The biggest issue I have upon reviewing this novel is recognizing the fact that I've yet to read a non-fiction biographical account of Monroe's life.The biggest issue I have upon reviewing this novel is recognizing the fact that I've yet to read a non-fiction biographical account of Monroe's life. I'm planning on reading a book of letters, poems, etc., and I'm on the look-out for the most accurate (without being wildly boring) biography out there. But for now, all I have is Blonde, and despite feeling conflicted about a few things, I am content with what I have.
(view spoiler)[Like most of Oates' books, I was enthralled from pages in the triple digits onwards. Many of her books begin slowly (with good reason), but if you can make it to around page 100 or so, things begin to pick up, and you become enthralled with the world she's created. Enthralled and devastated. Like most people, I know of MM (Marilyn Monroe) as a cultural icon, a "sex goddess," people appropriate her "words" almost everywhere, and more often than not these quotes are attributed to her incorrectly. She's become a genuine American myth; fascinating, mysterious, and a harsh yet realistic representation of a starstruck America. I think it's safe to say I'd known something of this when I made the decision to read Blonde, and I've always gotten a sense of sadness watching her, but I wasn't quite prepared for the emotional "oomph" I got reading this book.
Following Monroe's life from infancy (and arguably before infancy) to her death, the woman's life was a chaotic mess. Abandoned as a child, possibly (probably) abused, physically, sexually, and emotionally, Oates' own creation of MM is that of a young girl trapped in the body of a woman. Nearer towards the end of the novel I began to become concerned. Here we were, closer than ever to her death and she still didn't seem very much like a person. I started watching interviews with MM as I read, and so when I got around to the end of her life, and listened to her last interview, I didn't see the actual, recorded Monroe that I'd heard, as being in anyway similar to Oates' interpretation. Thankfully Oates does eventually show a more outspoken, less childish Monroe (although it's not necessarily inaccurate or irritating to see her as such so late in her life, as her illness and personal circumstances readily explain such stunted growth and behavior). The only other thing I can say I "didn't like" was the ending. I know there are conspiracy theories as to the actual cause of her death, and while they all may be viable, I was hoping for a more ambiguous ending. While murder is certainly a climactic ending to a novel, I wasn't blown away by it, and I would have preferred a vaguer notion, but it did not at all ruin the rest of the book, or my experience in reading it.
Oates' Monroe is a troubled woman, plagued by her own insecurities, her sickness, her vanity; but she (Oates) is not quick to forget about the plethora of outside influence, slowly but surely chipping away at the very broken heart of a woman who only desperately wants to be loved for who she is, which, disturbingly enough, she seemingly doesn't even know herself towards the end of the novel. You really do have to read this book to get all of the little details which make it so great: the repetition of words and imagery, the historical notes, the hush-hush mentions of Hollywood legends. (hide spoiler)]
But from a more general perspective, this book crafts a truly moving portrait of one of the most recognized faces of the modern era. It attempts to dissolve certain stigmas and presumptions associated with Marilyn, presumptions which have been cast upon millions of other women in the years since her death (and certainly before she was even born), and which continue to remain pervasive in popular culture (both American and abroad). I would encourage people to read this book not only as a unique insight into a woman of mere mythical proportions, a novel which allows us to read women as people, flawed, ugly, brutal - but also as a commentary on our own place in time; in our treatment of women, our idolization of celebrities, and the ways in which we experience media: if we're taking it too seriously, or not seriously enough.
Really, how many stars can you give these books? I enjoy them a lot - they're like my Twilight crack only for some reason I find them more tolerable.Really, how many stars can you give these books? I enjoy them a lot - they're like my Twilight crack only for some reason I find them more tolerable. It's probably because of True Blood, cause honestly when I read these books all I can imagine is Alexander Skarsgård and that's what makes them bearable. I need to get on reading the 11th book, and I've tried not to spoil myself but sadly I've sort of failed. And I'm a tad disappointed because what I'm hearing about the most recent book is not good news. But when I start on a series I've always gotta see it through to the end.
