I’m not sure I am qualified to write a review for this novel. It’s been the subject of so many analyses and interpretation by the literati crowd and pI’m not sure I am qualified to write a review for this novel. It’s been the subject of so many analyses and interpretation by the literati crowd and professorial reviewers that my comments will surely pale by comparison. So rather than compete with some kind of attempt to impress with how it "affected me" I will simplify my analysis:
I liked it.
I have friends that absolutely loved it and friends that feel charitable when giving it only one star. I can understand both points of view. I think if I had read this in high school when many were forced to read and write a book report on it, then I would come close to hating it. But at this point in my life and looking back at a 20+year career in the US Air Force I can appreciate it’s approach and style much better. Especially the way the drama of the very real and horrific bombing of Dresden at the end of WWII is told in a semi-biographical way in a nonlinear order with events becoming clear through flashbacks (or time travel experiences) from the narrator who describes the stories of Billy Pilgrim, who in turn believes himself to have been in an alien zoo and to have experienced time travel.
Boy, what a mishmash of a description. Sorry about that but...so it goes.
Categorizing this novel is something else altogether. I guess it’s science fiction and I guess it’s anti-war, and I know it’s a prime example of the literary device known as an “unreliable narrator”. I also know that several of the other characters in this novel also appear in Vonnegut’s other novels but not always as quite the same character as they are here.
It sounds like a convoluted structure for a novel, especially with all of the jumping around in time but I actually followed it pretty easily. I’m glad to have finally read it, not only because I’ve always felt I “should” read at least one Vonnegut novel but also because reading it really got me to think. I also understand it has been one of the most banned books in the US ever since publication and that always draws me to such a novel.
I can’t quite bring myself to award 5 stars but it was a close thing. Very glad to have read it. ...more
This final book of the Oz series by L. Fran Baum is often categorized as the “darkest” of the original Oz books but I really didn’t find it so. I didThis final book of the Oz series by L. Fran Baum is often categorized as the “darkest” of the original Oz books but I really didn’t find it so. I did see at as a little more complex than most of the others but the fact that the author knew he was dying at the time he wrote it doesn’t contribute to any darkness as far as I can see.
In essence, this novel is like most of the others in the series. Several main characters including Dorothy and Ozma, set out to a remote area of Oz because they have found out that somebody hasn’t recognized that Ozma is the rightful ruler of all Oz and they are not following the laws of the land. (Yes, Oz, my friends is an Imperialist land). In fact, the Skeezers and the Flatheads are actually engaged in war, believe it or not, which is most definitely a violation of the rules.
Ozma and Dorothy get trapped and it’s up to their friends, including Glinda to rescue them. Here we do see that Baum likely knew this was his last story because he has nearly all of the major characters from past books make a cameo appearance as they gather to help plan the rescue. This was great to see. Not only familiar recurring characters such as the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, the Tin Woodman (Nick Chopper), The Wizard of Oz, Jack Pumpkinhead, Scraps (The Patchwork Girl), etc. but we also see some of the lesser “main” characters that round out Ozma’s Counsellors like Shaggy Man, Tik-Tok, Cap’n Bill, H.M. Wogglebug, and even Dorothy’s Uncle Henry.
While the first part of this book was straightforward, I did feel that the major middle section lost its cohesion and sort of fell apart. Solving the predicament of how to rescue Dorothy and Ozma was much more involved than the usual Oz story and required teamwork, lots of ideas, and experimentation. Perhaps this is why some regard this as a “darker” Oz tale. The outcome is not as assured as usual and at one point everybody, including the infallible Glinda feels as if they have exhausted all possibilities. For a child, I suppose, this could be stressful. The final two short chapters were wrapped up at warp speed; I could almost sense Baum’s effort to finish before he drew his last breath.
Obviously, there are numerous further adventures in Oz, written by many other authors. I’ve heard many of them are well worth the read, especially those by Baum’s immediate successor, Ruth Plumly Thompson, but alas, I have no plans to pursue them at this time. My goal was to read all of the originals and now that I have done so, I will move on to other things, always remembering my own adventures in Oz fondly. ...more
The penultimate novel in the 14 book original Oz series ranks among my favorites. It's a nice return to the classic story form of the early Oz books aThe penultimate novel in the 14 book original Oz series ranks among my favorites. It's a nice return to the classic story form of the early Oz books and serves as a nice way to visit with old friends from the earlier stories. Two main plot lines weave together, one involving the return of Ruggedo, former Nome King, who tries to conquer Oz again with the help of a Munchkin boy, Kiki Aru, the only new character to be introduced in this volume. Meanwhile, it is also Princess Ozma's birthday, (the girl ruler of all Oz) and all of Oz's citizens are searching for the most unusual present for her. Not just any present will do so adventures ensue with various groups of Ozma's friends trying to present her with truly unique gifts.
