This is a very difficult book to review, because I'm not actually sure what I though about it or how I felt about it. It's widely accepted as a master...moreThis is a very difficult book to review, because I'm not actually sure what I though about it or how I felt about it. It's widely accepted as a masterpiece of British literature, and there's good reason why it's a classic and why it's still widely read today.
This book was hard to read, hard to understand, and hard to enjoy--but it's meant to be that way. I see it as part of Thackeray's statement about the society he's describing. This makes it difficult to decide if I should give the book four stars, because it succeeds in it's endeavor and is rather brilliant, or two, because it succeeded in being wordy, confusing, and being populated by unpleasant people. I gave it three, which is for sure wrong, but will hopefully warn those who need a warning what it is they are getting themselves into by starting this trek through the good and bad times in the life of Miss Becky Sharp and through the highest and lowest offerings of British Regency society.(less)
The Highwayman is one of my all-time favorite poems (and, unfortunately, the first thing that comes to my mind when someone says "love poetry"; even t...moreThe Highwayman is one of my all-time favorite poems (and, unfortunately, the first thing that comes to my mind when someone says "love poetry"; even though I know this is a terrible idea of what true love is, I feel that this the most romantic love can get). I know it by heart and recited it to myself frequently.
"The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas."
"Breeches of brown doe skin that fitted with never a wrinkle--his boots were up to the thigh"!
"I'll come to thee by the moonlight, though hell should bar the way."
There are several more lines that I dearly treasure, but I fear they would give away what happens (can there be spoilers for really old poems?).(less)
I had to read this book for class. I loved the class, I hated the book--as did everyone else in the class. We hated reading the book so much that we c...moreI had to read this book for class. I loved the class, I hated the book--as did everyone else in the class. We hated reading the book so much that we couldn't even give the movie a fair shot.
The book is hard to read for multiple reasons. I can't talk about the quality of the writing, since that would depend on which translation one is reading, but no matter who did the translation, some things can't be fixed. First of all, this novel is made up of only the surviving parts of the original story. There is supposed to be more, but it's lost to us, and so all we have to read are bits and pieces. This makes it, understandably, difficult to follow the story. But beyond that there was, for me, a greater problem: the bits that were there were unpleasant. They were violent, disgusting, graphically sexual, and otherwise distasteful. I didn't want to find out what had happened in the missing bits, because I didn't enjoy what was happening in the bits there were.
Perhaps a different translation might be able to make up for the unpleasantness of the story by having excellent prose that would make me want to keep reading...perhaps. I've both loved and hated The Iliad because of different translators, so I can't say that it's impossible. But I doubt it.(less)
Quite possibly my favorite book ever. And maybe also the best. Of course I've thought each of those things about other books, but not always both abou...moreQuite possibly my favorite book ever. And maybe also the best. Of course I've thought each of those things about other books, but not always both about the same book. I can't imagine any kind of person who wouldn't enjoy Jane Eyre. Read it.(less)
Android Karenina, the newest in the "literary mash-up" trend from the publishers of the original mash-up, Pr...moreI got this book in a first reads giveaway.
Android Karenina, the newest in the "literary mash-up" trend from the publishers of the original mash-up, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, is not just one silly book in a series of silly books. In fact, it's not silly, apart from the Reader's Discussion Guide--not that the two Jane Austen mash-ups were necessarily silly either, but this review is about Android Karenina. And if it's not a silly fad what is it? It's a really good book.
All the drama and tension, as well as the hope and joyousness, that one could ask for in a great book are there. The characters are deep (or shallow, as the case may be, but real), and rounded, and very human--even, and sometimes especially, the robots. And the story is interesting and exciting as well as suspenseful and heartbreaking. The wording of the message in the book may have changed, but the themes and ideas remain. The new elements of the world of Android Karenina blend pretty seamlessly with the old, as does the writing between the co-authors.
Leo Tolstoy's and Ben H. Winters' story does not always feature humans and humanity at their best, at their most likable or respectable, and as a result they may not always be very sympathetic characters. But being human does not necessarily mean being sympathetic (in fact, it often doesn't). Many of the humans in this story are not, in fact, very sympathetic, but many of the robots, on the other hand, are. And whether they are or not, it is hard not to become emotionally invested in what is happening to them.
I LOVED the inventiveness of the way the Russian society had adapted with the help of robots and the advancing technology. Improvements in the efficiency of travel and hard labor are obvious places to go, and Ben H. Winters did indeed go there, but he also had incredible ideas of cultural changes as well. Most interesting to me was the idea of floating balls, where couples dance high above the floor, leaping from jetstream to jetstream of air--what would have made people ever think of improving dancing, and how did they arrive at this idea?--and the way that class III robots enhanced their ladies' beauty by casting different colored lights to silhouette them. The creativity of these and other changes blew me away.
Once started, I had a very hard time putting this book down. Nearly every day this week I kept reading while I should have been going out to do some work, sometimes twice in one day, because I could not hold myself to my constant promise of "just one more chapter." Its length is considerable, but the desire to always keep reading on made it go pretty quickly.
Oh, and for those who were hoping for silly, there is a little bit of that too. My favorite silly quote, which I can't stop laughing at: p. 499 "The knock was not from the door, however, but from the windowpane. It shattered violently and an Honored Guest burst into the chamber and flew across the room toward her, shrieking horribly, its dozens of grimy yellow eyes flashing, its razor-sharp beak aimed like a dagger at her breast." This makes sense in the context of the story, but I love the sound of an "Honored Guest" bursting in through a window and attacking.(less)
I think most people are already familiar with the story of Emma, and many are probably also familiar with the back-story, which is that Jane Austen de...moreI think most people are already familiar with the story of Emma, and many are probably also familiar with the back-story, which is that Jane Austen decided to write about a character which she thought "nobody but myself will much like." I dare say there are plenty of people who indeed do not like Emma Woodhouse, but I have loved plenty of books, TV shows, and movies centered on a character I disliked (or even hated) far more than Emma, whose faults do not, at least, include witlessness, stupidity, or true ugliness of character. Added to Emma's attractiveness as a protagonist and other well-rounded characters that we may love or hate, is Jane Austen's excellent prose and story plotting, and, most importantly, her cutting humor and social commentary. Oh wait, perhaps most important is the love story--or love stories--that touch the readers' hearts. Or at least touched mine. Actually, considering Mansfield Park, I guess the humor is the most important for me...anyway, all of those elements are there, and so I enjoyed the book. While not my favorite book of Austen's, Emma is far from my least favorite (ahem, Mansfield Park).
It was an interesting experience reading Emma, because my level of enjoyment and interest varied throughout. I tore through the first few pages, and settled in for a couple of chapters--until I realized to my horror that the whole episode of Harriet and Mr. Martin was taken care of extremely early on, and the episode of Mr. Elton very shortly after that. Would there really be enough content of interest to take up the remaining four-fifths of the book before Emma comes to her sudden realization near the end? And I felt, for the next hundred or so pages, like I was slogging through it and that it would never pick up. Then, after about the first third of the book, and before I even realized it, it had indeed picked up. I was racing through each page because I was so eager to get to the next. Finally, after everyone has found their match and I thought the story was at an end, it went on and on, and even though it was still interesting reading, it was continually surprising to me that there was anything left to read.(less)