I'm quite divided on the book. For the most part it was, for the lack of better word—predictable. (view spoiler)[Two boys, one girl. They both like he...moreI'm quite divided on the book. For the most part it was, for the lack of better word—predictable. (view spoiler)[Two boys, one girl. They both like her, she cannot choose who she likes most. Girl sends the boy away, she leaves to find him and bring him back, the other one is patiently waiting for her to return... (hide spoiler)]
It's partly entertaining book and a very easy read, so I don't mind spending time reading it. That's what I thought up until probably the last 100 pages... (view spoiler)[Ally introduces a young single parent who has to bury his precious girl. (There is a lot of discussion on family values as well.) And IT GOT ME... Hard. I even had to cry a bit here and there... And then it got predictable... again... (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>(less)
To say the least, the book was unique. (At least with my reading experience.) If I think more about it, it was probably a mixture of The Matrix and so...moreTo say the least, the book was unique. (At least with my reading experience.) If I think more about it, it was probably a mixture of The Matrix and some medieval fairy tale. (view spoiler)[A nice twist about The Princess saving Prince Charming added to my pleasure of walking strolling through the story. (hide spoiler)] There are a lot of details, a lot of little twists and turns that keep you alert most of the time. (I could guess where the story was going, but it was set very well and not many could have done better.)(less)
It was a nice experience to finally read the book. (I've seen numerous movies on the subject and they've all been fun to watch, but I don't remember m...moreIt was a nice experience to finally read the book. (I've seen numerous movies on the subject and they've all been fun to watch, but I don't remember myself ever reading the book.) I liked reading about the journey and all the unexpected things that happened to the main characters. I absolutely loved the character of professor Lidenbrock and was constantly frustrated with his nephew Axel. What I didn't expect was a very short story. The name of the book suggests a full-blown longer-than-a-lifetime adventure, but there was very few things happening if you think about it. (The whole journey took approximately two months in length which is not much, especially when you travel by foot.
(view spoiler)[There was a lot of confusion with the dates during that journey. There was one in particular (I was too busy reading to keep checking the accuracy of the rest of them) which was totally 'wrong': First there is a mention of a Monday, July 1st; and then there was Tuesday, June 30th. (I thought it being the translation error, but my English version has the same error. (hide spoiler)]
Lovely book, I'm happy to have read it.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
You probably already read a number of reviews on this book. Some were bad, some - undoubtedly - great. What would be the point of describing it once more? Let me introduce another view of the novel... From the point of view of a person with Russian-Ukrainian-Polish background on the topic, well... the main character supposedly belonging to the same ethnic group.
OK, here is the deal... It is possible for second/third generation immigrants to transform their first and last names to something that doesn't make sense to people from their heritage group. So as my husband said, it is possible that the Family Name at some point will become something like Rusakova which at this moment wouldn't be translated at all and would have to have been given to the family by a Mother very long time ago... Imagine somebody's grandmother very young and proud of her ethnic background, most probably quite uneducated who came one day to a different country, a couple of months later had a bastard child (a child without marriage, I mean) and ... well, she could only give her son her last name. Imagine her just giving birth to a baby boy (remember a long, long time ago there was no epidural, there were no painkillers, no giving birth-in-a-water kind of thing... you were lucky to get a doctor and to be in a hospital...), she's relieved, but very, very tired, somewhat in pain, and the doctor or a nurse is asking her to give name to the newborn baby, asking her about her last name and well... writing it exactly as she had said it. There you go, a male child with a female last name. A mother dies soon enough and the child doesn't know better or is too attached to it to change anything...
As you see, it is possible in real life, but chances are, by the time her grandkids were born and grown the last name would have been transformed beyond recognition anyway.
Coming back to our story, I don't think this is the case. I only read about 25% of the book, but I can tell, that the boy is implied to know Russian, which means he couldn't have had an improper spelling of his last name. (And first one too, of course.) It is totally true that he could have used Peter instead of his original name to present himself just for the sake of it being easier on local people. I also use an English version of my name instead of the one I've used since I was a child, or instead of the Ukrainian version of it, that I have on my documents. It is very true that Jessie would have tried to read his real name and would have undoubtedly had troubles with its pronunciation. It is actually very, very true and quite funny. I had a laugh or two reading that part. It was exactly like some people would try to read my husband's name, or even my Russian and/or Ukrainian name.
What's Up With Names?
"These are the Rusakovas" - a family name... Rusakovy(s) :: Русаковы :: if I would have translated the Russian surname.
"This is Peter Rusakova" - Peter or Pietr. OK, if you read it in Russian, that should be closer to 'o', something like Piotr, :: Пётр :: and of course Rusakov... :: Русаков :: there would be no 'a' in his last name... in comparison to, say, Natali(j)a :: Наталья :: (girl's name) who would be Rusakova. :: Русакова ::
And here we come to the short name for Piotr, which in Russian would be something like "Petia". :: Петя :: Instead the coach calls him "Petey", which, I'm sorry, I cannot even pretend to read. Don't get it!
