The most anticipated book of 2012! At first I wanted to read it because I am a fan of Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling. I know, I know, everyone said no...moreThe most anticipated book of 2012! At first I wanted to read it because I am a fan of Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling. I know, I know, everyone said not to read it if you’re doing it just because it’s by J. K. Rowling, but let’s face it — there’s no other real reason to read it except for that one reason. If that cover said someone else’s name on it, I doubt many people would even glance at it. Then, I changed my mind and I didn’t want to read it because I found out the plot synopsis and it didn’t sound interesting to me at all. I mean, even the cover is pretty boring. I think, eventually I would have succumbed and gave the book a try, but anyway, the real reason I read this book is because it is the November book of my book club.
The Casual Vacancy is a grim story about a little, tiny town called Pagford. Barry Fairbrother, a member of the parish council suddenly dies of a stroke in his very early forties, leaving a ‘casual vacancy’ on the council. Quickly, various members of the town begin to run for the empty spot in the upcoming election. On the surface, it seems like the casual vacancy is the only issue at hand, but Barry’s death reveals the many, many problems and unhappiness that various townspeople have with their own families, with their neighbours, with their own children, with their parents. The Casual Vacancy is a dark and realistic portrait of human unhappiness, frustration and loneliness.
I have mixed feelings towards this book. When I first started this book, maybe for the first half or so, I was really bored. There’s just no other way to put it, sorry — I was bored. I know character-centered stories aren’t normally my cup of tea, but I’ve enjoyed a good handful of them before so it’s not that I don’t enjoy them, I’m just picky with them. This character-centered novel was simply not capturing my attention though. There were so many characters introduced at once that I couldn’t keep track of them. I got Samantha and Shirley mixed up a lot, even up to the end of the novel. Several characters have nicknames so it threw me off a bit to remember two names for one character when I already have so many to keep track of. I did like how there were many perspectives, from adults to children, but the story flits from character to character so often that it isn’t until two-thirds of the way through that I feel I really start to get to know the characters and how they tick — the ones I could remember and tell apart from the others anyway.
The story did get more interesting and picked up some more pace once the computer-hacking stuff begins (you’ll know what I’m talking about if you read it). And then from there, the story got more and more depressing and tragic, in an interesting way. I really was quite absorbed into the story in the last 100 pages or so, and I feel the last 100 pages really redeemed some of the boring-ness I felt for the first half of the novel. The ending made my heart clench up, it was quite sad, and if I was the type of person who easily cried when reading or watching movies, I think I would have. I think the best part of this novel are the teenager characters Rowling presents. She’s really quite good at writing about turbulent and angsty teens. It’s no surprise to me that all the best scenes in the novel involved the teenager characters, especially the ending. (And on that note, while I liked the ending because it got quite an emotional response from me, I’m not quite sure what I was supposed to take away from the ending. It felt like quite a hopeless and depressing ending).
As for complaints that Rowling “tried too hard” to be adult in this book, such as using swear words and having sex in the novels and stuff, I think that’s just silly. Thousands of other adult novels have swearing and sex in it, many of them to much worse degrees than what is presented in The Casual Vacancy. I think anyone complaining about the adult content in this book needs to stop thinking of Rowling as a children’s writer and comparing her older works to this one. The Casual Vacancy is meant to be a realistic and grim picture of human relationships and those things are a part of real life. For all it’s worth, I commend Rowling for trying to write something completely different from Harry Potter.
Overall, I still have some mixed feelings towards the book. I thought the beginning was sluggish and dull, but the ending half was actually quite interesting, in a rather morbid way. I don’t think I would ever re-read this book though. It’s nothing like Harry Potter at all, if that is your only reason for reading this book. If you are a person who enjoys books about character development and “life stories” kind of novels, this is a book for you. If not, I would be kind of wary about picking it up.(less)
I purchased this for sale a while back. The massmarket paperback version had just come out, and thus, all the hardcover e...more4.5 stars, rounded up for GR.
I purchased this for sale a while back. The massmarket paperback version had just come out, and thus, all the hardcover editions at the bookstore I usually frequent had their prices drastically reduced to single digits. Intrigued by the cover and the synopsis (H.G.Wells as the main character? He’s one of my favourite classics authors, so this I had to read), I decided to give it a go. It sounded like everything I love in a novel — fantasy, science fiction, time traveling, a bit of romance, a bit of mystery, reading, books — and I have to say, I was not disappointed. There’s even some steampunk elements thrown in.
