(really, really vague plot spoilers, like I mention themes but that's it.)
I thoroughly enjoyed The Casual Vacancy.
It had a lot of hype surrounding it...more(really, really vague plot spoilers, like I mention themes but that's it.)
I thoroughly enjoyed The Casual Vacancy.
It had a lot of hype surrounding its release, and I feel like I really didn't know anything about it before I got it. It was bigger than I thought it would be. The story line of Barry Fairbrother dying and thus the council needing to fill his spot had me a little worried at first, I'll admit. I wasn't sure what it'd be like, the idea sounded interesting, but it also sounded like it could be really boring. Rowling surprised me though, I think the same way she did with each new Potter book, it being better than I could possibly have imagined.
Rowling has a gift with words, I don't think there's any denying that. I feel like there was a lot riding on this book, so many people wanted to see if Rowling could write something other than Harry Potter, but for me, there wasn't any question of that. If Rowling could write something as magical as Harry Potter, she could write anything. If Rowling had only gotten lucky with Harry Potter, I feel like there would have only been one good book, but she wrote a series, seven amazing books. There's no doubt she could write.
I loved every aspect of this book. Rowling's writing style is gorgeous. She shifts from character to character and the parts of the book dedicated to different characters are completely absorbed by that character. And in a book with so many differing characters, that's no small feat.
The main thing that struck me, and it didn't strike me as something I thought, but rather something others may think, is the range of topics discussed in this book may be seen as Rowling trying to prove herself. There's a wide variety of topics including death, suicide, drugs, abuse, neglect, sex, and depression, not to mention your normal novel topics such as character interaction and family, and the topics that the book was about, that is, the council of the small town and finding a replacement. To me, it feels like a lot of people will think she over did it in talking about all of these things, which I think she handled magnificently in her execution. It may seem as though she's gone overboard, but in reality, this is a novel about a town where, it seems, a relatively decent number of people live, therefore, it is not unforeseeable that a lot of these things will come to play in a town that size. I don't think Rowling went overboard at all, I think Rowling wrote superbly about a town filled with people filled with problems, as all towns and people are. I haven't actually read any other reviews, or heard others voice this opinion, but it just strikes me as something that some other people may think, in an attempt to criticise Rowling's work, because I think the world of readers was really quite excited about this. We wanted to see what Rowling could do after Harry Potter. In my opinion, Rowling definitely did not disappoint.
I thought The Casual Vacancy was extremely well written. I couldn't really find a fault with it. The writing of the Weedon's dialogue annoyed me a little bit, and I remember reading somewhere a while ago about Rowling's writing of characters that are seemingly below other characters and their dialogue (the example I remember reading about was Hagrid), and I'm not sure about this, and because I can't remember where I read it, I can't remember the background for that train of thought. I do think that written accent (can someone please tell me if people actually speak like that? I've heard it on TV shows) adds to character description, and isn't necessarily a bad thing, just a little hard to read at times.
I really do think that The Casual Vacancy is an excellent first adult novel for Rowling, but at the same time, I feel as if the Harry Potter books were kind of adult books too, with the themes explored, especially toward the end of the series.(less)
This is an amazing collection of short essays from the youth who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning about their experience...moreThis is an amazing collection of short essays from the youth who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning about their experiences being who they are. The writing style is not always perfect, but each story flows and has a powerful message. The essays range from a girl embracing her transgender sibling, a bisexual woman trying to persuade her church to allow her to minister despite her church being against homosexuality, people who have been incredibly lucky to have amazing family support, to one of the most heartbreaking essays about an Egyptian man who gets thrown in jail simply for being gay. Struggles, depression, and suicide were recurring themes from people who wrote about their struggles. I think that each essay has a powerful message however, that being who you are is the best thing you can do, and even though it may be hard, it is worth it. There were so many stories of love and happiness, even within and through struggling and heartbreak. Even the the writing is not perfect, I think that this collection of essays is, and I feel that it is a must read for everyone, particularly straight people who do not understand what it is like to be something other than normal.
Originally published in the 1940s, I think 1984 highlights some of the political feelings of that time period, and especiall...morePotential, vague spoilers
Originally published in the 1940s, I think 1984 highlights some of the political feelings of that time period, and especially how emerging technologies could be misused in the future. Even in the present day, the book, set in a "future" 30 years ago, is still politically relevant, maybe more so now because of the rate of technological expansion and the plethora of new smart technologies coming on to the market and being made commercially available. We basically live our lives online at the moment, with tumblr and facebook and twitter and youtube, to name a few of the popular social medias. It isn't a stretch to think that these technologies, along with computers and smart phones, could eventually be turned back around to control us, instead of being used to document our lives. These technologies are becoming so ingrained in our day to day lives that it wouldn't be impossible for some overreaching political party or leader to attempt to turn that on the general population. And so, a book from sixty years ago, set thirty years in the past, is still hugely relevant today.
