Dracula was nothing like I had expected. This is one of those stories that has been retold so many times by so many people, the original gets more and...moreDracula was nothing like I had expected. This is one of those stories that has been retold so many times by so many people, the original gets more and more lost. In contemporary vamp fiction we see the vampires being the good guys. They save innocent humans, fall in love with them and care for them. And some of them even sparkle.
But nothing like that in the original Dracula by Bram Stoker. Vampires are monsters, downright evil, the devil on earth. They have no redeeming quality, they are horrible and sadistic, only on this planet to spread their doom.
Dracula was refreshingly different. It feels good to have a big evil vamp again, and not the sexy vamp fluff we have nowadays. And the way Stoker describes him, you really believe there is nothing good left in the Count.
We start reading Jonathan Harkers diary. I truly love that Stoker choose for this form. The diary feels like you are reading someone's intimate thoughts, like you are peeking into someone's life. And in this book the diary actually makes sense. It has a purpose, and it is logical that this diary is still being kept in the most pressing situations. And it doesn't take away the action. The story is off course not so fast paced and action-packed as a lot of novels are now, but it isn't boring at all, the story unfolds like the tide; slowly, but you cannot stop it.
Because we read this story from so many points of view, we get to see a much larger picture than if we would only read the diary of lets say, Mina. We can get to conclusions and see connections between the stories before the characters do. I think this made the story quite enjoyable.
I really felt for the characters, they seemed so real. Their despair and fear is so heartfelt and at some point of the story when (trying really hard not to spoil) something bad happened to one of the characters I almost felt like crying with them.
There were only two things that really bothered me. The first: Stoker has never been to Holland, and he should not write about a Dutchman if he apparently has never seen one ever. Most Dutch people would rather be found dead than to be heard saying "Mein Gott". That is German. We speak Dutch, not German. Van Helsing should be such an academical and smart man, why can't he learn the simplest English grammar? This was the one and only time I did not believe Stoker. Evil creature that wants to take over London, sure. But a professor that has knowledge of so many languages, doesn't understand that after "he" or "she" the verb gets an S? That just seemed so wrong to me.
The other thing that bothered me is just fundamental. The women in this book are being looked upon as so much different from men. A quote to illustrate this: "I am truly thankful that she is to be left out of our future work, and even of our deliberations. It is too great a strain for a woman to bear". They do not think about women as lesser human beings, at another point in the book they are praised for their compassion that men do not have, but it just irks me they leave the women out of something as important as this. Why should all women be so faint at heart? This kind of book makes me think about how glad we have to be that there is so much more equality between men and women. Stoker is never condescending about it, and I give him credit for that. He did not live in such an woman-friendly age.
I think this book is legitimately called a classic. It isn't the first story about vampires, and it definitely isn't the last, but it is such an inspiration and such a captivating story. The ending was satisfying, tying all the strings together. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to know where all this vampirestuff comes from.(less)
This is the first book in Rice's famous Vampire Chronicles series. It is basically the story of Louis's life as a vampire. And to be honest, that isn'...moreThis is the first book in Rice's famous Vampire Chronicles series. It is basically the story of Louis's life as a vampire. And to be honest, that isn't really interesting.
The story starts off fine. Louis gets introduced, Lestat makes a grand entrance and the vampire is made. Then you get the Louis is very different blahblahblah, and then he starts to hate Lestat. That's fine. But then he starts to think that he is evil, vampires are evil, they might be children of the devil, and that really gets on your nerves after fifty pages. And even more after a hundred pages.
And then Lestat leaves the scene. And Louis continues to whine. You would think after he few centuries he would get over his self-pity, but guess again! Also, he just isn't vampire enough. He's weak, both mentally and physically, and his favourite way of handling problems is by running away or just scream "NO!". He actually behaves himself like a very stupid, strange and self-pitying human.
That being said, I think the side characters (Claudia, Lestat, Armand) were very enjoyable and interesting. The vampire lore is of course well-known but not boring and doesn't feel repetitive.
And in the end, everything gets turned around, and I found the conclusion quite satisfying.
Shame of that poor Lestat though, but he has still some books to go, so I guess he'll redeem himself.(less)
Emma is the first novel by Jane Austen I have read (I guess P&P&Zombies doesn´t really count as a Jane Ausen novel), and I have to say that I´...moreEmma is the first novel by Jane Austen I have read (I guess P&P&Zombies doesn´t really count as a Jane Ausen novel), and I have to say that I´m pleasantly surprised. Nothing of real importance happens and there is no action what so ever, but Austen raises this nothingness to an art.
