**spoiler alert** And here we have yet another one of my readings for school, also from my Contemporary Fiction class. Unlike Burger's Daughter though**spoiler alert** And here we have yet another one of my readings for school, also from my Contemporary Fiction class. Unlike Burger's Daughter though, this book was a re-read for me. I found this book in a box my grandmother had sent home with me one time to give to my mother. My mom never ended up touching the box, but I read every single one in there, and The Poisonwood Bible was one of them. I read it when I was 15, and still a fairly unexperienced reader, in regards to picking apart themes and literary devices, so while I did enjoy the book, a lot of it went over my head. Also, I had zero knowledge of British imperialism and the colonization that went down in Africa way back when, so while I learnt A LOT reading this book, there was a lot of things I didn't understand because of my lack of knowledge prior to reading.
All of this is to say that I enjoyed my second reading of this book A LOT more than my first go-around. Because I already knew most of the events that happened in the novel, I could concentrate on the deeper meanings. I also have a lot more knowledge in regards to African history and imperialism.
The story is told through five perspectives, or all the women in the Price family: we have Leah, who wants nothing more than her father's respect and believes fiercely in the word of the lord; Adah, Leah's twin sister with cerebral palsy which has left half her body paralyzed. She's bitter and much more cynical and definitely doesn't believe in religion; Rachel, the vain oldest sister who just wants to be home and like other girls; Ruth May, the youngest, head-strong, five year old sister; And finally, Orleanna, their mother, whose chapters are retrospective accounts of things that have already happened and who is trying to find redemption.
Each perspective was unique and distinct. Never at any time was I confused whose chapter I was reading. Every perspective brings a different angle, or slant to what was going on around this family. The same events were presented from different sisters, but would bring different insight. Kingsolver used the multiple perspective very effectively, and it also helped that it was very easy to read without actually dumbing anything down.
The prose was beautiful and there are a lot of really nice passages throughout the entire novel. I didn't copy any down, but I wish I had, because Kingsolver writes very ornately without being flowery.
What really sold me on this novel though was that it made me FEEL. I was angry at that asshole Nathan Price for constantly putting his family in danger because he was too close-minded to see that the people of Kilanga didn't want to be changed, that they couldn't be changed. I bawled my eyes out when Ruth May died, at the unfairness of it. I was angry at the unfairness of the situation in Africa, at how North America abetted in it. I just noticed that I can't think of anything that made me particularly happy about this book. This is not a happy book, though it does have glimmers of hope (especially at the end, in a way.)
The only criticism I would have about this book is that it does tread a little bit on the preachy side, especially in the latter half of the novel with Leah's chapters. I didn't mind this too much though.
Final Verdict: I wish I had more to say about this book, but I really don't. It's a beautiful book that does a lot of things, and does a lot of these things right. It's beautifully written and is extremely heart-felt, as it made me very empathetic and invested in the characters. I'm really glad I had a chance to re-read it, as I enjoyed it this time around a lot more than the first (and I already liked it the first time I read it.) ...more
As this is the first book in the series, I've avoided spoilers, so read on! If you're paranoid, skip to 'Final Verdict'. :)
Guys. I love this book. This is seriously one of my favoritest books of all time. I mean, yes, I enjoyed it quite a bit in high school (though back then I found it a little slow at the beginning -- didn't have that problem this time; maybe it's because I was expecting it this time?) but this time I LOVED it to pieces. It's just such a riveting adventure, and I love the creativity behind Pullman's world. I don't know if the whole notion of the daemons has ever been used in another popular fantasy work, but I've yet to see it, and the way that Pullman uses it to expound on all kinds of themes, such as religion and growing up... I don't know how I didn't catch on to most of it in high school. Also, they're just friggin' COOL. I want a daemon.
That's what's awesome about this series; it's something that adults can get a lot of food for thought out of (I can't even begin to describe how many academic papers there are this trilogy) but it's got so much fun and imaginativeness for the kids as well. At the book store at work, this series is in almost every age group: adult, middle grade AND teen. I think that's a testament to how wide of an audience this book can, and has, reached out to.
The cast of characters is fantastic. Lyra Belacqua is easily one of my favorite literary heroines of all time. She's absolutely wild and crazy (though of course that changes over the course of the series) but still manages to be likable. Probably because of her resourcefulness, even when that resorts to lying, which sometimes gets her into a spot of trouble. Despite her initial rabidness though, she's actually an extremely caring individual. Also, can I say that I love that there are so many important adult characters who help Lyra A LOT throughout the course of the series, even when she's off on her own? Young adult fiction falls into the trap of eliminating adult characters a lot, but Pullman embraces them. I loved Lee Scoresbee and Serafina Pekala, and almost all of the adults in Lyra's life who guide her.