I enjoyed this particular book, although there wasn't enough Eric (never is). I like how Harris plays around with famous historical figures being turned into vampires, especially a vampire like Alexei who was so obviously traumatized - I really liked his relationship to Jason. Speaking of Jason, THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH JASON. Jason is freaking awesome and should be given more page time. But I digress, this isn't really an easy book to review given I kind of read them like short stories found at the back of magazines and just kind of inhale and then grab the next one, but I found it enjoyable, like I did with all the others....more
My decision to read The Maze Runner was based on the fact that I knew it was being made into a movie and Dylan O'Brien was cast as the lead. That's reMy decision to read The Maze Runner was based on the fact that I knew it was being made into a movie and Dylan O'Brien was cast as the lead. That's really all this comes down to. I also knew it would be a quick one and that I could probably get through all 3 of them before the book I'd actually been waiting to read came in the mail. I wasn't expecting it to be amazing, and it wasn't. I wasn't, however, expecting to be so thoroughly annoyed. Mildly, perhaps, but not mad enough to take the time to write a review. So, let's get down to business.
(view spoiler)[These books started out interestingly enough. I love dystopian fiction, so these were right up my alley. I also love Lord of the Flies and I thought that this had the potential to be vaguely similar. Aside from the fact that there was a fat kid, these book(s) did little to portray any far-reaching ideas or philosophies (at least, not any that we're not already totally aware of).
What really bugged me about these books, however, was the treatment of the female characters. I kept trying to remind myself that we were getting the perspective of a teenage boy, but I still couldn't help being irritated. The author is also a middle aged man, so, go figure. I was also pretty bothered by the treatment of Jorge, I'm assuming a Hispanic character, as he continually used the phrase "hermano" over and over again.
Sigh. I'd really like to briefly (very) talk about Teresa though, as I felt that she was extraordinarily mistreated. She was definitely one of, if not the smartest character in the books, and she just kept getting shit on, right up until she "nobly" sacrificed herself for Thomas, who is an enormous idiot, and couldn't get his head out of his ass for two God damn minutes. The kind of world the author created required Teresa to behave in the way that she did. The only reason Thomas couldn't forgive her was his pride, and I don't think that was conveyed nearly enough. But at least there was a replacement love interest to just slide right in there after Teresa's "betrayal." I had no problem with Brenda, she was a great character, but she was obviously there to serve as just another of Thomas' girls. And of course they had their little catty attitudes toward each other. Is this really what men think of us? The world ends and we're still ripping out each others hair because of a boy? Not even that great of a boy, Thomas is like any other teenager. Especially characters the likes of Teresa and Brenda, who from what I could tell, would not canonically behave in the ways that they did.
I know that these are YA novels, but I don't think that should matter. While this was an interesting story, the characters fell flat and it ended up ruining the entire plot for me.
Suffice it to say, unless The Kill Order decides to take back all the bullshit in the other 3 books, I probably won't be reading it. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Joyce Carol Oates is one of those writers who can craft an environment so vivid, you feel like you're right in the middle of it. In the case of a fantJoyce Carol Oates is one of those writers who can craft an environment so vivid, you feel like you're right in the middle of it. In the case of a fantasy or science fiction novel, this is usually exactly what you would want out of the story, and it would be sinful (as a reader) to really say you wouldn't in any other genre. However, the fact that these stories are so very real, makes it nearly maddening, how involved you become with her characters.
While I knew this book would be sad (and I'm totally using a completely lame word here to describe the acute sadness I felt in the 2 days it took me to finish this thing), I underestimated just how soul shattering it would actually be. And please let me say before I continue with this review, that you should be prepared for this book before you decide to read it. If you're one of those people out there who have experienced family trauma along these lines, I implore you to read with caution, as it can force you to really look into your own life, your own experiences, your own family, and leave you feeling quite bereft. It is all at once comforting and disturbing to read a story that in so many ways mirrors your own life or at least those closest to you. I say again, READ WITH CAUTION. Oprah was right to put this book on her list; Joyce Carol Oates is a brilliant writer, one of my favorites, but her books have a nasty habit of cutting me to the very core, and I feel so very exposed while reading them.
(view spoiler)[Oates is such an intuitive master of the storytelling craft; creating such a beautiful, happy life for this family only to make their downfall so much the more painful for them and the reader.