I have read many reviews of people who just couldn´t stand Emma Woodhouse. I completely disagree. She feels like an ignorant younger sister, who makes wrong decisions but does this so innocently that you still have to love her. I adore her faults, because it makes the story so believable and so... human.
Also, I adored Miss Bates´ monologues. Those were just brilliant.(less)
I'm so on the fence about Wuthering Heights. On one hand I loved the writing and the story, but on the other hand the story moved so slowly that I rea...moreI'm so on the fence about Wuthering Heights. On one hand I loved the writing and the story, but on the other hand the story moved so slowly that I read it over a span of half a year. There was nothing that gripped me or made me continue, it's only because I've got such an expensive edition that I felt like I had to finish it.
The narrative technique in Wuthering Heights is interesting. In present day we have a conversation between the new inhabitant of the house and the housekeeper. The housekeeper tells the history of the house and the families that have occupied it. Near the end the story returns to the present day, which wraps up all story lines.
I hate Heathcliff. He didn't have a great childhood, but that didn't account at all for the cruel and terrible person he grew up to be. Some things he did were inexcusable to me, and I'm having a hard time to imagine how people can find him attractive. He's not a tortured hero, he's a villain with no redeeming qualities. Loving someone is not a redeeming quality. Just because a serial killer spoils his dog doesn't make him a good person - neither does Heathcliff's obsession with Cathy excuse anything he did.
For me Wuthering Heights is not a story of love, but a story of destruction. It's the tale of how two families become bonded in jealousy and hate, and destroy each other from the inside out. That being said, I loved how it ended on a positive note. After so much tragedy I could use some positivity. (less)
Read a few of the fairy tales when I was young, but don't remember much about them. I can vaguely recall some farmer that kills his own mother, I thou...moreRead a few of the fairy tales when I was young, but don't remember much about them. I can vaguely recall some farmer that kills his own mother, I thought that was really funny then (yes I have always had a strange sense of humor). Definitly on my TBR-pile.(less)
The Magician's Nephew is the prequel to the famous Narnia Chronicles. It has been written in 1955, five years after the best known book in the series,...moreThe Magician's Nephew is the prequel to the famous Narnia Chronicles. It has been written in 1955, five years after the best known book in the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It's actually the first Narnia book I have read because I decided to read the books in chronological order.
The story begins in London around 1900. Two children, Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer, meet while playing in the adjacent gardens of a row of terraced houses. They decide to explore an attic connecting the houses, but take the wrong door and surprise Digory's Uncle Andrew in his study.
The evil Uncle Andrew then sends Polly to a different world, and forces Digory to go after her. This is the beginning of a series of adventures caused by Magic.
I kind of thought this book to be quite slow for a children's book. Maybe it's because I had the wrong idea when I started reading, but I wouldn't read this book first. It is more about explaining where the Witch comes from and how Narnia took shape than that it's an enjoyable stand alone story. It takes way too long before we finally arrive in Narnia, and when we do, we see more of the environment (which is quite okay) than of the inhabitants (which are way more interesting). This book did have some brilliant moments (like planting the Uncle.. I actually giggled at that part), and I didn't found the Christian references troublesome at all. They gave the story a nice classic mythological touch that I liked. And of course, in the end, everything works out. (Except for the Witch problem, we still need her in the next book).
It has potential, and I hope The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe proves to be the real classic it is labelled as.(less)
Flaubert was a contemporary of Zola, and in many ways Madame Bovary and Nana can be compared. I really prefer the story of Madame Bovary though, as Fl...moreFlaubert was a contemporary of Zola, and in many ways Madame Bovary and Nana can be compared. I really prefer the story of Madame Bovary though, as Flaubert seems much more sympathetic to his main character than Zola is to Nana.
The story starts with the childhood of mister Bovary, and in a few chapters paints the years before he met Emma in broad strokes. Soon however, the focal point switches to Emma, and her dissatisfaction with her life.
Madame Bovary managed to ellicit a strong feeling of pathos for Emma, at least for me. She is definitely not well-loved amongst readers, but I felt for her. She is stuck in a world where a woman can do nothing but marry someone that seems agreeable, and then sit the rest of her life out. She longs for escape, for grand adventures, for strong emotions, but it's impossible for her to leave the town where she lives with her husband. All a woman could do in that time to defy the common order, was to have an affair. Which she does - and of course these affairs don't solve anything.
Although at the end also Emma experiences her downfall, Flaubert is always respectful towards Emma. Although her fancies are sometimes incredibly shallow, passages from her view points are among the most beautiful and profound in the book.