I also need to make a special mention of the polar bears. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Iorek Byrnison. He is easily the coolest character in this series and I love the role he plays in Lyra's life. And polar bears in armor? I don't know WHY I'm so enamoured with that notion, but they're just so BADASS. So, um, yes, I especially loved Iorek.
Final Verdict: This is a book that I'll treasure forever and ever. Pullman has created an amazingly rich and imaginative world. It has a great cast of characters, and despite being a yound adult book (though this book really appeals to all ages) there are plenty of adult characters who are almost equally important to the kids. In essence, it's got something for *everyone*, and I think that's why it's so popular and has gone done as a modern children's classic. This is a book that I press on everyone, and if I were to ever have kids one day, I'd be super stoked to read this to them and get them hooked too....more
Guys, I had no idea what to expect jumping into this book. I've seen Stephenson's titles at the book store I work at, but they've never really caught my eye. I had no idea how beloved this book is to many, and that it was one of the pioneers of cyber-punk fiction.
I almost didn't finish this book. I almost put it down and gave up on after only the first 30 pages, because frankly, I have so many other books that I don't want to waste time with something that can't pull me in. But, because this is a challenge book, I decided to read up until page 50, and if I still hated it that much, I would quit. I'm not sure what exactly changed my mind, but I did end up finishing this. I'm still not very enamored with it though. However, I can see where the appeal is, and why this might have been a big when it first came out in 1992.
That first thing that really turned me off when I cracked this open was the narration. It's third-person in the present tense, and it completely failed to engage me. I got used to it as I read on, but I never warmed up to it either. This style also made all the characters feel flat (for me.) Upon finishing the book, I tried to describe the characters and their personalities, and I found that I couldn't. What do I know about Hiro besides that he's a person of color, is good with a sword and is a hacker? Not much. Y.T. had a little more personality, but it wasn't anything I particularly liked. She was a bit of a shit actually, always having to swear and be rude to people. I guess this was supposed to make her "spunky", but she was always just kind of bitchy, so I never warmed up to her either. The villain, Raven, didn't have much meat to his character either; his motives for wanting to screw everyone over was pretty bland (he's from a native tribe and his people got nuked -- so maybe bland is the wrong word, but it was so straightforward and didn't have anything else to it, making him come off as rather flat, like the rest of the cast.)
The idea of the Metaverse is one that I'm obviously very familiar with, being a product of my time. I've been going on the internet since I was ten and the ideas of virtual reality have been around since I was a kid (ie. The Matrix). So this wasn't anything new and innovative for me. I'm pretty sure it was at the time it came out though, so I can see why people would get excited over a concept like this being in a book. I also think this was one of the first cyber-punk novels, or one of the first big ones anyway, which would also lend to its popularity. There's a lot of computer jargon that's thrown around in here that's all very run-of-the-mill for me, and a lot of people my age, but in 1992, I'm sure only people who lived and breathed computers had a really firm grasp on it. Maybe I'm just making assumptions? I'm not sure. My point is, I'm sure this was all very new and different when it was released, so I can see why people would like this book while I wasn't brought to my knees by the idea of the Metaverse. I was somewhat surprised by how small of a role it played in the grand scheme of things though. I mean, its existence was fairly prominent, but it was never *especially* important.
One of the aspects of the novel that kept me reading were all the parallels made to computers and technology with language, and how that was brought back all the way to Sumerian times. Now, I wasn't completely bought on all the ideas (that language is like a computer program, and as such can work like a virus), but it was interesting enough; these were the parts of the novel that I was engaged with the most. I think part of this is because I took an Ancient Civilization course during my second year of uni, so I was already familiar with a lot of what Hiro was discovering in the Metaverse library. History has always fascinated me, so revisiting that stuff was kinda fun.
While I wasn't very invested in the overall story, I still found myself mildly curious as to how everything was going to go down. However, when I got to near the end of the novel, it was about 3 in the morning, so I actually don't remember much of how it ends. Honestly though, I'm not curious enough to go and re-read the ending.
