Is there actually a formula for romantic relationships? Colin Singleton, protagonist of John Green’s second book, An Abundance of Katherines, thinks hIs there actually a formula for romantic relationships? Colin Singleton, protagonist of John Green’s second book, An Abundance of Katherines, thinks he can make one.
Colin Singleton: washed-up child prodigy, anagram-crazy, and has been dumped by nineteen girls named Katherine. He wallows in the Katherines-induced depression, until his overweight Judge Judy-loving Muslim friend, Hassan, drags him into a road trip to give a solution to his love problem. Colin works on his Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationships. As they arrive in Gutshot, Tennessee, they encounter the factors that may drastically affect the variables in Colin’s Theorem. Strewn of anagrams, graphs, and quirky characters with an equally quirky plot, An Abundance of Katherines is a funny, intelligent, and a poignant read.
This novel is more than what it seems. It’s not just a story of Dumpers and Dumpees; it’s also a story of mattering in the world, being unique in the simplest ways, and being the real you no matter what other people will say about you. The droll dialogues and plot turns did not make the novel trivial, nor did it slacken the importance of all the morals.
What convinced me that John Green is a really amazing author is that he can deftly weave characters that you’ll love, even if they’re unlikable from the very start. Colin is such a character—egotistical, hungry for attention, and almost always sulking about his failed romances. Overlooking the fact that he is a classic John Green protagonist (nerd or always smart to a fault), I have to admit that it was hard to like someone like this character. But the author brought the better side of Colin through other characters and events that molded him into what he really is. Definitely showing, not telling.
I have to admit that there are times when the plot is so sluggish that I’m tempted to skip some pages, but I think that it’s necessary for the characters to develop. I particularly liked Hassan, the funnypants sidekick. Things tend to get more interesting when he’s around, especially that he is one of the most powerful influences on Colin’s character development—and vice versa. As for the other characters, well, they’re quite ordinary. Lindsey Lee Wells didn’t quite stand out, I think, although her relationship with the protagonists is really interesting. She felt a little cardboard-y, if you know what I mean.
All in all, this is a good read. I laughed out loud a lot, and that’s saying something because I don’t really laugh out loud while reading and it’s the second time I ever sat with this book. I don’t love math, but because of this novel I learned that you can have fun with the subject if you want to. :) The hilarious footnotes sort of remind me of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s collab work, Good Omens (which is awesome by the way, go read it). Next reread: Paper Towns....more
After reading the three books in the Old Kingdom trilogy, I became more intrigued about the future of both Ancelstierre and the Old Kingdom. To be comAfter reading the three books in the Old Kingdom trilogy, I became more intrigued about the future of both Ancelstierre and the Old Kingdom. To be completely honest, I wanted more "trips" to the world halved by science and magic that Garth Nix so cleverly crafted in the first three books; you know, even just 'canon' information about the geography or history of the place would be okay. Thinking that I'd gain a few more glimpses of the realms through this anthology, I excitedly secured a copy. I later found out that there's only ONE story connected to the trilogy...though, after reading it, I was not disappointed at all.
The novella "Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case" is the official sequel-of-sorts to the last book of the Abhorsen trilogy and first fiction presented in the anthology. It's undoubtedly my favorite among the bunch (with the obvious reasons). It's nice to see a piece written from the POV of Nick Sayre; I'd been very intrigued by this character because I know there's so much more about him aside from just being the avatar of Orannis the Destroyer. The novella is a fast-paced read, and I sort of liked the very subtle teases about a possible Lirael-Nick romance (well done, Nix! Haha).
I quite enjoyed the D&D-ish adventure game "Down to the Scum Quarters"; the modernized version of Hansel and Gretel "Hansel's Eyes"; and the war story "Charlie Rabbit" (which reminds me of the movie The Grave of the Fireflies), and a story about lightning and auras, "Lightning Bringer". Of course, like all other collections, there are a few stories inside that are not as good as the others.
As a whole this is an entertaining and satisfying read. :)...more
It all started with a young adult writer’s blog post in February 2007. After a comment and a contradicting blog post by another author, the subject spIt all started with a young adult writer’s blog post in February 2007. After a comment and a contradicting blog post by another author, the subject sparked a huge debate in the YA lit world, then ignited into one of the greatest geek war of all time: which is made for better fiction, zombies or unicorns?