The Map of Time boasts three plots that are interwoven with one another. Well, the jacket flap says they are interwoven but to me, it really felt like three separate stories that lightly relate to one another. Reading some other reviews of this book, this seemed to be a turn-off for many readers and I completely understand. It kind of turned me off too, a bit. I like multiple plot novels as much as the next reader, but The Map of Time felt a little too similar to reading three short stories that have similar characters in the same world, instead of one novel. Don’t get me wrong, the three plots did interrelate with one another, but not as much as one would have thought.
The Map of Time has H. G. Wells as a central character in each of its three plots. H. G. Wells is, as many people know, a classic science fiction author, who wrote works such as The Time Machine and The Invisible Man. In the first plot, H. G. Wells helps a rich young man named Charles Winslow save the life of his cousin Andrew, who wants to commit suicide because the love of his life was killed by Jack the Ripper eight years ago. In the second plot, H. G. Wells helps a young man named Tom Blunt keep up an elaborate lie to save the life of a wealthy young woman whose desperately in love with Tom. And in the final and third plot, H. G. Wells tries to solve a puzzling series of murders where it appears as if the victims had a hole burned right through their body by a heat ray, an invention from the future.
Despite the disconnected feeling I got from the three plots that supposedly intersect one another (but not really), I still found this book to be absolutely mesmerizing and difficult to put down. It shocks and surprises you time after time. Whenever you think you got something figured out, it throws another curveball at you. It really feels like a magical adventure, full of good humor and really fun, clever writing. I found all three stories deliciously entertaining, addicting and full of good humor. The writing itself is brilliant, grandiose and quirky. I honestly didn’t even realize it was a translation of the original novel until I read that somewhere. I think someone described this book as a “magic show” somewhere and I think that’s a perfect description. Time and time again, I was dazzled, only to have the truth revealed … and then somehow, I get dazzled again.
Every character is unique in their own way and very memorable. They all have very elaborate backstories, which at times, can seem a bit excessive. Even rather minor characters, such as Andrew’s father, have their entire life biography revealed to you. I suppose I would ordinarily be annoyed by all this superfluous information that has no real bearing on the story, but I found even the backstories of these minor characters curiously interesting. It didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book one bit.
You don’t need to have read any of H. G. Wells’ works in order to appreciate this book fully, although I’m certain it may help a bit (I, myself, have only read two of his works, none of them being The Time Machine which was featured so prominently in The Map of Time). It does a wonderful job of inspiring you to read his novels though, although it does spoil everything. So I would suggest reading Wells’ book first then this one second if you already intended to read The Time Machine. All in all, a brilliant story that got me through being stuck at home due to snow, and a power outage (heh). I definitely recommend giving this book a shot, hopefully you will like it too. I am looking forward to reading the second in this series, The Map of the Sky.(less)
The first H.G. Wells book I ever read was The Island of Doctor Moreau, and even though I’ve only read one of his books, I liked it enough that I consi...moreThe first H.G. Wells book I ever read was The Island of Doctor Moreau, and even though I’ve only read one of his books, I liked it enough that I considered myself a fan of his works. The Invisible Man is now my second Wells book. I picked it up as an easy and light read for commuting to and from school. It’s great reading some of the first science fiction stories written, and The Invisible Man is one that, for me, has always seemed like a pretty famous one. I really enjoyed this book, it was clear and easy to read.
The story begins with innkeepers Mr. and Mrs. Hall taking in a mysterious, nameless guest who is dressed in a hat and heavy coat, with bandages wrapped all around him. The stranger keeps to himself in his room for the most part, but everyone begins to grow suspicious about him. Eventually, they find out this stranger, Griffin, is an invisible man! He was originally a scientist, and being invisible was interesting and neat at first, but he quickly realized how burdensome it was. He is trying to become visible again, but with no luck so far. When no one will help him and try to capture him, Griffin’s temper fires up and plots a reign of terror against the small town.
