Apt Pupil: First half, incredible. Second half, um...
The first half of Apt Pupil was creepily and absolutely compelling. King has a way of presenting...moreApt Pupil: First half, incredible. Second half, um...
The first half of Apt Pupil was creepily and absolutely compelling. King has a way of presenting the twisted and horrific in a way that urges a reader to keep reading, keep reading, keep reading--like watching a mangled body being extracted from a smashed car. You can't look away no matter how grotesque it is.
Sadly, also in true King form, somewhere in the middle of the book, the story took a turn, and the soft porn and profanity that King is prone to lean toward finally came out. Hey, if that's your thing, that's your thing. But I personally can't stomach it much anymore.
I do grant that it fits the character around which it surrounds, showing his stark change in personality as he gets deeper and deeper into the darkness of his soul. If we wanted to give it the old "serves the story" logic, yes, I can see that. The profanity, the sex, the violent fantasies--it all drives deeper and shows clearly (view spoiler)[Todd's spiral into (hide spoiler)] the state of psychopath. However, one has to wonder: is there a better way to write this that isn't so graphic?
King is a masterful storyteller. I read his books growing up, and I still acknowledge that he is an unsurpassed suspense and horror novelist. No one can tell a story like he can. I only wish he could do so (and truly, he has the talent to find a way) without riddling his novels with the blackness of profanity and explicit sex scenes.(less)
Room by Emma Donoghue is the story of a boy who spends the first five years of his life in an 11x11-foot room where his mother has been held captive b...moreRoom by Emma Donoghue is the story of a boy who spends the first five years of his life in an 11x11-foot room where his mother has been held captive by an abusive kidnapper for seven years, since she was taken at 19.
Rarely have I read a book that has so captivated my attention. After reading the back cover copy at a store, I picked it up at the library along with another book from a series. I opened Room before bed one night to read a few pages and get a sense of what it was about. I couldn't put it down until after 3:00 a.m. And the next morning, I continued reading for another three hours.
The narrative voice of 5-year old Jack absolutely reeled me in. While it took a short while to get used to the present tense and odd grammar patterns, it was this very aspect that became one of the many subtleties that make Room work as a story. Some of these elements may put people off; I have seen this reflected in several negative reviews of this book. Here's my two cents to throw in:
Jack's Vocabulary Jack does seem to have a bit more advanced vocabulary than the average 5-year old. But it is not so advanced for a woman in her early 20s, his Ma is the only person he was exposed to 24/7 (besides TV) for his developmental years. Kids will use the words they are exposed to, and if they learn a word, they'll use it--even if they sometimes use it incorrectly.
Repetition of Events Every day, including playtime and mealtime, is counted off by Jack's voice, communicating his need for a schedule and control over the situation. Truly, that was the kind of environment he lived in, and that became the expectation. I found this to be a clever way to show how Jack preferred things to be ordered and expected, which comes into play in later parts of the story (view spoiler)[when they escape from the shed and go into the Outside, a vastly disordered world with many unexpected things (hide spoiler)].
Breastfeeding After Five Numerous reviewers took issue with Ma nursing Jack well past his 5th birthday. I am pro-breastfeeding, so perhaps this bent affects my view, but I'll throw in the facts nevertheless.
For one, it is possible to produce milk while taking hormone contraception; the mini-pill still allows sufficient milk production for nursing mothers.
Second, it is entirely conceivable that Ma would have continued nursing for both mutual comfort and added nutrition. It is clear that Old Nick did not provide the best food (or adequate amounts) for them. Ma fiercely feared that her son would get ill, so she would believably do whatever she could to supplement Jack's nutrition.
-------------------- Room is the incredible story of a son's love for his Ma and a mother's devotion to her son. Jack's voice is utterly captivating in its own way; the way he describes the horrors of Room (which are just a part of life to him) are clever and eerily accurate. It's a story I will not soon forget.(less)
Jane Hamilton has a captivating writing style to be sure. I'd read to chapter 3, then set it down for a few days. Next time I picked it up, I finished...moreJane Hamilton has a captivating writing style to be sure. I'd read to chapter 3, then set it down for a few days. Next time I picked it up, I finished the entire book in one sitting.
She is a writer's writer in the way she strings her sentences together and with the words she uses. POV jumps around a lot, and she goes off on characters' thought tangents, but it's still amusing enough to keep a reader's attention.
The storyline is delightfully whimsical with a twist of deviousness added in. I enjoyed the characters very much even though most of them are very much unlike me. Jane Hamilton artfully painted every character in this book.
One caveat to my young reader friends: I do NOT necessarily recommend this book to you. There's a smattering of profanity and a few scenes of inappropriate sexual content and narrative, so please...not til you're older. It's one of THOSE books. (less)
This book is a collection of short stories about women (mostly middle-aged and older) who make small attempts (intended and unintended) to change from...moreThis book is a collection of short stories about women (mostly middle-aged and older) who make small attempts (intended and unintended) to change from some behavior that is considered normal or common for them, and what happened as a result.