The author of this series, L. Frank Baum, was nearing the end of his life (this book was actually published a little after his death) when he wrote this one and it seems to me he was waxing nostalgic throughout this book. He would go on to write one final Oz novel and even though it is purported to be the darkest of the batch, I look forward to it as well....more
I'm nearing the end of the original Oz series by L. Frank Baum now and I was glad to see that he returned to a a story from the very first book in ordI'm nearing the end of the original Oz series by L. Frank Baum now and I was glad to see that he returned to a a story from the very first book in order to fill in a missing piece of the puzzle. We know from way back at the beginning that Nick Chopper, aka the Tin Woodman, was to marry his munchkin girlfriend before being turned from a "meat" body into his nice shiny tin body. But whatever happened to that girl?
This novel covers the adventurous journey to determine her fate. As usual, we follow a group of key characters from the Land of Oz as they make the journey and this time it is the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and a new character named Woot the Wanderer. Along the way we get treated to a repeat appearance from Polychrome and some cameos by Dorothy and Toto as well. This is basically a series of adventure vignettes, almost like short stories strung together to tell the larger tale.
The novel also serves to flesh out some of the back story of Oz itself and how it came to be. Oz was not always a fairyland you see. This novel was originally published during World War I and it reversed a downward trend in sales of Oz books at the time. I can see why. I enjoyed it quite a lot more than the last 5 or 6 and I suppose during a time of such bad news all the time, the reading audience was glad to have such an outlet as a new Oz book to enjoy. If you're tired of the daily news cycle today, perhaps a healthy dose of Oz would be got for you to......more
This is my favorite of the Oz books so far and since I am now near the end of the original Oz series written by Baum, it might well become the best ofThis is my favorite of the Oz books so far and since I am now near the end of the original Oz series written by Baum, it might well become the best of the lot. While the first book was ingenious for its time, the story in this one was more complete and satisfying. For those that haven't read these books, generally, each book introduces a new character or two and the story is pretty much about their adventures somewhere in the land of Oz, often with them making their way to Emerald City and meeting all of the other characters that have come before.
This time, however, Ozma, the Princess of Oz, herself has gone missing, along with other key artifacts including Ozma's magic mirror and Glenda's Great Book of Records. So this story is about how most of the characters we've met in previous books get together and search the land of Oz for their missing princess. Of course, along the way we do get to meet still more oddball characters including the Frogman, Cayke the Cookie Cook, and the Little Pink Bear.
All in all this is a pleasant read with a happy ending (despite a rather obvious and annoying deus ex machina near the end that allows Dorothy to save the day)....more
"You an' me we'll sluice that out'er when they're through. 'Send we'll hev fuli pens to-night! I've seen 'er down ha'af a foot wit fish waitin' to cle"You an' me we'll sluice that out'er when they're through. 'Send we'll hev fuli pens to-night! I've seen 'er down ha'af a foot wit fish waitin' to clean, an' we stood to t'tables till we was splittin' ourselves instid o' them, we was so sleepy, Yes, they're comin' in naow."
Did you get that? That's just an example of the kind of dialogue you must try to decipher as you plod your way through this classic novel. I triple checked what I had typed to make sure I got it exactly as it's printed in my copy of this book. There is a lot of dialogue in the novel and most of it seems to be just this sort of hard-to-follow style...and that makes it a tough one to get through without succumbing to the temptation of skimming whole paragraphs.
The story itself is pretty straight forward: rich, spoiled 15 year old boy is saved from drowning by a fishing boat in the North Atlantic. But instead of returning him to shore, the fishing boat has to keep to its schedule and so the boy, not having any other choice, hires on as part of the crew. The boy learns the ways of a tough life at sea through hard work and experiencing a series of adventures. When finally returned to shore, he meets his parents again who discover their brat of a boy has grown into a serious, industrious young man.
It's a classic coming-of-age tale, written in 1897 by one of the kings of early adventure stories. While the story was good, the style or writing was just too much for me. I've read almost all of Kipling's well-known works and several of his lesser known pieces, and I rather think I'm done. It's nice to be able to say, "I read that" but that's happening with less and less frequency for me....more
This book, I believe, is one of those few that gets talked about and talked about and actually lives up to the hype. Well written, thought-provoking,This book, I believe, is one of those few that gets talked about and talked about and actually lives up to the hype. Well written, thought-provoking, and certainly disturbing but I wish I had read it as part of a literature class or a discussion group because it's just crying out to be discussed with others who are currently reading it or have just completed it.
make sure to read the "Historical Notes" at the end (written in the year 2195 and looking back at the events of the story). Those that need to have their tales neatly wrapped up and every question answered may feel frustrated at the end but that Historical Note can help with that.