The descriptions of the farm itself, the house, the kitchen, the piles of junk at the bottom of the stairs. These are the things that make the downfall of Mike Mulvaney Sr. (and co.), so much the more bitter. The rape of Marianne so much more of a violation than you ever thought rape could be. We Were the Mulvaneys takes that horrible, unspeakable crime; rape, and manifests its physicality into a metaphysical attack that lasts a lifetime - affecting not only the victim, but those around her. It brings a whole new level to how damaging this act of violence can be, how you're not only hurting the person you've raped at a sexual and mental level, but you've permanently damaged the world in some small way. The harmony of human beings and the world itself, irreparably altered.
One of the things I absolutely adored about this novel was the importance of the animals, their habit of always being around and their importance to so many of the characters. Marianne's relationship to animals was especially profound. When she goes to visit Molly-O (her horse) shortly after being raped, still in shock at what had happened, I nearly cried at the interaction. The feeling of the horse's warm breath on her hand, the softness of her muzzle, all so comforting and calm in comparison to the violence of the previous evening. Her relationship with Muffin, the sweet white cat. And for her to end up at the Animal Shelter of all places, with a man who cares so deeply for animals, there was really no better way for her to come to the end of her wild pilgrimage.
Something that bothered me the closer and closer I came to the end of the novel, was the fact that there was not one conversation between Marianne and anyone else, telling her that the attack and subsequent banishment was not her fault. I kept waiting for some kind of revelation, for it would seem Marianne was ashamed of what happened until the very end, although I would hope that by the time we've reached the epilogue and she's had two children with Whit, it can be assumed that he, or another friend, or therapist, had sat down with her and said, "Your parents were wrong to send you away. You did nothing wrong. He took advantage of you." It surprised me how quickly I went from being extraordinarily sympathetic towards the Mulvaney parents to being extremely pissed off at them. While I understood the pain her father felt, don't you think that that pain was nothing in comparison to what Marianne felt? And even at the end of the novel, visiting her dying father, she apologizes to him! Granted, he couldn't get words out, so maybe he would have said, "Don't apologize, Button. I should be the one saying sorry."
I'd like to hope that's what he would have said. I felt relieved at the end, very happy that most of the family was able to be together again. If only I had gotten to see someone relieve Marianne of her burden, I probably would have felt just a little bit more... complete at the end. I felt her misery so keenly I only wanted someone to make it alright for her. And maybe Oates was purposeful in doing this, keeping such a crucial scene hidden from her audience. As in our own lives there will probably always be that feeling of incompleteness with those closest to us, in the things that happen to us, and perhaps we have to learn to come to terms with that - and that's the whole point. It's books like this that make me think about the stories we create out of our own lives, just trying to cope with a notion that seems so out of our own control; that sometimes bad things just happen, and there's nothing to be done about it. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I am one of the many people who read this book because Richard Armitage (trying to say his name without the throaty purr is nearly impossible), and thI am one of the many people who read this book because Richard Armitage (trying to say his name without the throaty purr is nearly impossible), and the mini series, etc. I really enjoyed the mini series, and liked the book, though found it to be nothing special.
This isn't to say that the writing wasn't good, the ideas weren't sound, or the characters weren't interesting, it just didn't blow me away in the way other novels from this period have (i.e. Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights). I feel much in the same way that I did of Pride and Prejudice, enjoyable but not a favorite of mine.
Most of (if not all) of the quotes placed before every single chapter meant little to me and I found them to be annoying. Maybe if I'd read the book in a classroom setting I would have gotten something more out of the chapters, but I just found them to be earnestly mysterious - as if trying to convey a deeper meaning when there really wasn't any; all of Gaskell's ideas presented in this story are very much readily available and interpretable without accompanying quotes that felt akin to modern day "name dropping." In certain chapters where something of importance may occur I normally find it to be perfectly acceptable and interesting, but they didn't really give any of the "oomph" she had perhaps hoped to convey with their inclusion.
Without getting too hung up on what I didn't like (and there was more), I very much enjoyed the character development - particularly with regard to Margaret, Mr. Thornton, and Higgins. It's too bad, however, that Gaskell would appear to have spent all her energy developing them and no one else, as most of the characters remained consistently annoying throughout the entire book.
