**spoiler alert** Columbine is one of the most compelling and chilling true crime novels I've ever read. This non-fiction reads like a novel and trace**spoiler alert** Columbine is one of the most compelling and chilling true crime novels I've ever read. This non-fiction reads like a novel and traces the history leading up to the event as well as it's aftermath. An impressive work of investigative journalism, the book is written from information from the killers' journals, videotapes (Basement Videos), website, police files, and interviews with survivors, their families, classmates, administrators, law enforcement, and experts.
Cullen debunks a lot of the theories that floated around after the shooting -- no thanks to the sheriff's department and the irresponsible behavior of the media -- that they were Goths, into heavy metal, persecuted by the jocks, bullied, loners, or druggies. It wasn't even a school shooting; it was a year-long detailed and planned school bombing, culminating in a dream of terrorizing a nation. I felt that the author tried to be as fair to everyone as possible, especially to the Harris and Klebold family. And this is where it gets to be most interesting to me. Motive. Cullen theorizes that it also wasn't their parents' upbringing that led the boys down their chosen path of destruction (as do the boys themselves). Dylan Klebold is described as depressive and suicidal, while Eric Harris is plainly diagnosed as a psychopath and the mastermind. Psychopaths lie to and hurt others simply for their own enjoyment, there is no rhyme or reason, except for their own massive ego and a superiority complex. They are amoral and without conscience or emotion. They are hard to identify and almost impossible to treat. In fact, therapy makes them worse, because it teaches them how to manipulate authority. Harris was calculating and rational when he planned his attack to kill hundreds of people and I think understanding what kind of person he was was most troubling, and interesting, to me. It's scary to think that the friendly and intelligent teenager next door could be planning to blow up kids for his own pleasure and it's just as scary to think that there are those who refuse to believe that these kind of people exist. It's safer for a lot of people to think that "Satan made me do it", easier to place blame on the Goths or the jocks, than to confront something you don't understand.
Harris also wrote about his desire of raping and killing women. Psychiatrists believe that if Columbine had been thwarted, Harris might have lived and gone on to further develop his skills, perhaps fully realizing his murderous dreams and ambitions. Terrifying to think about what could have been....more
**spoiler alert** I LOVED this book! I couldn't put it down and read it in a day. Here is an author with breathtaking storytelling skills, who excels**spoiler alert** I LOVED this book! I couldn't put it down and read it in a day. Here is an author with breathtaking storytelling skills, who excels at character development without sacrificing plot; I loved all the characters, especially Fire and Brigan, and was still interested in everything that was going on around them. Every character and relationship, no matter how minor, is complicated and complex, and no one is completely good or completely evil.
Even with the characters of Leck and Cransel, two people who use their powers in horrible and selfish ways, the author manages to twist the perspective of the reader so that they are seen in a different light, whether it's through their reasoning or emotions. Not that their actions are redeemed or justified, but it brings another facet to their personality. And even though Fire and Brigan are good people fighting for the well-being of their people, they manipulate and kill people as a means to their end, and as a result it leaves them damaged and guilt-ridden in the process. Oh, but what a couple Fire and Brigan are! They are so well matched in their bravery, kindness and wisdom, and their slow and tentative steps towards a relationship with each other had me sometimes wishing the author would speed it up a bit, or at least reveal more of what they were feeling to each other. I understand that the slow progression was also necessitated by Brigan's frequent absences as commander of the King's Army, but that didn't make the wait any less frustrating. (But still all in a good way. :)
I also loved the relationship between all 4 of the royal siblings, not only between themselves, but with Fire. I LOVED how the author resolved the relationship between Nash and Fire, showing how his infatuation didn't go away but evolved into a love between them that was stronger, undefined and not put in a neat little box. The same thing goes with the love between Archer and Fire - no neat little box for these two.
These relationships, along with the relationship of Po and Katsa from Graceling, seem to tell me something about Ms. Kashore's feelings about love and relationships and gender roles. She reaches beyond stereotypes, expectations and limitations. Her relationships are most often times unconventional and the characters do what's right for them according to who they are, despite what other people may think is "right" or what constitutes "happiness" or what makes them comfortable. I love her for that.
I still like Graceling a touch more than Fire, because Po holds a special place in my heart, but I think Ms. Cashore's writing skills have improved with this second effort. ...more
This book is a companion piece to Life As We Knew It, and we get to see the same exact events (an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth which causeThis book is a companion piece to Life As We Knew It, and we get to see the same exact events (an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth which causes every kind of natural disaster) from a different perspective, this time from a Hispanic boy instead of a white girl, in NYC instead of a small Pennsylvanian town. Their experiences are different enough so that you're not constantly comparing the two even though you have an idea of what's going on.