Final Verdict: Unfortunately, this novel was a bit of a miss with me. The narration almost turned me right off from this novel, and it made the characters come off as really flat. I seriously can't remember any defining characteristics about any of them, save for surface details (Hiro being of a multi-cultural heritage and a hacker, for example.) Because of this, I never really warmed up to any of them, or cared about them. The plot itself was mildly intriguing, and it clipped along at an okay pace so that I wasn't completely bored to tears, but when I got to the end, I still didn't care all that much. I didn't buy into the parallels that Stephenson made between language and computers, but for me, they were the most interesting aspects of the novel, and was a fun throwback to learning about Sumerian times (because I'm a bit of a nerd and I'm into that kind of thing.) Will I be reading other books by Stephenson? No, probably not. However, I can see why this is a classic of the cyber-punk sub-genre. This stuff must have been quite different and exciting when it first came out in 1992. Being a child of the 90s though has disenchanted me of the whole virtual-reality schtick, so the Metaverse wasn't anything groundbreaking for me. Overall, a disappointing reading experience, but oh well. You're not going to love every book you read. :) ...more
***WARNING: This is a review of a sequel, so spoilers for the first book may crop up here. Read with caution. :)***
While I didn't like this book quite as much as the first, it's still a very awesome sequel and I'm very glad I picked it up.
The first thing I noticed is how differently this book reads from its predecessor. TNS had a little more tension going on because Stanton and Emily were being pursued through the whole thing, so they were always on the run. In this installment, there's no immediate danger (well, not right away anyway), so it feels a little more leisurely. I have to say that I really liked the fast paced feeling in the first novel, but it wasn't detrimental to this book that it wasn't; it's just felt different. Reading about Emily's obstacles as she tries to fit into high society was really entertaining though.
Also worth noting; if you really loved Stanton in the first one, don't be too upset but his absence in this sequel. He is around of course, but not all the time like he was in the first. I loved seeing him and Emily together in this one. They still bicker a little bit (how could they not?) but their relationship was pretty touching, even when Stanton was a jerk and kept all kinds of secrets from Emily.
And Emily! How I love that lady. If she were real, I would want to be her friend, because she's kind of awesome. Emily doesn't quite fit in society because she can't seem to conform to the standards that is expected of one who is 'high-class'. I think I relate to that because I'm really one of the most ungraceful people I know (not for a lack of trying). Not that Emily is ungraceful herself, but she doesn't fit into the norms of high-class femininity despite her efforts, and I can sympathize with that, to a certain degree. Like TNS, Emily is head-strong, resourceful and is not afraid to stick her neck out to get stuff done.
Stanton, on the other hand, wasn't quite as awesome. After everything that Emily did in TNS, I was frustrated that he didn't want her around more often to help out; he, and pretty much everyone working for him, kept whisking Emily off because she was a 'distraction', when she's proven (especially to him!) that she's quite capable of taking care of herself and helping out. I was frustrated with all the secrets he kept from her as well, but I eased a bit on that later on. I mean, what was he supposed to say, really? "Oh yeah, Emily, by the way, I totally had an affair with a crazy blood-thirsty sangrimancer, thought you should know." Or "I could have been cured from being burned, but I *haven't* because I'm actually this super-ultra weapon person in case of the end of the world." So while he secret-keeping frustrated me a bit at first, I was more than able to forgive him. So he was still kind of awesome, even if he bugged me sometimes.
In TNS, we didn't get to see how magic was used by others all too much. We mostly just got to see Emily and Stanton use animancy and credomancy (and a little bit of sangrimancy on Stanton's part). In THG, we see a lot more of how magic works in society, which was really neat.
The supporting characters were quite strong in this installment as well, especially Ms. Jecsiezka (is that how you spell her name? I can't remember.) At the beginning of the novel, I thought she was going to be a total bore, but she ended up being really sweet and caring towards Emily, and really did want the best for her and Stanton.
One other little thing that bothered me... what was with the whole Dmitri kissing Emily thing? I thought it was totally unnecessary. I am glad that it didn't devolve into some huge misunderstanding, or melodrama though. It happened, but I felt like there was no point to it.