And considering the fact that I would appear to have ventured into negative territory again I'll end it there, only to say that I enjoyed hearing Richard Armitage's voice every time I read Thornton's dialogue, but that I wasn't so very much entranced or taken with the novel as a whole....more
About 150 pages before I reached the end of this book, I had texted my boyfriend to let him know how much I was disliking the main character of the boAbout 150 pages before I reached the end of this book, I had texted my boyfriend to let him know how much I was disliking the main character of the book I was reading, and he responded with, "That's an interesting decision for an author to make, don't you think? To force the reader to follow some asshole around for 400 pages or whatever it is," and that was my experience of reading this book in a nutshell. I had felt bad for Barnum for a majority of his childhood, and hoped that he would improve, but his entire adulthood (as well as his narration) grated on my nerves. His alcoholism, the temper tantrum-like treatment towards his family and friends, as well as his very apparent desire to appear wise and insightful (I hope against hope that this was a cognizant decision by the author) frustrated me beyond imagining.
(view spoiler)[Who was I really interested in? Fred. I was very, very interested in Fred. And how does the book end? WITH NO EXPLANATION. I've assumed that he's the father of Vivian's baby, but we don't get any real detail or expatiation on that either. This whole book revolved around Barnum, and he was the least interesting and likable of the bunch. (hide spoiler)]
This was supposed to be an epic concerning a family, but Barnum himself was way too involved in the story, he corrupted every memory and every character with his own weaknesses and flaws. I have a hunch that it was the poor translation, as well as the many grammatical errors that contributed to my dislike in some way. Perhaps if I had been able to read this in the original Norwegian it would have done more for me. Alas, I held high hopes for this book and in the end it just made me angry and disappointed. There were moments I truly enjoyed, but in the end, it just didn't make the cut.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I'm currently at the beginning/middle and I really like it so far. Exciting! A teen novel that's NOT Twilight. Good enough in my book.
5/25: FINISHED!I'm currently at the beginning/middle and I really like it so far. Exciting! A teen novel that's NOT Twilight. Good enough in my book.
5/25: FINISHED! That was a quick, easy, fun read. I really loved it, I'll probably go out today to buy the next one, and what's awesome is, I'm really curious as to what the second book is even going to be about. Clearly there'll be a lot of drama between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale, but as far as the bigger picture is concerned I have no idea. Surprisingly, this novel had a few moments that were a little difficult to get through, especially Cato's death at the end. Excited for the 2nd book, and the movie, actually!...more
I ended up liking this book more than I had initially thought I would; in fact, I still feel like I'm stuck in that world just a little bit. My next fI ended up liking this book more than I had initially thought I would; in fact, I still feel like I'm stuck in that world just a little bit. My next foray into Gaskell's North & South is going to be quite a culture shock.
To start with, I am very skeptical when it comes to books concerning androgynous characters; mostly because they never seem to be androgynous, and instead more like a "modified male." This was certainly the case throughout the first book, and I was only barely pacified when the issue was brought up once or twice. Needless to say, the first book was not my favorite, but I persevered; and I'm glad that I did. The last 2 books were most certainly better.
(view spoiler)[The Pell of book 1 was extremely unlikable, and even though we only catch glimpses of him in the last book, he had certainly grown a little less annoying, albeit a bit more conceited (not necessarily a bad thing).
I very much enjoyed the slow build up towards the "elephant in the book;" namely the seeming abandonment of the female. The Wraeththu are supposedly men and women, but as Cal thankfully points out, many of them only see themselves as "modified men," which isn't surprising, given the fact that most of them came from men, and changing such an ingrained sense of patriarchy isn't easily removed.
I could easily write a whole other review concerning the vast amount of relationships through the trilogy, but I found myself distracted by another element I discovered in The Fulfillments of Fate and Desire. I have no idea if this was intentional on the part of the author, but it intrigued me all the same. When Cal learns that his fate is being mapped out before him, and by a woman no less, my mind immediately leapt towards the hazy realm of literary theory. Could this governing female force be the author herself? I was really fascinated by this idea, even though we learn that he's being guided by female characters within the world itself, the idea still stands.
