I read this first as a child, when I was about 9, and I loved it. I've tried reading it every few years since then, and unfortunately, I haven't readI read this first as a child, when I was about 9, and I loved it. I've tried reading it every few years since then, and unfortunately, I haven't read this since 1997...ten years ago!! I ought to make time to re-read this one of these days....more
Third time I read the book (first time was back in Sept. 1988, second time was in Nov. 1992). Rated it 3 stars both times. Granted, I was 17 and 21 atThird time I read the book (first time was back in Sept. 1988, second time was in Nov. 1992). Rated it 3 stars both times. Granted, I was 17 and 21 at the time, and I certainly looked at things differently back then. Most of how I rated a book when I was younger was based on my gut reactions: did I like it, did I have a fun time reading it, or was I miserable the whole time and did I just want it to end?
These days, I still ask myself those questions and they certainly add weight when I'm rating a book. But now I also tend to look at things a bit differently (damn grad school for teaching me to read using different lenses!), which has changed the way how I rate things.
My thoughts on The Hobbit. Well, after watching Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, I decided to revisit the story to see how different the movie was from the book. Big mistake. I should've just left it there. Because after slogging through this wonderful piece of kid's fantasy, I came out of it with a feeling of "What the heck was I thinking back then? This isn't a 3-star book."
My main problems with The Hobbit: a. There isn't a single female character. Not one. Forget the movie (and thanks to Peter Jackson for actually adding Galadriel into the story!) -- the book has no female protagonist (or even baddie) for kids to rally for. And I'm sorry, but this book wasn't just read by boys.
b. The dwarves in the book were shallow, vapid, greedy and were only motivated by gold. Not honor. Gold. The movie dwarves were actually a lot more honorable (they want to restore the dwarves' ancestral home) but these dwarves were far from enlightened. Also, they were so helpless ("Oh, Bilbo, what will we do now?" or "We'll leave it up to the hobbit to figure it out!") that it was kind of pathetic -- it's their quest. Have a backbone!
c. While the Gollum part was great (anywhere Gollum shows up is wonderful) and Bilbo was actually fairly resourceful throughout most of the book, which is great since he's the hero of the story, this Bilbo was just...there was something off about him. There was nothing that really motivated him; there was no growth in his character. He was pretty whiny and sorry to say, but the Bilbo in the movie was a whole heck of a lot more honorable. Bildungsroman? What's that?
The story also meandered all over the place and the last third was so weak I actually wondered if Tolkien kind of lost steam towards the end. These are things most younger readers wouldn't necessarily notice -- the adventures were fun and exciting enough -- but as an adult reader looking at this for the third time...it gave me pause.
Oh well...who's to say? Maybe when I read this again several years from now maybe I'll change my mind again. Maybe....more
I was highly disappointed by this book, especially since it received some really good reviews. The writing style was fine, and Emma Donoghue painted aI was highly disappointed by this book, especially since it received some really good reviews. The writing style was fine, and Emma Donoghue painted a fairly accurate portrait of 18th century London. (These are the only things which made me give this novel 2 stars...otherwise, it would've been a 1-star book.) I thought the narrative's main flaw lay in its heroine, Mary Saunders. To me, she was very 2-dimensional: she was vain, vapid, egotistical, wholly unapologetic (about her thoughts/feelings/actions) that she was just completely unrelatable. I found her to be very unsympathetic, and for me, that made getting through the book very difficult. Many times, as readers, we look for something within a character which can be relatable to our own lives, but the characterization of Mary Saunders was such that I just found her intolerable and insufferable. Even in the 3rd part of the novel, when she seemingly wants to try to change her ways, she still comes off as disingenuous. ...more
I had read a couple of Geraldine Brooks' essays for my Lit Theory class while I was in grad school, and while I was never one of those ultra-feministI had read a couple of Geraldine Brooks' essays for my Lit Theory class while I was in grad school, and while I was never one of those ultra-feminist types, I liked what she wrote about women as being strong, independent and intelligent creatures without overtly politicizing femininity as a whole. So I looked forward to reading "Year of Wonders", primarily because I loved the topic, I loved the time period, I loved the location and because I thought Brooks would be able to impart something different to the story.
