Reading Herzog reminded me of why I loved being an English major. I like to discuss books. That being said, I found it difficult to read Herzog in iso...moreReading Herzog reminded me of why I loved being an English major. I like to discuss books. That being said, I found it difficult to read Herzog in isolation and found myself often reading on-line criticisms about the book to confirm and/or explain my thoughts about the story. It certainly isn't light, entertaining reading. Herzog is thought-provoking and intense- adjectives that would describe both the eponymous character and the novel itself. A protagonist on a quest of self-discovery is a common frame for novels. Bellow makes the genre his own by borrowing from the epistolary tradition, and both the reader and the protagonist benefit from the revelations Herzog makes in the many letters he writes (but never mails). Typically, male characters in this situation focus on the journey while female characters reflect on the people they meet along the way. This novel gets 3 stars instead of 2 from me because unlike most male characters in this situation, Moses Herzog actually deconstructs his relationships in an attempt to figure out how he reached the point of 2 failed marriages and a stalled career. I would like to read more of Bellow's work, but I would probably only do so if the opportunity to read and discuss with a group was available.(less)
I wasn't sure how Collins was going to wrap this story up. In most ways, the ending makes sense, but I don't think this last installment was quite as...moreI wasn't sure how Collins was going to wrap this story up. In most ways, the ending makes sense, but I don't think this last installment was quite as fabulous as the first 2 books. The fighting scenes were more exaggerated, and the political message that was so keenly subtle earlier in the story kind of hits you over the head in the last few pages. In one scene towards the end, I was really disappointed in Katniss and Haymitch. They agree to a decision that I think runs contrary to the characters Collins has developed, but then it also sets up a final surprise. Without giving too much away, the future of a few main characters is glossed over in the end when I would have preferred a little more information. Overall, The Hunger Games trilogy is the most entertaining reading I have done since the Twilight Saga.(less)
When I recently told someone I was reading Insurgent and mentioned that it was a new young adult series, the person replied, "What's with all these ad...moreWhen I recently told someone I was reading Insurgent and mentioned that it was a new young adult series, the person replied, "What's with all these adults reading kids books?" I thought for awhile about that comment. Then, I realized that not since S.E. Hinton has there been such a rich selection of YA works. I was often reminded of The Giver while reading this 2nd installment of the Divergent trilogy. Lois Lowry has certainly made major contributions to the genre, and now Veronica Roth is making a name for herself. Readers can walk away from Insurgent simply entertained, or they could use the fictional world in the book as a talking point about human nature, social contract theory, and the purpose of government. And that is what makes good YA books- they can be read for pleasure or for something more.
Insurgent continues the story of Tris and her fellow Divergent. While comparisons to The Hunger Games are unavoidable, this plot line has a more obvious love story at its heart. I like the developing relationship between Tris and Tobias, and I enjoyed the new challenges they face in this 2nd book. I like Tris. She is more interesting then Bella Swan, but still not quite as fabulous as Katniss Everdeen.
Insurgent has some surprising twists and turns that kept the book entertaining and fun. As Tris and her fellow rebels grow in numbers, I did find it frustrating to keep up with all the new characters, but in the end, I am looking forward to the next installment of the series.(less)
I am not typically a fan of science fiction or alien-centric stories, but this is a new Young Adult book with a movie version coming out in February,...moreI am not typically a fan of science fiction or alien-centric stories, but this is a new Young Adult book with a movie version coming out in February, so I thought I would give it a whirl. I was pleasantly surprised. While the book employs certain teenage cliches (rebellion, first love, nerds vs. jocks), I was entertained by the fast-paced story. The climatic battle between the "good" aliens and the "bad" aliens was a bit melodramatic, and cramming some of the mythology of the distant planets into the text during the pivotal battle also seemed a bit forced; however since this book is supposed to be the 1st in a series, and I see myself reading the next book, I consider this one a success. (less)
It is easy to forget that not that long ago, the world was afraid of female athletes. Afraid that women were too fragile to even participate in sporti...moreIt is easy to forget that not that long ago, the world was afraid of female athletes. Afraid that women were too fragile to even participate in sporting events let alone truly compete. Afraid that women would hurt themselves while participating in basic track and field events. When Babe Didrikson represented the United States at the 1932 Olympics, there were only 6 track and field events for women (and many saw that as 6 events too many), and female athletes were limited to competing in only 3 events. Imagine Allyson Felix having to choose between individual and relay events in the Olympics because people didn't think she could physically maintain a rigorous competition schedule. In 1932, Babe won 2 Olympic gold medals and a silver medal (taking 2nd in the high jump only after her technique was deemed controversial). Babe routinely matched the best male golfers of her time stroke for stroke, and she even took that wicked foe, cancer, into overtime.
From her teenage years in Texas playing semi-pro basketball to the beginnings of the LPGA, Babe led the way with her wit and uncensored commentary. While training, Babe pushed herself to the brink of exhaustion, and off the field, Babe toured the country endlessly promoting herself and her sports. Van Natta's biography feels thoroughly researched and blends facts with quotes from the Babe herself and those closest to her. I also enjoyed the historical and cultural background Van Natta includes that support just how much of an impact Babe had.
Babe wasn't much of a teammate. She preferred individual sports- because she preferred the individual glory. Her confidence didn't verge on arrogance; she was audacious and cocky. Was her swagger harder to accept because she was female? Probably, but Van Natta presents Babe without judgment or reproach, and her commitment to training and practice was incredible. She had the skills to back up her boasts, and she worked hard at being an athlete which makes her premature death to cancer tragically ironic. Wonder Girl is an interesting read about one of America's greatest sports legends.(less)
State of Wonder is both entertaining and though-provoking. The plot is part mystery, part romance, part adventure. It also raises some questions about...moreState of Wonder is both entertaining and though-provoking. The plot is part mystery, part romance, part adventure. It also raises some questions about science and medical research in the shadow of big pharmaceutical companies. There is also some great commentary about how to work with and for indigenous people. A page turner that also engages the intellect is rare, and State of Wonder fits that description well. (less)