I absolutely loved Girl, Interrupted as part of the course I took this past semester on insanity. It was the only nonfiction book we read, and Kaysen'...moreI absolutely loved Girl, Interrupted as part of the course I took this past semester on insanity. It was the only nonfiction book we read, and Kaysen's memoir is written with so much humor and with such a quick pace that it was an easy but thought provoking read. Although it's largely anecdotal, the more she gets into her own logic and her own thoughts about her "condition", the more interesting the book becomes. A great read for anyone, but particularly people who are interested in memoir and institutional memoirs. (less)
Once again, I'm completely blown away by Murakami's writing. I'm still confused as to how a book that is so boring in theory can be so interesting in...moreOnce again, I'm completely blown away by Murakami's writing. I'm still confused as to how a book that is so boring in theory can be so interesting in practice, but I know that it's all because Murakami has a way of writing things so simply and beautifully that they have no other option but to be compelling.
I've mentioned it before and I think it bears mentioning again in this context, that his treatment of female characters can be problematic. The female characters in this novel, especially the narrator's wife, are no different. Rather than try to justify it, or tear down my enjoyment of the book, I'll just leave it at that.
I do, think, though, that Murakami is not interested in writing "good" characters. Most of us expect a narrator who is at least "good" enough for us to understand and feel sorry for, but Murakami writes characters who are very close to being living, breathing humans. The narrator in this book makes so many mistakes and hurts so many people that it's hard to like him, in theory, but you don't think about that when you're reading the book. I couldn't help but relate to him because I could see myself in him, at least in the basest human way--we all screw up, and sometimes we don't even feel bad about it.
I really can't get enough of Murakami's writing, and this book was the simplest and strangest of his books that I've read. (less)
I don't read a lot of graphic novels, but I'm so glad I had the opportunity to read this. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is everything that a graphic n...moreI don't read a lot of graphic novels, but I'm so glad I had the opportunity to read this. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is everything that a graphic novel should be, with detailed and imaginative frames and a great story that's told in a non-linear fashion with lots of literary references and illusions. I'm amazed at how well it reads, and how well it can bridge the gap between so-called "literary fiction" and other genres, especially since it's a memoir, as well.
There's so much in this book about family, about relationships, about sexuality, and about general young adult experience. It reads well (one of the first "YA" books I've read lately that doesn't talk down to its audience), the illustrations add whole new depths to the story, and it's a memorable story. What's not to love? (less)
At first, I was turned off by Murakami's sparse language and the odd, stand-offish way his character navigates through the world he lives in, the peop...moreAt first, I was turned off by Murakami's sparse language and the odd, stand-offish way his character navigates through the world he lives in, the people he's around, and his emotions. Many people have said that Norwegian Wood is Murakami's Catcher in the Rye and I think that's the thing that made me hate this book at first. I've never been a big fan of Holden, and at times Toru is so much like him it's sickening. But, as I read on, I began to love the intriguing strangeness of the characters, the sparsity and beauty of the details and descriptions, and even Toru in all of his distance.
This is a book that makes you think, and makes you feel. It's difficult not to become invested in Toru's love of Naoko, and his friendship with Midori. Even the most mundane descriptions (there are so many detailed descriptions of the lunches he eats, alone, that it's almost overwhelming to think about them) become enjoyable and important.
I left this book in love with Murakami's writing and in awe of the impact the end of this book left me with. There's not a tidy, clean ending. In fact, it ends with so many questions left that it's maddening, but Murakami knows exactly what he's doing--he's keeping you hooked, keeping you thinking about his characters, and changing you slightly, perhaps even imperceptibly, from the person you were when you began reading. (less)
John Green is incredible. His writing never ceases to amaze me. He is able to create so many characters who are witty and quirky and different, withou...moreJohn Green is incredible. His writing never ceases to amaze me. He is able to create so many characters who are witty and quirky and different, without being annoyingly so. I am so sick of reading about teenagers who are so strange and avant garde that they seem to be fake and elitist--especially when they're written by adults who have no idea what in the world they're even talking about. John Green's characters are what all of those failed attempts are meant to be. They're nearly real.
I found this story line pretty predictable, but I read way too many books and watch way too many movies, so nothing even begins to surprise me anymore. It's not the plot of this book that is so interesting--it's the characters and the depth of Green's writing. He is able to make you truly care about everyone in his book--even the characters you grow to hate make you feel sorry for them, or hate them so much you care about their fate just for spite.
He is truly an inspiration for an aspiring writer just because his writing is so clear and natural. There are no overwhelming embellishments. Everything is simple and easy to read and so deep and personal and moving that it's hard to believe he managed to fit it all in one book. At one point I was even moved to tears, and I haven't cried in an eternity.