I was not impressed. As a whole, and academically speaking, the novel was flawless - it had strong characters, it was well-written grammatically, it had everything readers would look for in a novel. And I think that was what set me off. It followed all the rules about Writing The Novel: protagonists were good, antagonists were bad. Good people were redeemed at the end and the bad ones were punished. Scared, ignorant people did ghastly things because they didn't know any better: they reacted more than they thought. Women were strong, intelligent and outspoken, men were either enlightened or bought into the patriarchal hegemony, and in the end, the novel showed how the human spirit overcame everything bad that was thrown at it. Brooks did an excellent job with her research, so the locales were vividly described and she clung to historicity almost to a fault.
But in making the "perfect" novel, she lost something. It was not authentic at all. There were anachronisms all over the place. I found it extremely cloying that the language switched back and forth between modern and early modern (17th century) English. I found some of the characters 2-dimensional (good were good, bad were bad, when in reality, a really decent character would have both qualities - these days, everyone knows about the "flawed hero"). I thought that some of her characterizations and descriptions were better suited for a novel set a century later, not in 1666. She had a tendency to rely too much on idiomatic expressions, which made the writing awkward at times and the reading quite tedious. I had a few eye-rolling moments and honestly, I couldn't wait to finish the book - not because I wanted to know what happened, but because I had lost patience with it....more
Ugh -- absolutely horrible! Atrocious! This series has definitely gone downhill. This didn't even have anything to do with Arthur (except maybe in theUgh -- absolutely horrible! Atrocious! This series has definitely gone downhill. This didn't even have anything to do with Arthur (except maybe in the last 2 pages!). The writing was terrible. There were anachronisms all over the place, and worse yet, there were inconsistencies throughout the book! I think Jack Whyte has definitely lost steam by this point - I understand he didn't want to villainize "Lancelot" (or Clothar) anymore than he already has, but one of Whyte's biggest downfalls is trying to make a character -- ANY character -- too sympathetic and too noble. It makes the character totally unrelatable and unbelievable. And that's been his biggest failure, the last 3 or 4 books in the series. I think I've given up on this series...I don't even want to read the last book, The Eagle. It's gotten really poor reviews....more
The only thing I can say is...she certainly tried. I laughed through most of it. She's a very dramatic writer, but oftentimes, when a writer starts wrThe only thing I can say is...she certainly tried. I laughed through most of it. She's a very dramatic writer, but oftentimes, when a writer starts writing "historical" fiction such as this, they try too hard to justify certain things. Very new agey, certainly, but Zimmer Bradley was trying to force-fit the history into the fantasy, and in some cases, it worked. In others, it really didn't. What I admired about this book, however, wasn't the historical aspect of it so much as the power of her female characters. True, she made Gwen a whimpering, sniveling little thing, but her characterization of Morgana and the other women made for a compelling read. And it certainly made me laugh when she pointed out that Lancelot was a tad gay. :-)...more
I read this after I read the Mists of Avalon, and only because I just wanted to finish the trilogy. Not out of anything more than that. I wasn't all tI read this after I read the Mists of Avalon, and only because I just wanted to finish the trilogy. Not out of anything more than that. I wasn't all that impressed with Mists, but felt compelled enough to muddle through this and the other one....more
Stunning story-telling. I became so engrossed in the lives of these people, I actually had to create my own family tree for them, just so that I wouldStunning story-telling. I became so engrossed in the lives of these people, I actually had to create my own family tree for them, just so that I wouldn't get lost as I read. Rutherford is one of my ultimate favorite authors....more
This one totally lost me. I think I know what Lawhead intended to write, but his story got so convoluted in the middle there that it was very difficulThis one totally lost me. I think I know what Lawhead intended to write, but his story got so convoluted in the middle there that it was very difficult to follow. I think a lot of other readers said that this one, out of the five in the series, was the one that made them scratch their heads. I think for me, the travails of Peredur and company on their grail quest had so much potential, but, in the end, was just really very poorly written. It didn't make much sense, and if Lawhead wanted to confuse his audience as a mirror to the confusion Peredur and company felt in their forest/grail-seeking adventures, then he succeeded....more