This book was given to me as a prize from Dr Ingo, my teacher and mentor, on December 6, 2012 upon completion of a challenge. Prior to this, I had nei...moreThis book was given to me as a prize from Dr Ingo, my teacher and mentor, on December 6, 2012 upon completion of a challenge. Prior to this, I had neither heard of the author nor the book. This is the kind of book that I wouldn't have picked up at all. If it hadn't been for Ingo and his nagging me to finally get on with it, it would've really been a shame to never find out what I'd missed out on.
This is a really awesome book. I was totally fascinated by the world the author has created--or "speculated," if I may. In a way, this feels like speculative fiction to me. Cellphones, credit, and the wireless connection in the worst case scenarios. These are things that are already happening, and the book just portrays what happens when they are given too much importance and how they confine our lives and shape them. How people's relationships work when everyone can know everything about everyone by going online.
At the moment I'm too tired and too busy to go on with this review. I'll remember to come back to continue once I have time. But if I never get around to it, I'll just say that this is a truly fascinating, well-written, beautiful book.(less)
You've become a major player in this war. You're balanced on the edge of everything—faery and mortal, Summer and Iron, the old ways and the march of progress. Which way will you fall? Which side will you choose? When I read The Iron King and The Iron Daughter, I felt they had a great potential but weren't quite there yet, so they both got four stars from me. I didn't expect the third installment, The Iron Queen, to surpass the previous two, and that's why I was so blown away by how truly amazing this one is, which I didn't see coming at all. This book is much better than the first two and that made me believe that this is Julie Kagawa at her best.
The story picks up instantly where book two leaves off: Meghan and Ash's exile from the Nevernever. Meghan thinks that she won't be bothered by the fairies anymore, but she's dead wrong. Iron fairies are still roaming the mortal world looking for her, because the false king believes that by killing Meghan, he'll get King Machina's power. At the same time, the false king's army has been getting stronger and attacking Summer and Winter. And Meghan might just be Nevernever's only hope to defeat the false king and restore peace.
The first half starts off pretty slowly and maintains its pace throughout, which made me a little impatient. But when the second half starts, things pick up fast and remain fast until the end, which I loved. I read the second half all in one sitting, and I really couldn't tear my eyes away. Julie Kagawa gives me excitements after excitements after romances after heartaches after sadness after excitements. I said in my reviews of the previoustwo books that the fight scenes for me felt somehow lacking. However, in this book, Julie Kagawa gave me everything and then more. It was breathtakingly fun! Fun fun fun! Best fight scenes in the series are in The Iron Queen. Epic battles. I loved it. With everything thrown my way, it was indeed difficult to stop. I swallowed it whole, I took everything in all at once. It was delightful.
The characters are more developed in this book, fully formed. I liked Meghan more now, seeing her grow from a feeble helpless half-breed to a strong warrior deserving to be Queen. And although I couldn't make up my mind earlier, I'm now Team Ash. That boy does crazy things to my stomach, let me tell you. He's so cute, like, he makes me bury my head in my pillow and squee endlessly, come up for air and then bookmark those lovely scenes. And hot scenes, because, well, they're so hot. But my being on Team Ash doesn't mean that I don't like Puck now. I still do, but less than Ash. Poor Puck, getting his heart ripped out and stomped on. He'll continue to make my heart ache, I'm sure. Grimalkin still amuses me endlessly with his wits and sarcasm. Bad kitty, as Razor says. Razor is so cute.
And if anything is to be said about Julie Kagawa's writing, I'd repeat it: this is Julie Kagawa at her best. I don't know how she does it, but she pulls it off beautifully. Her words make the story flow very smoothly and reinforces the story very well, making us see things more clearly and feel things more intimately. So charming.
Apart from all the fun it gave me, this book made me shed a lot of tears (oh, Ash). And I loved every minute of the journey I traveled with Meghan. I hope it's only getting better from here, as I am now ready to take on the next books.(less)
I received the digital version of this book from NetGalley and the publisher for review.
You must listen to what I tell you. Nothing is a coincidence. Everything has a purpose. You were meant to come to this castle, just as you were meant to be an assassin, to learn the skills necessary for survival.
While Throne of Glass didn't manage to get me hooked right from the beginning, it sure did capture my heart by the end of the book, leaving me craving for more. I wasn't really surprised at my blankness, as I normally don't expect myself to hit it off with fantasy books right away. There's this part of my brain that keeps doubting the credibility of things presented, that continually asks me if I really believe what I'm reading, or if the story is good enough to keep me going and suspend my disbelief. As Throne of Glass progressed, it proved itself worthy along the way, and at one point I couldn't stop reading even though I could barely keep myself awake. I just had to finish it! And then I did, but I had to take a nap in my German class the next day and had my teacher woken me up three times.
Needless to say, this book is fantastic.
Throne of Glass follows Celaena Sardothien, a deadly 18-year-old assassin with a pretty face. Celaena is renowned as "Adarlan's Assassin," which is why the Prince of Adarlan, Dorian Havilliard, has to track her down to find her as a slave in Endovier, and offer her an opportunity that might be what she needs most: freedom. But of course, freedom isn't given for free. The Prince, in return, asks that she agrees to be his "champion," to compete with other champions in a fight-to-the-death tournament organized by the King, and she'll be given freedom only after winning the tournament and serving the King as his royal assassin for 4 years. If she doesn't win it, she'll either die or go back to serve a life sentence in Endovier just as she is now. Celaena takes the opportunity, moves to the King's castle, and this is where the fun begins.
One does not simply mess with "Adarlan's Assassin" Celaena Sardothien, but entering the competition as jewel thief Lady Lillian Gordaina, she's often overlooked and underestimated. As strategies, she has to play down the smarts and try not to outperform anyone in training, fooling everyone that she's nothing special. Although she doesn't like the strategies, she has to do as the Prince and his Captain of the Guard, Chaol Westfall, say.
Now, I have to say love triangle was the least of my expectations, which is why I was surprised when the Prince shows interest in Celaena. I didn't like him much at first, but Dorian Havilliard has his ways to win you over. I couldn't help but have a soft spot for him. There were times when I liked Dorian for his charms (he's such a flirt!) more than Chaol, who's always so silent and distant, but sweet and caring nevertheless. Both are awesome characters. Most of the time I was just glad that I didn't have to be the one choosing. I love that Celaena doesn't spend much time pining for anyone. I love that she can make a decision for herself, and that she's not afraid to end things that might get in the way of her getting what she wants most. A determined, hard-headed, kickass heroine. That's Celaena Sardothien for you.
I love Celaena. She isn't what I expected a female assassin to be like. She's funny and loves to tease people, especially the girls in the castle trying to win Dorian's heart. I found myself tremendously enjoying her character. I love that she's smart and seems to know a lot about things she does (killing, for example). And my, she loves reading and clothes! Haha. Hard to believe at first but it makes her character more interesting. She's so seriously kickass and I love it.
Apart from the characters, I also enjoyed the story very much. You can't tell from looking at the cover or reading the blurb that there's magic in the story! The mentions of magic in the beginning of the book didn't strike me as anything until "Wyrdmarks" and Nehemia, Princess of Eyllwe, start becoming involved in the story. And then, wow, bam! Blood, murders, secret passageway, ancient tomb, spirits, more secrets, mysteries, weird creatures, Wyrdmarks, more Wyrdmarks, ancient sword, whoosh, bam, bam! Haha. It's so much fun. Hardly anything can be said without the possibility of ruining your pleasure in discovering it yourselves, so I'll leave it at that.
Full of mysteries and actions and just enough romance, Throne of Glass has exceeded my expectations in many ways. The ride was more than enjoyable; it was thrilling most of the time and also sweet at times. There are still things that are left unexplained in this book (mostly about Celaena's destiny) which I can't wait to find out in book two and three. The world-building is very well-done; I totally believed it. The narration in 3rd person (which I normally don't like) works very nicely with the story as the view isn't limited to any character's limited knowledge. Sarah J. Maas's writing is wonderful and although I'm not really a huge fan of fantasy books, I'm already impressed and looking forward to the next book in the trilogy. For some reasons, I know she won't disappoint. This is a great read. I'd recommend Throne of Glass to anyone! (less)
Even though I already have two new copies of this little gem at home, I borrowed this 1972 edition from my faculty library. It's the SECOND edition. T...moreEven though I already have two new copies of this little gem at home, I borrowed this 1972 edition from my faculty library. It's the SECOND edition. The paper is all torn from the binding, but it's got this mystical feel to it. It's fascinating. I just adore old books. This book really has stood the test of time. I get something new every time I pick up this book. This will never become boring. (less)
I received the ARC of this title from Egmont USA for review.
Grimm fairytales come to life, curses and gifts are awakened, and Mira is destined to meet her fate...
Kill Me Softly is the first fairy tale retelling that I've ever read. To me, it's really unique and intriguing and extremely amazing. It falls into the category of books whose synopsis you shouldn't read first, but should just dive right in for full effect. That's what I did, and I was glad that I entered the world of Kill Me Softly without a clue about what it is about and what's possibly going to happen. When things do happen, it totally blew my mind! But if you've already made the mistake of reading the summary, it's still totally fine. Now you know what this book is about, but you're still going to be knocked off your feet anyway.
Girls became victims and heroines. Boys became lovers and murderers. And sometimes... they became both.
We're first introduced to Mirabelle Lively, or Mira for short, just a week before her sixteenth birthday. She lives with two godmothers, Elsa and Bliss. Mira's godmothers are very protective of her, and insanely strict. They don't allow her to ride in a car unless an adult is driving; shave her legs; date; and most importantly, they refuse to let her visit the city where she was born. This she can't accept. While they are excited and planning the party for her, Mira is distracted. She can only think about leaving them and running away to Beau Rivage to find her parents' graves.
Of course, she doesn't know what she's walking into. In Beau Rivage she encounters a lot of strange things like places named after those in fairy tales, and meets strange people who will become her friends. Mira's always been aware and self-conscious about the mark that looks like a wheel at her back, and she is shocked to see that these people she now hangs out with have marks too, only different ones. She asks around and finds out what the marks are for, and what they represent, and then she knows everyone's destiny, including her own. And then she also realizes the reason why her godmothers don't allow her to touch anything sharp.
