**spoiler alert** Reviewing the Harry Potter series without sounding redundant is going to be difficult, as virtually everyone in the world has done i...more**spoiler alert** Reviewing the Harry Potter series without sounding redundant is going to be difficult, as virtually everyone in the world has done it before me. I've decided that my first step in completing this daunting task should be to review my favorite book in the series. I've read Prisoner of Azkaban countless times, and it has constantly remained my firm favorite.
POA is perfect, or close enough to count. As I have heard many say before, the pacing is spot on. It has the feel of a nice, fleshed-out novel; the story isn't rushed, but nor does it drag. Everything flows together seamlessly, without bogging us down in unnecessary details or skimming over important plot points. As a result it's easy to read and it will hold your attention right to the end.
There is a lot of back story in POA, yet it is so well integrated into the storyline that it doesn't break the flow at all. Once again, we're given all the information that we need without being laden with trivialities.
Time travel plays a part in the story, and JK Rowling pulls it off remarkably well. It's something which few authors would dare touch on and which no one properly understands, yet JK manages to keep this part of the story coherent and without including complications which could confuse younger readers.
We are introduced to two of the most immensely likable characters I have so far encountered in fiction within the pages of this book. Remus Lupin, our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, is the first competent teacher we've actually seen (or will see) in that position. He knows what he's talking about and he treats the students with respect. He's generous with chocolate, he's a damned good wizard, and he teaches Harry one of the most important spells in the series. He also falls ill rather often, the poor dear.
Then there's Sirius Black. The looming, lurking, evil presence for the majority of the book, it turns out that he's innocent of the crime he was sent to prison for, he hasn't done anything wrong and in actual fact he's on the good side. Oh, and he happened to be best friends with Harry's dad in school and is Harry's godfather. Amazingly, JK Rowling manages to pull this all off without sounding cheesy. The reason being is that Sirius is far from perfect. He's ready to commit murder once he gets out, despite its being what he was wrongly imprisoned for, and as the following books will show, his time in prison has made him rather immature and reckless. But at the same time his heart is in the right place and you'll have a hard time not falling in love with him.
When I first read this book at the age of 11, I simply let the story tell itself. I didn't try to over-analyze or work out what was going to happen next. As a result, all the twists and turns came as surprises to me. I loved it. The chapter in which Gryffindor win the Quidditch Cup left me with the hugest grin on my face for ages afterwards, which is something I've never forgotten.
Of course, the Harry Potter series isn't for everyone. But even if you didn't enjoy the first two books in the series, I would urge you to try this one anyway. It is, let's say, the quintessential Harry Potter novel.(less)
Where to start with this one! I'll start by saying that I tried to read it when I was about 13 or 14 years old and failed miserably. I only got a few...moreWhere to start with this one! I'll start by saying that I tried to read it when I was about 13 or 14 years old and failed miserably. I only got a few chapters in. Looking back, I don't see why I had such a hard time with it. The language isn't so confusing that it would have been beyond my comprehension at that age. In fact, for a 200 year old book I expected it to be a lot more long-winded than it was. Anyhow, that experience put me off this book, and Jane Austen as a whole. Except I couldn't help but notice how the world loves Jane Austen and felt perhaps I was missing something, so I resolved to go back and try to read the book again, hopefully to get some enjoyment out of it, but at the very least to battle through and at least be able to say I'd read it and have a decent excuse for not liking it. And I have to say it's probably one of the best books I've ever read.
I went slowly with it. The punctuation and some of the language takes a bit of getting used to but as I said, it was nowhere near as long-winded and rambling as I expected. I wanted to read it slowly, two or three chapters a day, just to appreciate the story. I loved Elizabeth, couldn't wait for her to get together with Mr Darcy, and at no point during reading felt any particular stirrings of feminist indignation which I often do when reading books written so long ago. I loved this book. I loved Mr Collins' proposal, the general silliness of Mrs Bennet, and just watching how Elizabeth and Darcy's attitudes change towards each other throughout the book. Although this is her most famous, I will definitely be going on to read Jane Austen's other novels.
Brilliant! So glad I went ahead and read it.(less)
This was really good. I was so glad when it arrived in the mail, I opened the package and I had this beautiful glossy-paged thing in my hands. This bo...moreThis was really good. I was so glad when it arrived in the mail, I opened the package and I had this beautiful glossy-paged thing in my hands. This book just looks good. Then you actually get down and read it. This book shows Nikki's diary excepts from Christmas Day 1986 to the same day a year later. I'm sure the name makes it obvious that a lot of this book focuses on drugs. In fact, pretty much all of it does. It's easy to see just how meaningful this book could be to other addicts. I'm not an addict, and yet what I found scary was that if that had been me, I'd probably have found myself in the same position as Nikki did. Although I'd probably die long before I reached the 1987 of my life.
