Two unlikable people on a boat traveling through time. Or something like that.
Meh. This book (short story, really), just didn't do much for me. I thinTwo unlikable people on a boat traveling through time. Or something like that.
Meh. This book (short story, really), just didn't do much for me. I think that the biggest problem was that the two main characters were unlikable at the beginning and even more so by the end. I couldn't get behind either of them. I didn't honestly care what kind of horror they experienced and, when it did happen, barely batted an eye.
In the story's defense, the concept is really cool and I wished there was more time exploring it (just with different characters). Also, this book really covers my favorite definition of horror, which is "something that should be there isn't or something that shouldn't be there is." And, to be fair, there are a couple of very tense moments in the story--the trip to the Galley brought me to the edge of my seat and made my heart pound a little. At the same time, the teeth are robbed from those moments when you can neither relate-to nor care about the characters or what happens to them.
Notice a pattern?
When did the definition of horror change to making us want to cheer rather than cringe at the suffering of others? I've noticed a trend in modern horror and thrillers to use despicable characters rather than relatable ones. I am not a fan of this trend. In rare cases, like Gone Girl or pretty much anything by Gillian Flynn, the story is so compelling that readers feel driven to keep going, even while being repulsed by the characters of that story. But most of the time, these kinds of characters just disgust the reader (at least, me) and make us want to stop reading the genre as a whole. Shouldn't it horrify us when a character dies a gruesome death or is maimed in some way? Isn't a large part of what makes horror work is the fact that we can see ourselves in their shoes and shudder at the thought of those things happening to ourselves? Have we gone so far as a society that we would rather revel in pain and suffering of others than relate to it?
In the end, I didn't really care for the book, and was left more grumbling about the state of the horror genre more than entertained. There are some good things in this story, but I suggest you avoid it if you want to feel any kind of connection to these characters....more
World War I sucked, but it produced two of the greatest friends and fantasy writers in history. That, in a nutshell, describes the whole premise of thWorld War I sucked, but it produced two of the greatest friends and fantasy writers in history. That, in a nutshell, describes the whole premise of this book. (Should that have come with a spoiler warning?)
In this book, Joseph Loconte, recounts the story of World War I, including the build-up, the war itself, and the aftermath as it related to and affected the lives of authors J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, who both fought in the trenches. It discusses the popular opinions and issues that led to the start of the war, the attitudes throughout the war, the general dissatisfaction after the war ended, and how these author's friendship and Christian faith helped them to rise above that dissatisfaction and to inspire the world with their works.
I knew very little bout either Lewis or Tolkien prior to starting this novel. I knew that they were friends, but beyond that, nothing. Their life stories were interesting, if not that atypical for young Englishmen of the time. From their experiences, it is definitely possible to find the seeds and roots of their stories. And that was kind of cool.
But the part of the story that fascinated me was how similar pre- and post-World War I attitudes were to attitudes of today (ESPECIALLY the post-WWI attitudes). You read history and think that we have changed a lot as a species. The only debate we hear is over whether we are better or worse. But when you really dig into history, you learn that, in fact, we are not so much different from those that came before. We just use cell phones.
In the end, I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting to learn about the authors, but the discussions of the war and the attitudes were so much more fascinating and even a little scary when looking at our current political situation. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history and learning about the origins of great works of fiction....more
Fast cars, loose women, shootouts, booze, smoke, darkened rooms. You will find it all in this noir classic. You will also find a heaping dose of homopFast cars, loose women, shootouts, booze, smoke, darkened rooms. You will find it all in this noir classic. You will also find a heaping dose of homophobia, blatant misogyny, and wish-fulfillment as Philip Marlowe takes a case to... payoff a blackmailer? You know, that part was not exactly clear, though I guess the bad guys (or the "worse" guys) get it in the end, so does it matter?