The world in which Winston Smith lives in is terrifying, and relevant. All dystopian futures have a hold in the present climate, and 1984 is no different. We can imagine ourselves in Oceania, after some terrible events. We sympathise with Winston's predicament, and his beliefs and values. We root for him, we want him to win. Winston isn't an overly special character, there isn't anything about him to endear him to us. He isn't young, he isn't attractive, he isn't strong, he isn't weak, he doesn't find strength, he doesn't "save the world"; he isn't anything like the popular heroes and heroines of today's dystopian novels (think the popular trope of YA heroines, like Katniss or Tris, who lead big, life changing adventures to bring down their societies). Maybe the fact that he is unsuccessful is what is important about 1984. He tries, and he fails, and ultimately, he could be any one of us, and he is interchangeable; he could be any of his comrades, and likely is.
The writing is engaging, the society is amazingly complex, and the plot line draws you in, and the twist hooks you, if you weren't already hooked. You may be disappointed in the ending, you may not, but regardless, the ending is important. And let's face it, stories aren't always supposed to make you feel warm and fuzzy. Bad things happen in life, bad things can certainly happen in awful, dystopian futures. And maybe Winston is an underrated character, with nothing special about him, but characters don't have to be strong and amazing to be great literary characters.
I'm a little sad at the moment actually, because I never read books like this in high school, so I never analysed a book like this at school, and 1984 would be a great book to study. 1984 is definitely a book that everybody should, at least try to, read. (less)
This book spoke to me, in a way that many similar themed books do. And so this won't really be a review, just a thoughts post, because a book like thi...moreThis book spoke to me, in a way that many similar themed books do. And so this won't really be a review, just a thoughts post, because a book like this demands some thoughts.
I thought it was wonderful. It articulates what I've wanted to say to so many people in my past and in my current life, and that is to be aware. Jay Asher summed it up perfectly in his answer to a question of purpose included at the end. "Basically, even though Hannah admits that the decision to take her life was entirely her own, it's also important to be aware of how we treat others. Even though someone appears to shrug off a sideways comment or to not be affected by a rumour, it's impossible to know everything else going on in that person's life, and how we might be adding to his/her pain. People do have an impact on the lives of others; that's undeniable." Hannah's tale is that of little incidents that culminate in her decision to take her own life, and how each incident was related to the others, and how each incident piled on to the snowball effect that is so often a huge part of depression and the decision of suicide. If each incident was all that happened alone, maybe Hannah would be alright. But each incident wasn't just one incident, and none of the people involved could have known the extent of how their actions affected Hannah, what had preceded it and what would come after. And so the message that Jay Asher says he intentionally wrote this novel with is one that we should all take to heart; think about what you're doing and the effect it might have. So many people move through life not realising this, and even if something seems minor to the person committing the act, it is often not minor to the person on the receiving end.
I feel like this book should be required reading for everybody. I thought it was superbly written, and the dual perspective and narration made it better, but not everyone will think so. Regardless, the message is one that is well conveyed and one that needs to be received. I thought that Clay and Hannah, the two main characters, were likable, though others may not. I also think that the rest of the characters, the ones mentioned in Hannah's tapes, though written with obvious, and sometime very major, character flaws, as of course they would be, coming from Hannah's point of view, were still portrayed as complete people with background and perceived motive, not just as people who ultimately played a hand in her suicide.
I could not find fault with this book, although I'm sure that others will. The message is one that resounds for me personally, as it will with many, many others. I think however, the ones that this message does not resound with, they are the people that should be reading a book like this.(less)
I don't think I have ever read a novel like this, and I don't know if there'll ever be another one. It was terrible and awful and crazy and the most a...moreI don't think I have ever read a novel like this, and I don't know if there'll ever be another one. It was terrible and awful and crazy and the most amazing thing that I have ever read. The language, the raw emotion, the lack of emotion, the conviction of Eva and the impossible, impossible, awful character of Kevin. This is a novel that I don't think will ever leave me. I think I will read it over and over again and still be surprised and so utterly shocked by the ending. (less)
**spoiler alert** Ok, so some thoughts. With spoilers, of course.
I read these three books really quickly, and with basically nothing else in between....more**spoiler alert** Ok, so some thoughts. With spoilers, of course.
I read these three books really quickly, and with basically nothing else in between. So I was really immersed in to the world of dystopian Chicago, the city with all the factions and the war. I get really invested in the characters, mainly of course, Tris and Four. I liked Divergent the most, more than this one, even though they're getting equal star reviews. However, I have feelings and thoughts about this one, and so it gets a rare review. I can now understand all the uproar that it got on tumblr when it was first released.