In an attempt to bring an end to this epic literary bloodsport, authors Holly Black (of the Spiderwick Chronicles fame) and Justine Larbalestier (of the Magic and Madness trilogy) compiled stories that defend both camps—amazing stories thrown into the arena by internationally renowned YA authors. Black and Larbalestier serve these in a silver tray that is the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology and let the readers decide which team should be declared the winner.
Like all other short story collections, ZvU is a mixed bag. There are a few duds, but popping it open is such a fun experience. In this anthology I saw plot twists that most novels could barely pull off, characters that I love instantly by just the tone of their voice and small actions, places that fascinated me immediately unlike the lackluster settings in tomes that took me twenty chapters before I can appreciate them.
Here is a list of the stories in the collection (just click on the titles and you’ll be redirected to the reviews of each story):
Now tell me that’s not a star-studded roster. :P My favorite zombie story is Love Will Tear Us Apart, which I loved unreservedly because I’m such a sucker for fictions with rock music and poetry references (Joy Division and Robert Frost? You gotta love the author!). The story is sickeningly charming and awesome too, though this won’t be much of a keeper for anyone uncomfortable with too many f-bombs in a single page. My favorite unicorn story is The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn, because the story kicks butt and it has a one of a kind three-dimensional heroine. Also, I love the idea of King David’s descendants becoming the most likely trainers for unicorns.
I commend the authors who submitted “open-minded” stories; it’s nice to think that the YA world is slowly being more accepting of LGBTQ themes. Love Will Tear Us Apart and Prom Night both have gay characters while Inoculata has lesbian heroines. It would be inappropriate to say that there is a homosexual utopia in a crumbling, zombie-ridden apocalyptic world, but that’s what it seems to me. It’s wonderful how different authors came up with a little common denominator.
Hands down, this is definitely one of my favorite anthologies. Admittedly I like novels more than short stories, with all the obvious reasons: a novel gives you ticket for a longer stay in an amazing setting and more time to spend with the characters involved. You grow and love everything in the paper-bounded world in your hands one page at a time. With short stories, this is rarely achieved—ten pages are often not enough to arrest the full attention of a reader. But being a senior college student who wishes there are more than 24 hours in a day, an anthology is some kind of a blessing, as they contain miniature worlds that I can finish traveling in just a few hours. And if the anthology in your hand has a caliber tantamount to that of Zombies vs. Unicorns, I assure you that all the time you spent reading it will not be wasted.
The winner for me? Not team zombie or team unicorn.
Sir Terry Pratchett once said that Neil Gaiman is more of a conjurer than a wizard: “Wizards don’t have to work. They wave their hands, and the magicSir Terry Pratchett once said that Neil Gaiman is more of a conjurer than a wizard: “Wizards don’t have to work. They wave their hands, and the magic happens. But conjurers…work very hard. They spend a lot of time in their youth watching, very carefully, the conjurers of their day…and they take center stage and amaze you with flags of all nations and smoke and mirrors, and you cry, ‘Amazing! How does he do it? What happened to the elephant? Where’s the rabbit? Did he really smash my watch?’ And in the back row we, the other conjurers, say quietly, ‘Well done. Isn’t that a variant of the Prague Levitating Sock? Wasn’t that Pascual’s Spirit Mirror, where the girl isn’t really there? But where the hell did that flaming sword come from?’ And we wonder if there may be such a thing as wizardry after all…” That pretty much sums up all my thoughts about Gaiman when I was reading Smoke and Mirrors, my first prose-and-poem anthology by my personal literary rock star.
I’m enamored with his longer works like American Gods, Good Omens, and The Sandman series. Traipsing deeper into his fictional world, I found out that his shorter works are not a different beast entirely. The entries in Smoke and Mirrors maintain the same magic that his longer works have, in a way that the works cast a spell among the readers to continue reading.
