It's almost worth reading this book just for the part when the quasi-mermaid brings the MC to see a collection of trinkets and says "Look at this stuf...moreIt's almost worth reading this book just for the part when the quasi-mermaid brings the MC to see a collection of trinkets and says "Look at this stuff. Isn't it neat?" Oh how l laughed...(less)
What is it about family drama that speaks to us all so deeply? I know why it effects me. As an only child, peace and quiet was the norm f...moreFamily drama.
What is it about family drama that speaks to us all so deeply? I know why it effects me. As an only child, peace and quiet was the norm for my household. I craved the hug of an older sister or the pranks of a younger brother. Craved anything. Any new and exciting family dynamic.
So I wonder - is drama essential in a large family? Is it inevitable? I have recently been privy to some of the drama of my Dad's large yet scattered family. While I yearn to know what it is like to feel the comradery of siblings, I don't wish for the intensity that comes along with the heated arguments.
Does drama just come with the territory? Is it all worth it?
Invincible Summer explores some of these questions. The massive cast is introduced quickly and all at once in the beginning, which leads to a rather difficult time of sorting everyone out. Once you advance in the story, it becomes much easier and you can even determine who's speaking without needing to be told. Every character is unique and well-defined.
The only rather annoying quirk was how often the dialogue involved quotes by the family's favorite author, Albert Camus. Clearly, the author's writing and his quotes are lovely, but I didn't find it quite believable that 15 to 18 year old boys would actually quote anyone that often.
Beautifully and simply told from the perspective of a young man named Chase over the course of several summers. Starting with the age of fifteen up until eighteen, he struggles through the birth of a new baby, the trials of having a deaf brother, and the complexities of girls. He deeply experiences doubts, regrets, and loss. But he also experiences love.
All this tension is heightened by the presense and, even more often, by the absense of his best friend and older brother, Noah. The story doesn't presume to be all that funny or highly suspenseful, but it can entrap you all the same.
The cover of this book is entirely misleading. It is no sunny romp on the beach. There is a love triangle that doesn't feel like a love triangle. There is grit, sand, and sea, but mostly there is sex, anger, and angst. It is emotional in a completely raw and realistic fashion.
This book is about how the love of a family is simple, yet endlessly complicated. The complicated part is figuring out why you love them. The simple part is that you do.
Thanks to Simon and Schuster for allowing me to read this as an ARC!!
Content warning: Heavy language and some sexual content.(less)
When I was young 'un, we had this storytelling board game in our house. If memory serves me right, it was called, simply, "Once..."
The basis of the ga...moreWhen I was young 'un, we had this storytelling board game in our house. If memory serves me right, it was called, simply, "Once..."
The basis of the game was to create a story from a card prompt and people had to guess whether it was true or not - or something like that anyway.
As many things do, at first this game went over my head a bit. *swoosh* Because in my everyday life, whenever I would try to make up a story (or more accurately - what you might call a white lie) to my friends or family, they always seemed to know right away. At least my mom, who I had convinced myself was secretly a CIA agent, always knew.
But I eventually figured out that when it is turned into a game, this "storytelling" phenomenon can actually be quite fun, because apparently if you are being upfront about this thing called "fiction" being "not real", then it is perfectly acceptable and not something you have to be nervous about. Around that time, I started to get very good at it.
So anyway, I played this game with my friends, and at one point, I told a gruesome story about how, just the previous week, I had seen a cat torture and kill a baby bird, basically skinning it alive. A fairly traumatic thing for a young girl to witness. Of course, everyone assumed that I had actually seen it happen, because what kid could just make something like that up? Well apparently, a kid with a sick mind. I had made it up.
With an incredibly active and visual imagination, not to mention, a little bit of craziness thrown in for good measure, I had actually seen this scene happen solely in my mind's eye. So, I didn't technically just make up the story on the fly; rather, as a result seeing a smushed dead baby bird lying on the street, my mind went on to imagine how this might have happened. Thus, I received the previously stated disturbing mental image.
I am about 99.98646362728% certain that most people's minds don't work this way. I think maybe you need to be at least a little bit of a paranoid schizophrenic to be a storyteller. At least, that's how I explain my strange mental processes to myself.