Sarah Cross' Kill Me Softly is absolutely breathtaking. I don't normally enjoy dark novels, but this one's an exception. It's just amazing. This book wastes no space in giving you what you're looking for in a good book: well-developed story, appropriately-paced story telling, awesome characters, and beautiful writing. Moreover, this book is packed with mystery and suspense and secrets and surprises that keep you on the edge of your seat (and keep me up until 4 am in my case)! How can you not love it? How? How?
This novel has a very well-developed story. Every information given is relevant at some points. No nonsense. I love how Sarah Cross drops hints and clues while building up the story but you don't know what they mean until they come together with something else later in the book! And you can't help but be like, I should've seen that coming! This book also has a good pace. It's not too long, and it's not too short; it's not too fast, and not to slow; it's just right. Just exactly how it needs to be. Not many books are like that, you know. This is brilliant.
I also love that Sarah Cross takes the Brother Grimms' originally and exceptionally dark fairy tales and blend them together to create such a wonderful book. Unlike Disney that softens everything, the author remains true to the original tales and makes them work. Bravo!
The characters in this novel are all great. None of them feels flat. Normally I'm not a fan of books with too many characters, but again, this is an exception. Every one of them adds up to the book very well, spicing it up and all that. Mira has a strong voice. She's different when she's with different people. I especially love when Mira and Blue are together. Either they're always bickering, saying sarcastic remarks, fighting, or they're being all sweet and honest and sweet and did I say that already? Well, yeah. If you read this book, you'll know what I mean. Blue's constantly warning Mira to stay away from Felix, acting like a jerk to keep her from liking him (for a reason), and all the while he's falling in love with her. Ah, the tension between these two! Love, love, love it! I'm pretty sure you'll like other characters as well. Someday-my-princess-will-come Freddie, Layla the Beauty, white-as-snow Viv, etc.
Other than a fantastic story and incredible characters, this book is also beautifully written. It can't get any better than this. Sarah Cross' writing had me going wow a lot of times. See this and you'll know what I mean:
It was hard to be honest, to open up, and reveal something that sounded crazy. Because once you told someone the truth, that person had a piece of you--and they could belittle it, destroy it. The could turn your confession into a would that never healed.
That's my favorite quote from the book.
Also Mira and Felix' love scene (about 43% far into the book) had me melt into a puddle of goo. Seriously.
And now, we've come to the end of this review. I don't think I can say anything more about this book without praising it. Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross deserves 5 shiny stars for its brilliance (there I said it again). Read this book. You won't be disappointed. You have my word. :)(less)
I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher for review.
Let's just start by saying that Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry is one of the best YA Comtemporary that I have ever read. Although this story is dark and intense, it is engaging and it takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride: it makes you laugh, smile and cry. And here's a fact that might show you how much I really liked this book: I wasn't supposed to read this book right now, because midterm is approaching real fast, but I couldn't wait until after July. I couldn't possibly be studying, knowing that I still hadn't finished it! I decided to put my grades a little more at risk, and I was totally glad I did!
This is a story of two awesome characters. Echo Emerson, perfect girl gone freak, comes back to school only to find that things aren't the same. After that horrible night, Echo has kind of lost her mind and couldn't remember what happened to her. This haunts her and gives her nightmare. She has a bad scar on her arm, and she covers it with long-sleeved shirts every day. People don't care enough to ask; they're happy with believing their own assumptions that she's cut herself. Her father has remarried and she isn't allowed to contact her mother in any way at all. What's more, she has to do therapy sessions with Mrs Collins, and so does Noah. And this is where the romance begins. Noah is a great guy, totally undeserving of all the bad things that have happened to him. His family is shattered after his parents died in a fire. His two little brothers are lucky enough to survive, but Noah has never been able to erase the guilt from his mind. Jacob and Tyler , his two brothers, are then adopted, and visitations is the best Noah can do before he files for custody. With determination to bring his family back together, Noah will just about do anything he has to do, and that includes, much to his dismay, tutoring sessions with Echo Emerson.
I must admit that I wasn't sure about if I would end up liking this book at first. The first 30% something of the book couldn't manage to get me hooked. But then afterwards things start happening and it gets a whole lot more exciting! This book is narrated by both Echo and Noah alternatively, which, in my opinion, works very well with. We get to know what each character is thinking and what they're feeling. I really enjoyed Noah's nasty thoughts, haha! The POV switching between chapters were not bumpy at all, but very smoothly done. It picks up where the previous chapter leaves off. But what irritated me is the fact that my copy doesn't tell me who is speaking at the moment. I would read a few sentences, unaware of the switch, and realize that it's the other person speaking, and had to reread the whole thing to make sense of what would come next. Normally this would be a very big problem which would affect my overall enjoyment of the book. Yes, it was a little tiring, but I decided that I liked Pushing the Limits so much that I didn't really care about this!
It's understandable why a lot of people love this book. Not only is it so real, but it also tore my heart apart. Big time. This isn't your typical teenage romance, it's so much more; it's about family and friendship and coming to terms with the past and horrible things that happens in your life. The part I adored most is when Noah decides to do what's best for his little brothers, despite its being what he's been going against, my heart broke to little pieces. This, I think, is love. You stop being selfish, you don't think as much of your happiness as someone else's. You love them enough to let them go, to let them have what's best for them, when if you're not a part of it. I love that family plays such a big role in this book. Friendship, too, is nicely touched upon. While Echo's friends ignore her publicly because she's been labeled as freak, Noah's friends stand beside him as family. This is a real situation and it's very well portrayed in this book. Sometimes people use friendship as a tool to achieve things, and when it's not useful anymore, what good is it to keep it? It's nice to know that in a world where friendship can be used as a means to some other end, there are friends like Noah's who have been through so much together and won't abandon each other. It's very touching. *adds tears here*
Apart from the story, I love the characters. Both Noah and Echo are great. Throughout the story, their developments are very evident. I love when there are character developments. Echo goes from a girl who hides away to a girl who has the courage to show her scars in the end; from a girl who blames everything on her father's new wife to a braver girl who accepts with tears that her mother isn't who she thought she was. I'm happy that Echo comes to terms with her past and heals her mental wounds to become herself again. Noah, a troubled boy whose only wish is to put his family back together, learns that sometimes "doing the right thing doesn't necessarily mean doing the thing that feels good." (Quoting Mrs Collins) These are all touching issues and I found myself so emotionally invested in both of these characters. I cried with them. I guess it's true that opposites attract, because they make a really great couple. It's not about going out and dating, it's about helping each other through tough times and being what the other person needs. Their romance is sweet and it made my stomach all fluttery. I love it. Other characters in this book are great as well although they're not not likable all the time. There really is such a thing as a father who just doesn't know better; a stepmom who does all the wrong things and can never be good enough; and a mother who's selfish. I love that even these minor characters are three-dimensional. They're not all bad, but they're not all good either. Katie McGarry has done an awesome job creating her characters! I loved every bit of it!
All in all, Pushing the Limits is an awesome read. I'll never get over how this story is very well-written and how all these issues fit together perfectly. Most importantly, I'll never forget how this book made me cry like a baby. I recommend this to people who love to read YA Contemporary, 'cause this is definitely one of the best out there!
I received an e-galley of this book from NetGalley and Candlewick Press for review.
You know, once in a while, there comes a book that tells the story of your life, or something that reminds you very much of it. Be it just a part of the whole thing, or everything that happens in the book has actually happened to you. When a book like this comes along, it's hard not to have a feeling of nostalgia as you read, or once you finish reading it. It might break your heart, make you cry, fill you with indescribable sadness, mixed with the joy of having it past you now. No more drowning in those tears he always successfully and easily summoned from you. GETTING OVER GARRETT DELANEY is a bittersweet reminiscence for that part of my life.
Don't get me wrong. This is not a sad book. If anything, it's a hilarious one with witty prose. I love the story, I love the character development, I love the writing, I love the ending. I love this book!
Two years ago, Sadie was in a local coffee shop reading Pablo Neruda's love poems when Garrett Delaney walked into her life. She immediately felt that he was everything she had been waiting for. Fifty percent prep, twenty percent punk, thirty percent old-school British indie rock, and one hundred percent gorgeous -- that's Garrett for you. Sadie fell madly in love with this new best friend of hers and let her life form its shape around him -- his shape. Having the hairstyle she knew he liked, wearing simple boring clothes so he wouldn't judge her, reading Russian literature and watching movies and listening to music that he loved so. She practically forgot who she'd actually been before he came around. She cherished their friendship, but always wished for something more, for that one day when he would finally fall in love with her.
Now those two years have passed, Sadie is comfortable with the life that she's built around Garrett. When he goes to a writing camp for six week, Sadie is left alone, separated from Garrett for the first time in two years, and has to find a job. One day while she's working in the coffee shop, Garrett calls and tells her he's in love with a girl in the camp, and asks her for advice. That's when Sadie realizes she has to start GETTING OVER GARRETT DELANEY for good. With on-and-off determination, 12-step plan from her mother's self-help book, and a lot of support from friends, Sadie sets off to figure out who she is without Garrett, discover her personal likes and dislikes without the influence of Garrett, and finally getting over this painful unrequited crush she has on her best friend.
This book makes me want to go curl up in bed and cry and cry and cry right now. It inevitably reminds me of those 6 years when the life of my younger and more stupid, love-blind self revolved around this jerk of a guy who enjoyed keeping me in misery so much that he refused to let the love I had for him die down even a little bit. This was just heart-wrenching for me to see Sadie go through almost everything that I myself have been put through. The unclear boundaries, the long phone calls that seemed to never end, the asking for advice about love and some other girls that wasn't me. The pain, the tears, the several attempts to get over him. The six years of my life I spent pining away, wishing he would finally see me. All to no avail.
I love Sadie. She's very relatable. I believe every girl has been in her position, being head over heels for their best friend. The descriptions of her emotions are so real, so touching. I could feel myself feeling the same things she's feeling. And sometimes just reading her feelings, all those things came rushing back to me. I think she represents us girls who have been there. I love how her character develops and how she slowly tries new things and starts feeling comfortable with her life without Garrett.
