This book gets a star taken a way for two reasons: 1. The first half is dry, tedious and a little bit boring. Very necessary and extremely well written...moreThis book gets a star taken a way for two reasons: 1. The first half is dry, tedious and a little bit boring. Very necessary and extremely well written, but I was a little disappointed at first and thought I wasn't going to enjoy the book as much as I'd hoped. 2. I hated the end. Again, extremely well written and it ended exactly the way it was supposed to. And I don't really wish it had ended differently. But it's definitely not a book I will ever read again.
This is a book primarily about what it means to be human. What it's like to be alive. What it means to make the journey from childhood to adulthood. I mentioned above that the beginning/first half of the book was tedious - much the way childhood can seem at the time. I remember how long a year seemed when I was a kid. The first 10 years of my life took longer than the last 18. I would never want to be a kid again for the sole reason that I don't ever want to endure anything that long and arduous again. But in retrospect, childhood is a golden, magical time full of possibilities and innocence and joys that will never fully disappear. And that is what this book captured, along with the trials of navigating adolescence, and the aching nostalgia that comes with adulthood. All wrapped up in a deeply but subtly disturbing dystopian story that will definitely satisfy fans of the genre, even without delving into any true science fiction. Newsweek called this book "deceptively lovely" and that is exactly what it is. It starts out as a girl relating stories of her childhood and slowly sucks you under into something much more sinister but extremely powerful. Bittersweet, yes, but never bitter. This book is deceptively lovely.(less)
This book is one cohesive novel, written as a series of six short stories. Each story takes place in a different lo...moreStunning. This book was fantastic!
This book is one cohesive novel, written as a series of six short stories. Each story takes place in a different location and time period, and is written in a completely different style, narrative tone, etc. They are each individual, self-contained stories, and yet each one has a connection to the one before and after it and all six have little ties. We are given the first half of each story until we reach the sixth. The sixth is uninterrupted, and then we go back in reverse order and get the second half of the first five. The book spans across centuries, beginning in 1850s and stretching to a post-apocalyptic world in the distant future. The author cleverly and poignantly stresses the overall themes of power, greed and prejudice and leaves you feeling awed and strangely hopeful.
Strengths: The themes are strong. The writing is excellent. Most writers these days are considered successful if they can write one captivating story and then re-sell it again and again after changing the title and character names. (And in all honestly, if it's entertaining enough, what's really wrong with that?) But Mitchell succeeds in writing six completely different stories in one book. Even if you don't enjoy the narrative or the message, you have to read this book if only to marvel at Mitchell's skill. He even takes a moment here and there to poke fun at his own plot devices. My favorite story was the fifth. Even as just a short story in the context of a much larger novel, this piece is a strong piece of dysutopian fiction. This story is fascinating, compelling, heart-wrenching and deeply disturbing. It holds its own among such classics as 1984 and Brave New World. (Mitchell even mentions Orwell and Huxley, referring to them as 'optomists.')
Weaknesses: The only real weakness is that it can take awhile to get into. This isn't a light read (which is a good thing!). For me, it didn't really get rolling until the third story and I wasn't really hooked until the fifth. But once you get there, you will be unable to put it down. When I reached the last page, I closed the book and said "Wow."
Hopefully you'll take the opportunity to read this amazing novel and have the same reaction I did. (less)
*Review for the audio book* I think a three star review for this book speaks for itself; it was alright but not fantastic. It was really short. The aud...more*Review for the audio book* I think a three star review for this book speaks for itself; it was alright but not fantastic. It was really short. The audio book was only two hours long. I am not sure if this was abridged or not; it did not say anywhere on the case.
As far as audio books go, this was pretty good. It was unique in that it wasn't read by a single narrator, but was actually dramatized with different voice actors for each character, background sounds, music and the works.
The story was interesting, but pretty standard as far as dystopian fiction goes. I think it was a little too short to be really engaging. If you think the premise sounds interesting, then definitely read this book. Margaret Atwood is a great writer and her books are always enjoyable. However, don't expect this book to change your life.(less)