You can tell that I’m a Gaimaniac, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to have this compilation overhyped. While this compendium still received two thumbs up from me, I must say that this is not the best representative of his genius. There are stories that are worth reading, but there are also some duds. The stories I liked the most include: The Wedding Present, a story about a newly-wed couple with a cool The Picture of Dorian Gray-esque twist; Chivalry, a funny story about an old woman who bought the Holy Grail from a secondhand thrift shop; the Daughter of Owls, a story told in style of 17th century writer and historian John Aubrey; Snow, Glass, and Apples, a morbid reimagining of the tale of Snow White from the perspective of the Queen (if you read this, I guarantee you that you won’t be able to see the original story the same way again); Tastings, a well-written flash fiction about rare psychic abilities that are only present during sexual intercourse; and Murder Mysteries, a fascinating hardboiled crime story focusing on the first grave transgression committed in Heaven.
Over all it’s an amazing read. Most of Gaiman’s stories are morbidly flummoxing, sexually explicit, and hauntingly violent. Speculative fiction buffs might like this treasure box of literature, and anyone who wants to have a light reading or expecting jolly fantasy stories can do themselves a favor and stay away from this book. :D Still, I reiterate for readers who want to enter Gaiman’s world, this anthology is not the best entranceway. You might want to start with Neverwhere or Stardust. :D ...more
The heart is a dichotomy in itself: it breaks easily but is considered one of the strongest muscles in your body, pumping out blood to keep you aliveThe heart is a dichotomy in itself: it breaks easily but is considered one of the strongest muscles in your body, pumping out blood to keep you alive and healing its own wounds. The same thing is said about butterflies’ wings—fragile, but legend has it that their flapping motions can summon a hurricane. In fairytales the brittle eggshells cradle a mighty dragon before it breathes its first; in mythology the delicate beauty of a woman launched a thousand ships.
The same thing applies to Gaiman’s short stories in one of his anthologies, Fragile Things. Short as some may be, with premises that are not particularly strong at the beginning, the tales still have a lasting effect after you read them. However, the said “lasting effects” are not all positive. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: anthologies have the disadvantage of containing some pieces that are not on par with the masterpieces they are mixed with. Some stories stood out: “A Study in Emerald” is a good shot at a Sherlock Holmes-Cthulhu Mythos crossover (on an unrelated note, this made me love Gaiman more for giving an okay sign to the fanfiction world). “Harlequin Valentine” is good too, although reading this made me finalize my theory that Gaiman is indeed recycling some of his story ideas; he’s only wrapping the same bones of plot around with a fresh garment of premise and new breed of characters. It is strikingly similar to the tale of the Ifrit and the taxi driver in Gaiman’s wildly popular book, “American Gods”, as well as the short film that Gaiman wrote starring Amanda Palmer as a statue or something like that. It is very well-written though, that picking so much on its originality would be criminal. “October in the Chair” reminds me too much of the seven Endless from The Sandman graphic novels (June is too Delirium), but I liked it, the stories that each ‘month’ has especially. :)
And of course, I loved “The Monarch of the Glen”, the follow-up novella to “American Gods”. Most readers who haven’t touched AG would be confused about this, but an AG fan will surely be nerdgasming when they read this. ...more
John Green: the author who led legions of young adult readers in finding paper towns in a literary map of obsession and love; the man responsible forJohn Green: the author who led legions of young adult readers in finding paper towns in a literary map of obsession and love; the man responsible for instilling in the minds of people that it is futile to find patterns for love, and then giving them hope despite the abundance of dumpers that may break their hearts; the guy who guided everyone out of the ‘labyrinth of suffering’ in more ways than we know.
David Levithan: the writer who established a LGBTQ utopia in YA literature; the man who rocked everyone’s socks with his infinite playlist of musical geekiness and literary prowess; the guy who provided a lover’s dictionary yet planted in the mind of readers that a lexicon of a thousand words will never be enough to define ‘love’.
What happens when John Green meets David Levithan? The same thing that happens when Will Grayson meets Will Grayson—a collision of two things that seem poles apart, yet when fit together form a perfect whole as if they are long lost pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Together, they form a new masterpiece that they may not be able to create on their own.
I really like the story’s premise. The gist of Will Grayson, Will Grayson is more or less this: two guys with the same name but entirely different worlds bump into each other in an unlikely crossroad in Chicago. A little do they know, this chance meeting will launch their lives in life-altering directions…and they can only hope it’s for the better. With their friends tinkering helpfully with the hodgepodge of predicaments and newly established (and suddenly crumbling) relationships left in the wake of the ‘collision’, both Will Graysons know that they have just had the pivotal turns of their lives…and there’s no other choice but to face the consequences.
