World War Z or When Re-Reads Disappoint A few weeks ago, I wrote a post aboutwhy I love re-readingbooks, and I mentioned that in the last year only onWorld War Z or When Re-Reads Disappoint A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about why I love re-reading books, and I mentioned that in the last year only one particular book was really disappointing when I revisited it, and that book was World War Z.When I first read it, I was only just beginning to explore the zombie genre. I recall being captivated by the journalistic style, meeting a range of different characters, and experiencing the whole arc of the zombie-apocalypse. I was interested to see exactly how I would feel going back to read one of the books that started my obsession, and perhaps in that way my expectations were set incredibly high.
World War Z moves through the initial zombie-virus outbreak, the apocalypse and into the recovery of the human race, via interviews with various survivors who experienced the apocalypse in a multitude of ways. There are doctors, military, politicians and a few average joes that give their own perspectives.The problem with all of these perspectives is that it's difficult to get to know particular characters, and that some of the POVs are very heavily focused on only one side of the story. In that way, I got bored with many of the POVs, particularly those that became more of an exploration of ways that skeevy individuals exploited the deaths and suffering of other people and the heavily militarised stories.In any book with this kind of set up there's the risk of skimming, but I found myself doing it far more than I normally would, and I think that's because there weren't enough 'average joe' perspectives, which is what I find most interesting. The actual plot itself and the way the story moves through the stages of the apocalypse is quite interesting, but those freaking POVs kept distracting me from that.I will, however, continue to recommend WWZ as a book for zombie newbies, because it does offer a huge variety of characters and perspectives, it's just not going to be on my list of favourites. I don't regret re-reading it because I know that my tastes have changed, and it's almost reassuring to know that there are other zombie books out there that do stand up to re-reads....more
The Children of Men is a book that paints a disturbing picture – if human beings ceased to be born, what would happen to the world? How would we contiThe Children of Men is a book that paints a disturbing picture – if human beings ceased to be born, what would happen to the world? How would we continue to function, knowing that as a species, we are dying out? There are some sad, touching moments in this book – the mass suicide of the elderly (willing or not), women cherishing dolls as if they were babies, and kittens being as the ageing population try to find a substitute for childbirth and child-rearing.
The main character, Theo, is not instantly likeable, seemingly happy to be self-reliant and distanced from the people around him, teaching history to bored middle-aged women and reminiscing on his earlier years with his cousin Xan, Warden of England. However, as the story progresses, through his willingness to become involved with the underground who are striving to make the dying world a better place, even although on the surface he seems to most unlikely candidate for rebellion, and his particular way of caring for Julian, he develops into an intricate, fascinating character. The writing is incredibly descriptive, perhaps for some readers overly so, and I had to call up my dictionary more than once.
There are some negatives to this book – I found the middle part to be incredibly slow-moving after a riveting start, however the action does pick up again. I also didn’t fully understand the relevance of The Painted Faces, and wanted to know more about what they represented and why they were terrorizing people so randomly.
However, The Children of Men is today also a relevant social commentary, as the average life-span of humans continues to grow, in places the elderly outnumber the young and in first world countries the birth rate steadily falls, how immigration is managed (or mismanaged) by wealthier countries and the trial and punishment of criminals is undertaken. Perhaps, after reading P.D. James’ dystopia, there could be some changed opinions.
I went into Sharp Objects not having read the synopsis, which is actually quite rare for me. All I knew was the tag-line on the cover – This family isI went into Sharp Objects not having read the synopsis, which is actually quite rare for me. All I knew was the tag-line on the cover – This family isn’t nuclear. It’s toxic. And it’s actually the perfect tag-line, because although the base of the plot line is a mystery, the overwhelming theme is how self-destructive Camille’s family really is.
Camille is a journalist, living in Chicago, far from the town in which she grew up when she is sent to investigate a murder and a missing child case. Camille’s unwillingess to go is obvious from the beginning, and it’s definitely not a warm homecoming. Her mother is abrupt, snobbish and treats Camille as an inconvenience, her stepfather is so pallid and downtrodden he exists like a shadow, and her half-sister, Amma is a nasty little piece of work.
The characters in Sharp Objects are so familiarly Gillian Flynn, mostly unlikable, with a heroine who is so damaged by her childhood shes alternately sad and scary, and the relationships are like train wrecks – all of which make Sharp Objects rather addictive in a dark, gritty way. At times it’s almost TOO much, and the ending is a real doozy, but although there were times I wanted to walk away, I could never quite bring myself to do it.
The plot itself isn’t exactly predictable, but it doesn’t set the world on fire in terms of action – there’s a lot of character interaction, Camille getting caught up in increasingly bizarre conversations and situations, and the unraveling of Amma’s completely screwed up personality – it’s far more a study of characters and how their pasts have and are shaping them rather than a full-on murder mystery.
Although I didn’t enjoy Sharp Objects as much as I liked Gone Girl, I’m still a huge fan of Flynn’s style – it’s so dark, the characters are so flawed and the plots are so twisty it’s almost impossible to predict the ending. Addictive, twisted and gritty, if you can stomach some truly fucked up characters, I recommend Sharp Objects....more