatever reason.
I'm also lost at Murakami's portrayal of sex for females. It's like he thinks women don't enjoy sex or masturbation unless they're having sex with a man. The girls give Toru hand jobs and blow jobs, while he gives nothing in return. And if he is "giving" it's when he's having sex with a girl who needs "release". From his mouth:
"It includes every man on the face of the earth," I explained. "Girls have periods and boys wank. Everybody."
Midori is something of a nymphomaniac, but when she actually gets into bed with Toru, she ends up giving him a hand job. What does he do for her? If you guessed nothing, you're right.
As hardly anything happens during the course of this novel. it would be pointless to comment on the pacing, but as I anticipated the introduction of Midori (who was nothing more than the standard manic pixie dream girl, down to an actual pixie cut, but still more entertaining than Toru and Naoko) I was rather disappointed to find that I had to slog through 60 pages before she made an appearance. This is why I hate passive protagonists (by the way, that's an oxymoron). They do nothing but sit on their pompous little asses and sip whiskey while they read John Updike, comment on their lost loves, gaze out their windows, write achingly emo love letters, and dream of dropping out of college because everything is just so beneath them.
Now, what did I like about this novel? Toru's interactions with Midori. His conversations with her are what kept my interest. They were beautifully written and gave Toru a spark of personality. But even they didn't give this book meaning. A few romantic scenes with fireflies, beer, kissing, and conversations about death won't save a novel. For me, this was like the anti-thesis of Looking for Alaska or The Catcher in the Rye. There was little humor, little focus, and few dynamic characters.
Naoko and Reiko didn't feel like real character. They felt like what a male wanted a female to be like. I suppose my greatest disappointment was that I was expected something profound, because I loved the premise and few sections, but the rest fell flat. It felt unreal, like a fantasy a nerdy, lonely, odd teenage boy would've conjured up for himself. Especially Naoko's commitment to Kizuki. And Reiko, like almost every female in this novel, had to have a sexual relationship with Toru, though she's old enough to be his mother and acts like an older sister. And, of course, it's the greatest sex of her life. Best of all? Murakami describes it all in pornographic detail. Almost all of the sex scenes are ridiculously gratuitous, but Murakami would have us believe that they're for "release".
The blurb tells readers that this is a novel about moving on from grief. The problem is that there are no attempts to move on. The characters languish in their grief, roaming blindly in their pretentiousness, and fizzle out towards the end. Outside forces act on them, but they do nothing.
I want to know what the purpose of this novel was. While the description was nice, the dialog was rather on the nose. The characters say everything they feel at any given moment. I won't even start on Toru's thoughts. I like the premise. I like forbidden love. I like love triangles, depressed girls, and tsunderes. I do not like 350 pages of pointless angst, sex, weirdness, and quaint descriptive prose. For me, this was the equivalent of Twilight without the vampires and with a male narrator. It has its moments, but as a whole, it's an odd, painful experience. There's so much good in this novel, but it's buried underneath unnecessary prose and an odd chauvinistic tone.
I'd only recommend this novel if you're ready to roll your eyes at various moments. Toru's moments with Midori and her father are sweet. They bring out an interesting side to his character. His moments with Reiko were interesting and his moments with Naoko held potential. In the end, he goes through a small change. But it's not enough for me to give this a full four stars.
3.5 stars. I will, however, check out the movie. The poster is pretty beautiful as well as the trailer but, like the premise, it's probably a lie. If you want a modern coming of age story named after a classic rock song check out Into the Great Wide Open by Kevin Canty. It lacks a love triangle, but it's much, much better....more
This is a light, predictable read. I enjoyed it more than Anna and the French Kiss, but that's not saying much. At least the MC didn't annoy the fuckThis is a light, predictable read. I enjoyed it more than Anna and the French Kiss, but that's not saying much. At least the MC didn't annoy the fuck out of me.
2.5 stars because the pranks were hilarious. ...more