To be completely honest, as I read through the first handful of stories, I began to wonder why I was wasting my time. Though the characters were deep and very endearing, and the writing was at times quite delicious, the tales seemed to be about women failing to find true liberation as a woman.
About the time I got to the short entitled "The Day I Ate Nothing I Remotely Wanted," which is about the middle, the irony of these women's lives began to sink in. I picked up this book thinking that it would be full of stories about doing things we think we shouldn't and how it ended sneakily happy. (Don't ask me why I picked it up in the first place; I really have no idea!)
However, the truth of the matter is, most of the time when we try to break the rules and do something we really shouldn't, it doesn't end well. Or if it does, it doesn't deliver what we thought it would.
I can't fully explain how these stories touched my heart, but they did. There is a beautiful vulnerability that readers are clandestinely exposed to when experiencing a moment in the life of a fictional character. I looked into the minds of these women, and they were made memorable and taught me valuable lessons. They also gave me a little insight into the heart of my future self, a woman perhaps twenty or thirty years older than I am now.
Even though half the book kept me complaining about being disappointed with the way the shorts ended, I'm giving Ms. Berg's book 4/5 stars because her characters are fabulously structured. I wanted to know these women, learn from their vulnerability or steadfastness or just plain determination to find joy in the midst of the mundane.
Also, her writing is very, very good. I can see why she has books on the New York Times best sellers list and has curried the favor of Oprah. She writes quite well. There were many lines I would have liked to have highlighted. I've broadened my own craft by reading these stories.
I believe my initial dissatisfaction sprouted from a few things: a gloss of unnecessary profanity (though few of the main characters used it themselves), some inappropriate subject matter (which real women are wont to talk about), but mostly from my own unmet, preconceived expectations.
These stories would, I believe, be better and more fully appreciated by women ages fifty and better. As I said, the irony of these women's lives was lost on me initially, simply because I lack the experience necessary to empathize with the characters' desires. But as I also said, I have grown from reading this, and that's really the point of reading anything, isn't it?
---------------- NOTE: I wouldn't recommend it to my CP teens AT ALL. Don't put it on your to-read list, girls. Not until you're at least 30 years old. Otherwise, it will probably make no sense at all. :oP(less)
Some Assembly Required delivered what the rave on the cover said, "Charming...filled with quirky characters and small town eccentricity." I picked thi...moreSome Assembly Required delivered what the rave on the cover said, "Charming...filled with quirky characters and small town eccentricity." I picked this one up completely on a whim at the library because the title and small town-ness intrigued me. (I'm fascinated by the small town psyche.)
The unique characterization in this novel is its strong point. There are variety of people--the instruction manual writer turned small town reporter, a autistic savant, the recovering alcoholic, the jaded old lady, the disillusioned aging sweetheart. Ms. Bonasia takes these shells to another level and gives them a depth that isn't always present in most first-time novels.
There is a smattering of profanity that probably could have been omitted, but I admit that it wasn't executed without purpose, so that made it fairly tolerable, at least for me.
The biggest theme in Some Assembly Required is loss, as every character has experienced some form of it. I don't think that makes it a flat story, however. It makes it all the more believable for haven't we all experienced loss at some point?
An underlying theme is faith in God, which I kept hoping would amount to something more. But it treated each character's faith respectfully and Ms. Bonasia kept everyone in character.
There were no big revelations made by the end of the novel, and there is one scene in which "God" appears in a dream to Simon. It might be a little infuriating for some because of how God is portrayed, but it isn't nearly as infuriating as William P. Young's The Shack. All in all, it was a fair and healthy view of different people's takes on faith in God.
I very much enjoyed reading this novel. A reader gets to know Ms. Bonsaia's characters intimately, and I found myself cheering them on even as they struggled or dealt with temptation. If you're thinking about picking it up, just be aware of the profanity and the somewhat liberal subject matter that comes up.(less)
Although this story has an intruiging and funny main character who does entertaining, interesting things and thinks in a way that's actually quite fun...moreAlthough this story has an intruiging and funny main character who does entertaining, interesting things and thinks in a way that's actually quite fun to read, I had a really hard time getting past all the profanity and foulness.
It's not that the /narrator/ used foul language, it was more the neighbors, family, and people he interacted with. (I have a very low tolerance for the F-word, and that was a favorite of the secondary characters.) It got to be a little much, and I simply couldn't finish it. This one went back to the library.(less)
Though this isn't stunning literary writing, it does ask the original question of "what would Jesus do?" The setting it quite sleepy and not a lot of...moreThough this isn't stunning literary writing, it does ask the original question of "what would Jesus do?" The setting it quite sleepy and not a lot of drama unfolds, but lessons are learned and taught to the characters. They are, of course, lessons that could be applied personally to anyone who is willing to admit they sympathize with at least one of the characters.(less)