Don't read this for the beauty of the prose, or even the effectiveness of the prose...some of the sentences are real head-scratchers. But this was a g...moreDon't read this for the beauty of the prose, or even the effectiveness of the prose...some of the sentences are real head-scratchers. But this was a good inspiration to try fasting--not a guidebook, more of an exhortation to try fasting and a celebration of the many benefits. Brantschen emphasizes that there are physical, spiritual, and socio-political benefits to fasting and that all of these aspects should be considered. Trying out a fast is definitely on my to-do list for 2014.(less)
I gobbled up the whole book on the plane from Portland to Orange County. It's so personal and self-obsessed and honest that it's almost uncomfortable...moreI gobbled up the whole book on the plane from Portland to Orange County. It's so personal and self-obsessed and honest that it's almost uncomfortable to read at times, but her storytelling is so disarming (crudely drawn computer sketches with messy splotches of colors interspersed among lots of journal-style text) that you are pulled in completely, and before long you feel like, wow, this is BRILLIANT. Plus she is genuinely hilarious and even though the stories are self-obsessed, they are so honest and real they don't feel selfish at all; they feel like a gift. I hold that "Depression" and to a lesser extent "Identity" hold their own as great literature. I mean it, really Great Literature.
A couple of these stories, especially the ones that were new for the book, sort of fell flat, falling awkwardly between funny and pathetic and not quite reaching either one. I suspect that's because of the book format; it just feels different psychologically. But Allie Brosh's hyper-analytical hyper-honest hyper-critical lens wins out. She is just so good at capturing certain aspects of being human. (less)
There's a sense that there's going to be a twist, a big reveal, but there's not--it's a slow reveal; you see glimpses of the big picture, and it gradu...moreThere's a sense that there's going to be a twist, a big reveal, but there's not--it's a slow reveal; you see glimpses of the big picture, and it gradually unwinds more and more until you get the full view. I think Ishiguro did this on purpose, wanting the reader's gradual grasp of the thing to mirror the characters' own. And I can respect that, maybe I even I appreciate it.
The extremely casual conversational narrative style: I think I liked it. It felt a little forced at first, but it certainly pulled me in. There was a certain circular pattern to the narrative--name something, tell a tangential story, then get back to the original something--which at first was off-putting but I grew to enjoy. Actually, this pattern mirrors the plot structure of the book as a whole as well as the narration.
Really this book is a coming of age story more than a dystopia. And I like that aspect. Ishiguro well captures the painful/beautiful intimacy of adolescent friendships.
The last paragraph or so is beautiful enough that it upped my entire estimation of the book. Suddenly the view is larger and the emotional scale is deeper, harder hitting.
So maybe I liked this book a lot more than I think I did. (less)
This is the best YA book I've read in a long time. Great characters, good writing, a complex world with a great mix of mystery and adventure and novel...moreThis is the best YA book I've read in a long time. Great characters, good writing, a complex world with a great mix of mystery and adventure and novelty. For a while it even swept me off my YA-oversated feet. I love Brimstone and his shop and the mysterious portals into worlds; Karou's sort of changeling identity was really well portrayed and packed an emotional punch. So, well done, Laini Taylor; I was so pleasantly surprised!
And the loving-this-book lasted for a good length. But then it got a bit tarnished...because, oh, god, I am so sick of teen-true-love! And I am REALLY sick to death of teen make out scenes. Gross. I mean, I really don't want to read about that.
On top of that, this is in many ways a story about self-discovery and self-actualization. We see Karou finding her true place and deciding for herself who's good and who's bad and what her ethical responsibilities are...it's a story of self-empowerment and I love that, but to me it seems quite sullied by the fact that this great heroine is only "whole" because of this dude she's in love with... that the hollowness she's always felt inside can only be filled when he's around... Let's just keep teaching our young women that only men can complete them! Come ON. So annoying.