Now let’s talk about the title characters. The first Will Grayson is obviously Green’s because he’s possessing the author’s patented characterization of protagonists. I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but classic Green heroes are mostly 25% oddball/dorky, 25% lovesick, and 50% selfish—with all the parts encased in a fragile bag of skin that is always described as “cute”. Grayson has all three qualities (and the bag) except that they are present in smaller percentages; a bigger chunk of his personality is a magnet to the readers because even if he’s not very special—not famous-last-words crazy, not a washed up child prodigy, not an obsessive grammarian—he stands out by being the realistic reflection of a typical teenager. And he’s really confused. He’s clinging to the peak of his own bildungsroman while juggling the complicated diabolos of love and friendship.
Meanwhile, Levithan’s Will Grayson lies on the opposite side of the spectrum. My first Levithan book is Boy Meets Boy and I can confidently say that his Grayson is in no way coming from the same planet as the kids in the first book. Grayson is a snarky homosexual teen (in the early chapters he’s far, far in the closet that I bet he can almost see Narnia…or maybe some otherworldly place that made him the way he is). He is a manic depressive goth who is in love with a guy he met online. For someone who has illness, he is incredibly hard to sympathize with; his thoughts and overall demeanor are rude, bitter, and brutally realistic. I completely understand how many readers tend to dislike this character. I mean, who loves a character that will likely give you a dirty finger if you show him any hint of pity? He can’t even seem to finish a sentence without dropping an f-bomb. He’s dark humor on two feet with his voice reminiscent of Chuck Palahniuk characters, only younger and funnier. Paradoxically, between the two Graysons, I like the goth kid more. He almost has a four-dimensional weight…and he made me cry. :)
At the vertex of the Graysons’ relationship polygon is Tiny Cooper, a not-so-tiny gay friend of the first Grayson who is producing a musical play based on his life (I wish I was kidding). He’s the point of convergence of the two boys’ worlds, and he fuels the novel to go on when the alternating stories seem to diverge forever.
All in all this is a very good read. Green and Levithan were able to deliver messages of all kinds of love—platonic, filial, parental, straight or homosexual. Love knows no gender or physical appearance. Everyone is deserving of love, whoever you may be, whatever you may look like.
Imagine a place where tall and stocky cross-dressers can also be captains of high school football teams; where cheerleaders ride Harleys in their perfImagine a place where tall and stocky cross-dressers can also be captains of high school football teams; where cheerleaders ride Harleys in their performances; where the Boy Scouts renamed themselves the “Joy Scouts” after abolishing gay-unfriendly policies; where kindergarten teachers can write comments like “[he] is definitely gay and has a very good sense of self” on kids’ report cards; where boys who like boys can flirt with girls who like girls and it’s completely okay.
A modern-day gaytopia? You bet. David Levithan has created a hate-free world with remarkable and carefree precision in his debut LGBTQ novel, Boy Meets Boy. Now that the genius stage is set, let’s now take a peek at the storyline:
Boy Meets Boy. Boy Loses Boy. Boy Gets Boy Back.
Okay, so how do you gauge the greatness barometer of a novel when you know how the events will turn out in the end just by reading the title? When a book’s plot seems to be a little predictable, I don’t readily dismiss it as a bad piece of literature; I look at the characters, and if they are real enough—in an interesting three dimensional, I-can-feel-as-if-you’re-just-sitting-beside-me way—I set them as my new measurements and see how high the notch will shoot up as the story progresses.
That is basically what I did with this book, and I’m happy to say that the characters propelled the rather ordinary turn of events into more appealing scenes that kept me engaged with it until the end. The story is told from the point of view of Paul, the center of a complicated love polygon and circle of friends. He shares his experiences—the blissful, the painful, the fun, and the bitter ones—that he got when Noah, his love interest, barged into his life. My favorite thing about Paul is how his tone is clear, crisp, comedic and always insightful. After just five pages or so, I know that the coming pages will elicit soft chuckles from me. He’s incredibly witty and sometimes snarky, making the story enjoyable despite the sizable amount of fluff and cheese that ooze whenever the two main characters are going all lovey-dovey over each other.
