Tsukuru Tazaki is Not Really Colorless I was so happy to see that there was a new Haruki Murakami book, in Playaway audio no less, available in my libTsukuru Tazaki is Not Really Colorless I was so happy to see that there was a new Haruki Murakami book, in Playaway audio no less, available in my library. I have a hopeless literary crush on Murakami, and this latest only deepens it for me.
When Tsukuru Tazaki was in high school, he formed a deep, close friendship with four classmates, two male and two female. The five of them all volunteered for an after-school program, tutoring younger children. When it came time to choose their universities, Tsukuri was the only one who chose to leave their home city of Nagoya. He chose to go to Tokyo in order to study with a professor who was an expert in railroad-train construction, his chosen field.
The summer after sophomore year, just as he was about to turn 20, his group rejected him. One of the male members spoke to him (after all four had repeatedly dodged his phone calls) to tell him that he was not to contact them ever again. He was too stunned to ask why, but the rejection caused him to descend into a deep depression. Although he did not make a decisive suicide attempt, he came close to starving himself to death while thinking about how much he wanted to die. Eventually, he was able to return to normal activities, began to eat normally again, and regained his lost strength through regular exercise. However, he was permanently changed, both in appearance and internally.
Sixteen years after the rejection, Tsukuru's girlfriend Sara urges him to track down his lost friends and learn their reasons for having rejected him. She perceives that their rejection continues to exist as a psychic wound that holds Tsukuru back from ever fully connecting with another person. After an initial reluctance, he agrees.
What he discovers through his reunions with his old friends is, indeed, as life-changing as Sara suspects. In the process, he learns that there is huge discrepancy between the way he imagined his friends perceived him and the way they actually did (he thought of himself as "colorless," dull, and expendable).
As I got close to the end, I realized that the resolution was not going to be as complete as I had hoped. I have complained in other reviews about the prevalence of open endings. However, I did feel that the narrative ended on a hopeful note, and that was what I craved....more
Everything Will (Not) Be Just Fine I can't quite decide on a star rating for this book. For most of it, I thought it was on the way to a four-star ratEverything Will (Not) Be Just Fine I can't quite decide on a star rating for this book. For most of it, I thought it was on the way to a four-star rating for me. It seemed to me that this book had the kind of dark humor that managed to avoid crossing into "too dark." Until it did. Without spoiling, I will just say that there was one scene where, for me, it dove way, way down into "too, too dark." I was actually kind of gobsmacked at the sharp turn it took. Then, in the aftermath, it kind of redeemed itself, so that was considering three-starring it. But then I thought about that one scene so much, and I decided there really wasn't any coming back from it.
The primary protagonist in this narrative is a relentless optimist who is always thinking or saying, "I think everything will be just fine." This line happens so often, I think that should have been the title of the book. "The Happiest People in the World" comes up now and then, too, but not as often....more
Solid YA Dystopian Although this novel hits many familiar YA dystopian tropes, I am interested enough to want to read the rest of this trilogy.Solid YA Dystopian Although this novel hits many familiar YA dystopian tropes, I am interested enough to want to read the rest of this trilogy....more
Invisible I was planning a long, thoughtful, and very thorough review of this. I began a draft the very next morning after completing the audiobook (lInvisible I was planning a long, thoughtful, and very thorough review of this. I began a draft the very next morning after completing the audiobook (lying in bed listening to the last little bit and going into denial that it was suddenly over). But then I put it aside and let too much time pass. Gosh darn too much time passing.
You know the intro to Modern Family? You have a moment of live action that suddenly freezes, and then the camera backs up to reveal the action frozen within the frame of a photograph someone is holding. Then the scene that this photo-holding person is a part of also freezes, the camera backs up again, and freezes that moment into a photo frame. This happens repeatedly, ending with a big group shot containing photos of photos of photos (kind of a hall-of-mirrors effect). Invisible was a bit like this. As I'd mentioned in an update, part one is revealed to be a manuscript that is being read 40 years after the actions taking place in it. The next section of the manuscript picks up in the summer of 1967, switching from first person to second upon the advice of Part II's narrator. Later still, the rest of the "1967" narrative (fall) is told in third person, rendered by part-II narrator from the notes its author left for him. A character who plays an important role in the events recounted from 1967 denies some of the claims it contains. She still wants it to be published, but as fiction, with names and certain details changed. We learn that what we have been reading contains the fictionalized names and details. Finally, another person involved in the 1967 events reads the MS and adds her own details.