One of the things I liked best about LAWKI was that the science seemed well researched and realistic. Since Pfeffer couldn't wow me with scientific speculations this time around, I had to focus more on the human element, and that fell a bit short when compared to it's predecessor. Seventeen year-old Alex Morales is Puerto Rican, Catholic, smart, serious and an overachiever. His parents are missing and presumed dead almost immediately, and he alone is left to care for his two younger teenaged sisters, Brianna and Julie. I like that he's resourceful and will do whatever it takes to feed his family, including jumping some ethical hurdles despite his strict religious beliefs. The rich and influential are able to get out of town, but the poor are left to fend for themselves and the Catholic church plays a powerful role in their survival, representing the moral center. (This strong moral belief comes into play in the third book.) But the church can't pull bread and fish out of thin air, so there are a lot of desperate, starving and sick people in the city. And this is where I stopped believing a little bit. Yes, Alex resorts to some morally questionable activities, but I just think that in a big, bad city things would get worse. A lot worse. Even if it wasn't Alex, there would be a lot of other people doing really bad things. Instead, people are calmly waiting in the free food line (save for the one riot we saw), law enforcement isn't an issue, and it's safe to walk the street as long as you have your big brother around. If you don't, a can of pineapples will suffice. Also, there is some ethnic stereotyping (apparently Hispanic males can't cook mararoni, even a potential future President of the United States, but they sure can yell at their little sister!) and one far-fetched plot point I didn't like, which is why wouldn't Alex, as super (his dad) of the building, have keys to the rest of the apartments?? Unlikely.
Besides all that, the story is still compelling and scary and bleak and hopeful, and if you liked the first one, you'll probably like this one as well....more
I have issues with this last installment of the trilogy. I like both these kids, so I was glad they were back for more, and together this time. While Miranda continues to act like a typical 17-year old, whiny one moment, mature the next, Alex seemed like a different person. He either developed a personality disorder, or it's the way that Hispanic people act around Ms. Pfeffer. For as many times as he was described as quiet, polite and respectful (with his continuous use of "thank you" "please" and "ma'am/sir"), he was CONSTANTLY arguing and yelling at his younger sister, Julie. In Spanish! In front of strangers and friends who didn't speak the language! He was also stiff and unreasoning, and it was hard to believe him falling fast and hard for Miranda, and vice versa. In fact, I thought I skipped a few pages that showed when Miranda and Alex fell out of dislike and into love. But I guess death and starvation make your SO checklist a lot shorter: 1) Breathing? Check.
I mentioned in my review of TDATG that Alex had a very strong religious code and religion again raises a lot of issues in this book. For one thing, apocalyptic events cause EVERYONE to become religious. Second, monasteries and convents are the best means of survival for strict Catholics. (And if those fail, then Game Over!) Third, sex is not an option if you are not married even if you are the last teenagers on earth. Okaaaaay.
At times, characters and motivations seemed half-baked. A character named Syl is added to the family and at first she seems like she may have been introduced to bring a sinister element into the plot, but instead she just stays in her room alone for most of the time. She serves her purpose by telling us "secret" information, but other than that, we know nothing about her. Near the end, Miranda makes a life-changing decision that doesn't quite ring true, or make sense while there are still other options available. Then someone comes back from the dead and the author ends the book with a depressing, open-ended conclusion. It shouldn't be surprising since the last 2 books ended the same way, but since this is the last impression we will get of these characters ever, a little more closure would have been nice.
It probably sounds like I hated it, but I didn't. If you're invested in these characters, then read this book. I think one of it's strong suits is the honest depiction of a young teenage girl facing questions of family, survival and love in an extreme and desperate situation. The writing continues to be compelling, but I think the author missed a big opportunity to end this interesting trilogy on a strong note....more
I base a lot of my enjoyment of this book, and this series, on my history with the characters of Amelia Peabody and Co. A long and cherished history bI base a lot of my enjoyment of this book, and this series, on my history with the characters of Amelia Peabody and Co. A long and cherished history because my obsession with Egypt and it's culture began with these characters, and this novelist. I can pinpoint the exact book (The Mummy Case (Amelia Peabody, #3)) that piqued my interest in tombs and mummies (ok, ok, my interest is probably also tied into my love/hate relationship with zombies) and dead Phaoroahs (Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments, ha!). My love continues unabated and a highlight for me was when I traveled to Egypt and finally got to see the landscapes and peoples and treasures described by Ms. Peters and imagined by me for years and years and years. During this same trip, we also went to Jerusalem and so the fact that the second part of this book was set there was particularly enjoyable to read.
If you've never read this series, don't start here. This is technically published as #19, but chronologically is actually #12, between Guardian of the Horizon and The Falcon at the Portal, as a series of events that had previously been unreported. As she has done in her more recent Peabody novels, Ms. Peters writes large sections of this book from Ramses' perspective, labeled as "Manuscript H". I've always been a huge fan of Ramses, so getting his perspective is always a treat! The mystery itself was kind of slight and predictably Peabody-ish, but that is besides the point. If you are this far along in the series, the charm and joy you get from reading these books is from revisiting your beloved friends and spending time with them....more
The last third of this book was heart-wrenching. But so hopeful. The main character is such a beautiful person and you can't help but laugh with her aThe last third of this book was heart-wrenching. But so hopeful. The main character is such a beautiful person and you can't help but laugh with her and cry for her. Highly recommended....more