Abby McDonald's writing in this book is incredibly enjoyable. I love the way the 12 steps are inserted right between chapters. That makes it easier for me to keep up with Sadie's progress and what she's going to do. This book is also very cleverly written and well-plotted. There are many beautiful sentences that had me gaping at, and those that made me laugh and smile. I couldn't put this book down. It's very addictive and fun to read!
In addtion, I'm glad the book ends the way it does. I loved the ending. So powerful and symbolic.
Recommended! GETTING OVER GARRETT DELANEY is a wonderful read! (less)
What a nice book! I don't really care about Frankie Pratt, nor do I like the story much. The awesome thing is that this is something unprecedented for...moreWhat a nice book! I don't really care about Frankie Pratt, nor do I like the story much. The awesome thing is that this is something unprecedented for me. It's done in a scrapbook style! And not just a cheap put-together-in-photoshop one, but a real-scrapbook-and-then-scanned one! (less)
One word: wow. This book is beyond amazing. It's one of those books that leave you speechless right after finishing, and will continue to stay with yo...moreOne word: wow. This book is beyond amazing. It's one of those books that leave you speechless right after finishing, and will continue to stay with you even as time flies by. All I could say at that moment was I'm finished. Wow. *wipes tears* Wow. Just wow. *blows nose* For real. It touched my heart and left an imprint on my soul. A new favorite for me.
I was reading this book two weeks before my midterm exams. So after two days of reading it, I had to put it on hold to study. I was able to continue reading after the exams were over. So you could say that I'd been reading this book for 6 days, not 17.
I've known The Book Thief since its publication in 2006. I feel stupid for not having been able read it sooner. I remember when I visited the national book fair 6 years ago, The Book Thief had just been published and was later translated into Thai and on sale for the first time there. I bought a copy. It came with its own nice paper bag that looked just like the cover, with gold print and all. I read the first chapter and then that was it. I wasn't much of a reader back then, nor was I any good at English. I'd promised myself that one day I would read the English original and understand it, and that happened just now, six years after the promise. I'm so glad I got to finish it and appreciate its beauty in its original text. I'm going to pick up the Thai translation one day and read to see if the translation lives up to the original at all.
“Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness.” The Book Thief tells a very complicated yet simple story. I don't quite know how to tell you this. This amazingly well-written book is narrated by Death himself during the World War II. And a beautiful narration it is, too. The book revolves around a young German girl named Liesel Meminger, whom Death calls The Book Thief. Liesel stole her first book, The Grave Digger's Handbook, when her brother was being buried in the snow, while they were traveling to Munich to live with their foster parents. She couldn't even read back then, but she stole it because she knew it would remind her of her brother and the train ride with their mother. Her foster parents are Hans and Rosa Huberman. Hans is a very fatherly person. He loves Liesel. He teaches her to read, plays her the accordion, and reads with her when she wakes up in the middle of the night screaming, after dreaming of the train and her brother again and again. Rosa, on the other hand, is a rude woman. She swears all the time. She also loves Liesel, but she doesn't show it. Liesel is getting used to the life on Himmel Street, and she makes some friends. Her best friend is Rudy Steiner, the boy next door, whose favorite thing to say to her is, "How about a kiss, Saumensch?", which gets rejected every time. Liesel is getting used to the life on Himmel Street until one day a Jew shows up before their house. Max Vandenburg, son of a friend of Hans' who once saved his life in the war, is kept hidden by the Hubermans in their basement. The Hubermans love him and care for him, still they can't shake the fear that the Nazi might find out there's a Jew in their basement.
There's not a thing I don't like about the story, but right now let's talk about the narration. It's very unique and interesting (at least to me), because I have never read a book entirely narrated by intangibles before (Just in Case by Meg Rosoff is narrated partly by Fate and partly by third person point of view). Moreover, Death in this story isn't just death. Death has a cynical personality, and is haunted by humans. He's weary of his work, and he tries to understand humans. I've never looked at death that way before, but more like something sinister that loves taking away someone we love, so this really opened up my eyes. As someone who dreads and hates death, I think it's nice to see things through Death's eyes. It kind of made me think that maybe Death doesn't want to take anything away from us, but he has to. Just like the sun can't help but rise and shine every day. However, I might add that it didn't exactly make me feel any less negatively about death. It's just very interesting. So very interesting. I also loved that Death is impatient. He doesn't like mysteries: he will tell you the ending before you get there. The interesting thing is that it doesn't spoil the story at all. If anything, it enriches it, and keeps you on the edge of your seat. You know what, but not how, and you're dying to know the how. I guess it's not about the destination, it's all about the ride.
One of the rare things happened to me with The Book Thief: I loved the characters. Why is this a big deal? It is a big deal because I don't tend to have a lasting strong feeling about characters in standalone books (the only exception being Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), and they don't stay with me. But not with this book. I loved the book lust in Liesel Meminger, just as much as I loved how she struggled to get over the death of her brother. I loved Rudy Steiner's ever-present starvation, his how-about-a-kiss-saumensch, his Jesse Owens event, his blond hair, his dusty bomb-hit lips. The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy that loves you. Just thinking about him makes my eyes water. That boy is so wonderful. I also loved Hans Huberman, his accordion, his teaching Liesel to read, his staying up with her to get her through the night. He's a heavenly person. His calmness, kindness, his love. Rosa Huberman, however rude and tactless and wardrobe-like looking, is also lovable. She takes a Jew into her house without asking a single question or a having a single doubt. She reminds me of my mother, who doesn't talk very nicely, but whose love can be so great it can probably move a mountain. I loved the Jewish fist-fighter Max Vandenburg who always feels guilty about "having to put you all through this." I loved this guy because he dreams of fighting with Hitler, because he has written two books for Liesel, because he never asks for anything, because he makes me cry the most, because he is taken away, because he comes back, because.. because... just because.
You know, when you love a book this much, it's hard to find anything to say at all. You know what you say is not going to do the book justice.
These characters, these people, this story. They'll stay in my heart for a long, long time.
I don't know how he did it. Markus Zusak, I mean.
Speaking of whom. His writing is extraodinary. Delightful. Magical. Reading his beautifully-strung-together words is pure joy. The words blew me away. I don't know how to explain it. They made me laugh, and they also moved me to tears. Heart-wrenching stuff. The power of words, indeed. Amazing what it can do to you, don't you think?
I have a little advice for those of you reading this review who hasn't yet read this masterpiece of a book: DROP EVERYTHING NOW. READ THIS BOOK.
Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for giving me this ARC to review.
First of all, GORGEOUS cover! If you swoon over pretty book covers like me, this one is a must-have. :D And also the title! I love the title for some reasons. It sounds kinda poetic and deep and all that to me. Me likey!
I didn't know what to expect before reading UNDER THE NEVER SKY. I've read some reviews and seen that it's a dystopian book -- something that is very popular at the moment which I have very little to no experience with. Needless to say, the first chapter was totally confusing for me. All those weird names like Ag6 and Pod and Dweller and Savage and Outsider and Smarteye. At that time I was pretty sure I could never understand the world building. But surprisingly, I did understand it! I guess I'm somewhat heavy-headed so it had to take some time for all the details to gather inside my head and sink in and make sense. Once the world building became clear to me, I could see that it was AWESOME. Like, WHOA, AWESOME. And unique. I can't explain it. It's way too complicated for me to break it down. If you want to know how awesome it is, you have to read it!
For another thing, I loved the romance between Aria and Perry, alright. I'm a sucker for cute romance. SQUEE! Although this one isn't cute from start to finish, it seems very real and believable to me. At first Aria is scared of Perry and thinks he's disgusting because he's an Outsider, a Savage. Perry thinks Aria is a weak, fragile, snobby Dweller who doesn't know how to survive out in the real world. Obviously, this isn't an instant crush. I loved how they slowly fall in love with each other because they need each other's help and all the things they've been through together make them closer.
I also love the sub-plots. They're quite mind-blowing. Things that never crossed my mind happen and I was always stunned, like WOW stunned. Lots of surprises! The story is written in the third person point of view with shifted perspective on both Aria and Perry. And the ending kills me. Seriously, it's a very impressive ending. I don't know. I really love how it's written. Got me squeeing big time!
I think this book is very well crafted and written, indeed! Fantastic read! I can't wait for book two!
Can I just say that Incarnate totally blew me away? This doesn't happen very often, so it's a big deal here. Thank you Netgalley and HarperCollins for sending me a galley to read and review! I'm so glad to have read this awesomeness!
Love, love, love it. I don't really read much fantasy other than the Harry Potter series but I have to say that this one is REALLY GOOD. I didn't know what to expect when I dove into it, and I found myself attached to my chair and unable to take my eyes off the screen! I usually don't have much patience with ebooks, but I finished Incarnate in two sittings, so that says a lot. It's so addictive!
Incarnate is the first book in the Newsoul trilogy. The books are expected to be published in 2012, 2013, and 2014 consecutively. In the first book, the story revolves around an 18-year-old girl named Ana, who was born in the 330th Year of Songs, in a world where there is exactly one million human beings, plus other creatures like sylphs and dragons. In this very world, the one million souls reincarnate over and over again when their bodies die, and grow up remembering all their past lives. But the problem is this: Ciana, a soul who died and was supposed to come back, didn't reincarnate after all. Five years after Ciana's death, Ana was born. She is the only one newsoul in the world where other 999,999 souls have already known each other since their thousands of years of living. No one knows why Ana is born, and why she replaced Ciana. Ana grew up with her mother, Li, hating her for a being a 'nosoul', not acknowledging the world outside the wall of her house. Her father, Menehem, is believed to have abandoned them since her birth because he was ashamed. She comes to believe that she's a nosoul, and nosouls aren't capable of feeling things like love, or don't deserve things like honey and coffee. She feels incredibly alone. On her 18th birthday, she decides to leave home to go to the city of Heart to find some answers for all her why's. Li gives her a bad compass, sending her far in Range, where she is attacked by sylphs (invisible shadowy creatures that burn when touched), jumps off the cliff to face a more pleasant death, and is rescued by Sam.
