I'm going to start off by saying, I do did not want to like this book. Really, I thought it was some tween Buffy ripoff. Then my neighbors started rea...moreI'm going to start off by saying, I do did not want to like this book. Really, I thought it was some tween Buffy ripoff. Then my neighbors started reading it, and like a some literary plague, it spread through the neighborhood Moms. Everyone told me I should read it.
So I did.
Oh my gosh, I liked it. I really didn't want to, that cynical perkygoff in me really wanted to roll my eyes, but I just couldn't put the book down. I"ve written academic papers on the vampire in literature, and I could see the analogies and metaphors, and I *STILL* liked this book.
The amazing part is that Meyer has taken the true essence of the concept of a vampire in literature, and written it in a way that is both enticing and acceptable for teen readers. Bella is what many teenage girls are, and one thing I really appreciated about this novel is that she acted very much like a teenage girl. Most novels written by adults about teenage girls tend to create a character that is either too childish or too adult to be relatable. Bella was spot on. My 17-year-old self could so easily put myself in her shoes.
Likewise Edward Cullen ends up being every girls fantasy. Typically the vampire in literature represents sexual fantasies and desires that cannot be fulfilled. Meyer has taken this to a new level. Edward is beautiful, strong, protective, and likewise dangerous, mercurial, and rebellious.
Meyer's original twist on the vampire has to do with Edward's desire for Bella. I think in many ways this is the crux of why this appeals to women. What woman doesn't want the ideal guy to be so attracted to them they they are afraid they cannot control themselves? Meyer has created the perfect man.
So despite my cynicism, and despite that the book really is a collection of romantic cliches--yes, there is a damsel in distress, multiple times--this was just, hands down, a good read.
... and yes, the minute I finished the book, I was off to get New Moon(less)
No, I didn't manage to read this book since I had the baby, I actually finished it the week before, but just haven't had the time to post my review. :...moreNo, I didn't manage to read this book since I had the baby, I actually finished it the week before, but just haven't had the time to post my review. :)
I've been somewhat lukewarm about the Song of Fire and Ice series... until this book. This is the book that made me understand what all the hub-bub was about regarding these books. I get it now.
My chief complaints about the first two books in the series (the cardboard characters, the shallowness of the female characters etc) were mostly eradicated in this book. Many of the characters began to leave their cliche stereotypes for more depth in this book. The downside to this was that at the same time characters were finally developing into something interesting, I found that the story lines became very stale.
You can tell that George R.R. Martin wrote for television, as the chapters in this book read oftimes like a television season. Things are accomplished painfully slowly, for the most part the plot it static, except for a few chapters that could be the equivalent of season finales or sweep month shows.
Still, it's GOOD reading. I think in some ways I'm highly critical of the books because I just can't find myself becoming as rabid a fan as many of his readers. Perhaps I'm being a little rebellious in that regard. One thing I did not like initially, but have come to appreciate is the historical accuracy of these books. I do not mean that the books are fictional histories, but rather that Martin is extremely well informed on the era in which he's based the books. At first it irked me as the books are FANTASY, not historical novels, but in the end, I appreciate that he's placed his fantasy in a very real, very human world that has a solid basis in European history.
I would recommend this series, but only to people who would be willing to stick out the thousands of pages that are first two books to get to the yummy tootsie roll center that is A Storm of Swords.
from an academic paper I wrote about the series in 2005:
In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and The Last Battle C.S. Lewis paints a world that is...morefrom an academic paper I wrote about the series in 2005:
In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and The Last Battle C.S. Lewis paints a world that is steeped in Celtic, Greek, and Christian mythos and imagery. He mixes and melds allegory and characters in a way that is lightweight, readable, and believable. The Chronicles of Narnia is a far lighter than Lewis’s contemporary, J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Lord of the Rings, but are no less steeped in a mythology that has depth, and history—a world based on mythology, but has also created its own mythos. Lewis draws from several mythological sources, but the books rely heavily on creatures from Greek, and Celtic mythology. Lewis relies heavily on Christian allegory for the books. Although the characters are derived from Pagan mythologies, the stories are derived from the Bible. Pagan and Christian myths meld into a new mythos. (less)
Each time I read this book, a different “universal truth” jumps out at me. When I was younger, I pond...moreNotes from an academic discussion about the book:
Each time I read this book, a different “universal truth” jumps out at me. When I was younger, I pondered the themes of prejudice, kindness, and dignity that run through the book, but now that I’m considerably older, what stuck out to me this time were the themes of innocence, and loss of innocence running through the whole book.
This reading I was particularly caught by the child-like perspective that the book gives each of the events. From the kids all thinking anything that touches the Radley property is poisoned, to Scout’s minimal understanding of the words used in the trial, but her complete understanding of the concepts. Likewise, with the exception of the trial, throughout the book innocence trumps experience. A particular example was when Scout first finds the goodies in the Radley tree. She finds the gum, ponders its origins, and decides that she’d like chewing the gum better than being all grown up about it. Jem, who always represents a more mature (but not much more until near the end) perspective, and he makes her spit it out when he finds out where she got it from. In the end though, Scout’s innocence let her get a good chew out of a wad of gum.
I think the fact that the book takes place over three years helps show the contrast between the innocent time at the beginning of the book, when Scout was six, and Dill, Jem and she played as relative equals, to Scout’s first day of school where Jem begins to brush her off as the “little sister.” By the end of the book, when Scout is nine, she may be physically older, but it seems that she is even more sheltered by Jem, who thinks the concept of the trial may be too grown up for her. He moves through the story from her equal to her protector, which only helps to keep Scout innocent through the book.
In the end though, the book really proves that there is something magical and golden about innocence. There is a purity and truth in innocence—whether it’s a dignified response to an unfair world, or simply an acceptance of things even if they are strange and different.
Lian Hearn's "Tales of the Otori" series is amongst my favorite reads. A fictional tale set in feudal Japan, the books and the entire series has been...more Lian Hearn's "Tales of the Otori" series is amongst my favorite reads. A fictional tale set in feudal Japan, the books and the entire series has been a refreshing change from the tired old feudal fantasy genre.
Heaven's Net is Wide is the final book and also the first book in the series. It tells the back story of Otori Shigeru, it is a story about patience and redemption. Like all the books in the series, it seems predictable, but will pull unexpected twists. Small things, that seem insignificant, will loom large in later chapters. In the end, it was not the best book in the series, but it is still worthy to be included.
The issue with the book is that since it is the "First Tale of the Otori" but the last published, it is hard to determine whether someone should start the series with this book, or instead follow the series in the order the books were published.
In favor of starting with this book, the first several chapters of the book spend considerable time setting up the society that book inhabits. Across the Nightingale Floor, the first book that was published, does not do this. So it is nice to have an introduction and a slow, dip your toes in first, introduction to this world. Unfortunately, if you've read the other books in the series first, this slow introduction can seem tiring and tedious, and for the most part does not offer you any additional insight.
In favor of reading the books in publishing order, is the fact that knowing the ending of this story, actually makes it more intriguing. I'd prefer not to give anything away, but the book gives you the back story to major events in the next books, without just telling the story for its own sake. There is considerable depth to things that are just mild mentions in the other books. Knowing that something seemingly small will loom large two books down, makes the book far more interesting. I think if this book is read first, the interest may not hold. Additionally, the major events that follow this book may seem less interesting.
In the end, I would recommend reading the books in the order they were published. I know that after finishing this one, I want to start the whole series over again. I'm still terribly glad I found it!(less)