The initially smooth flow of Paul’s relationship with Noah is interrupted when Kyle, Paul’s ex-boyfriend, reestablishes communication and attempts to reignite their old flame. Although I don’t really root for Kyle and Paul, I still find myself admiring the former—all because of one scene. Kyle likes both boys and girls, and yet hates the word “bisexual”. There’s a scene where Paul suggests other labels like “duosexual” or “ambisexual”, then Kyle replies something along the lines of “Why do I need to have something to call myself? Why can’t I just be simply me?” Thumb up from me, dude. :D Even in a utopian society where you live in, everyone is still crazy with labels.
Then enters my favorite character: Tony. He is Paul’s best friend who, unfortunately, does not reside in the egalitarian town where Paul and his other friends live. He is a taciturn and sad young man, bounded by a short leash of time and parental strictness to his home. He must follow the Cinderella policies of his homophobic parents—be home at midnight or you’re grounded. All scenes with Tony in them are thought-provoking and poignant; in fact the chapter dedicated to him made me weep. His parents are overly religious, and they always pray loudly (with Tony in earshot) about his damned soul for being a member of the third sex. They also refer to his friends as ‘evil’s influences’. This reminds me of what Jeanette Winterson said in her novel Oranges are Not the Only Fruit: what the church considers as great love (fanaticism) is actually a psychosis, and what makes homosexuals’ lives difficult is not their perversity but other people’s. I can feel this sentence wriggling in my head as I read about Tony’s life. How he is hurt—almost destroyed—by his love for his parents. How he knows it is hopeless to go out and capture some temporary bliss with his friends and yet scramble back to an unaccepting refuge when the Pumpkin Hour comes. How he smiles through it all and says he can do it, and struggles to let his parents know that he is more than just his sexuality, that he can be happy even if he’s not straight. For me, he definitely takes the cake.
There are a lot of other characters that play important roles in Paul’s life, but the ones I mentioned above resonated with me the most. See, if all you have is a good setting and unfettered characters…well, you have everything already, since you can still paint new colors to run of the mill events and give them some kind of a rebirth.
Full of optimism, love, and dreams, Boy Meets Boy offers a fresh view of a world through Levithan’s prophetic, rose-colored spectacles. It’s definitely a must-read for teens, both for gays and straights. ...more
Enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed "The Perfect Storm". :) Sebastian Junger is slowly becoming one of my favorite non-fiction writers! I'm looking forwarEnjoyed it as much as I enjoyed "The Perfect Storm". :) Sebastian Junger is slowly becoming one of my favorite non-fiction writers! I'm looking forward to read more of his works. :)...more
AN UNHEALTHY OBSESSION- this is how the majority of the wealthy Vanger family describes Henrik’s unyielding search for the truth about his niece HarriAN UNHEALTHY OBSESSION- this is how the majority of the wealthy Vanger family describes Henrik’s unyielding search for the truth about his niece Harriet, who vanished almost four decades ago. Financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist, although freshly convicted of libel, is hired to investigate. Aided by a punk hacker-slash-hardboiled P.I. Lisbeth Salander, he digs into the family’s skeleton-full of cupboards and discovers more than what he is searching.
This is Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: a noir crime fiction that does not only revolve around a murky murder/disappearance case but also paints a portrait of Sweden with all shades of black and grey.
One of the things I liked the best in this novel is the top-notch world-building. Through Larsson’s unembellished prose I was instantly transported to Sweden, and although it was no tourist’s holiday, I enjoyed the trip immensely. If you are squeamish and want to read this book, you better get prepared for the things that can possibly give you a bad case of vertigo: lots of rape, sadism, torture, and other incredibly harrowing stuff that happens to women (which makes me think the original title Men Who Hate Women is more appropriate). Needless to say, the descriptions are grotesquely effective. These—plus a couple of dirty snapshots of the Swedish business scene—added to the solidity of the dark setting.
While the world-building is ace, I cannot say the same for characterization of the male protagonist. Mikael Blomkvist reads half-baked to me—a character prematurely taken out from the writing oven, that is. I cannot picture him as a fully-realized person for the most part. His Practical Pig complex, stubborn naivety, and strong moral code (okay, and propensity to magnetize almost every woman to his bed) are a few of his attributes that Larsson did not successfully take to the final stage of character-molding. I think he would have been a great character if Larsson did not write him as his glossed-over fictional alter ego of some sort. That only made him a small step shy from being a Gary Stu. Fortunately another protagonist exists, and that’s our titular ‘girl with the dragon tattoo’: Lisbeth Salander.