Coupled with truly cool writing, I really enjoyed Madame Bovary. (less)
Alright, this short-story is quite..special. It is quite funny, the Angel was kinda cool, but overall it was a bit disturbing. It feels like a dream,...moreAlright, this short-story is quite..special. It is quite funny, the Angel was kinda cool, but overall it was a bit disturbing. It feels like a dream, in the surrealistic dream way. (Suddenly the main character is hanging underneath a balloon...don't know how he got there though.)
First story I read by E.A. Poe (it starts with an A *blush*), wondering about the rest of his work now.
Oh, how I wish I could have read The Secret Garden when I was eight. It would have been right up there with my other favourite books.
Mary Lennox is a...moreOh, how I wish I could have read The Secret Garden when I was eight. It would have been right up there with my other favourite books.
Mary Lennox is a sullen, spoiled child that has absolutely no people skills. After she is sent to live with her absent uncle in Yorkshire she discovers a secret garden that has been locked up for years. Here she finds friends and turns from an ugly and horrible girl into someone lovable.
The Secret Garden is one of the absolute most positive books I've ever read. It just makes you feel so good. Some pessimists might call it naive, but this is a children's book, and the book doesn't make any claims that cannot be held. For example, it never says that physical illnesses can be solved by being outside more. What it does say is that thinking you are sick will without doubt make you sick.
Deeper themes aside, I loved The Secret Garden. I suddenly felt the need to garden, to plant things, to see them grow, which is an urge I don't think I ever had. The Yorkshire setting and dialect were just perfect. I think Ms Hodgson Burnett has a great sense of what children are really like, and the way the children in the novel think completely resonates with my memories of early childhood.
The Secret Garden made me happy. I'm sure I will reread it again and again in years to come.(less)
This is the dark and horrible story of Victor Frankenstein, who gave birth to the frightening, hideous, infamous monster.
I read the abridged and simpl...moreThis is the dark and horrible story of Victor Frankenstein, who gave birth to the frightening, hideous, infamous monster.
I read the abridged and simplified version when I was young, and well, I though it was pretty boring. Now I read the original unabridged version I can only begin understanding how brilliant this story really is.
Sceptic as I am, every time I heard people raving about how the genius 18 years-old Mary Shelley wrote this astonishing tale, I thought that this was just overrated following-the-crowd crap. But I got to admit; good old Mary captures human nature just perfectly.
We see the ambitious Victor Frankenstein grow up, see how he passes time with his caring family, we see his drive, how he developed his affection for his studies. Life is still fun and it holds great promise for the future; but we all know there are terrible things about to happen, and Shelley won't let us forget that.
I really liked we didn't get to see exactly how the monster was formed, and that she actually has found a good reason to not tell us. It isn't just a simple writing trick, it fits perfectly in the story and suits Victor as character.
The further we advance in the obscure world of misery, it becomes clear that Shelley will not spare our heroes. She does about everything to torture them. The monster wants revenge on his creator, and in doing this, he hurts himself beyond what is reasonable.
Frankenstein is not a strong character, he is actually quite weak. But that is his charm, and that's what, in my opinion, makes this story so disturbing. Because Victor is so stunningly normal, it feels close to home. He is not some kind of super hero with super humanly powers and traits; he has many faults, some even unforgivable, but a good heart. You just can't help to feel for him, as he descends in his own personal hell. His love for Elizabeth and Clerval and his father is genuine and heart-warming, and his misery is portrayed perfectly. It doesn't feel like self-pity at all. I really started to get a soft spot for the poor man. No human being should endure such a hardship.
A few things that struck me while reading: - Mary really likes the word "wretch". No, she absolutely adores it. It is mentioned on almost every other page of this book; and what I found quite interesting is that both Frankenstein and the monster consider themselves wretches, and both consider themselves as the most miserable. - Was it normal for men to cry back then? Tears start flowing everytime someone is done injustice. I wonder if it's just because the writer was a woman, and that she has a certain idea about how men should be, or that it was generally accepted then for men to weep, and let their tears run freely without shame. - The undying admiration for nature. It's like their TV. They don't get tired of watching it and studying it closely. It makes me want to see the world through their eyes.
Yes, I will have to admit it. Mary Shelley did write a classic tale about humanity and what will happen if we lose ourselves in science. The only thing I wonder about is if she really knew the complexity of what she wrote. Did she really understand what her little horror story would mean for us in this time? Anyway, a must read. (less)