I thought at first, being an invisible man, it might be about a guy who was scared about what was happening to him and desperately trying to fix himself. I suppose that’s what I would do if I ever found myself in his position. I never expected the invisible man to go crazy and start trying to kill people! When I thought about it, I guess it does make sense though. Being invisible surely could drive someone mental, and it does feel like Griffin, in this book, felt angrily jealous of visible people. I do think he started to go off his rocker there a bit, towards the end, though I think he was a person with anger issues to begin with. It’s really quite crazy how Griffin, a man people can’t even see, stirs up an entire town to start a sort of witch hunt for him. I mean, the guy’s invisible, you can’t see him! How can you find someone that is literally impossible to see? It kind of goes to show that anyone can cause a ripple in a pond, although of course, it helped that Griffin was sufficiently ambitious already.
This is science fiction after all, and I was pleased that there was an scientific explanation for how it is possible Griffin became invisible at all. Of course, it’s pseudo-science since humans can’t really become invisible (… as far as I know … !!) but it just goes to show how Wells established himself as a sci-fi writer and not simply a fantasy writer. Otherwise, this entire story can be brushed off with a magical explanation. But it’s not magic, it’s science!
This was a great read and it’s a very short book to boot, so if you like sci-fi, or you like classics, or you just like books in general, try giving this book a go!
P.S. The book edition I posted for this review is not the actual edition I read. I actually read this edition, which is free ebook with the iBook app, on my iPhone. It didn’t have a “cover”, so I just picked a random one as a stand in. I didn’t actually read this Modern Library classic edition, but I liked the cover.(less)
My sister nagged me to get this book. “It’s soooo good,” she gushed. But I ignored her for the most part, since we tend to read different kinds of boo...moreMy sister nagged me to get this book. “It’s soooo good,” she gushed. But I ignored her for the most part, since we tend to read different kinds of books, and also the title made it sound kind of religious-y or some sort of spiritual book, which I am really not that into. Then the movie trailer came out, and again, my sister started up with her you-should-read-this-it’s-so-good thing again. She never really provided a reason why she thought it was good, I just kind of went out on a limb here and decided, fine, I will read it.
Well. This turned out to be one of the most awesome books I’ve ever read.
Life Of Pi is about a boy named Pi. He lives in India, is the son of a zookeeper and believes and practices three religions at once (calling himself a Hindu, a Christian and a Muslim). One day, his father decides that they should sell the zoo and move to Winnipeg, Canada. They sell most of the animals to zoos in America and board a large cargo ship with their animals to North America.
Unfortunately, for reasons unknown, the ship sinks and animals are all let loose and running around in a panic. Pi luckily escapes the ship in a lifeboat, only to find that it is also refuge for an orangutan, a hyena, a zebra and a tiger. As the lone lifeboat drifts aimlessly in the Pacific Ocean, the inhabitants of the lifeboat dwindle down to just Pi and the tiger.
You might be thinking how can a story about a guy and a tiger drifting in the sea for 227 days can possibly be interesting but it was surprisingly hard to put down. I read this book originally as a commuting book — it has clear writing and is easy to read and understand, which is one of my ‘requirements’ for being a book worthy of commuting — but when I got to part two (the part where he is adrift at sea), I couldn’t wait till the next day to continue the story on the bus. I had to keep reading it now!
The ending is a twist. I’m not going to reveal it (though skip this paragraph if you wanted to know nothing about the ending at all), but I really liked the ending despite the feelings of conflict it created in me. I think the ending is supposed to make you think about God (or religions) and even as a non-religious person, it made me think a little bit about God and philosophy and all that kind of stuff. The moral, to me, seemed to be saying, “If you can believe this story, you can believe in God too, no?”
This is one of those books that can be deeply meaningful and thought provoking. Definitely highly recommend!(less)
I am kind of in a state of disbelief over this book. I mean that in a, “What did I just read?” kind of way. It started off pretty good but very, very...moreI am kind of in a state of disbelief over this book. I mean that in a, “What did I just read?” kind of way. It started off pretty good but very, very quickly went downhill for me. I just can’t believe over half the things that happened in this book. I’m surprised I actually read every word to the end.