I love the overall effect of constantly reframing what has come before, so that I was stopping from time to time, thinking, "Wait a minute, WHAAATTTT?" My only quibble is I wish there had been just one more part, or even a brief epitaph where narrator #2 reacts to the revelations that narrator #3 shares....more
Maybe Lost Something in Format It turns out I was way off when I estimated I was 75% finished when I posted my earlier update today. I finished listenMaybe Lost Something in Format It turns out I was way off when I estimated I was 75% finished when I posted my earlier update today. I finished listening to this while I was still on the front porch, about to go out for today's run. So I must have been more like 99.99% done.
Anyway, the ending made me feel a bit "meh." It wasn't even an ending so much as it was a stopping. There was no resolution; no (unfashionable) closure. Which, I realize is the postmodern way to go, but I guess I've had too many postmodern none-closure stoppings.
Also, I will fully concede that much is probably lost in simply listening to a play. That whole visual dimension, with the actors' non-verbal acting, is lost. As I mentioned in my update, I do generally enjoy Mamet's work, and I will probably seek out the movie version of this from my library's DVD collection....more
The Short, Pointless Second Life of Bree Tanner I downloaded the audiobook version of this novella from my library's electronic-collection website upoThe Short, Pointless Second Life of Bree Tanner I downloaded the audiobook version of this novella from my library's electronic-collection website upon noticing that it was recommended to me. The reason it was recommended, I am sure, is that I had recently borrowed the Kindle edition of The Host (which I've already read in paperback format). And the reason for my acquiring The Host is that I'm following Das Mervin's sporking of the book over at the Das_Sporking LiveJournal community (look it up if you're not already familiar with it--you won't be sorry!).
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner had been the only book in the Twilight series that I had not listened to or read already. I frankly didn't see the point, since Bree's fate is already laid out in Eclipse, where she is shown to be an insignificant side character who lives on-page for about five minutes. However, I was actually looking for something to listen to during runs. I'm still waiting for the friggin' download of A Dance With Dragons (I haven't been doing enough driving to get very far with the CDs, and ripping them to load onto the mp3 player is too much of a PITA). (Also been too distracted to do much reading of the text versions I have checked out.)
So, Bree. I saw how short it is (four hours and change of listening time) and decided to give it a go. Plus it also gave me a reason to backtrack and reading Das Mervin's spork of the novella. I definitely recommend it, as she pretty much lays out everything I was thinking while listening, but more meticulously.
This narrative was completely gratuitous. It didn't make Bree a sympathetic character. She has been a vampire for just three months when the story begins, and she has maintained absolutely zero connection to her human past. She slaughters humans without the slightest bit of regret, seeing them as weak and pathetic and deserving to be her next meal. She's also super-stupid, taking forever to deduce things most people would figure out long, long before she even determines there is anything to figure out.
And insta-love. She almost immediately falls in love with a fellow "newborn" vampire named Diego, based on pretty much nothing more than killing, feeding, disposing of bodies together, and then discovering that the sun doesn't kill them but instead makes them sparkle.
When the "Bree" narrative finally catches up to Eclipse, we get copy-pasted dialogue plus Bree's adding-nothing thoughts and reactions (mostly being super-amazed by the Cullens and wanting to tear into Bella's super-delicious "sweet"-smelling blood).
As Mervin points out, it would have made much more sense to tell the newborn-army story from the point of view of Victoria, its master-mind (using that word loosely) or Riley (her lieutenant in charge of wrangling the dirt-stupid newborns Victoria creates). This novella is made of fail...more
The Winds of Winter: They are coming (but when?) So, now I've completed all five of the published books in the "A Song of Fire and Ice" series. I realThe Winds of Winter: They are coming (but when?) So, now I've completed all five of the published books in the "A Song of Fire and Ice" series. I really feel for the people who were reading the books as they came out, each time waiting (and waiting and waiting and waiting) for the next installment to come out. Having come to this series when these books were all already in print, I could always just finish one book and then move on to the next one (at least as soon as I was able to access it from the library). But now? Does anyone know when The Winds of Winter is supposed to drop?