The world building, in my opinion, is great. I mean, I could see what the author wrote in my head. Still, I wish there were more fantasy/mythological creatures in this book other than sylphs and dragons all the time. At first I didn't quite grasp the reincarnation idea and all, but as I read on, it made more sense. It's a bit weird, but interesting nevertheless. Someone could be a male in the last life and be born a female in this life, and your best friend two lives ago could be your mother in the current one. Awkward, but fascinating. I haven't quite seen anything like it before. As someone in a Buddhist country, I am very well familiar with the concept of reincarnation. People with sins have to reincarnate to suffer the consequences of the sinful deeds in their past life which I personally find quite unfair. Buddhists believes that there is a way out of reincarnation, a way to eternal peace, which is Nirvana. A lot of Buddhists become ordained as monks to train themselves, become enlightened, and go to nirvana and eternal peace for good when they die, while in Incarnate, sins have nothing to do with it, and it never occurs (as I know of) to people that maybe they don't want to be reborn. In fact, they're quite afraid to stop existing. Lord Buddha's teaching and doctrines are to help Buddhist souls stop reincarnating, while Janan, the God in Incarnate, is the one who keeps reincarnation going. So while the concept of reincarnation isn't something new for me, the way Incarnate deals with it actually is.
The romance between Sam and Ana made me continually grin like mad. I'm a sucker for cute romance, okay? The thing about her liking him and his being her hero even before they met was like FKGJADOJFEPCFKAOAE. Nicely done there, Jodi Meadows. While it's clear why Ana falls in love with Sam, I couldn't really figure out why he likes her. Maybe because of the extreme closeness? Or by getting to know her intimately? By being together 24/7? By constantly saving each others' lives? He never really says anything much more about that than that he wanted to kiss her since the first day they met (why?). But the romance is good. The tension was great. Especially at the masquerade. Whee!
I really enjoy Meadows' writing. It's simple and it flows. It keeps you going on and on without pause! However, should any changes be made in the final draft before the official publication, here are my ideas there are some minor things that bugged me about this book.
Firstly, I have to admit I found it a little bit difficult to follow the conversation. At first I thought it was just me, but I've read some reviews and it seems like other readers felt the same way. I had to reread the dialogue a few times to figure out who said what. So adding dialogue tags would be good idea.
Secondly, there are still some questions left unanswered. I don't know whether Jodi Meadows planned to answer them in the second or third book or just ignore them. Some of the questions are asked since early on in the novel, some later, and I don't think they should be left like this. LOOK AWAY IF YOU MUST, THEY'RE SPOILERS. Here are some of mine: 1) Why did Sam lie about his birthday? When is his birthday actually? 2) Is Janan real? What's his purpose of reincarnation? 3) Why do dragons keep attacking the temple? Any significance or purpose? To stop reincarnation? But why? I mean, they're dragons, they don't reincarnate, do they? 4) Why does the door to the temple suddenly appear out of the blue to Ana? 5) So she's a "mistake"? THAT'S IT? Does this mean her search for the meaning of her birth is over? 6) How does Menehem poison Janan? Why does he want to stop reincarnation? 7) Is it Li who tried to kill Ana? Why? I really want these questions answered in the book.
Lastly, I think some of the things in the book are not given much importance or just ignored. Things like progress reports are like empty threats. Ana doesn't even talk about the results or anything, or her progress, for that matter, other than piano and dance. And according to the book, she spends a lot of time going to the library, but she rarely talks about what she's found. Isn't that a bit pointless?
There are just so many things I love about Incarnate, but I'm also aware that it is not perfect. The thing is these things can be overlooked because the thrilling experience Incarnate gave me during reading was all it took for me to give it big fat 5 stars!
My favorite quote: “There's always the option of deciding for yourself who you are and what you'll become.” - Sam
I can't wait for book two and three! SERIOUSLY!!!!!!!!
Like everyone, I've been hearing praises and seeing a lot of hype since last year when the book came out. And when people keep talking and saying omg-its-amazing kind of things, you want to read it for yourself and find out if it's true. I used to be one of those people. There are several times in the past that I felt so disappointed by the hyped books that I kind of lost faith and felt like the hype means nothing but powerful marketing and that the books have great publicists. I still believe it. And when I finish a wildly-hyped book that has received rave reviews and don't like it, or find it only "good" when I expect "brilliant", I can't help but feel like something's wrong with me. Don't like that feeling. So I generally avoid the hype.
Of course, I thought I wouldn't touch DIVERGENT, but I guess I just couldn't resist. It's been almost a year since the release date and the hype still goes around, so I'm curious. It also helps that INSURGENT, the second book, is coming out in a week, which means now is the perfect time to read DIVERGENT if anyone hasn't read it yet. So, with curiosity and little expectation, I immersed myself in Divergent. And this time, I'm so glad that curiosity didn't kill the cat.
The world that Verinica Roth created for DIVERGENT takes place in a dystopian society set in Chicago. In this society, people are divided into factions. There are five factions and each faction values one virtue that defines them, to "eradicate those qualities they believed responsible for the world's disarray." Those who blamed aggression formed Amity; those who blamed ignorance became the Erudite; those who blamed duplicity created Candor; those who blamed selfishness made Abnegation; and those who blamed cowardice were the Dauntless. Each faction has their own way of doing things: clothing, food, the way of living. I can see how this might remind anyone of Hogwarts Houses. Each faction is for people with certain personalities and attitude. But the difference is that, rather than having yourself sorted into each one of them, you have a choice to choose for yourself which way you want to go and how you want to live your life. On the annual Choosing Day, every 16-year-old must choose to join one of the five pre-determined factions. They can choose to stay with their family or leave them and be seen as traitors. For some people it's obvious where they belong and it's clear what to choose without even having to think about it, but for a certain kind of people like Tris, the "Divergent rebels", it's not so easy to choose.
In my opinion, the world-building is fascinating, and the author wrote it in a way that it seems logical and believable while you're reading it. Abnegation in government because Abnegation people are selfless and power should be given to those who don't want them? Good point. The Erudite as teachers and researchers because they're clever and always in pursuit of knowledge? The Dauntless as soldiers for the society because they're brave and er... dauntless? Reasonable. Candor in law because they never lie? Amity as counselors and caretakers? Okay. However, once I pulled myself away from DIVERGENT and thought about it, I found myself unconvinced. The question: WHAT'S THE POINT? I understand the point the author wanted to make, that each one of these virtues is needed in order to maintain a society, but what I don't understand is WHY FACTIONS? I don't think each faction serves much purpose other than promoting their own virtue. I can understand that the purpose of the districts in the Hunger Games is for the Capitol to make the people realize that they're small and that the Capitol owns their lives (or something like that), and each district serves a purpose of providing the Capitol with stuff they need, like agriculture, mining, fishing, etc. And I can see that the purpose of Hogwarts Houses is to put students who are alike in personalities and attitude together, and to promote teamwork and unity within the houses to compete against other houses for Quidditch and the House Cup. But FACTIONS? Okay.. People choose factions according to their life philosophy, and each faction had a role to play in the society.. But somehow it doesn't convince me. Like.. that's it? Is it really necessary? But not that this ruined my enjoyment or anything, it's pretty minor and like I said, while you're reading, it doesn't really bother you. I just wanted to point this out, that's all. I know I'm not making much sense here, so let's move on. ;)
Having said that about the world-building, I have to say the characters are believable and very well portrayed. Tris goes from a small girl from Abnegation whom everyone pitied to this tough, no-nonsense, first-ranked, first-jumper, threat-to-everyone girl who develops muscles and has tattoos. Pretty badass, don't you think? I really like her physical and mental development throughout the book. I'm impressed. Tris' love interest, Four (I won't tell you his real name hehehe), is also an equally amazing character. I love, love, love Four! He's brilliant and smart and kind and his presence made me all giddy. I love their relationship. It's not a he's-all-I-can-think-about-and-I'm-sure-we-belong-together girly whiny thing, but a much stronger one. I love that Four shares with Tris his fears. I think that's intimacy at its best. I'm always fascinated by it. What better way to show someone you love them than by letting them see you for who you are, see you at your weakest, sharing with them your darkest fears and vulnerability, letting your guard down and at the same time letting them in? It takes a lot of courage to let someone in that close to you, and that screams LOVE. Physical intimacy is nothing to this. These two are now one of my top-5 favorite couples. I love them, I do, I do! Four might seem cruel and patronizing to Tris, but has his own reasons. Squee! Squee! If you're interested, here's the link to read Four's POV in one of the training sessions. He's so cute and brilliant I wish he was real. Oh, by the way, here are my Four and Tris.
Isn't Matt Lanter the cutest boy you've ever seen? For me he is! *melts* And Willow Shields may be only 12, but she's small and perfect as Tris, and I love her strong, determined eyes.
You might have noticed that this book is LONG. Despite the length, I think I could've finished this book in less than 48 hours if I had not been distracted. I spent the first three days reading up to only about 33%, but on the last day, which was yesterday, I continued from there until the end. And, man, WHAT A RIDE. I remember feeling a bit like there wasn't enough thrilling action up until 60% of the book because let me tell you, the initiation process is LONG. I was kind of bored by it, really. But then when the initiation is done and at 82% it's like WHAM! Rollercoaster going DOWNNNNNNNN. I didn't mean that the story goes downhill, I mean that it's like story's been slowly building up and leaving clues like a rollercoaster going up, reaching THAT ONE POINT where the up ends and down starts, and then it knocks the wind out of you. Kind of. So worth the wait! It's just a series of breath-taking actions and surprises after surprises after that. I couldn't stop reading even for a second. There comes a point where you can't breath, and some parts will make you cry. I cried. It was brilliant.
When it ended, I went mad. It couldn't end like that! No! IT'S PERFECT, but.. but.. but.. I needed to know more! I pulled my hair and wriggled on the couch. It was an amazing feeling, one I haven't had in quite some time. The feeling that, after I finish a book, I want to tell someone about it immediately and rave about it endlessly. DIVERGENT gave me an adrenaline rush even when I was only sitting there enjoying it. The ending left my head spin and I found myself breathing frantically and thinking, WANT. INSURGENT. NOW. It took me a while to calm down. I went to bed at 4 am.