Sweet Evil is about a girl named Anna. She’s super sweet and innocent, incredibly nice, and also, she can literally see people’s emotions, in colours. She’s always known she was kind of different from other people, obviously. When she turns 16, she meets Kaidan, a deliciously handsome teen boy who’s in a famous rock band. He’s the same as her — he can see people’s emotions, but the difference is, he knows why. Anna and Kaidan are Nephilim, the offspring of demons and humans. Born to one of the Dukes of Evil, their jobs is to corrupt humankind and have them destroy one another in sin. However, Anna is even more unique than she realizes — she is not the daughter of a demon and a human, but rather, a demon and an angel.
There are so many things I didn’t like about this book. I’ll start with the story and structure. I really did not like having the story world explained to me via question-answer sessions between characters. I can think of at least three long scenes where Anna is sat down with another characters (Kaidan, her foster mom Patti, or her dad) and they just explain things to her. It was like reading an interview, where Anna would ask a question and the other person would provide an answer. I find this to be a very boring and unimaginative way of revealing a story world.
A lot of events happened in this book that were just super unrealistic, and I don’t mean the demons and spirits and angels. The majority of characters in this book are 15-17. Somehow, every teen is hooked onto drinking and ecstasy and having sex, or so it seems. At age FIFTEEN? Holy cow. Maybe I just wasn’t “hip” when I was 15, but that seems awfully young to be doing these things. Not only that, but it’s incredibly easy for them to enter clubs and bars. I have no idea why. I highly doubt all the bouncers do is slap a bracelet on your hand that says you’re a minor. As the kids in this book showed, even with these magical bracelets, they got their hands on booze very easily. And wow, were they ever knowledgeable about alcohol, they knew so many drinks and mixes, it was mind boggling.
The characters were ridiculous. Anna is supposed to be super innocent, kind and a little naive. Well, she definitely came off naive, and very dumb, and very annoying. She’s stuck in this world where she wants everyone to hold hands and ring around the rosy. She’s also hypocritical. For example, Kaidan, being the son of the Duke of Lust, kept wanting to have sex with her. She kept refusing. Finally, one night, she randomly pounced on Kaidan, totally wanting to have sex with him because — get this — her poetry homework made her mad. Kaidan wasn’t great either. I saw no reason why the two of them fell in love after four days (Anna even admits it’s only been 4 days), but they did. Kaidan had little personality and the only thing he wanted from Anna nearly the entire time was to have sex with her, which Anna kept refusing yet she fell in love … Weird.
Anna’s parents were really aggravating too, especially her mom. Anna’s foster mom, Patti, is your stereotypical helicopter mom. At the same time, she makes dumb parenting decisions. Anna needs to go to California to meet her dad — why not go on a road trip with Kaidan, the boy you met yesterday? Yes, you know he’s the son of a demon, that should be no problem because you’ll just go right up to him and tell him to leave Anna’s virtue intact. He’ll listen to you, right? And then there’s Anna’s dad. She hasn’t seen him in 16 years, yet once they were in each other’s lives, they acted like they’ve always known one another, being super close and everything. It was bizarre. Not to mention how extremely uncomfortable it was to read about her dad bringing TONS of alcohol to her and teaching her how to drink alcohol so she can lure other people to drink and become drunk. She’s SIXTEEN. I don’t care if that’s her job as a demon child, she’s SIXTEEN! It did not inspire any warm and fuzzy father-daughter moments in me at all.
On a similar note, I do understand that this book centers around these demons that are each in charge of a sin, but I felt like the amount of it in the book was almost at inappropriate levels for a YA/teen novel. There’s SO much drugs and alcohol in this book which the characters drink with no consequences. Kaidan’s job is to have sex with girls, so he’s having one night stands in every other chapter. We have two twin girls whose job is to break up relationships and marriages. One of them describes being gang raped at age 13. Anna herself almost gets date raped. Who thought all this would be okay in a book with characters who are so young?! If this was an adult/general fiction book, that’s different, but this isn’t. I also disliked how this book emphasized virginity = purity. Implying that if you're not a virgin, you're a dirty, dirty whore, which is something some of the female characters who are not virgins experienced when the other kids at school found out they had sex with so and so.