This book, entitled Once, is about a young Jewish boy, named Felix, living and suffering through the horrid times of the Holocaust. He has been hidden away in an orphanage and has convinced himself that his parents are still around and just waiting for the right moment to come and get him. When they don't show up after three years, Felix sets out to find them and meets new friends and new trouble.
The little boy loves to tell stories and does so throughout almost the entire book. He isn't what you might think of as an "unreliable narrator", however. He is always upfront with the reader, so though he may tell "stories" to the other characters, he never does with us. A true unreliable narrator is more like what you would find in the Fight Club, where the reader isn't given all the necessary information and much is withheld.
The things that happen to and around Felix in this book are terrifyingly unbelievable. It is easy to tell yourself that things like this could never happen. But they have. They are. They will.
The prose is simple and heart-wrenching. The writing is in no way strenuous, but the story is. Worry and heartache will easily overcome you in this book. It should be difficult to believe that human beings are capable of such atrocities but somehow, it isn't that difficult to imagine.
We should be able to look at a book like this and say "No one would ever be capable of doing that." But we can't.
Overall, this was an excellent story about a young boy suffering through a horrible time in history. It certainly pulls at your heart strings, but I wouldn't quite call it life changing. This book comes off more like a deeply and darkly intense fable.
The books is a short 163 pages, and the final chapter leaves it somewhat open-ended. Just enough so, that it you leaves you asking questions but still gives you a bit of closure. Happy-endings are not readily available within Holocaust fiction, unfortunately.
This is kind of book that resonates. It stays with you and keeps your mind working long after you have finished.
If you are interested, the hardcover is currently the cheapest way to obtain this book at just under 7 dollars on Amazon. The Kindle edition is very pricey at 10 dollars, especially for such a short book.
The thing I loved most about this book is that throughout most of it, Felix has an uplifting and optimistic personality. It was so entertaining as well as endearing to hear his thoughts and views on the world. He is an amazing character and a new favorite of mine. His viewpoint reminded me ever so slightly of the main character in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, in the way that he notices things and sees things in a manner that most would not.
At one point in the book, Felix sees Nazis burning Jewish books, so he becomes convinced that the Nazis are doing all of this because the Nazis hate the Jews' books and not just them. So in order to make sense of it all, he tells himself a story about how in a book warehouse in another country, one day a bunch of Jewish books fell on top of someone's kids and crushed them. So these people vowed to take revenge on the books and anyone who owns them.
It is truly remarkable the creations that a mind can invent to explain that which it does not know.
On another note, I have searched high and low on the Internet for another edition of the "Once..." game that I played as a kid and have been entirely unsucessful in finding it.
I'm beginning to think that maybe my CIA agent mother had a single copy designed and produced in order to help cultivate my imagination. See, now that doesn't sound at ALL unreasonable to me. But that's just how I roll...(less)
YOU. ARE. THE. DEAD. Oh my God. I got the chills so many times toward the end of this book. It completely blew my mind. It managed to surpass my high...moreYOU. ARE. THE. DEAD. Oh my God. I got the chills so many times toward the end of this book. It completely blew my mind. It managed to surpass my high expectations AND be nothing at all like I expected. Or in Newspeak "Double Plus Good."
Let me preface this with an apology. If I sound stunningly inarticulate at times in this review, I can't help it. My mind is completely fried.
This book is like the dystopian Lord of the Rings, with its richly developed culture and economics, not to mention a fully developed language called Newspeak, or rather more of the anti-language, whose purpose is to limit speech and understanding instead of to enhance and expand it. The world-building is so fully fleshed out and spine-tinglingly terrifying that it's almost as if George travelled to such a place, escaped from it, and then just wrote it all down.
I read Fahrenheit 451 over ten years ago in my early teens. At the time, I remember really wanting to read 1984, although I never managed to get my hands on it. I'm almost glad I didn't. Though I would not have admitted it at the time, it would have gone over my head. Or at the very least, I wouldn't have been able to appreciate it fully.
From the start, the author manages to articulate so many of the things I have thought about but have never been able to find a way to put into words. Even in the first few chapters I found myself having to stop just to quietly consider the words of Mr Orwell.
For instance, he talks about how the act of writing itself is a type of time travel. It is communicating with the future. I write these words now, but others may not discover them for hours, weeks, or even years. For me, it is one time. For you the reader, it is an entirely different one.