It feels wonderful when you have your expectations exceeded. Although I didn't set it so high when I started DIVERGENT to begin with, by the end of the book, I felt like if I had, Divergent would've exceeded it anyway. I've been thinking about whether to give DIVERGENT 4 or 5 stars. As soon as I finished it, my reactions clearly suggested 5. But then after the adrenaline has gone from my body, I thought about the long initiation process and decided that I wasn't quite impressed by it, and what with the faction things I mentioned earlier. Right now, as I'm typing this, the stars are still 4, but once I finish the last sentence, I'm going to change it to 5. Just talking about it in this review makes me feel that rush going through my body again, and a book that can do that deserves 5 shiny stars, don't you think? If this is any indication, I enjoyed DIVERGENT much more than I did The Hunger Games. Read this book if you haven't already!
Prepare yourself for INSURGENT, coming this May 1, 2012!
PS. If you want to know which faction you belong to, try this Facebook app. I got Dauntless! (Weird. I'm a Ravenclaw, so shouldn't I get Erudite? But never mind!) (less)
Okay. So here's the deal with this book. I picked it up at around 1 am today (which means last night) because I'm a pathetic insomniac who likes to read when it's time for bed and likes to sleep when it's time for breakfast. Anyhow. This book sucked me right in!. I did NOT even have to make an effort. NONE. And it wasn't until I caught the slightest signal of sunrise that I decided, extremely against my will, to put this book down and save my deteriorating sleep-deprived self. Then I woke up 6 hours later and Anna and the French Kiss sucked me right in again. Then I finished the book in one day. In three sittings (that 1 am reading in bed, then the living room sofa reading after lunch, then another sofa reading in the privacy of my own room).
What do I say? Um. It's been quite a long time since I last felt so giggly and giddy and in love with a book. Let's see. The last time I could recall was with When It Happens, and that was like in 2008. Gosh, I'm such a loser. SQUEAL.
Where do I start? My head is spinning. Now I'm in love with the idea of being in love, because if it feels this nice to be in love, then it doesn't sound like a bad idea. Or does it? Jeez! I don't even know what to say about this book!
Okay, let me try.
This is a really cute story told in the voice and point of view of Anna Oliphant, nicknamed Banana Elephant. She originally doesn't like her dad, and worse, he decides to ship her off to a boarding school in Paris! She doesn't want to leave Atlanta which means leaving her little brother, Sean, and her best friend, Bridge(tt), and her crush, (Chris)Toph(er), who's on the verge of becoming more than just a crush. She feels bitter when she unpacks her stuff in her dorm room. This school is, according to Anna, full of rich and stylish and sophisticated kids whose parents are, you know, biggies, who don't really want their kids around. On the first day at SOAP (School of America in Paris), she makes her first new friend, Meredith, whose room is next door to Anna's. After enjoying chatting and chocolat chaud with Meredith, Anna starts to feel good about this school, and on her way out of Mer's room, she bumps into this English French American Boy Masterpiece whose name is Etienne St. Clair, who is drop-dead gorgeous and makes me SQUEAL. And SWOON.
Okay, enough with the squealing.
Her first days at the school really captures the feelings of being in a foreign land. I can totally relate to her. She avoids food that requires ordering, because she doesn't speak a bit of French and she's still insecure about it. That totally happened to me once or twice in Germany. She looks lost and feels lost for some time, but life gets better. She makes great friends with Meredith, Rashmi, Josh, and most importantly St. Clair. SQUEAL. They both like each other in an instant (or so I think), but it's not that easy. St. Clair has a long-term girlfriend who's now in college, and Anna's still holding on to Toph. Moreover, Meredith's also crushing on him. Anna and St. Clair become immediate friends and hang out often and share problems about their lives (mostly fathers) and become comfortable with each other's friendship.
Isn't that the cutest thing ever? Being in love with your best friend? Sigh.
I love this book. There are just so many elements to it that I really really love. In this book, friendship is just as important as the attraction between Anna and St. Clair. Although the attraction "just happens", the author took time to work up the romance. It's like attraction developed into great friendship which is developed into being in love with your best friend. I don't know how to explain it. They're both perfect for each other. I smiled reading their funny sarcastic remarks and what they have to say to each other. It's just so cute, okay? And how St. Clair tries to conquer his fear of height for Anna. GOSH. ARGH!!! TOO BLOODY LOVELY! And Anna's later idea of "home". Oh my. I love that. Because I think it's true, it's more of a question of who you're with, rather than where you are, that gives you the feeling of being home.
I love the fact that this is not a book about the perfect-in-every-way-possible guy and i'm-an-ordinary-person girl. Or vice versa. Or whatever. I love that the characters are flawed, but yet still beautiful. St. Clair has crooked bottom teeth, and Anna has a huge gap (that's what she says) between her front teeth. And St. Clair is short. But he also speaks British accent (OH DEAR GOD). And they both have financial issues. And their fathers are asses. I love that there are more realistic elements crafted in this book than just sparkly teenage romance. I believe we all have people like the characters in our lives, so it's really believable and interesting, because while you read about them, you have your own versions of them in your head.
Hmmm, what else? Oh, the writing. Can I just say that Ms. Perkins' writing is something you can totally get lost in? In a good way, of course. Like I said earlier, it will suck you right in. It's a quick and easy and enjoyable read. Which reminds me again that great books don't necessarily have to be written in such difficult language so as to portray literary gorgeousness. This book is perfect just the way it is. Oh, and I also love that Anna takes me to visit different tourist attractions in Paris with her. Makes me want to book a ticket and go there right now.
Anna and the French Kiss really reminds me of what it's like to be in love. The heart racing thing, the confusion, the he-doesn't-like-me-okay dialogue with myself, the staring, the awkwardness, the warmth, the good feelings, the heartache. Ah. I do miss those things.
All in all, this book is just perfect in every way possible. It will certainly make you abandon your priorities and just keep going until you finish. I love, love, love it!
And for one last time, SQUEAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.
By the way, I'm not really as crazy about St. Clair as everybody else seems to be. I don't know. I know he's gorgeous and has a British accent (I KNOW!) and all, but he still fails to beat Michael Moscovitz from the Princess Diaries in the race to be my "dream guy". Still, I wouldn't complain to have him in my life. He makes me SQUEAL with delight, remember?
“Here's what's not beautiful about it: from here, you can't see the rust or the cracked paint or whatev...more(This review is also posted on B's Book Blog!)
“Here's what's not beautiful about it: from here, you can't see the rust or the cracked paint or whatever, but you can tell what the place really is. You can see how fake it all is. It's not even hard enough to be made out of plastic. It's a paper town.”
I love Paper Towns so much that I have been at a loss for words for one whole week. I thought I love Alaska, but I love this even more. This book is perfect to me.
(Right now, it's hard to form coherent responses to this book, since it's been a week and my feelings are not as intense as they were right after I finished it, so please bear with me.)
There are a lot of things I loved about this book. I loved the story, the characters, the intertextuality (Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself"), the mystery, and most of all, damn, I loved the ending. I loved it so much. I remember being hurt all over while reading this book. Like Looking for Alaska, reading it gave me some kind of warmth, soothing and intense at the same time. It was sad, but it was also more than that. I spent a few minutes trying to write down what I think this story is a mixture of, but it all came out wrong. It's one of those books you really can't summarize. The whole thing is just too sublime to be wholly reduced or contained in just a few petty sentences.
Besides the story, the characters in this book are just wonderful. I understood Q as well as I could easily place myself in Margo's shoes. The thing about loving someone from afar is that it comes with this distance, which is big and wide enough for you to imagine and fill in the blank whatever you want about them, and sometimes you can't separate reality from imagination, because, for you, they are embodied in this one figure, and you end up believing this conjured-up thing/person to be real and inseparable. It's easy to think you love someone unattainable, but the truth is it can be more about you than about them--because the thought of attaining the unattainable gives you pride or makes you feel good about yourself or whatever. Looking from a distance, you don't see the cracks or flaws; but what if you don't like what you see when you're up close? Will you feel betrayed or deceived? Will they still be what you think you want? Will Q still love the real and exposed Margo?
I could relate so much with Margo, and that made me love the book even more. This girl, who carries herself with poise on the outside and marvelously kicks ass on a daily basis, is filled to the brim with all the pent up unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life. And I just totally get it. In this manner, Margo is pretty much like Alaska in Looking for Alaska, whom I also love. To me, it's crystal clear why she needs to go away so desperately, why she just can't hold on for one more second. I respect her because she doesn't waste time talking about what she's going to do, she just goes ahead and does it. Her determination and having the courage to go through with her plans are something I look up to. What I also love about her is that despite her determination, she doesn't push it, but instead gives herself time for second thoughts, a chance to change her mind.
I think John Green played with these ideas very well in Paper Towns, with a lot of depth and sophistication. I also loved that he took the other turn for the ending, the less cliched one, which is all the more rewarding and painful for readers (or at least for me). I remember having a crying jag near the end of the book; I felt everything and it was overwhelming. It was just so beautiful, what with things so messed-up and wrong and expectations ruined—and yet, amid all that destruction, there's so much beauty in it that is so, so real and so raw. I don't know if I'm making sense, but I can tell you the ending of Paper Towns is one of the best book endings in all history of my readership. This book is very clever, too, and touching, and definitely the best thing I've read since the beginning of 2013. A five-star kind of magnificence. A new favorite I plan to reread a lot in the future.
THIS IS TOO AMAZING. Excuse me while I dry my eyes. It hurts all over.(less)
“I hope you're ready, because I'm about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you're listening to these tape...more“I hope you're ready, because I'm about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you're listening to these tapes, you're one of the reasons why.”
I read according to my mood. You can probably tell something about a person's state of mind at the moment by observing what they're currently reading. And as you can guess, I was feeling pretty damned depressed when I picked up this book. Long story short: I was (have been) feeling like I was getting nowhere with my life and I felt trapped with no way out and I'm constantly falling short of my own expectations. The idea of suicide crept into my head and I played around with it, and then came to the conclusion that I wouldn't mind it if I were to not be alive anymore the next minute. Now, don't be alarmed, I'm okay now. I wasn't even contemplating suicide; it's just that I happened to be in the right state of mind to be thinking about it (and I was only thinking).