I can go on forever about what I didn’t like about this book, but I think you get the point. There’s so many things I dislike about it and the story seemed to make less and less sense as the book went on. It’s really strange because when I first started the book, I actually really enjoyed the first chapter and was looking forward to some YA demon-angel mythology. I am definitely not interested in reading any more from this series :|(less)
I’ve always wanted to read a James Patterson book, and I thought picking a YA one would be a good place to start since I like YA books. I guess I had...moreI’ve always wanted to read a James Patterson book, and I thought picking a YA one would be a good place to start since I like YA books. I guess I had higher expectations since he is such a big name author. I felt a little let down, but I still want to see where this series goes. Also, this book is “YA”, and I opened this book up with that in mind, but it is actually more of a middle grade book.
The Angel Experiment is the first book in an eight book series about a girl named Maximum Ride and her friends. Max and her six friends are 98% human and 2% avian. They were lab experiments created by scientists. Each of them have a magnificent pair of wings on their back, and each of them also have unique powers. The six of them were rescued from the lab by a sympathetic scientist named Jeb and for the last four years were raised in a secluded house high in the mountains. Two years ago Jeb disappeared though, most likely dead. One day, out of the blue, Erasers — werewolf-like creatures also created by those same scientists — crash their hiding place and kidnap the youngest of their group, a little six year old named Angel. Determined to get their friend back, Max and the others prepare to journey to rescue her, while at the same time, hoping they will be able to find more about their past before they became ‘mutants’.
I think my problem with this book was the way the story progressed. The characters had clear goals to get to, but for some odd reason, would get extremely easily distracted and do something else for a few chapters before remembering, “Oh yeah, we have to rescue Angel.” There were also chapters where they did things that didn’t seem necessary to the plot, like attend a concert or eat in a restaurant. Granted, the chapters were very, very short, so it’s not as if I had to spend an agonizing number of pages reading about mundane activities, but still. The Erasers also showed up at regular points in the story to shake up Max and her friends, but they always win the fight and manage to get away. Very predictable, and kind of reminded me of children’s cartoon shows where the bad guys show up but the good guys always, always win.
The ending was also rather disappointing as well. The climax was not very climactic and it all happened very, very quickly. I was pretty surprised to realize I have reached the end of the book. The ending didn’t feel very conclusive, which I suppose is intended as it is the first book of a series, but it felt rushed and abrupt.
Other things I was not too happy about was the juvenile style writing (I do realize it’s a kid’s book, but the writing was still pretty lackluster) and the characters being rather one dimensional.
However, I did really like the concept of the lab created mutants and it was actually a pretty fun and humorous book as well, even if it is kids’ humor. I do find myself wanting to find out more about Maximum Ride and why the scientists think she will one day “save the world”. The book definitely has appeal, I was just not too crazy about the actual flow of events in the story. If you are looking for a book aimed at actual young adults, I think this series is a little too young, but if you don’t mind middle grade books, I think the book was pretty fun. It has its flaws, but I hope it gets better in the next installment. Admittedly, I am not this book’s target audience; I think actual kids would find this book pretty engrossing.(less)
The first book, Matched, didn’t really impress me that much but I kind of wanted to find out what happens anyway, so I got this second book from the l...moreThe first book, Matched, didn’t really impress me that much but I kind of wanted to find out what happens anyway, so I got this second book from the library. Unfortunately, I liked Crossed even less than I like Matched. In a nutshell, Crossed was boring. At least in the first book, stuff happened. Nothing much happens in this book. You could probably skip this book and jump into the third one with little problem.
In Crossed, the story is narrated by both Cassia and Ky in alternating chapters, unlike the first book. Ky has been sent to the Outer Provinces for “work”, but really, has been sentenced to die. Cassia, desperate to reunite with Ky, goes with her work group to the Outer Provinces as well, and when the perfect opportunity arises, runs away with the help of a new friend, Indie. Together, they try to find Ky, who has also escaped from his “work”. Together, their little group try to piece together fragments of clues that hint that there is a rebellion group, the Rising, which Cassia and Indie want to find and join. Ky, on the other hand, has reservations about joining the Rising. Or, in short, there is a rebellion called the Rising, which Cassia and Ky end up joining. Boom, that’s the whole book.
