**spoiler alert** Oh the aptly dubbed "boys" novel. Kidnapped is a delightful adventure story with just the right doses of humour which will make you...more**spoiler alert** Oh the aptly dubbed "boys" novel. Kidnapped is a delightful adventure story with just the right doses of humour which will make you feel one with the 16 year old naive, yet good natured, thrill seeking protagonist David Balfour.
This bonny tale is set a few years after the Jacobite uprising (1746) in Scotland, when the English were still trying very hard to break the unity of the Highland clans, with the help of the Lowland Scots, who had sworn themselves in as His Majesties subjects. Many of the subplots in the story including the Appin murder, and even the lovable character of Alan Stewart, was based on actual events and persons respectively. So the story has a good bit of history and is generally catalogued in historical fiction, yet I did not know any of this prior to my reading. I am not one of the many people who read this as a child or was assigned it in school, I came into this book blank and was pleasantly surprised.
Stevenson's 'Kidnapped' is simply a great read. In brief, 16-year-old orphan, David Balfour visits his uncle in order to claim an inheritance, left by his father. The uncle, having failed to kill him, arranges for David to be kidnapped by a ship of good-for-nothing villains and taken to the United States to be sold into slavery. While navigating the Scottish coast, the ship collides with another boat and the crew capture the lone survivor, a swashbuckling Highlander called Alan Breck Stewart. David and Alan become friends and escape their captors. On land again, Stewart is accused of murdering a rival clan member and he and David must now cross the Scottish mountains as outlaws and try to reach a safe haven and reclaim David's inheritance his Uncle rudely is withholding.
The descriptions of the Scottish countryside are truly marvelous and the sense of pace and adventure keeps the reader hooked right to the end. I think to most readers the historic aspects of this piece, along with the fact that the couple are being hunted by British redcoats is enough to maintain interest, suspense and pace; however, be forewarned, some may think that there is not a very strong plot, but we must remember that it was originally intended for young boys stepping into adulthood. It was a tale to give boys a sense of the 'big bad world' outside, while entertaining them with kidnapping, duels, ship-wrecks, a murder, and the flight through the highlands to safety, all major ingredients perfect to let any young boys imagination soar high! It is a tale about finding maturity through hardships.
All in all throughout the read I smiled when Uncle Ebeneezer served his gruel, I held my breath when David nearly stepped into the space on the broken stairs, I cringed with the injustice of Ebeneezer trying to cheat David out of his inheritance by selling him into slavery in the American colonies (I also couldn't stop picturing Ebeneezer Scrooge as well, he fit the bill perfectly). Give this one a shot, I look forward to reading more classics by Stevenson. (less)
The four stories in "Different Seasons" are "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption", "Apt Pupil", "The Body", and "The Breathing Method".
Most readers...moreThe four stories in "Different Seasons" are "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption", "Apt Pupil", "The Body", and "The Breathing Method".
Most readers can relate to Shawshank and The Body, which have been made into big hit movies, and somewhat with Apt Pupil which was also made into a movie, although it is not as well known. (For those unaware, The Body was titled "Stand By Me") Oddly enough, it was the fourth and final story of the collection that had the biggest impact on me, The Beathing Method.
The Shawshank Redemption centers around Andy Dufrense, a man who claims to be wrongfully accused of his wife and her lovers murder and is sent to prison. While in prison, due to his education, astuteness, and previous job on the outside as a banker, he becomes an asset to guards and warden and this gets him special privileges and affords him some protections that other prisoners don't get. Despite this, Andy dreams of ways to escape from the nightmare that is life at Shawshank. His story is told through the eyes of Red, the go-to man in Shawkshank to smuggle things inside, who through the course of the story becomes a friend of Andy's. Shawshank was an absolutely beautiful piece of literature, and a great movie. This, in itself, is strange when talking of King novels turned big screen. The movie followed the story very closely. The biggest difference is that the movie goes into more detail of the prisoners becoming "institutionalized" through the trials of Brooks, the librarian. For those who haven't seen the movie, where have you been? It's still the #1 movie on the Internet Movie Database. The are minor tweaks to the story, some things cut, others elaborated, which is true with most movies; however, this one turned out great in both versions.