Growing up in a Buddhist country, I was taught that suicide is an unforgivable sin. And I don’t mean to go into details about this, but I’ve had my lapses of depression and thoughts about suicide. Sometimes my brother would ask what the heck is wrong with me, and most of the time I’ll just ignore him because socialization is just too much of an effort to make when I cannot care less. Sometimes, though, I’ll tell him I don’t feel like living anymore, just so he can stop nagging me. In my family, the suggestion of suicide triggers an incredibly automatic response: the caring look is gone from my brother’s eyes and every word that he utters is tinged with accusations. Anger replaces sympathy. Mine is a society that condemns anyone who commits suicide as a cowardly, selfish, worthless piece of shit who craves attention and acts upon superficial and stupid impulses. And let’s just say that this is just one of countless other opinions that Thailand and I don’t share.
Before this review turns into a rant fest, let’s talk about Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why. It’s been sitting on my shelf for years, so when I suddenly needed it, it was already there waiting for me: the first book on the YA shelf, because I arrange my shelves alphabetically according to authors. (This is a real benefit of hoarding books– you always have the right book at hand when the mood hits.) The book is just as I expected: dark, heartbreaking and extremely suspenseful. For someone who has to get up at 7.30 to be at work at 9.30, staying up to watch a World Cup game until 1 am says a lot about dedication and loyalty. And what do you think it says about a book when that someone, instead of collapsing in bed, sacrifices some more hours to finish that book? Yup, that book must be friggin’ awesome.
And it is. Thirteen Reasons Why, while not exactly a mystery book, works the mysterious charms so well. From the first page where the main character Clay Jensen receives a shoe box full of 13 cassette tapes from a dead girl whom he’s had a crush on, we can’t help but wonder what exactly that he’s done to make him deserve such a torturous punishment. The fact that he keeps wondering the same thing and that he’s oh-so-sweet add even more to the suspense. And what are her 13 reasons? How are they so horrible as to drive a girl to kill herself? Opening this book is like opening a box of questions that can’t demand answers immediately enough, and I love that about this book.
The narration switches between Hannah Baker’s recordings and Clay. The interaction between Clay’s narrations, interspersed into Hannah’s, gives the book a sense of real-time urgency, which in my opinion is better than keeping them in big, separate chunks. Sometimes, it doesn’t work so well, as his responses tend to be too frequent, thus interrupting the flow and keeping me from fully immersing myself into her story. When that happened, I would be like: will you just calm your shit and let her finish, Clay? This would be followed by an unhealthy amount of exasperated eye-rolling. But then again, this didn’t happen often. Most of the time I would be too engrossed to notice.
Personally, I believe that feelings and pain are always real, and the magnitude of suffering may vary from person to person. Have you ever had someone tell you the pain you feel isn’t a real pain because what causes that pain doesn’t “seem” like a legit pain causer? I’ve had that shoved in my face one too many times. They would sometimes say they fail to sympathize with me because my problems are so small that it’s rather impossible to be suffering as greatly as I am; I must be overreacting and need to quit being such a drama queen already. How about people feel differently about different things? And how about some people feel more intensely than others? Sure, it might just be a spur-of-the-moment-thing, but that doesn’t make them overly dramatic and their feelings any less real. I never doubt the “realness” of the pain suffered before a person chooses to commit suicide. It’s unfair to judge unless you’re in their shoes, but the thing is you can never pretend to be in anyone’s shoes and understand them, because no two pairs of shoes have been through the exact same shit and taken the exact same roads leading up to that spot where suicide is decided. I’m in no way glorifying it; I’m just trying to point out that since we can never know to what extent a person must be suffering, it’s not our business to judge the legitimacy of their motives and call them cowardly or selfish or stupid or whatever. (Family and friends, please take notes.)
That said, I wish Hannah would’ve reached out to her parents. It’s like they’re not even a part of her life. All her decisions are made without taking her parents into consideration. Because they’re not a part of her problems, I think it’s a bit unfair for her to actually be bothered to meticulously make maps (and secretly drop the maps into lockers weeks before she kills herself—such a planner, huh?), tapes and a second set of tapes for those who make her life miserable, and leave not a single word for her clueless parents. While these people get explanations they might not even care to know about, the parents might be asking themselves “why” for the rest of their lives and getting no answer. Ouch.
For those who don’t like books that sound preachy, be warned that there are didactic messages like:
"You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything."
"No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same."
I’m not recommending this book for its lessons. (I think books shouldn’t focus primarily on lessons. Yawn.) Rather, read it for the story. Explore how pretty amazingly one event leads to another to another like a “snowball effect.” This book is such a page-turner. It’s safe to say that I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in a long, long time.
I'm still mind blown by this book. Very entertaining. Nice voice with a good sense of humor. Highly educational. Surprising stuff. Intriguing memory t...moreI'm still mind blown by this book. Very entertaining. Nice voice with a good sense of humor. Highly educational. Surprising stuff. Intriguing memory techniques that actually work. Yep, I tried them. Awesome, awesome, awesome.
I might come back to give this amazing book a proper review when I can think of things to say.
I'll admit that it's quite difficult for me to find the right words to say about David Levithan's The Lover's Dictionary, but I'll try.
This book is a dictionary that the narrator writes about his current relationship. I'm still reluctant to call this book a novel, because to me it didn't really feel like one. It's very short and took me only about an hour or two to finish. Its format is like a dictionary with 185 headwords running from A to Z and definitions. The most interesting thing here is that these definitions are not straight forward definitions you see in English dictionaries, but short entries telling short stories that the narrator associate with the words. It reads like a personal diary.
Here's my favorite one:
dumbfounded, adj. And still, for all the jealousy, all the doubt, sometimes I will be struck with a kind of awe that we’re together. That someone like me could find someone like you - it renders me wordless. Because surely words would conspire against such luck, would protest the unlikelihood of such a turn of events. I didn't tell any of my friends about our first date. I waited until after the second, because I wanted to make sure it was real. I wouldn't believe it had happened until it had happened again. Then, later on, I would be overwhelmed by the evidence, by all the lines connecting you to me, and us to love.
It's the kind of book that can make you feel all kinds of emotions. I think it's pretty amazing how David Levithan uses so few words but the feelings and images come out so distinct. Loved that! His writing is simply beautiful. Wait, let me try again, HIS WRITING IS MAGNIFICENT. The emotions and problems and events in this story feel so real and are described like they really are. It can go from happy-in-love to heartbreaking to bitter to frustrated and then to happy-in-love again. I loved that something as intangible as feelings can be described so accurately and beautifully. The storytelling isn't linear and sometimes two words 20 entries apart tell the same story but with additional information. So charming!
Another one of my favorite:
Fuck You for cheating on me. Fuck you for reducing it to the word cheating. As if this were a card game, and you sneaked a look at my hand. Who came up with the term cheating, anyway? A cheater, I imagine. Someone who thought liar was too harsh. Someone who thought devastator was too emotional. The same person who thought, oops, he’d gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Fuck you. This isn’t about slipping yourself an extra twenty dollars of Monopoly money. These are our lives. You went and broke our lives. You are so much worse than a cheater. You killed something. And you killed it when its back was turned.
Wow. Isn't that just awesome?
Never before have I read any book like this one. I wish the book was longer. I don't feel this way often. I felt like I couldn't get enough. It is romantic, clever, and funny, just like what Sunday Times says on the cover. This book is a unique work of art. Definitely a favorite. I'm sure I'm going to pick this book up again to reread.
punctuate, v. The key to a successful relationship isn't just in the words, it's in the choice of punctuation. When you're in love with someone, a well-placed question mark can be the difference between bliss and disaster, and a deeply respected period or a cleverly inserted ellipsis can prevent all kinds of exclamations.
I can't believe I only got to read this awesomeness almost 5 years after its publication. Yes, it is AWESOME. One of the best for me this year!
This mind-blowing book is about a boy named Hugo Cabret. Parentless, he lived with his uncle inside a train station in France for some time, helping him with his job by fixing the clocks in the station. One day his uncle disappeared, but Hugo keeps doing his job anyway.
In his room, Hugo has a project going on. Hugo's father, while still alive, worked in a museum, and found a broken automaton there, apparently unwanted. He began fixing it, and Hugo was also excited. But unfortunately, one day the fire broke out in the museum and almost everything was destroyed. Hugo lost his father. Somehow the automaton survived the fire. Hugo took it home and began fixing it following his father's drawings and notes in one of his many notebooks given to Hugo.
Our little Hugo is also a thief. He steals food because he's starving. He steals toys from the toy shop because he needs parts for the automaton. One day he's caught, and that's how he met Papa George, the owner of the shop, and Isabelle, his goddaughter, whom Hugo befriends. Together with some help from Isabelle, Hugo digs deep into the past of Papa George, as revealed by the automaton, and help the man get his life back.
What do I love about this book? Hmmm.. let's see. The story. Any stories with parent-less protagonists are usually good for me. I cried a little bit when Hugo thinks about his dad (don't I always?). I love how everything is perfectly tied together. When something is mentioned, it isn't just mentioned just for the sake of being mentioned, it actually has a meaning and it also plays a part in revealing the past! For example, Papa George doesn't like the sound of heels clicking, and doesn't allow Isabelle to go see any movies, because (view spoiler)[he used to make films in the past and the life he once had is haunting him (hide spoiler)]. I also love how strong the characters come out to be. The book is very cleverly written indeed!
However, the illustration is even better than the writing. It's amazing how one picture can say so much, and how much it can make you feel its power just by you looking at it. The artwork is gorgeously drawn. You can see every line and minor detail that together make perfection. So very beautiful. Breathtaking. At first I wasn't sure, but after I've finished it, I felt like I had to own a copy. I know I'll have to look at those illustrations again and again.
In short: big fat five stars. You can't get enough. Must-read. It's just so incredibly awesome.
Review also appears here.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I didn't know what to expect when I started it, for which I'm glad. For that reason, the book continued to be mysterious and interesting for me all the way until the big secret is revealed and the story unfolds. Thrilling, it really was!
Wonderstruck is two stories in one. They're set fifty years apart. One about a girl, one about a boy. Unlike The Invention of Hugo Cabret, whose illustrations and text support each other and tell one single story about Hugo, Wonderstruck's illustrations tell the story of Rose's, while the words the story of Ben's, separately at first, until they come together wonderfully at one point in the book.
These two stories are by all means exceptional. I really like them. More details and things in the past are revealed as the stories go on. And again, like with Hugo, those things can take your breath away. I can't help but notice that Selznick really has a thing for creating sad, parent-less, looking-for-something children as main characters. Not that we can really complain about it, can we? He really knows how to deal with them and make the stories work!