It’s no secret that I have a weakness for well-written antiheroines, and Lisbeth is the newest addition to the roster. A taciturn 25-year-old punk prodigy, Lisbeth is both a heroine and a victim. With her tattoos, piercings, and the ‘mentally ill’ label she received in court, it is so easy to pigeonhole her. As much as she wants to show that she doesn’t care about others’ low opinion on her, deep inside all she ever wanted to be is someone who is not judged and laughed at. Unlike Blomkvist, she understands that ‘the raptors of the world speak only one language,’ and throughout the novel it is shown she is driven by the fuel of revenge. Somehow, I loved her slightly off-kilter version of justice and her way of achieving it. It talks so much about her past, which is not entirely revealed in this book. I am hoping to see more of it in the sequels.
The book is wonderfully plotted, but my interest fluctuates throughout the story. It took me a while to get through the first two parts (Incentive and Consequence Analyses) mainly because of two things: the plot doesn’t charge along at the speed I expected from a suspense/thriller book, and the Vanger clan is a confusing web—it’s hard to remember who’s who, despite the detailed table and family tree that Larsson provided. Honestly I was tempted more than once to stop reading and move on to other books. I am glad I didn’t. The plot picked up speed when Blomkvist and Salander met, and from that moment on I was glued to my seat, refusing to put the book down.
This may be an unpopular opinion, but I actually liked how it ended: “Millennium’s Revenge.” I did not ace my Business and Economic Writing class when I was still studying journalism, but I enjoyed how the Millennium staff turned the tables on financial gangster Wennerstrom just with the possession of the right information, causing a domino reaction in Sweden’s field of banking and business. I also liked the ethical dilemmas Blomkvist and the rest ofMillennium faced: how can you report objectively about the Vanger Corporation if they are a part-owner of your magazine? Isn’t there a conflict of interests? Would you still publish this old rape story with the consequences of immortalizing the ghost of the victim’s past in print, when all that she really wants to do is forget it? Which would you choose, your role of being a public servant or your role as a human being?
I reiterate, almost half of this behemoth of a book I did not entirely enjoy, but the parts that did, they blew me away like no other suspense books I have encountered before. Giving it 3 or 3.5 stars seemed a tad too criminal because when I turned the last page, I was extremely satisfied that I was actually contemplating to buy the second book that moment. So yes, I’m giving this four stars. Can’t wait to read The Girl Who Played with Fire!...more
A story of faith and love and all that comes in between, this is not your ordinary coming-of-age tale. Jeanette is raised by her adoptive mother as ifA story of faith and love and all that comes in between, this is not your ordinary coming-of-age tale. Jeanette is raised by her adoptive mother as if she’s the Chosen one by God, training her to be a missionary. Unexpectedly, she falls in love with one of her converts, who is a "she". Yes, Jeanette has homosexual tendencies. She confesses this passion to her mother, but is left alone to nurse her wounded soul, confused about her feelings. She decides to take her own path then, following what her heart is saying.
I loved this book. While it didn’t go up to the rung where my favorite classic novels are settled, this easily ranked as one of the most powerful stories I have read. It taught me a lot about religious excesses, that society could be cruel to an unimaginable extent, and that “what makes the lives of homosexuals difficult is not their perversity but other people’s”. It taught me about facing the consequences of your actions—ones that you believed are right—without regrets....more
Charlotte Bronte practically became my heroine back in high school when I got to read Jane Eyre for the first time. It was a Gothic and thought-provokCharlotte Bronte practically became my heroine back in high school when I got to read Jane Eyre for the first time. It was a Gothic and thought-provoking bildungsroman at one angle, a beautifully crafted love story at another, and an account of a woman's struggle to stand out independently in a society that has no place for the likes of her at the one end. It's a wonderful journey, growing up with the spunky and defiant young Jane until she reached the most important turns in her life when she arrived at Thornfield. A wonderful read....more
“What matters most is what’s on the inside.” I know this saying has been around for several decades already—centuries, even—but if you face the ugly t“What matters most is what’s on the inside.” I know this saying has been around for several decades already—centuries, even—but if you face the ugly truth nowadays, not everyone really believes this.