The next story, Apt Pupil, is about a boy who has discovered the location of a World War II Nazi war criminal living in his neighborhood. Blackmailing the old man, he makes him tell him stories of what the war, internment camps, and his job during the war were really like, every gory detail. Together they both rely on each other to keep secrets and keep them both from harm. The two develop a relationship which leads to some very dark, disturbing things occurring. It's a good story, but in my mind the lesser of the four.
The Body is a story of young boys who, upon hearing the location of the dead body of a kid their own age, set out to find it. It is filled with adolescent angst and the trials of trying to fit in with each other and their differently abusive families. Each of the four boys have a totally different family background, which I think makes for a great story. Gordie, the narrator, manages to have the reader relating to each of them. Gordie, however, has an essentially anonymous homelife. The boys fears, hopes, dreams, and other emotions come out as they look for the poor boy who has nothing to hope for anymore. The actual event of finding the body is sort of anti-climatic, the story is more about the journey to get their and the dangers they encounter and risks they take.
The final story really isn't much of a story, but it left the biggest impact because of King's writing. It is the tale of a man who has been asked to join a "club" by his boss, (everything is quite secretive and there is an unspoken rule not to talk about certain things) where the main function is telling stories. Especially exciting are the stories told around Christmas time and the narrator uses this story you and I are reading to specifically tell the story of the "breathing method" which is told by one of the members, who is a doctor, and is about a young unmarried woman pregnant with her first child. In this story, the motto is.... "It's the tale, not he who tells it." This story, combined with the afterword in my opinion, make a strong statement on King's works, and give us an insight into King's thoughts on his own writings. King has been stereotyped as a horror writer, in fact while reading this I was in a doctor's lobby and when they called me in the doctor said, "what is it you are reading?" and when I turned the book cover around for her to see she jumped and said, "oh no, that is much too scary for me, all of his writing is," but he is just a brilliant, diverse writer. Is it so much what he writes, or the tale that he tells? I'll leave that to you to decide.
The characters in all of these books were well written. My favorite of course was Andy and Red in the Shawshank Redemption. I felt particular loathing for all of the characters in Apt Pupil, but I suppose that is what King was trying to get out of the reader as no one was a very likeable in it. The boys in The Body were ok; most of their lives were pitiable but I never really felt any real connection to any of them. The characters in The Breathing Method were nice, but nothing special and there wasn't enough about them to make you interested in their lives.
Kings writing was fabulous in all the books. His books are very mature in theme though and this particular one includes gore, sex, rape fantasies, racial slurs and other potentially offensive material. Most specifically, Apt Pupil was very sickening and had loads of explicit material in it. The most mild would probably be The Breathing Method. I would have liked King to expand more on this story as he had an interesting side story, but it wasn't fully fleshed out and what could have been a marvelous idea, was cut short. All in all this was a great read especially for King fans. (less)
I felt as though Ira Levin really got into the characters' heads, especially reformed party-girl Ellen and spinster-in-training Marion, although it co...moreI felt as though Ira Levin really got into the characters' heads, especially reformed party-girl Ellen and spinster-in-training Marion, although it could be that their relative depth was a relief after lovestruck wannabe-wed Dorothy. The novel was peppered with newspaper items relating to the various crimes of the story. They were all pretty tongue-in-cheek and served as nice palate-cleansers between the point of view changes. The thing that sets this book apart from other, similarly plotted suspense stories is the way that Levin plays with our emotions concerning the murderer. For the first third of the novel, there is a small part of us that is sympathetic with this man; we almost catch ourselves hoping that he doesn't get caught, I mean he worked so hard to marry money I felt like he deserved it. Several surprises later, however, and our emotions are totally flip-flopped. Now we are given information from another perspective, and we can see just how monstrous this man really is.
The dialogue is so natural and easy. I wonder if some of it ended up in the film, which I will now permit myself to see. The women in the novel are lively enough but I just wished that one of them didn't need a male protector; However, this was written in the 1950s, and I need to remind myself of that. The mind of the hero/villain though is convincingly done and the overall plot makes this one a real page-turner. An excellent guilty pleasure. 4-stars indeed. I definitely want to read "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Stepford Wives" now.
If your into the hard boiled crime genre definitely pick this up!(less)