So I sped-read through some parts, barely seeing the words through my eye-rolling. But really, I quibble. Taylor's a damn good story teller and she's created a great world.(less)
Fun little book, and funny. But ultimately, I want the redemption of the hero, the epiphany or transcendent moment, even from a cowardly wizard goof l...moreFun little book, and funny. But ultimately, I want the redemption of the hero, the epiphany or transcendent moment, even from a cowardly wizard goof like Rincewind. Still, consistently good humor and really imaginative and bizarre. I probably won't read another Discworld book anytime soon, but-- who knows--it might be just the thing if the right mood strikes.(less)
Wow! Why haven't I read Margaret Atwood before?! Great story, disturbingly convincing societal downfall, exquisitely rendered. The book combines prese...moreWow! Why haven't I read Margaret Atwood before?! Great story, disturbingly convincing societal downfall, exquisitely rendered. The book combines present-day-nightmare story with how-we-got-here-flashbacks and the narrative weaves them together seamlessly until, by the time they meet, it all feels inevitable but still shocking. The chapter where the teenaged Jimmy & Glenn/Crake get stoned and surf horrifying internet sites is haunting because it is REAL, it is now. Snowman/Jimmy is a sympathetic, if not quite admirable, character. Sure, I'm a sucker for dystopias, but this is so well done. I will be reading more.
A really fun read, one to plunge into, but rather uneven all in all. The journal entries format is so well done, almost TOO much verisimilitude...beca...moreA really fun read, one to plunge into, but rather uneven all in all. The journal entries format is so well done, almost TOO much verisimilitude...because sometimes a person just doesn't want to read a teen girl's diary, no? The narrative arc doesn't quite feel fully realized, either--also rather like a journal, some things seem so promising and lead nowhere, some seemingly vital details are brushed over, and other mundacities are gone over in exquisite, breathless-teen-girl detail. The main problem is that the back story is more alluring than the actual story, and while you keep thinking the story lines will merge, you never really get to see what happened, so in the end you're a bit disappointed. Still, I love the sort of magical realism here, and the role the landscape plays, and the way magic and faries are described. I just wanted more of that.
Also, chock-full of sci-fi references. This is charming at times but befuddling at others. The book is a love letter to libraries and reading and I love that and all, but I wondered what I was missing that I might get if I had read, say, even 10% of the books and authors Mor loves so much.(less)
A quick, easy read, some valuable ideas. While at times Foster's humor comes off a little flat, and a few of the chapters feel like repeats of each ot...moreA quick, easy read, some valuable ideas. While at times Foster's humor comes off a little flat, and a few of the chapters feel like repeats of each other, for the most part this was fun and worthwhile. For most literature lovers and those of us with lots of exposure to books, meaning-making and symbolic thinking are sort of invisible processes, things that happen automatically; Foster does a great job at making this thinking visible, at telling you explicitly how it works. It was good for me to sharpen my own reading. As a lit teacher, this book does a outlining in a clear, systematic way something that can be pretty hard to teach. I will definitely be referring to this book this year! I'll be interested to see how my honors sophs respond. (less)
Clunky writing (eg, "Tom was as agile as an ape"). Bratty, annoying protagonist who from page #1 was so CLEARLY going to learn a lesson about pride an...moreClunky writing (eg, "Tom was as agile as an ape"). Bratty, annoying protagonist who from page #1 was so CLEARLY going to learn a lesson about pride and self-centeredness and being a jerk. Broken home. Zombies. Perhaps these cliches don't matter for teen readers, but they sure do turn this teacher off. And when a review in the front pages compared it to Catcher in the Rye, boy did I get mad!
However, the book redeems itself by the end! There is some very sweet talkin'-bout-my-generation stuff that totally makes the book's heart feel real and good and even meaningful. By that I mean, the book is a (albeit clunky) allegory about the ruin that every younger generation inherits from its predecessors, their awakening to it, their discontent, their choice to believe in creating something better, and their fight to do it!
All in all, a few bad-ass fight scenes, some silly prose and inconsistent (sometimes believable, sometimes cartoonish) characters, and a good story about teens rising up to the challenge of trying to be better than what they came from. I'd hand this book to the right teens, for sure.