The Wraeththu trilogy consists of 3 books, all told from differing Wraeththu (all, with the exception of Swift), seeing things from a thoroughly masculine perspective. They are, however, told through the words of a woman. I can only guess as to the author's own purposes, but I felt that this set of circumstances gave this trilogy a sense of power that we readers may have believed to have lived only within its pages. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This book was breathtaking; from the story itself, to the simple yet somehow deeply touching prose, and ending with the gorgeous illustrations, I loveThis book was breathtaking; from the story itself, to the simple yet somehow deeply touching prose, and ending with the gorgeous illustrations, I loved this book. It's technically a book for young adults and children, but I would recommend this book to any adult. To any person who's had to deal with death and grief and doesn't quite understand how to handle it, or even to those who have yet to deal with such a loss. I'm not sure grief can be handled in any one way, and I would never presume to say that there's a right one - but what's brilliant about this book is that it doesn't presume either. I think that it creates a shared feeling of grief, but at the same time allows for all of the complexities of human emotion. Ness (and Dowd) does an excellent job of reminding us that we are flawed creatures with different experiences and relationships which will ultimately effect the way in which we move through the unavoidable nature of our lives as human beings.
This book would have had me sobbing if I hadn't been sitting at my desk at work, trying not to make a scene, but I couldn't help letting a few tears out. Definitely one of the most brilliant literary conceptions of death and grief that I've read in recent years....more
**spoiler alert** Goodness gracious, was this book depressing. Seriously, I almost cried a few times. I also still don't know how I feel, and while it**spoiler alert** Goodness gracious, was this book depressing. Seriously, I almost cried a few times. I also still don't know how I feel, and while it's possible all 3 of these books require a re-read in order to really get a greater grasp on some kind opinion, I'm far too depressed to even consider re-reading these right away.
These books ended with such an intense feeling of melancholy; which I was not expecting at all. I don't know how I didn't expect it, seeing as how there's barely a flicker of happiness throughout any of these books. Even though the war ends, Prim is dead, and the Katniss that you're introduced to in The Hunger Games is nowhere to be found. I'm also still a little conflicted concerning Katniss and Peeta. While I didn't dislike Peeta at all, his intense emotional trauma and strange impulses to kill Katniss just seemingly disappear (you'd think that would be of some interest when he just shows up at her house in the Victor's Village) also I felt that it was a bit of a surrender on Katniss' part, to be with Peeta and not with Gale. I do think she loved Gale and Peeta, and I understand why Peeta ends up with her at the end, I can, however, also see her with Gale just as easily. I would've hoped for a greater conclusion between her and Gale; although it's easy to understand why their ending is so brief, due to the possibility that it was his idea which led to Prim's death. But it seemed so out of character for Katniss to so easily dismiss someone who appeared to be one of the most important people in her life - someone she knew well before she really knew who Peeta even was.
Like I said, it calls for a re-read, but other than that these were really good, if a bit dark, books. I'm honestly looking forward to the film adaptation.
Well, it started out with tons of promise, but, ultimately, I found it to be disappointing. The first-half was excellent... and then the young boy becWell, it started out with tons of promise, but, ultimately, I found it to be disappointing. The first-half was excellent... and then the young boy became a man, and he turned into every other whiny, white male protagonist that you've come to expect from TV, books, and, let's be honest: fucking reality. There were moments that continued to impress me, but it was hard to ignore the increasingly whiny and misogynistic character of Theodore Decker. While, yes, his life as a child was tragic, and the reader feels sympathetic, his early tragedies only explain his behavior, they don't excuse them. Which I found to be an important distinction. Tartt begins to create interesting female characters, who would have probably made more interesting protagonists than Theodore Decker (which is often the case); but who she decides to ignore and cut-down to mere nothings. She hints at a deeper, individualistic identity, but than ignores them in favor of more of Decker's bleating. I understood what Tartt was hoping to convey with this novel, but the end got all caught up in itself. The final 10 pages or so were barely tolerable, a repetition of the same eye-opening epiphany over and and over again, and could have been more succinctly stated. I did like this book, but there were just too many problems for me to really enjoy it....more