The entire plot of this book could have been condensed and packed into whatever the next book contains, or the previous book. To me, this book’s plot is simple and short, but the author stretched it to fill one book’s worth. The result was a book that moved at a snail’s pace and felt like nothing much was happening most of the time. At the end of the book, I felt like the characters and the story have not progressed very far from where they were when Matched ended. Even Cassia and Ky’s relationship felt stagnant, and in this book, a bit overdone. I can tell the author was trying to make their relationship more deep and meaningful, but it did not work, at least for me. Cassia and Ky’s relationship always felt a bit forced to me, but it’s like full force in this book. Over and over again, the two of them monologue’d about how much they love one another, how they would do anything for one another, writing/thinking poetry about one another (literally). I felt like they were trying to convince me that they were deeply in love, but it came off as too forced instead.
Also combined with the thin plot was the author’s writing style. I think the author writes really well and beautifully. I have no qualms with Ally Condie’s writing. The problem is she writes almost too well. The boring story combined with the poetic, dramatic writing style of the author meant reading a lot about overly wordy passages, another reason why I think this book feels like it was really forced.
Lastly, the setting of this book was quite stagnant and never changed very much. We are no longer in Society where there’s all sorts of different places the characters could visit. We are with Cassia, Ky and their friends running around a canyon for the entire book. There are only rocks, caves and rivers which were repeatedly described.
All in all, I was not impressed with Crossed. I know I wasn’t that crazy about Matched either, but I did think it had potential to get better, so Crossed was rather disappointing. Am I going to read book three? Well, I’ve come this far and it’s the last book, so I’ll probably read it for the closure.(less)
The final book of the Across The Universe YA trilogy! In case you haven’t read my reviews of the previous two books, I am a big fan of this series and...moreThe final book of the Across The Universe YA trilogy! In case you haven’t read my reviews of the previous two books, I am a big fan of this series and really enjoyed books one and two. Needless to say, I greatly anticipated book three, Shades Of Earth, especially since book two ended on such a cliffhanger! Because I found books one and two to be absolutely fantastic, I did have rather high expectations for book three and I’m happy to find that it completely lived up to my expectations! (Sadly, I think the cover is really atrocious and doesn’t link itself to the first two books at all).
The first two books in this series are about a young teenage girl, Amy, who was cryogenically frozen aboard the enormous spacecraft, Godspeed, along with many other humans, to become colonizers of a newly discovered Earth-like planet dubbed Centauri-Earth. It is a 300 year journey, but Amy is accidentally unfrozen 50 years too soon by a boy named Elder. Elder is the leader-in-training of the shipborn humans, the ones who were born, lived, and died, on Godspeed all their lives in order to keep the ship operating for so long. Not to get into too much detail, but Amy and Elder discover a huge conspiracy/secret about the ship which takes up the first two books in the trilogy.
In book three, we have finally landed on Centauri-Earth! I have looked forward to this moment for a long time, ever since the very first book. I wondered if the new planet is going to as wonderful as the characters believed it could be, despite the unknown dangers they are also aware of. Seriously, I really, really looked forward to it! The book did a really good job dragging out my curiosity for as long as possible. Maybe some people will see that as a bad thing, but I loved it — I hung onto every word that I read, and kept telling myself ‘one more chapter, one more chapter’. Every chapter seemed to add more and more questions to my list, and I was just dying to know what this new planet was all about. This was the kind of book where once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.
(view spoiler)[One thing I wasn’t completely satisfied with was the new character of Chris and his role in the story. It didn’t really make sense to me why, when the Godspeed survivors landed, the Colonel (Amy’s dad) would let Chris into their colony and pretend to everyone that he was actually a part of the group the whole time. That just seemed farfetched and ridiculous to me. I don’t know about you, but if I was starting a colony on a new planet and ran across a strange human being who was not a part of my group, I wouldn’t invite him to simply pretend he was with us all along and not tell anyone. Wouldn’t you want to get more information from him? Anyway, that one part seemed off to me, but not enough to seriously distract me from the story. (hide spoiler)]
I think it’s just crazy (in a good way) how Beth Revis keeps coming up with secret after secret for Amy and Elder to discover. The entire series has been such a roller-coaster ride. I enjoyed the direction Shades Of Earth headed towards in this book and I liked the happy ending as well. I don’t really have much else to say about this book because I enjoyed reading it so much — stayed up super late to finish it! — and found very little to complain about. I really, really recommend this YA series, hope you will like it too!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)