However, I saw a lot of people saying how awful it was that Tris died and how much they hated it. I've seen a lot of low reviews for it, brought down obviously by that fact, and it gets me thinking. It was really terrible that Tris didn't survive, a fact that should have been obvious with the dual perspective of Allegiant. There seems to be this unwritten rule that main characters don't die, can't die (although this is being shattered by George R.R. Martin, but he's different, there are so many characters). It makes me think of what John Green has said about books, that characters don't always have to be likable (not relevant here), but that also, books don't always have to make the readers feel good. Terrible things happen, and people die, even though main characters always seem to be protected by their place in the story, and often survive unimaginable acts of tragedy and cruelty. Main characters shouldn't be untouchable, because they are people, just like the other characters. And people die, especially in war and rebellions. Tris's death, while completely tragic and unexpected enough to make me cry a lot, shouldn't decrease the value of this story. It shouldn't make people hate it. Tris died a good death, a noble death, and while it's sad, and perhaps not necessary, Veronica Roth chose to write it that way, and so that is how the story goes. We get attached to characters, and the last few chapters of Four's dealing with her death were awfully sad and tear worthy, I still think it's a good end to the trilogy. Tris died for a reason, and it had a major impact in the trajectory of the plot line. Maybe she didn't need to die, but we are not the author of this story. I actually get a bit restless when everything is all neat and nicely tied up for the end of a story, sometimes it just all seems a bit too unrealistic. And so while I am hugely upset by Tris's death, I'll still give this book five stars, because even though main characters "aren't supposed to die," I think it fits in well with the ending of the trilogy and the beginning of the new world that these characters now get to live in. Allegiant was still as well written, immersive, and fast paced as Divergent and Insurgent, and while everybody does have their own opinions, I don't think that this book should suffer because of a death. Sad, yes. Necessary, maybe not. All nice and resolved, yes and no. Realistic, as fiction should aim to be, even in dystopia (which is taken, of course, from our society and built upon), yes I really think it is. There are tragedies in the real world, and so there are tragedies in fiction, even if that tragedy is the death of a loved main character. It reminds us that the people in the story are just like we are, and sacrifices have to be made, as they do in fiction. I did hope that she would somehow survive, but she didn't, and while upsetting, it's ok. (less)
I confess, I didn't really know this was a book until not long ago, but I'd seen and loved the movie since it was released. It is different to the mov...moreI confess, I didn't really know this was a book until not long ago, but I'd seen and loved the movie since it was released. It is different to the movie, I didn't think it was as the beginning was quite similar, but after about the half way point it took a completely different direction. I can see why they changed the movie ending though, as it's a bit more dramatic whereas the book ending is quite tame and lovely and more happily-ever-after, not that the movie ending isn't, but the book is just more so. I really enjoyed it though, and I think it might become one of my favourites. A good introduction to Neil Gaiman I think, and I'll definitely be picking more of his books up.(less)
To me, this is a pretty perfect novel. It contains just the right mix of reality and fantasy. It is well written. It is superbly creative in its story...moreTo me, this is a pretty perfect novel. It contains just the right mix of reality and fantasy. It is well written. It is superbly creative in its story line. The end comes out of nowhere, and for me, it ends exactly how a book should. Things are resolved only to an extent, and it is hopeful of things to come after the last page. You can play out your own continued ending.
This is the second novel of Niffenegger's that I've read, and after The Time Traveler's Wife, I wasn't sure this would compare, but it did. I had no idea of the story line going in, except for what was written on the first page, and this is definitely a time where less is more. I was shocked and surprised at each twist of the story and I had absolutely no idea what was coming next. I loved this book, even though I was rendered speechless at the end (all I could say was "what? I can't even...").(less)
Such a beautiful book, but very, very sad. You get the feeling that you know Esther, that Esther is your friend, and that even though she's now been g...moreSuch a beautiful book, but very, very sad. You get the feeling that you know Esther, that Esther is your friend, and that even though she's now been gone nearly four years (and you didn't even know she existed until recently), she is here, and dying, in the present tense. This is a beautiful book containing Esther's diaries, blog posts by her and her family, and pieces of writing to and about Esther by those she knew, loved, and inspired. It's a tragic book, and I spent so much time crying, and having to stop reading because I couldn't see through the tears. But I think I took away what Esther would have wanted people to take away from reading the book, that time is short and relationships are what matters, and make sure people know that you love them. (less)
At first I was a little disappointed that The Virgin Suicides didn't read in the same type of beautiful prose that Middlesex did. I felt like there wa...moreAt first I was a little disappointed that The Virgin Suicides didn't read in the same type of beautiful prose that Middlesex did. I felt like there was something missing. It probably didn't help that this book and its movie have kind of been immortalised on the internet, and as such, I had expectations that didn't seem to be met. The further I delved in to The Virgin Suicides however, the more I saw its beauty in the way that it was written, the reminiscence of those left behind after tragedy. It's not the same vein of beautiful as Middlesex, with its flowing prose and lyrical descriptions, but it's beautiful nonetheless. The Virgin Suicides gripped me even more as I got used to the narrating voice and I, too, felt like a voyeur looking in on the lives of the girls, watching the tragedy unfold without understanding why, just like the people left to tell the story don't understand why. (less)
I really enjoyed this book. It's a fantastic telling of a story of three people trying to make it to the centre of the world. All the more amazing whe...moreI really enjoyed this book. It's a fantastic telling of a story of three people trying to make it to the centre of the world. All the more amazing when you realise it's all imagination because Verne couldn't have known anything about what was under the surface of our planet. (less)
Very interesting and very well thought out. I recommend it to everyone, even if you do believe in god. It is full of well reasoned arguments against t...moreVery interesting and very well thought out. I recommend it to everyone, even if you do believe in god. It is full of well reasoned arguments against the existence of any sort of god. I loved it.(less)