More like 3.5 stars. This was a book that I started with high expectations. I've never seen the movie, but Howl's Moving Castle is a name that I have...moreMore like 3.5 stars. This was a book that I started with high expectations. I've never seen the movie, but Howl's Moving Castle is a name that I have heard off and on during the years. I was upset to progress through it with a growing sense of ambivalence. I wasn't bonding with the characters at all. Sophie has the most negative attitude towards her lot in life from the beginning of the book, even before the Witch curses her. There is a difference between a character with an endearing self-deprecating streak and one who spends an entire novel degrading herself based on her birth position even more than she allows the people around her to degrade her. It was very irritating for me. Howl came across as self-absorbed to an almost repulsive level in some cases, so it was difficult to like him consistently as well. Combine that with the extent of his womanizing ways and my opinion dipped very low at times. Then I would find moments where I liked him very much. The other characters, Michael and Calcifer didn't get enough development to be considered 'main characters' in the truest sense.
Honestly it wasn't until the last two or three chapters that I started to like the book quite a bit. I'm a big fan of an offhand romance that comes in under the radar. I almost missed it myself and didn't really pick it out until Howl came to the Waste to rescue Sophie and I recalled their conversations and Howl's actions to her. Howl showed up completely forgetting to look perfect and Sophie is of course a bit thick about the realization for a few more pages. When everything came together at the end, I was very happy with the book and enjoyed it a great deal. Not enough to go above three and a half stars max considering all the reservations I had during the course of the read, but in the end it did reach the expectation I had. I honestly think that should I choose to re-read this book it will be one that grows on me slowly over the years.(less)
First and foremost this book violates my number two rule for pet ownership: Please, please, please do your research before you buy pets people. The au...moreFirst and foremost this book violates my number two rule for pet ownership: Please, please, please do your research before you buy pets people. The author acknowledges this so I am inclined to forgive. (For those of you who are wondering what Rule One is: If you cannot provide an animal with the proper quality of care that it needs, meaning proper veterinary care, vaccinations, and heartworm/flea preventative, you have absolutely zero business owning an animal.) I do commend the author's family for sticking with a difficult dog despite all his shortcomings instead of surrendering or even euthanizing Marley. I do wish that they would have made the decision to adopt from their local shelter rather than purchasing a dog, but I'm hoping the shelter adoption at the end was factual and not a book-ending ruse. Marley honestly sounds like nearly every American lab that I have ever worked with. It's not an exaggeration. The stories describing his life range from sweet to comical to tragic. Several times I was touched by the loyalty this dog showed to this family. Having always been a cat owner that isn't exactly a common trait, but I have worked with enough dogs to have seen it. One of my favorite stories had to be Marley's response to the stabbing of the young girl in the street. Marley's protective instincts in the face of such a horror, and conversely his gentleness of spirit and body in the presence of the children show the best of the human-animal bond. I did eventually cry at the end during the euthanasia. It is something I'm unfortunately tasked with reliving every day in my line of work, and hardly a time goes by when I don't think about my own cat's euthanasia and reinforce the fear I live in that something will happen to my other cats while I'm away at vet school. It is a bittersweet thing but unfortunately may be the best for the animal. I wish everyone would take solace in knowing that it NEVER gets easier for the staff at your vet's office. I will always remember the first euthanasia I assisted with. I have regularly shed tears with owners in the subsequent years, over many an animal that I have become pretty attached to over the course of their lives. So please know that we care, and the good ones always will.(less)
Some Neil Gaiman novels I just try so hard to really like and it just doesn't work. I liked this one alright, but not nearly as much as I wanted mysel...moreSome Neil Gaiman novels I just try so hard to really like and it just doesn't work. I liked this one alright, but not nearly as much as I wanted myself to like it. I liked Door quite a bit and her talent for opening is something I am now insanely jealous of. Richard I really felt like I could take or leave. I felt like the focal point of the story seemed to jump characters rather frequently and even though the ending focused on Richard, I didn't feel like the rest of the story did.
All in all, I did like it. Just not as much as I wanted to.(less)