Beastly, a re-imagining of the classic Beauty and the Beast fairytale, reuses this clichéd saying and amplified it by setting the story up in contemporary New York, roughly telling its readers that even (or maybe especially is a better term?) in the modern times, most people will always judge you based on how you look. The main protagonist is Kyle Kingsbury, a teenager who has everything a normal teenage boy could ask for: looks to die for, fame, the money of his news anchor dad—you name it, he has it. However, Kyle is extremely narcissistic and he loves to make fun of people who are less fortunate than him when it comes to the financial or looks department. At one occasion he humiliates an ugly goth girl named Kendra in front of the whole school, not knowing that she is actually a beautiful witch. As a comeuppance, she curses him to become a hideous beast, and says that only a true love’s kiss can get him back to normal.
I think the story is quite adorable—in a teenybopper-ish way—interspersed with occasional thought-provoking moments. What I liked about this “love story” is not the romance itself but the transformation of the hero from the jerk that he was to a mature and selfless person in the end. The very point of the tale is that true love sees beyond physical features, but before you can love someone else for what they are inside, you must see beyond your imperfections first and love yourself for who you are. Kyle, being vain and all, can’t do this easily and the readers journey with him as he tries to accept it. The readers spend more time with this gradual character change as it occupies more or less the first two hundred pages; it does the last hundred too, though now heavily laden with romance, which of course is essential as it would be the means to lift the curse.
In truth, Kyle doesn’t have everything he wants—he loves his father so much but he isn’t sure if the latter loves him back. Mr. Rob Kingsbury is a busy man, but the way he tries to make it up to his son (which usually involves lots of material things) hurts Kyle. I felt genuinely sorry for the boy because every scene with his dad is painful. I almost tear up when his father dispatches him to a separate house with the maid just so no one would see what the famous Kingsbury’s son looks like now (for some reason Mr. Kingsbury reminded me of Mr. Samsa from Franz Kafka’sMetamorphosis; I felt the same dislike toward the character too). With no mother to speak of and deprived of paternal affection, I think Kyle’s general behavior is sort of explainable: he wanted all the love he could have because he couldn’t gain the ones he truly craves for.
The love interest, Linda Owens, is not a beautiful girl but is described as very smart. She has plain features: flaming red hair, golden freckles, gray-green eyes, and crooked teeth. She lives in a shabby apartment in a dangerous neighborhood and she reads lots of books. In a way, her relationship with her father is almost the same with Kyle’s; Daniel Owens is a drug-dealer and he beats Linda up, but Linda stays with him because he loves him, unlike his other daughters. She constantly worries about him, even if he trades her off to the “beast” for a bag of drugs and his life. I couldn’t put a finger on it, but there’s something lacking in her character, like she’s not molded into a three-dimensional person that she should be. Maybe it’s because the story is told from the POV of the beast? *shrugs* Anyway, the novel also includes online chat sessions of Kyle with teenagers who are cursed to become creatures like him. These little conversations are a tad amusing and creative, alluding to a lot of fairytales with new twists.
Again, I think this is a cute book—a cool little break from my Kundera reading I must say. I have to be honest though: I think the last part trudges along the edges of Twilight-like romance, but it doesn’t quite fall into that pit. Maybe it was just my side that doesn’t like super sappy moments, but whatever. I still find this story adorable and I’m giving it a thumb up.
Needless to say, I’m going to see the movie. Okay, back to Milan Kundera. XD ...more
A friend gave this to me as a gift, and it's the first "A Cup of Comfort" book that I've ever read. Writers--professional or otherwise--share their stA friend gave this to me as a gift, and it's the first "A Cup of Comfort" book that I've ever read. Writers--professional or otherwise--share their stories about their journey towards their dream of penning their own books, encountering a lot of experiences (most of them life-changing) along the way. This is a great help for me. As an aspiring writer myself, I know that the road to being a successful novelist isn't a well-paved (or a well-paid) path. Reading stories of other writers seemed to ignite my love for writing more, egging me to keep on reaching for my dream no matter what happens. There will be rejections, moments with no inspiration or simply days where you question yourself about the profession you chose, but in the end it all amounts to your love for writing and reading words. This is a very helpful and timeless book for me. <3...more