If there's one thing I enjoy more than the writing, it's the illustrations. Guys, THEY ARE GORGEOUS. No kidding. He's successfully won the "my favorite illustrator" place in my heart with Hugo, and now he's reminding me that he's still got it. BRAVO! Every line enriches the feeling the pictures give. I can't quite put my fingers on it. The sadness in Rose's eyes show. The emptiness she feels. The anger in her father's face. The hope in Ben's eyes. The fierceness in the wolves. Wonderful. Delightful. Magnificent. AMAZING.
However, despite all the positive comments, I have to be honest with you and say that I didn't love it as much as The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I mean, I like that the stories switch back and forth and always left me breathless, eager for more. The illustrations are breathtaking, as always, with painstaking details. But I don't really feel the characters most of the time, and they don't stay with me. And I also feel like there are some unnecessary elements in the story that could have been left out without causing any damage. I don't love it, I just really like it. Therefore 4 stars. Or maybe 4.5. Or 4.75. But not 5, sorry.
Maybe next time. It might even end up on my favorite shelf. But not now.
Wow. I just finished this about 7 minutes ago and that is around 1.45 am in the morning. This book is, as the cover advertises, "addictive". I never thought I would say that. Before this I have read Norwegian Wood by Marakami, and hated it. It made me so angry that I had to sit and scream, because I found it that bad. I remember thinking that I would never ever lay my hands on any Murakami books again, having read Norwegian Wood as my first. However, I didn't stick to that. A really good friend of mine who's a huge Murakami fan often tries to make me get over my prejudice by lending me this book. Now what I've got to do is wait till morning to call him and congratulate him on his successful attempt at that.
The book is interesting since the very first sentence. No lie. It's just as seriously addictive as it is long. Despite the length, I believe I would've finished it in 2 or 3 days if it weren't for the news that Westlife would be splitting up in 2012 that made me literally depressed for a few days and unable to do anything other than watching Westlife videos and listening to their songs and crying.
I'd be lying if I said I understood this book. I don't, for the most parts. I think the book is weird. But in a good way. I'm not even going to attempt to summarize it, because I don't think I can. It just isn't that simple. All I can say is that it's brilliant, and thought-provoking. And most of all, unlike anything I've read before. This is the first magical realism book I've read.
Although I've finished reading the book, I don't think I'm done with it yet. There are still things that I don't thoroughly understand. I mean, I do understand them in my own interpretations, of course. But I do not know if I got it right, so I'm gonna be off reading discussions about this book now.
Actually I'm kind of speechless right now. I don't know where to begin. Errr...
This is a story of a young man, Eiji Miyake, who comes to Tokyo to find...moreActually I'm kind of speechless right now. I don't know where to begin. Errr...
This is a story of a young man, Eiji Miyake, who comes to Tokyo to find his father. That's the 'meaning of his life'. Being an orphan since early childhood, he wants more than anything to meet the father he has never met, and nothing to do with the mother who abandoned him and his twin sister. And so there he is in Tokyo, encountering a lot of exciting/frightening situations I never could imagine.
This is my first David Mitchell book, and it's definitely not last. I like his style of writing. It kind of steers you exactly in the direction of feelings it wants you to feel. I like Miyake's crazy dreams. I like the characters. I like how Miyake nicknames people he meets by their appearance (it's funny). And I also like how he's just a normal guy but somehow is magnetic to troubles. It's like troubles never leave him and his quest alone. He always gets pulled in this direction and that.
However, I think the book is longer than it needs to be. I don't understand the purpose of putting the Goatwriter story in it, and also the journal entries of his great uncle. I don't think it has anything to do with the plot. And (view spoiler)[the meeting with his father is a little disappointing to me. But I'm glad he gets to meet him, his grandfather and mother too. (hide spoiler)]
I'm not sure if I liked the ending. And there are still some questions that are left unanswered. After I read about 40 pages, I felt like I was reading Murakami. Mitchell's writing style and storyline reminded me of Murakami for some reasons. As I read on till the last chapter I got to know where the name "number9dream" comes from, it's John Lennon's. Then I thought about how Murakami named his novel after a Beatles song, Norwegian Wood. I don't know why I put that in the review, but never mind. This book is awesome. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies, an' tho' a cloud's shape nor hue nor size don't stay the same, it's still a cloud an' so is a soul. Who can say where the cloud's blowed from or who the soul'll be 'morrow? ... only the atlas o' clouds. On October 11, 2011 a certain wide-eyed girl added this book to her Goodreads shelf. Quite an impressionable reader that she was, she felt giddy with the idea of one day taking on something so big and sophisticated, yet at the same time, she couldn't help but feel intimidated by that very same idea. What if she wouldn't like it? She couldn't bear the idea of ending up not liking a book she'd been wanting to read for so long; the desire to love it was too much too handle. What if that desire wouldn't be fulfilled? How would she feel about all the time she spent believing she would love the book, but ended up not liking it the slightest bit? Now over a year has elapsed, her fear's died down quite considerably, and that girl's become me. And I was ready to take it on.
When I picked up David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, I did so due to the want to see the movie. Admittedly, had the trailer not been released, I would've had no incentive to pick up the book at all. Having read number9dream, I grew to adore Mitchell's brilliant writing skill and its complexity, and learned to be fond of his peculiar style. But since one Mitchell a year is undeniably more than enough, I postponed Cloud Atlas, waiting for the time near the movie release date enough to start what would be a 15-day's journey of adventures of some sort, of explorations and sheer awesomeness.
Of course, I didn't know what to expect from Cloud Atlas, and I didn't really give much thought about what it would be like. All I knew was, since it's his highest-rated book, I was ready to be blown away. And then I dove in. I trusted that Mitchell had something wonderful in store for me, and I was hoping that it would be a nice surprise and that I would like it a lot.
Now, before I go any further, I think I should point out that this novel's first distinctive element is its form of narration. And here I quote Mitchell's Robert Frobisher (whose quote you won't come across until about 87% of the story), so that you have an idea of what the story-telling is like:
a "sextet for overlapping soloists": piano, clarinet, 'cello, flute, oboe, and violin, each in its own language of key, scale, and color. In the first set, each solo is interrupted by its successor: in the second, each interruption is recontinued, in order. Revolutionary or gimmicky? Shan't know until it's finished, and by then it'll be too late.
This book is, in Mitchell's own words, a "sextet" of six overlapping stories--each one is connected to another in certain ways, spanning across continents and centuries of time. Thus the book runs so: #1-#2-#3-#4-#5-#6 in its uninterrupted entirety-#5-#4-#3-#2-#1. #1 until #5 are interrupted mid-way and resumed after the 6th story (I love this). Strange? Yes! But it's also delightful. And I'd go with revolutionary instead of gimmicky. I learned about this before I started the book, which I'm not sure if I was supposed to, and it kept me eagerly anticipating and actively wondering how all this would play out. I'm not sure if it will enrich your reading if you know about this narrative form beforehand, but it's definitely not doing any harm, if you ask me, since it isn't a spoiler.
Now that the B-format paperback with such a pretty cover felt snug in my palms as though it belonged there, the journey began. However, much to my dismay, it took off onto a bumpy road—or you could say a stormy sea—and wasn't a very comfortable ride. The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewingbored me in indescribably tedious ways. This part is written by Adam Ewing (aged 33, becomes 34 later), a lawyer of San Francisco, as a journal of a voyage on the "Prophetess" from Sydney to California. It's probably dated in 1849 or 1850. This part touches on racism, slaves, abolitionism, and friendship. What does it mean to be a friend? Is it correct when Dr Henry Goose—Ewing's uncut diamond of the first water—says, "Friendship between races, Ewing, can never surpass the affection between a loyal gundog & its master" or "The weak are meat, the strong do eat"? The writing in this part was difficult to get into. While the narration is interesting in that it's written in diary form with contractions and whatnots, it failed to interest me. Definitely not a page turner. It just made me sleepy. I'll admit it here, Adam Ewing is the part I liked least.
I encountered the book's first interruption when Ewing's journal is suddenly cut mid-sentence and gives way to Letters from Zedelghem. The numerous letters in this part are sent by Robert Frobisher (aged 24, if I interpret it correctly) to his old friend Rufus Sixsmith in 1931. Frobisher is a young English musician who runs away from home to work as an amanuensis for a great composer named Vyvyan Ayrs, who lives in Bruges, Belgium. While helping VA, Frobisher comes across temptations and frustrations in various forms, taking all the emotional whirlwind out on the letters he sends, making them very intimate and personal. He uses people; he falls in love; he talks about war and power; Zedelghem is the part I liked most of all the six stories. Frobisher is also the composer of the Cloud Atlas Sextet, which he says "holds [his] life, is [his] life." And when it's done, he sees himself as a "spent firework; but at least [he's] been a firework." I loved Frobisher's striking narrative voice, his wits and his honesty. He isn't the most likeable character if you think about it, yet he's got so much charm it would be crazy not to like him. When the story takes an unexpected dark turn, my heart ached terribly for him. It crushed me that the firework had to burn out so quickly and tragically. The last letter put me on the verge of tears. I haven't read something nearly as beautiful as that in a long while.
Next, Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery is mystery/thriller set in 1975. If you look closely, you'll realize that it's intended to be a novel since its first page from the chapter number, which doesn't appear in the previous two stories. Like the repeated opening lines "Sixsmith" in Zedelghem, the chapter number in Luisa Rey serves as an element that tells you in which form the story is written—a novel, a mystery/thriller novel to be exact. Surprisingly, Rufus Sixsmith from Zedelghem appears as one of the main character in this novel. I won't say much about the plot of Luisa Rey because saying anything about it would be spoiling it for you. Let's just say that I really enjoyed this part. It revolves around power, money, truth, lies. Different as it may be from the previous two, it's easier to follow and understand, but still mediocre in my opinion.