It's easy to forget you're reading about a rockstar in one of the world's biggest rock bands, traveling the world, meeting millions of fans etc. etc. Nikki just comes across as such a real dude. Unfortunately he doesn't reveal how he managed to juggle being a junkie and maintaining that impressive hairdo. Oh yes, and Slash is in it! He, err...used to get so drunk he'd piss the bed. Apart from the fact that GN'R toured with Motley that year, that's the main reason that he's in there. To say that Nikki's spare bedroom smelled of pee because of him. Umm...awww?
In short, you should definitely pick this book up. Especially if you love rock n' roll. Or just if you love shiny shiny books. Don't forget to get the soundtrack too!(less)
This is the book which first catapults us into Roland's world, introducing us to the enigmatic gunslinger and his rather strange world.
This revised ed...moreThis is the book which first catapults us into Roland's world, introducing us to the enigmatic gunslinger and his rather strange world.
This revised edition was published in 2003, to coincide with the release of the final books in the Dark Tower series. In his introduction, King compares this to the expanded edition of The Stand, only on a smaller scale. Generally, a few alterations have been made so that the book, originally published back in 1982, ties in more nicely with the later books in the series. I own, but have yet to get around to reading, the book in its original form so as yet I can't judge as to whether or not the revised edition was necessary.
The most common complaint I hear about this book is that people have found it boring. It seems a strange complaint to make; here we are, introduced to this compelling and mysterious character, a gunslinger capable of wiping out the entire population of a small town in just one afternoon, yet you can sense that he is inherently good. You immediately want to know more about this character, why he seems so dead set on catching up to this Man in Black, and why an eleven-year-old boy from New York City could end up in the middle of the desert in another world. With so much to think about, it seems odd to think that a person could get bored reading this.
If you are familiar with King's other work, then this book will seem a little strange at first. Unlike the other books in the series, it doesn't read quite like a Stephen King novel. Perhaps because it was one of the first books he wrote, or perhaps because its protagonist is a character who has never heard of America, let alone the state of Maine. A Clint Eastwood-esque gunslinger who grew up in a castle and whose coming of age was marked by a bloody fight with his teacher, Cort. In fact, for the first portion of the book we're not even told the gunslinger's name. That, along with the title of the novel, is symbolic of how mysterious this character is. We read an entire novel about him and come away realizing that we actually know very little about him. Throughout the whole series there's something enigmatic and distant about Roland. By the end of book seven we've come to care for him deeply, yet we still don't really know him.
A point to note is that you should definitely re-read this after completing the series as you'll be amazed at the little references you missed first time around (which I presume do not exist in the original text). I was also quite delighted to find a Watership Down reference in there too.
For me, The Gunslinger is a fantastic introduction to the Dark Tower series and I would highly recommend it to everyone.(less)
The second book in the Dark Tower series picks up right where the first left off, and it's a whirlwind ride straight from the beginning. I adore readi...moreThe second book in the Dark Tower series picks up right where the first left off, and it's a whirlwind ride straight from the beginning. I adore reading, but I have to say that there are few books which I've found truly unputdownable. This was one of the few, and reminds me of lying awake at night in a hostel room in Sydney, not really caring if my bedside light was disturbing anyone trying to sleep because I needed to know what happened next. It really just sucks you in, you don't want to put it down and you feel a real sense of disappointment when you realize you're halfway through the book already.
The book is very dramatic for the most part, but also has some hilarious moments. I found myself in hysterics over Eddie's altercation with airport security, Roland's first taste of Pepsi, and the fact that he holds a drugstore pharmacist at gunpoint...for some penicillin. Eddie, in fact, may be the reason I'm so fond of this book. I fell in love with Eddie right from the start, when we meet him, a heroin addict from Brooklyn, smuggling drugs into New York. He may not sound promising, but it's impossibly not to fall in love with him and his wisecracks. The moment when security bursts in on him in the airplane's toilet is priceless.
Really, I was just hoping for more from Jack Mort. I was hoping Roland would bring him back into his own world, because it would have been fascinating to see how the two would interact. As it is, we really don't get enough information on who he is and why he does what he does.
King does get a little rambly in this book. One stream-of-consciousness sentence in particular runs on for about two and a half pages but if you stick to your guns (no pun intended) then you should be just fine. Annoyingly, Odetta is referred to throughout as suffering from schizophrenia when there is no indication that that is the case.
DOTT reads more like a Stephen King novel than The Gunslinger did, which should keep Constant Readers happy. There are a few little creases which still need to be ironed out in the book, but in general it's a fast-paced read which you'll have a hard job putting down.(less)
Adored it. By the time I get to the end of a 900 page book I'm usually starting to get bored, but I really didn't want this one to end. It's basically...moreAdored it. By the time I get to the end of a 900 page book I'm usually starting to get bored, but I really didn't want this one to end. It's basically the story of Thomas and Dominic, identical twins, the former of whom suffers from schizophrenia. The story details how Dominic tries to cope with his brother's illness, and also his own failed marriage, the death of his daughter and the ghost of his past which come back to haunt him in the form of his dead Italian grandfather's life story. Plenty of flashbacks show Thomas's descent into madness and offers possible explanations for why he became a schizophrenic but his brother didn't. Well worth the read, the language flows and the pages just keep flying by.(less)