To my knowledge, The Native Star was meant to be a duology, and I really got that sense from the ending presented here as well. This saddens me a bit because I really like these books. They're not DEEP or anything, but they're so much fun and I really enjoy them. I really hope that Hobson writes other books in this universe or something. Even if she doesn't though, I'll more than likely check out whatever she puts out next. :)
Final Verdict: This is a really great sequel. It's quite a bit of a different feel to it than The Native Star because there's no running from constant danger, but it's still a lot of fun watching Emily navigate in high class society. Emily is an extremely likable heroine, which makes her following her journey all the more enjoyable. Stanton is a lot less present in this installment than the first, and he did a lot of things that irked me, but by the end he completely redeemed himself. Watching him and Emily be in a loving relationship (but still remaining true to themselves) was really sweet. The minor characters were well done, especially Ms. Jecsieka, who I especially liked. :) We get to learn all about Emily's past in this installment, as well as her relationship with the Sina Mira, which was only touched on briefly in the first novel. The way the book ends and from what I've heard around the web tells me that this is the last book in the Native Star series, which makes me sad because I've really enjoyed these. I can just hope that Ms. Hobson comes out with more books in this alternate history universe. However, I'll take a look at whatever she comes out with next. :) ...more
**spoiler alert** This was another book that I read because I wanted to try to keep up with new releases that caught my eye. This book had such a pret**spoiler alert** This was another book that I read because I wanted to try to keep up with new releases that caught my eye. This book had such a pretty cover and the synopsis sounded kind of cool, so I decided to give this one a go. It also helped that I read mostly favorable reviews, but a few that weren't stellar, so my expectations weren't ridiculously high. However, this book fell a little flat for me, for several reasons.
It's been awhile since I read this one (I really need to write reviews more closely after finishing a book) so I'll try to gather my thoughts and voice them coherently, but I might be a little all over the place. Anyway, one of the first points I want to bring up is the plot: it's supposed to be a mystery, aboard a generational ship. Someone keeps taking people out of cryo but they're doing it wrong, so it's killing people. This mystery plot wasn't all that mysterious to me. I wasn't able to guess exactly what was going on, but I had a pretty good idea who was pulling these stunts. The reason for this was because Revis only introduces a handful of characters. If you want to make a mystery plot mysterious, there needs to be enough characters with some kind of motive to keep the readers guessing.
All right, so I wasn't sold on the plot. How about the characters? They were mediocre for me, at best. Amy annoyed me most of the time; you think she would be more SCARED, considering the situation she's in. She's stuck in a freakin' ship full of people she doesn't know and everyone thinks she's a freak. Instead of being even the least bit afraid though, she's just constantly angry. I guess Revis wanted to characterize her as a headstrong character who could take care of herself, but her reaction to her situation just didn't ring true for me. Also, because of her brazenness, she was pretty stupid. Harvey kept trying to warn her about the dangers of wandering around while the people were breeding or whatever, but would Amy listen? Nooo. Dumb girl. It's too bad, because I did honestly feel pretty bad for her in that first chapter (which I think was the best part of the book.)
Elder was all right, but I honestly can't remember much about him, except that he was a bit of a drama queen. Everything was very srs business and melodramatic.
Amy and Elder's relationship felt oddly paced for some reason.. I can't remember why I feel that way, but I did. It felt like they were acting independently from each other more often than not, so maybe that's why I didn't really buy into their supposedly strong friendship. I'm glad that the focus of the novel wasn't on their relationship though. Revis also avoided the dreaded love-triangle (and I think Harvey could've very easily been a third party in their budding romantic relationship, but he always just stayed a good friend. Thank goodness.)
I had some trouble buying into the science present in the novel a lot too. The whole thing with controlling genes and making people especially artistic, or especially smart or what have you didn't really seem believable. I know that this is supposed to be sci-fi, so we're supposed to suspend our disbelief a bit, but it still felt silly. If you can make more engineers, why not make smarter engineers so you can fix your broken ship? Also, when things start moving in space, they stay at the same speed; there's no friction in space, nothing can slow it down. So the whole problem involving the ship is kind of moot anyway. Also, the use of the drug to pacify the people felt very Brave New World, which is fine, but it felt like a much weaker version of it.
The dual perspective of the novel was all right. I remember Elder and Amy's voices being different enough that it was never a problem differentiating between their chapters (though I think I had to check at least once or twice) and it will hopefully pull in female and male audiences. I think the plot could appeal to both genders as well, with the lack of focus on romance (though it is present, just enough to please female readers) and the mystery being at the forefront. The only problem I see here is I think by trying to appeal to both genders, Revis has fallen short in both regards: the mystery is tepid, and not very enthralling, and the romance is shallow and unconvincing.
Maybe I feel this way because I'm just too old for this book (I'm 21 by the way.) I think that teenagers (13-17) looking for something different than the typical YA supernatural love-triangle plot will enjoy this. It's not a terrible novel by any means, I've just read much better sci-fi books, better mysteries and better romances (I don't mean romance as a genre though.) There's nothing HORRIBLE about this book, but there's nothing AMAZING about it either.