Just the thought that reading and writing could one day be outlawed just shivers my timbers. I related to Winston so much in that way. I would have found a way to read or write.
The politics and psychology of this novel run deep. The society in the book has no written laws, but many acts are punishable by death. The slogan of the Party (War is Peace...) is entirely convoluted. Individuality is frowned upon and could lead to being labeled a traitor to the Party.
I also remember always wondering why the title was 1984. I was familiar with the concept of Big Brother and wondered why that wasn't the name of the book. In the story, they don't actually know what year it is because so much of the past has been erased by the Ministry of Truth. It could very easily have been 1981. I think that makes the title more powerful. Something as simple as the year or date is unknown to these people. They have to believe it is whatever day that they are told it is. They don't have the right to keep track. Knowledge is powerful. Knowledge is necessary. But according to Big Brother. Ignorance is strength.
1984 is written in past tense and has long paragraphs of exposition, recounting events, and explaining the society. These are usually things that distance me from a book and from the characters, but Orwell managed to keep me fully enthralled. He frequently talks in circles and ideas are often repeated but it is still intriguing, none the less. I must admit that I zoned out a bit while Winston was reading from The Book, but I was very fascinated by the culture.
Sometimes it seems as though the only way to really experience a characters emotions is through first person. This is not the case with this book, as it is written in third person; yet, I never failed to be encompassed in Winston's feelings. George manages to ensure that the reader never feels disconnected from the events that are unfolding around them, with the exception of the beginning when Winston is just starting to become awakened. I developed a strong attachment to Winston and thrived on living inside his mind. I became a member of the Thought Police, hearing everything, feeling everything and last but not least, (what the Thought Police are not allowed to do) questioning everything.
I wasn't expecting a love story in this book, but the relationship between Julia and Winston was truly profound. I enjoyed it even more than I would have expected and thought the moments between them were beautiful. I wasn't sure whether he was going to eventually betray Julia to the Party or not, but I certainly teared up often when it came to their relationship.
George has an uncanny ability to get to the base of the human psyche, at times suggesting that we need to be at war for many different reasons, whether it's at war with ourselves or with others. That is one thing I have never understood: why humans feel the need to destroy and control each other.
It seems that the main and recurring message in this book is about censorship and brainwashing. One, censorship, is limited and little exposure to ideas of the world; the other, brainwashing, is forced and too much exposure to a certain ideas. Both can be extremely dangerous.
Inside the ministry of Truth, he demonstrates the dangers of censorship by showing how the Party has completely rewritten the past by forging and abolishing documents and physical evidence. We also spend quite a bit of time with Winston in the Ministry of Love, where the brainwashing takes place. Those who commit thoughtcrime are tortured until they grow to love and obey Big Brother and serve only the interests of the Party.
A common theme occurred to me throughout the book, although it wasn't necessarily referenced consistently. The good of the many is more important than the good of the one. There are so many variables when it comes to this statement and for the most part it seems natural to say, "Of course, the many is more important than the one", but when inside Winston's head, all that I began to care about was his well-being and not if he was able to help disband or conquer the Party and Big Brother. I just wanted him to be at peace.
Whether or not the good of all is more important than that of the one, I can't answer. I think most people feel their own happiness is more important than the rest of the world's, and maybe that's part of the problem but it's also human nature. I only wish we could all accept one other regardless of belief and culture and not try to force ways of life onto other people. Maybe I'm naive for thinking that way, but so be it.
I almost don't know what to think about this book. I'm not even sure my brain still works, or if it ever worked right at all. This book has a way of making you think you know exactly what you believe about everything and then turning you completely upside down and making you question whether or not you believe anything at all about anything. It's the strangest thing. Hmmm. Doublethink? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
Everything about this book is captivating. It's groundbreaking yet at the same time, purely classic. Ahead of its time, yet timeless. From Big Brother to the Thought Police, I was hooked and wanted to know more about it all.
Basically, I think everyone should read 1984 at some point. You really have to be in the mood to work at reading it, though. But it's all worth it in the end. It's absolutely incredible and I loved it. I don't re-read many books but this will definitely be one of them. It is a hard read, but more importantly, it is a MUST read.(less)