Glad to see this one on most "100 books to read before you die" lists....more
Theoretically, this is the 10th Oz book in the original 14 Oz series of books, written by L. Frank Baum. There have been many more additions to the whTheoretically, this is the 10th Oz book in the original 14 Oz series of books, written by L. Frank Baum. There have been many more additions to the whole Oz multiverse but only the original 14 are considered canon. Whereas, the first book in the series, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, is heralded as a classic of children's literature, Mr. Baum struggled fruitlessly ever after to recreate the magic of that first book. Books #2 through #9 were honest attempts to do so and, indeed, introduced many memorable and much-loved characters but this 10th book...well, let's just say Mr. Baum took the lazy way out. It was actually written about 10 years prior to its publication, an early attempt to create a whole new children's fantasy world (and, incidentally, a whole new cash cow as well), but alas, Oz seemed to be the only answer for any further success for Mr. Baum.
And so it was that this story, Rinkitink in Oz, is all about Prince Inga, his friend Rinkitink, a talking goat named Bilbil, and three magical pearls which serve as deus ex machina on multiple occasions. It is only near the very end of the book that we have any mention of Oz or its major characters at all. It seems the only way this story would have a chance at selling was to make it an "Oz book" and so Dorothy puts in a cameo appearance at the very end.
Overall the story was OK but too silly for my taste. I am hopeful book #11 will be a return to the real Land of Oz....more
Often referred to as the very first detective novel written in the English language, this classic of the mystery genre was an enjoyable read. It was oOften referred to as the very first detective novel written in the English language, this classic of the mystery genre was an enjoyable read. It was originally serialized in Charles Dickens' magazine, "All the Year Round".
I often struggle to rate books such as these...it is like comparing apples to bananas when one compares a modern day detective/mystery to one such as this written in 1860. Compared to other novels I've read from that period, this is an easy 5 stars. Unlike so many of them, this one is entirely readable and enjoyable. But it is also written in the classic style with lots and lots of explanatory passages which can tend to bog down the story for modern readers. I settled on 4 stars because, for me, "I really liked it."
The "moonstone" itself, is a diamond which gains it's name for the Hindu god of the moon. There are quite a few characters within the novel and the various parts of the book are presented from many of their points of view. It is easy to see how this could be published in serial form. There are really two detectives at work here: Sergeant Cuff,a London policeman called in from Scotland Yard is the formal detective assigned to the case of the stolen diamond while Franklin Blake acts as the amateur detective, and is a good example of an early "gentleman detective."
The mystery is fairly complex and includes major story elements beyond crime solving, including opium addiction, embezzlement, trust funds, and a pleasant love story. The characters are well-rounded, allowing the reader to get to know them well beyond the requirements to solve the mystery. The final 50 pages are simply great classic detective novel stuff, complete with the unveiling of the culprit. And the final fate of the Moonstone diamond itself is enormously satisfying.
Highly recommended for detective novel enthusiasts. It's great background material for so much of what has come after....more
As I continue on my quest to read various "classic" novels that everybody seems to have been assigned in High School but I never did, I also continueAs I continue on my quest to read various "classic" novels that everybody seems to have been assigned in High School but I never did, I also continue to be happily surprised at how good they often are. This one is my wife's all-time favorite book so I knew I was destined to read it at some point. Several years ago I read The Eyre Affair and was a little bit perplexed with some of the plot and so had to keep asking my wife what such-and-such referred to. And since then it seems like I come upon more and more references to Jane or Mr. Rochester or even Thornfield Hall. And so I thought it high time to finally engage the source material.
There is obviously little I can say about the novel itself that hasn't already been said by so many others. It has been called the perfect representation of the Victorian novel or Victorian romance and in fact, largely gave rise to the definition. Who am I to argue? Is it a perfect novel? Of course not. The ending especially provides such a profound deus ex machina that an editor would bounce it back if presented in the modern era. The narrative can be long and drawn out, the characters hardly realistic, and yet, for the time it was written, it defined a genre. For me personally, I found it a darn good read, bringing out my inner 12-year old girl. Its progressiveness is quite a contrast to more straight-laced Jane Austin novels although only 50 years or so separated the authors.
Many times I try to read a “classic” only to give up in boredom or else in disgust at my obviously Neanderthal inability to grasp the inherent brilliantness of it all. This one though provides one more tick mark in the opposite column…just enough to keep me pursuing the great “classics”. ...more