According to George R. R. Martin, as he was writing A Feast for Crows, the story just got too big, so he ending up splitting it into two books: A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. What this meant was that A Dance with Dragons did not pick up where A Feast for Crows left off, but instead backed up and told parallel stories from the perspective of characters not heard from in the fourth installment. I saw much grumbling in AFfC reviews, over not hearing from those characters and having to wait until the next book to catch up. While I did miss hearing from the subset of characters in question, I didn't mind waiting and just thinking of books four and five as one big book with some non-linear storytelling. But admittedly, I had the advantage of being able to launch right into book five upon finishing book four. Had I read these books as they were released, I probably would have been less sanguine.
As for this fifth installment, I enjoyed the way many of the separate story arcs began to come together. There is one thing that made me scream NOOOOOOOO!!!! But I don't want to spoil that. Just... Martin isn't afraid of killing his darlings, is he? And as much as stories were coming together, much is still hanging in the balance, and how long must I wait in suspense? Garrrrr!...more
I am so glad that I took the precaution of checking out A Dance With Dragons from my library in anticipation of finishing
Ready to Dance With Dragons!
I am so glad that I took the precaution of checking out A Dance With Dragons from my library in anticipation of finishing A Feast For Crows and also bringing ADWD with me today. I will be starting that book during my lunch break and can hardly wait. This won't be a full review, but I will just note that it was interesting to be inside the head of characters we've only previously seen filtered through other characters' perspectives. I am thinking particularly of Cersei and Brienne.
(view spoiler)[It was fascinating to realize how many of her actions were governed by a desire to thwart the prophesy that the Maegie foretold in Cersei's childhood visit to her tent. As she was taking steps to incriminate Margaery, I couldn't help thinking that this would be one of those classic instances where somebody's steps to thwart a prophecy actually caused it to be fulfilled. And it looks as though I'm right (though that story was still unresolved by the end of the book). I'll be very curious to see the next developments in ADWD. (hide spoiler)]
I was so excited to finally get my hands on this final installment of the Slated trilogy. I can't even express how frustrating it was to know that UKI was so excited to finally get my hands on this final installment of the Slated trilogy. I can't even express how frustrating it was to know that UK readers had this book in their possession so far ahead of the US.
Before she was Slated, Kyla Davis was known as Lucy Connor. After her abduction at age ten by the AGT (Antigovernment Terrorists), but before being Slated, she was known as Rain. As Shattered opens, she is being given another new identity and cover story. She is to be known as Riley Kain, an eighteen-year old who is to live in a group home for under-21 young women, Waterfall House for Girls, while enrolled in CAS (Cumbrian Apprenticeship Scheme).* The director of the home is Stella Connor, the mother Lucy/Rain/Kyla/Riley does not remember from her life to age ten.
While living at the home, our heroine begins to regain more of her lost memories, and before long she pieces together evidence suggesting that her past is even more complicated than she had ever suspected, and that the situations she has faced were orchestrated on levels she never would have imagined possible. Along the way, she discovers that the government enforcers known as Lorders have been committing atrocities that they would never want the public to know about. Can she make evidence of those atrocities known? With the stakes become ever higher, Kyla struggles to become part of the solution that could end the current government's reign of terror.
This final installment in the trilogy wrapped up the story in a way I found satisfying. Although there was a somewhat idealistic about face at a very high level of government, Terry took pains to avoid wrapping things up too neatly. There are messy loose ends, and some painful losses, as there should be, but also a sense of triumph. And as I suggested in my title for this post, I am sad to say goodbye to these characters and this world.
*It's kind of a fun coincidence that I recently posted on the issue of [premature] adulthood in YA dystopian novels. Teri Terry did exactly what I suggested a YA dystopian author should do: create a world where official adulthood is delayed rather than pushed ever earlier. In the Slatedverse, young adults under 21 must live in group homes....more