While I enjoy noir films, I'd never really tackled any of the classic novels until this one. Having seen plenty of the films, I had a rough idea of what to expect, but some parts of this book were laughable, like when the woman who is so in love with her husband she will die for him, kisses the detective because... I don't know, he is too irresistible or something. In fact, all the women throwing themselves at Marlowe basically from the moment he walked through the door (except for the couple that hated him) was kind of ridiculous. The misogyny wasn't unexpected, that it was so over-the-top kind of was. I rolled my eyes and snorted with derision more than once when female characters entered the picture.
What was unexpected was the homophobia. I won't spoil it, but a gay character plays an important role in the story. He is also despised and mistreated by the other characters. I wasn't really surprised at the way attitudes and actions towards gays were represented in the novel. It was the '30s. What surprised me was the fact of its existing in the story at all. I wasn't aware that it was such a big topic back then as to merit this kind of treatment or to show up in this kind of popular novel.
Both the misogyny and the homophobia were poignant looks at how far we've come and provide an opportunity for reflection. Of course, most of it get lost in the hailstorm of bullets and action scenes. The book also raised an important question: did everyone in 1930s Hollywood really carry guns and pull the on random strangers at first meeting? Because that happens a surprising amount in this book.
In the end, I enjoyed the book for what it was: a noir thriller, through-and-through. The genre's influence is still often felt in fiction today, and large parts of it are fun. So I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys classics and noir stories. The historical aspect, especially in how it portrays the attitudes of its characters toward women and homosexuals, is also an interesting part of the story, and hopefully helps readers realize how far we've come and how far we still have to go....more
This book should be required reading for anyone who wants to write an adventure. It has everything: action, intrigue, secret identities, spies, daringThis book should be required reading for anyone who wants to write an adventure. It has everything: action, intrigue, secret identities, spies, daring escapes, romance, and so much more!
I have loved the story of The Scarlet Pimpernel for years, having enjoyed the musical and several TV adaptations. It was high time I finally got to reading the actual book. I'm glad I did.
This book surpassed all my expectations. While not a really old classic (it was written in 1905 based on a 1903 stage play), it is still pretty old. The good news is that it doesn't read that way. This book felt modern. It was exciting and fast-paced. Even knowing who the Pimpernel was did not take away from the adventure. After finishing it, I had to listen to the music from the Frank Wildhorn musical again and found that I loved it even more.
For anyone not in the know about this wonderful story, The Scarlet Pimpernel is about a British gentleman and his band of merry men who take it upon themselves to rescue aristocrats from the French Revolution. They employ disguises and cleverness to outwit the French, and they are pursued by the relentless Citizen Chauvelin, who is determined to unmask the band and see them to the guillotine. It is a fun and thrilling adventure that is well worth the few hours it takes to read.
In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I went into it expecting to like it, but I did not anticipate how well-written and fun it was. It made me excited to read more adventures or to go out and have my own. Isn't that the point of good stories? I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun read and a great adventure....more
This book is an interesting study in how to write horror. It is all about what you can't see, the things you can't quite put you finger on until it isThis book is an interesting study in how to write horror. It is all about what you can't see, the things you can't quite put you finger on until it is too late. Most of it isn't scary, opting, instead to be a drama infused with hints of the supernatural. Other parts are horrifying, and still others make you leave empty rooms and seek human companionship.
I've heard it argued that true art, where writing is concerned, is all about people. If that is true, than this book is a great example of art. It is a ghost story, that is true, and it is terrifying in parts, but the characters are so well drawn that it is impossible not to see their humanity.
The book's biggest flaw, the thing that will turn some away, is that is slow. It builds the story one thin layer at a time, a piece here and a piece there. It reminded me of The Haunting and other older ghost stories, and it's roots go straight to A Turn of the Screw, without aping or copying in any way. It is the style and the characters that are important here, both of them flawed with a purpose. All of that is sure to bore some readers who are looking for action. The very human nature of pretty much all the characters may also turn some people off.
For me, I thought it was very well done, and the payoff at the end was more than worth it. It was one of the more horrific things I've ever read.
In the end, I enjoyed this book, and it even invaded my dreams with spooky atmospheric twists and turns. I recommend it to anyone who wants to read an updated take on classic horror....more