Final Verdict: This novel was okay. I didn't hate it, but I don't think I would invest any money in it. I can't say there was anything I really disliked about it, but there was nothing that I really liked either. The characters were okay, the mystery plot wasn't very mysterious and the writing did what it set out to do. I did like that there was less of a focus on romance and more on the mystery going on the ship. It's just too bad that the mystery was so predictable. I also had some issues with the science Revis incorporated in her story, and I know that you sometimes need to suspend your disbelief, but this is science fiction, so there should be a little credibility behind the science. I doubt I'll be reading any of the sequels for this series, but I'd still give it a mild recommendation if you're looking to read something light and easy, as it does read fairly quickly (I read it in two sittings, despite its 400 page length), but maybe for teen readers; I don't think it carries too well over to adult readers, especially if you read a lot of sci-fi....more
**spoiler alert** Finally I'm reviewing a book that I just read for shits and giggles (not a bookclub/challenge pick or a book I read for school.) I s**spoiler alert** Finally I'm reviewing a book that I just read for shits and giggles (not a bookclub/challenge pick or a book I read for school.) I signed it out at work because I wanted to make a conscious effort to read more releases from 2011 (I don't know why I had this thought, but I rarely read new releases, so I wanted to try something different I guess.) With that said, I had absolutely no idea what to expect when diving into this novel. Unfortunately, I didn't really buy into this dystopia society, which really hampered my reading.
It's no secret that dystopias have become one of the new "it" things in YA literature, and while I do like me some dystopia, I find that this upsurge in interest has really diluted the quality of dystopia titles coming out in the YA market. The premise of this novel sounded interesting, what with the tattoos and the sex, and how the main character wanted to take no part in it, but there were a few things I just couldn't buy into. For one, why did these girls need to get tattoos when they turned sixteen? It was supposedly as a means to protect their young and innocent selves from being taken advantage of or something, but I never got that feeling; all the tattoos did was make girls targets for sex offenders because they knew that they were "of age". Maybe I'm just not remembering the reasons for the tattoos correctly because I read this about 3-4 weeks ago.
Another thing that bothered me was that the characters dialogue wasn't really distinct. Everyone kind of sounded the same, but their personalities were enough to differentiate them from one another. Speaking of characters, I have to say I did like Nina, and she is a good role model for younger to mid-teens who will probably end up reading this novel, what with her values of not wanting to have sex the very moment she's legal. However, she doesn't completely ignore her feelings and urges; she acknowledges them, but doesn't let herself get carried away. Her best friend on the other hand, drove me nuts, which I guess was the point. There was very little that was likable about her, but I suppose she was meant to be an example of what happens when you become obsessed with sex: you start dressing like a bimbo, putting boys over your best friend, become a brainless airhead, etc etc. She did have some redeeming moments though, which added a bit of depth to her character, until she was killed off.
Another small plus for this novel was the role that the parents had in the story. It's a common complaint that YA books focus too much on the teen characters and there's little to no coverage on the parents of any of these characters. With this book, it's definitely not the case. These kids know that they're in over their heads and ask their parents for help, though the only parents we actually see are Nina's mother (who dies near the beginning of the book), her grandparents, and her asian friend's parents (sorry, I can't remember her name at the moment.) Anyhow, it was still nice to see the inclusion of parental units within the story.
My last complaint is with the writing: there's nothing particularly BAD about it, but there's nothing very good about it either. It's very plain, very simple and rather bland. I don't think that'll bother the target audience too much, but I like a little more something-something in my writing. The overall plot was a little meh as well, but there's definitely enough to keep it going at a decent pace: Nina's trying to figure out who her father is while protecting her little sister from her crazy dad. The sister-sister bond was definitely super-cute and something else I appreciated.
The last thing I wasn't sold on was the romance. Nina and her love interest start off disliking each other (of course) and while their reluctant friendship was genuine enough, the flat writing never really brought it to life for me. Also, I felt like their feelings progressed pretty quickly given how much time they actually spend together. Granted, their in a pretty heavy situation together, so maybe that's what brings them together so quickly, but there was just something off about it, for me.
The book ends on a cliff-hanger of sorts, so I do believe that there's going to be a sequel. I don't think I'm going to continue with this series though.
Final Verdict: I didn't really buy into this dystopic world, or the romance, so while the premise sounded kinda cool to me, it ultimately ended up falling flat. The main protag is someone that girls will be able to relate to and I think she's a good role model for said target audience which is a definite plus, but I think I was a little too old for this book. This was perpetuated further by the simplistic writing, which isn't actually bad, but it just didn't do anything for me. As far as dystopia titles go, I've read much better, but this isn't all bad. Still, I'm a little hesitant to recommend it, unless you're between the ages of 14-17. ...more