The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish is the fifth part in this sextet of stories, which is set in Britain in our present day. Timothy Cavandish is a 65-year-old publisher running away from the cruelties the world lets loose on him, yet ends up in another one, and another one, and another one. The story is narrated in the first person POV with lots of humor and sarcasm that can make you laugh, and at the same time you feel bad for Timothy's plights. But no, not really, most of the time you can't help but find them hilarious. It makes you think about how we treat elderly these days. I really enjoyed this funny and colorful story, and I don't think there's anything more to be said. This is the lightest of all the six stories, which lets you relax a little before bringing you to the next part, which is going to be ten notches heavier
Set in the dystopian future in Nea So Copros (futuristic Seoul, Korea?), An Orison of Sonmi~451is a long interview between an archivist and Sonmi~451, a genetically engineered fabricant. Sonmi~451 is an ex-worker of a diner called Papa Song, among other fabricants working other undesirable, unhealthy, dangerous jobs for "pureblood" human beings. The fabricants of the Nea So Copros are subjected to maltreatment as if they are perfectly dispensable, expendable slaves, but of course they don't know that; in fact, they think their jobs are the best thing in the world. What's so special about this particular Sonmi is that she has anomalously glitched, broken free from the mind-control of Nea So Copros, and developed a "human" mind of her own full of personal opinions. She isn't brainwashed anymore; she sees the truth as it is. She devours philosophy, history, books, because "we are only what we know, and [she] wished to be much more than [she] was, sorely." In a way, this story reminds me of George Orwell's famous 1984. What Winston Smith and Sonmi~451 share is their struggle against the power that be, their trust in the wrongest person, and their unforeseen downfall. Sonmi~451, however, being smarter than us sees it coming all along, and yet, being braver than Smith, willingly puts herself in that position just so she can try to make a difference, try to get the truth out there, even if the only person listening is the archivist. Dealing with heavy topics such as politics, utilitarianism, and ethics, this story is fascinating in its own right.
Now we've reached the last, central story: Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After. Notice all these apostrophes? The story's full of them; annoying at first, but I later found them to be a part of the story's charms. Zachry tells his story in an orison, which tells his recounting of the story of when he is 16 and meets Old Georgie for the first time, and everything after, including his meeting with a Prescient human named Meronym which would change things. Zachry lives in a post-apocalyptic future world where civilization has collapsed; he and his people live in the valley of Big I, Ha-Why. They don't supposedly speak the same language as the people of the old world anymore, thus this weird use of language in the narration. Tell-it-true, the voice of the narrator is—in his own words, a duck fart in a hurrycane—fun and honest, yay. I don't remember being bored, nay. I admit it's a little hard to decipher, but I went through it really fast. It even felt almost poetic to me, and I enjoyed Sloosha's Crossin' tremendously. And David Mitchell? You're unbelievably incredible.
Now that this review is getting unbearably long, I'll wrap it up soon. I could talk about this book forever if anyone's willing to listen. I adore it that much. I didn't include the connections between the stories above because it will be much more fun for you to try to see them yourselves. I myself looked hard for the connections and hints, and I succeeded in gathering most of them (I think), and it just satisfies the perfectionist in me. How these stories are bound together is actually amazing, and I don't know how Mitchell did it but he did it so well. Birthmarks, echoes of each other's exact words, distant memories, transformations of ideas and forms and statuses. I love it.
Above all else, I love the complexity of the book. And I love that I didn't always love it, but I ended up loving it all the same. It's like I was put to test in some ways, and passed it. Reading it felt so much like a challenge to me, and 15 days spent doing so weren't always happy days. I think very highly of this book, but it should be mentioned that it isn't always enjoyable. I mean it's a great book, but it isn't for everybody (as I said, hard to read)—if you're looking for pure entertainment ("escape literature"), I'm afraid this book won't satisfy you much in that department. Like most "interpretative literature," this book has a tendency to be boring. In all honesty, it's tedious at some points. There are parts that I just wished they'd be over soon, parts that dragged on and on, parts that bored me to sleep *coughadamewingcough*.
But after all is said and done, those parts slipped into the past, they weren't important enough to stay. But most parts still linger in my mind, forever imprinted here. For what I'm worth, I'd say this is one of the best works of fiction I've ever read in my life. I'm thankful for the movie that finally put the end to my procrastination, because as I went on this journey, I lived six different lives at six different points in time, read six different stories in different genres, most of which I couldn't identify. It's an eye opener in a way. I savored the brilliant writing, played with the ideas around in my head, laughed and cried with the characters, and highlighted the amazing quotes (got 94 passages). I finished the journey feeling somehow richer with maturity and life experience. This book is, after all, a memorable reading experience that's sure to be lived again. (less)
Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them f...moreMemories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.
There are only so many things you can say about this book without giving spoilers, that’s the problem. So I don’t intend to say much about the plot. I’ll leave it so that you, like me, can dive into the world of Kathy H. and be receptive to the information exposed to you and feel it fresh. Having the plot gradually unraveled before your own eyes was a wonderful experience.
I love that everything in this book conspires to make it so heart-breaking. Everything works. I especially appreciate the narrative style. I’ve seen other reviewers say that it’s off-putting in that it’s so disorganized and hard to keep up, and in a way, they’re right. It is disorganized, but to me it’s in no way off-putting or hard to keep up. And I think there’s a beautiful organization in such a disorganized narrative; I think it has a purpose, and it works extremely well. Kathy would link one thing to another because something in one story reminds her of something in the other. And she always announces beforehand what she’s going to do next, would hint at first what the story she’s about to tell has to do with anything, and what she hopes to make clear. So I actually felt anything but lost. The narration reminds me of the stream of consciousness technique. Its effect that I was always kept on the edge of my seat. Because with every new paragraph comes a new revelation, and there are always more revelations to come. And because it’s not linear story-telling, when the jumbled pieces come together, it clicks and it makes sense and it’s powerful and wonderful. You can see how this event has an impact on the other ones like a domino effect, and how one event that comes later sheds light on many events that come before. You see the characters drift apart and then come together and then drift apart again. I truly think the narrative style is brilliant. There’s always more to find out.
Our narrator’s name is Kathy H. She’s 31. At all times I could feel this nostalgic tone consistently throughout her narrative, and it really breaks my heart. She’s telling the story in the light of everything that has happened, and her stories are tinged with ripe wisdom of someone who’s seen it all. We’re reading her story and understanding it in the way that she makes sense of it now, so there are layers of complexity upon each event. Memories are powerful. Imagine if she loses one memory, the whole piece would really lose its impact. If asked whether I like Kathy, I would say absolutely, I do. Her characterization is one of the brilliant things about this book. She’s wise. She’s an extremely loyal friend. She’s selfless. And she’s complex. She’s so good at reading people, reading situations, but I can’t really read her, and I love that. Not just Kathy, but also Ruth and Tommy; they’re so well fleshed-out that I felt convinced they’re real. They all have a good side, and they have a side that we don’t completely understand, but it’s a part of who they are, and it’s what makes them human. How can anyone say otherwise, having read what I have?
We’re not given so many glimpses of the outside world. Most of the story is set in Hailsham, and the Cottages, and back and forth between hospitals. And I think that illustrates one of the points that this book raises: the moral justification of scientific progress. I won’t say what it is, though I guess some of you already know, but this book deals with this issue that is so 21st century that we all must inevitably have heard of it. I remember this issue was brought up to discussion in one of my classes, but I don’t remember which class or when that was. I remember, though, that we expressed such optimistic, eager, and—now I know—ignorant opinions. It would be wonderful for humanity, we’d say, now that cancer and the likes can go away. Science is god-like, we’d say. But now if I were to take side, I wouldn’t know where to stand. And the book is right in saying that people don’t want to know what’s happening behind the curtain, because it isn’t pretty. And no, it isn’t. These people are pretty much shut away from the outside world, confined in a world of their own where they can be comfortable with who, or what, they are. This book’s got me looking at the world and its scientific advancement in a new way.
Never Let Me Go is so mesmerizing. I waited so long to read it because I was too intimidated to. But really, there’s nothing intimidating about this book, let me tell you. Kathy tells me her story like I’m sitting beside her on bench, enjoying a chilly day together, reminiscing. And she’s talking like she’s speaking to me, face to face, making sure I keep up with everything she says, always giving cues as to where we’re heading. And though the book didn’t make me cry, it did trap me within its sphere for the whole duration I was reading it, and I could feel the nostalgic sadness in the air all the time. I feel for Kathy and her people and all they’ve been through. A story about memories, friendship, love, this is such an amazing, heart-warming book.
------------------------ This review is also posted on my blog. (less)
Predictably Irrational first came to my knowledge about three years ago. It was featured in the New Release section of a magazine I was reading at the time (I don't remember which). And although it's been a long time since then, the name of this book's been kept particularly well in my head, for some reasons I can't explain.
I don't usually read non-fiction books, except for the ones on philosophy, psychology, and mythology (my areas of interests). And though I hadn't really had that high an expectation on this book, it ended up blowing me away. Seriously.
I remember that the Introduction part of this book is somewhat long. About 23 pages, I suppose. I was totally absorbed in it since Ariely's first sentence. His writing flows so smoothly and flawlessly, making the reading as enjoyable as can be. There was never a moment when I pause and think the writing sucks, which happens all too often with books I've read lately. His life story is also interesting. I remember feeling some respect for him when I read about his accident and the burns and his being hospitalized. Although this really had nothing to do with the book, it kind of made me feel like this man must be a tough and strong and nice and awesome person.
I love how this book is full of interesting questions, and how every one of them is answered. I love how Ariely has done a lot of researches and they are mentioned in this book to illustrate and prove certain ideas. And these ideas are nothing too distant from us people. They concern our decision-making and behaviors that are predictably irrational. Like how "FREE!" can have a huge effect on us and blind us from really seeing the big picture. The things about money and social behaviors in this book are extremely interesting. I also have to admit that in some cases I am one of those people, though in some, I am not. I like to think that I've learned some things about myself and people around me (such as my mom) from this book. And I really do feel like I'm somewhat wiser with decision-making now, or maybe that's just my wishful thinking.
I do love this book. And I also know that this review sucks. But I'm sorry, I'm really not good at reviewing non-fictions. But let me tell you, this book is very thought-provoking and it can make you look up and think about what you just read and go oh my gosh! or whoa! or really? who'd have known! or even THAT'S SO ME!. It's highly entertaining as well. I didn't ever get bored by this book. Therefore, yes, 5 stars!