"My brothers, Alexi - Sasha - and Maximilian." It took me a while to count brothers... the author mentioned THREE brothers, but there were FOUR boy's names all-in-all... Or maybe, Sasha was their sister? Nope! Her name was Catherine. Beautiful Catherine. Anyway, there were THREE brothers, and TWO new names, not three as I thought in the beginning. You see, my confusion arose from the sentence above. Alexi sounds more like the Russian version of "Aleksei" :: Алексей :: which could possibly be shortened to Alex without an 'i' at the end. And Sasha is short for Aleksandr :: Александр :: (or Alexander in English version of the name.) Apparently someone got confused here, because what was meant to be written is the person's 'full AND short' name in one sentence. Which should have been either Aleksandr - Sasha or Aleksei - Aliosha :: Алёша ::
And Maximilian... well, in general they don't call kids in Russia Maksimilian, it could have been Maksim :: Максим :: (or Maxim in English version).
"Our sister. The beautiful Catherine." And now tell me why their sister's name is 100% English? She's supposed to be Peter's twin, she's supposed to have the same parents, even be born the same day. They all know Russian, so it would be only natural to assume that they've been born in Russia, and with Peter having THE RUSSIAN name shouldn't she have one too? If you'd think so, then her name should have been something like Katerina :: Катерина :: with the short version Katia :: Катя :: And yet we have... what we have.
Additional Facts About Russian:
"Prosteetcheh," he said. - What was meant here is an apology word in Russian. Which I would have written something like "Prostite" :: Простите :: (e at the end should be pronounced). The problem is, people... school kids, classmates would never say to one another "Prostite", this is a polite form of the word which is usually used in a conversation between an adult and a kid, or maybe between two polite strangers... not between schoolmates. In this case it would be "Prosti". :: Прости ::
"Eezvehneeteh," he whispered, breathing stirring my bangs and warming my face. (Boy, he's been 'breathing' a lot!) Once again, it seems like Peter is talking to his teacher apologizing for stepping on one's foot... If I've been in the same situation as Peter, even if I was, for some strange reason using Russian, (in my opinion, it's way faster and easier to say Sorry) I would have said "Prosti" not "Izvini" :: Извини ::
"Horashow. Good," he said. - and here we come to another 'not-quite-right' pronunciation of the word. You see, if the Russian was reading it, he would have read all the letters in the word which is not supposed to be... Or if you're an English speaking person, wouldn't you try to read the last part as 'show'? I most probably would. The real Russian word would be "Horosho" :: Хорошо :: which would translate to English more so 'OK', than 'Good.' I tend to correct myself all the time using "OK" when talking to my friends abroad, just because it is easier, and they do know the meaning of the word, of course, English being so popular and all.
"Da. Spahseebuh." - I could have understood it if Peter murmured the words, sort of talking to himself, in not-expecting-Jessie-to-understand-or-hear-what-he-was-saying kind of way. This could be close, to make it sound Russian if you're reading it aloud, but if I was to write it, it would have been something like "Spasibo." :: Спасибо ::
"Za udachu," she whispered OK, here's the deal... You can drink Za udachu! :: За удачу! :: but you cannot wish someone 'luck' like this. You'd say, plain and simple, Udachi! :: Удачи! ::
Tsarina Ekaterina Hmmmm... What was that?!?! Well, I mean I know she (the author) meant Tsaritsa Ekaterina :: Царица Екатерина :: (remember, Peter's twin was supposed to have the same name, but she does not?) but what's Tsarina?
What's With All This Russian in All the Inappropriate Places?
I get it, I do... (The Russian blabber, I mean.) I sometimes use Russian words when I'm not paying enough attention or am too tired to control myself. The normal reaction to something like that is, yes, confusion of the person you're talking too... Which leads to further apologies, translation, and continuation of the conversation in English. It seems like Jessie wasn't confused at all by his "Da" and "Nyet". It's like she knows Russian, and doesn't have to question at least once to understand the meaning. Here in Alberta a lot of people, and I mean A LOT, have come from either Ukrainian or Polish background, so they do naturally know simple words from those languages... as well as some swear words... as well as some words their grand-mas used... The problem is this book didn't give me the feeling that somebody in Junction, except for the Rusakovy family, had any Russian background whatsoever. So naturally it surprises me that Jessie just understands Peter... I mean, this can be happening between old friends, but not with a person you just met.
I would have to agree though that using Russian words in the conversation between Peter and his brother, and other 'Russian speaking community' would be very much appropriate, as it gives a realistic touch. (When we talk in our family we tend to mix-and-match instead of using one pure language.) Instead, they seem to only use 'simple' words in Russian, instead of saying everything in it; or at the very least using Russian for more complicated words. I find it harder to remember complicated words in English, and usually the first one that comes to mind is in Russian, then you're trying to translate it before actually saying the word. Instead, things like 'OK', 'Thanks', 'Sorry' are popping off of your tongue just like that...
You know what, probably the most accurate and appropriate use of Russian was for the word matryoshka :: Матрёшка :: I would have probably corrected an English speaking person on the 'real' name for the 'thing', as well if written I'd probably use the same letters... You could consider using 'i' instead of 'y' but this is usually personal preference in Translit Writing which doesn't change pronunciation that much.
This concludes my 'review' of the book, which I didn't really hate or love that much. I think it wasn't terrible especially when you know to ignore the Russian used. I don't think though that the book inclined me to reading the rest of the series. I just have too many 'wanna-reads' on my list to bother with the next book that will be 'so-so'...