If you've heard all the manic ranting about the chocolate flavoured awesomeness of this book, don't believe them. They're understating how good it is.If you've heard all the manic ranting about the chocolate flavoured awesomeness of this book, don't believe them. They're understating how good it is. I read this in just over a day because I couldn't put it down. Susie is an instantly likable narrator, and the style is easy to read and grabs you from the get go. The initial harrowing event around which the story centres is handled well, communicating the full horror of the event without being too graphic, or too 'gore porn' as the kids say. The most brilliant and beautiful thing about this story is that, even though it's tragic and terrible and sad things happen, it's always got a positive note and even manages to end on a high. Another thing I've rarely seen achieved before is how even the extraneous characters are lovable. Sebold doesn't try to make Susie's murderer, Mr Harvey, sympathetic either. An obviously troubled childhood is briefly and vaguely touched upon, but there's no Dolarhyde style terrible childhood in some part excuinge what he's done. The one consession given him is that he does try to stop, but his methods for abstaining from killing children are again too monstrous to allow him any sympathy.
Where this story is a triumph is in the way it manages not to be about Susie's death. It's about her family and how they try to cope, and how their individual coping strategies effect each other. The stunning thing is that in the end, it isn't Susie you feel sorry for, or even her family, but rather Ruth.
This book is a must read for anyone and everyone. Go. Read. Now....more
I decided to think on it a little before reviewing this book. It causes very mixed emotions, which is unavoidable considering the subject matter. TherI decided to think on it a little before reviewing this book. It causes very mixed emotions, which is unavoidable considering the subject matter. Therefore, I felt the best approach would be to take it an element at a time.
Technically, Lolita is fantastic. I don't think I have ever read such an accomplished piece of writing, and when you consider that it isn't even in the author's mother tongue that is absolutely breathtaking. Nabokov doesn't so much use the English language as play with it, and I find it astounding that one of the most impressive demonstrations of English I've ever read is by a Russian.
The characters are also extremely well written. Lolita is a perfect study in the wayward child who wants to grow up to soon and gets in way over her head. Whilst it is impossible to like Lolita, her outbursts of teenage temper while she watches other children enjoy their youth and innocence have you desperate for someone to save her (alas it's just another pedophile who does). Humbert is incredibly well written. He is the quintessential abuser; he may call himself a monster, but he is full of excuses for what he does. He isn't a pedophile, he is vulnerable to the siren call of nymphets due to an abortive teen romance. If only he had consummated his love for Annabel he would never have noticed Lolita. He convinces himself he is a good father to her because he buys her bicycles and books, and paints himself as a man helplessly in love. I have read a lot of reviews over the years claiming that Humbert's tragedy is that despite his perversion he is the only character in the novel capable of love. I couldn't disagree with this more. Besides the fact that Lolita eventually escapes Humbert and marries a man her own age, I think Humbert is completely incapable of love. He abuses his first wife and uses Charlotte to get to Lolita, feeling nothing when she meets a horrible fate. Between Valeria and Charlotte he merely uses a range of prostitutes and undergraduate students. He calls his feelings for Lolita 'love' but it is clearly lust and calculated manipulation; promising her basic childish pastimes and rewards (participation in the school play, going skating with her friends) in exchange for sex. Even when Lolita is bedridden with bronchitis Humbert still forces his attentions on her, even revelling in how warm she feels because of her fever. His casual leering over other nymphets is sickening, and his musings on what to do with Lolita when she becomes too old for him (concluding on marrying her and having children with her in the hopes they will have a nymphet with his blood in her veins and that one day maybe she will have a nymphet of her own for him to 'practice the noble art of being a grandfather upon') were diabolical. He is nothing but a depraved pervert who wants to rationalise himself to the world.
It is quite difficult to read, because what sane person can comfortably read about a man describing and rationalising his love for a child? But it is beautifully written, and child abuse is a real issue; what is the point of literature if not to deal with real issues, even if we dress it up in dragons and spaceships? I think the most disturbing thing about this book is how vastly Humbert Humbert has been misconstrued. ...more
This book is outstanding to the power of ten. I read it in literally a day because I couldn't put it down. It actually made me cry three times (not anThis book is outstanding to the power of ten. I read it in literally a day because I couldn't put it down. It actually made me cry three times (not an easy thing to do at all). It's a fascinating recent history of Afghanistan; I didn't know half the stuff I found in it's pages. It's a brilliant window into the culture, and also what's happened to that culture through all the catastrophes the country has suffered. I think it will also teach a new tolerance towards the Afghan people; it highlights how they didn't want the Taliban and all they've done anymore than the rest of the world.
In terms of the actual story, it's beautiful. The twists are truly unexpected, perhaps because it absorbs you so much in the moment that you don't think ahead. It spans the distance from making you smile, to making you cry like a baby. The characters are genuinely likable, even when they are not exactly the best of people. The whole message of the book is that it is never too late to be 'good again', which despite the generally sad tone of the book, is a fantastically enlightening message to have. My favourite thing about this book is that it manages to have an optimistic ending. Not happy, not sad, but hopeful.
Beautifully written, totally absorbing, and profound in ways most authors can only dream of. I know a lot of people who have read it and I have never heard a bad word said; that's rare in the extreme....more
It actually made me cry. It's one of the saddest books I've ever read and yet it still manages to be happy. I pretty much only put it down to sleep. IIt actually made me cry. It's one of the saddest books I've ever read and yet it still manages to be happy. I pretty much only put it down to sleep. If you havn't read this, shame on you. The characters arn't the annoyingly 2 dimensional loved up pillocks that have nothing to define them outside their relationship like you usually get in romance novels (Stephanie Meyer, I'm looking at you), they're actually realistic, and their relationship is realistic. The most striking thing about it is it's realism; if a bloke walked up to me tomorrow and said he was a CDP I'd just say cool, when you from? It's a clever book, with interesting and witty dialogue, and it's so far from your average romance novel I reckon some men might actually enjoy it if they get past their testosterone long enough. It's full on going on my favourites shelf....more
This is probably the book that begins to mark the change from kids books to young adult books. I love the darker edge to it, and of course things realThis is probably the book that begins to mark the change from kids books to young adult books. I love the darker edge to it, and of course things really start to get going. It keeps the humour and charm that made them such lovable kids books however....more
much as it's going to dent my literary reputation, the series occasionally had my interest. However, it's basically 4 books of 'i dont want to be likemuch as it's going to dent my literary reputation, the series occasionally had my interest. However, it's basically 4 books of 'i dont want to be like everyone else! make me sparkley like you!' This was no better. It improved for the section where Jacob was narrator rather than Bella, but otherwise good god. Thank god it's over, and can people please consider my rule about finishing a series I've started before recommending me shit like Twilight in future....more