I have never yet been disappointed by John Green's work, and at this point I don't expect I ever will be. (less)
One Hundred Years of Solitude seems to be one of those novels that is either a hit or a miss for most people. Either you read it and think, “Meh. I di...moreOne Hundred Years of Solitude seems to be one of those novels that is either a hit or a miss for most people. Either you read it and think, “Meh. I didn’t like it. Boring, not enough character development, though it was bullshit,” or it changes your life in some small, nearly imperceptible way. I’m of the latter group. It’s not very often that I read a book that actually changes the way I think about people and the way I think about the world, but Marquez manages to do so in OHYOS. There are so many characters, so much drama going on within one town and one family, but that’s not the part of the book that’s interesting (for some thrill-seekers, it may be the only part that stood out, though). It’s the language of OHYOS that sets it apart. Although I can’t understand Spanish, and therefore cannot speak to the accuracy of the translation, the translation is brilliantly written. The language is crisp and precise, and the ideas are so beautiful and heartbreaking that OHYOS will leave you thinking about it for a long, long time. Every character sticks out in my mind as a real, defined person with their own problems and their own psychological issues that are at play with the rest of the family. I will say that, for me, the earlier generations (Colonel Aureliano Buendia’s generation, and his parents) were more interesting to me than the later groups of children and spouses that came along, but everyone in the novel feels real, and it’s one of the few books I’ve ever read that have truly moved me.(less)
Review from Dec 30th, 2010: The Hunger Games was one of the most addictive books I’ve ever read. Katniss, Peeta, Gale, all of them were intriguing to m...moreReview from Dec 30th, 2010: The Hunger Games was one of the most addictive books I’ve ever read. Katniss, Peeta, Gale, all of them were intriguing to me and I grew to love them and care about them – becoming truly invested in their futures – so waiting so long to read Catching Fire was an unnecessary torture I put upon myself. But, I like that it was the last book I read in 2010 – it ended the year with a bang. Catching Fire starts out sort of slow, which I actually really loved. It gives you a chance to catch up, wrap your head around the new developments, and become re-acquainted with the characters. I even have to admit, that when the actual plot started rolling, I was a little afraid that the book was going gimmicky, and just trying to re-live tricks that worked best in the past. But, I have to give it to Collins, she manages to make things wildly different, within the same circumstances (kind of) and keep things intriguing and suspenseful. Unlike most sequels, this book was able to deepen my love for the characters, and even make me love characters I’d never met before. It also deepened my understanding of the first plot, and the world the characters inhabit.
Addition March 26th, 2012: I'm going to stand by my opinion of the Hunger Games and say that Catching Fire doesn't hold up well for a close reading, or even a re-read. It's exciting and fast-paced enough that it doesn't really matter, but if you're looking for depth, you should look someplace else. I know a lot of people are reading these books now, and a lot of people are delighting in saying how immature and poorly written these books are, but you have to keep in mind that they're written for the middle school/high school age group. They're not literary fiction, in any sense of the word. And that's why they don't hold up well when you re-read them. The plot isn't as fresh and exciting and different as it was the first time. You begin to spend more time on detail and characters, and you find them lacking--it's just not the same. However, I am able to see, upon re-reading how ingenious Collins's plot is. She came up with so many twists and turns (some of them predictable, but, well, they say every story's already been written before) that I can't help but give her kudos. And the writing's not as bad as people claim (as I've already said, it's written for young adults, and if you pick up any other young adult book, you'll see that the writing is often much, much worse). I have the same opinion of this book as I do the Twilight series: If you're at the appropriate age range for the books and you want to rag on them for the writing, then by all means. If you're an adult and you're reading them because everyone else is, and not because you love YA, stick to adult fiction and literary fiction.
(That said, I wasn't as crazy about Mockingjay the first time I read it, and since my opinions of the first two books changed semi-drastically upon re-reads, I'm really excited to see if Mockingjay improves or gets worse in my opinion.)(less)
Review From September 26th, 2010: I read this book in (almost) one sitting. When you combine an addictive plot to convincing characters and clear, con...moreReview From September 26th, 2010: I read this book in (almost) one sitting. When you combine an addictive plot to convincing characters and clear, concise, exciting writing, you'll hook readers. And Collins has that recipe down. It's hard to make me compare books to Harry Potter, but this is almost like a...more nihilistic, almost darker (if that's possible, because I consider HP pretty dark) type of story with the same type of characters. That's not saying that either have cardboard, or boring, easy-to-recreate characters - that's saying that they both have characters you feel like you know, and who you come to care about. And that's the best part of the Hunger Games. You get engrossed in the characters. You become personally interested in what will happen to them and how it will happen. And I definitely fell in love and couldn't stop turning the pages.
(Not so much "spoilers", but character analyses that won't make sense if you haven't read the books, follow. Also, hints at the book's love triangle. And, if you know nothing about that at this point, you shouldn't even be reading reviews.)
Re-Read Review from January 2nd, 2011: Re-reading this book so soon after reading it for the first time (in September, which was actually plenty of time for me to go very fuzzy on the details) and reading the rest of the series, may have been a mistake. Although I’m slightly obsessed at the moment, picking all of the books apart for little details and generally being amazed at the mastery of the writing that sucks you in so well, I’ve found the books don’t stand up to such picky re-reading.
Things that do stand up to pickiness are the world that Collins creates and the suspense she weaves throughout. Her language is strong enough to make her plot and her heart-pounding adventure stand up well to the test. It’s certainly not a difficult read, which makes it even more apt to suck you in and not let you go until you’ve finished it.
The characters, too, manage to stand up to the test, but only barely. While reading for the first time I found Gale to be brave and kind, re-reading leaves a bitter taste in my mouth as I begin to see the tell-tale signs of a revolutionary who is more interested in (Oh, God, I’m quoting Dumbledore again) “the greater good” than the individual, which, in my opinion, is what makes us humane.
Prim is a flimsy cardboard character in this book, not making me care about her at all by reading Katniss’s fond remembrances. Out of the family, really, it’s the mother who becomes the most well-defined character – but that’s only because of the things you can imagine about her – her grief over finding out her husband was dead driving her into a state of catatonia makes you understand her love for him, her ability to heal contrasted with her inability to regain her eldest daughter’s trust. (The father comes out almost as cardboard as Prim – a male Snow White.)
The only characters I felt I had a handle on throughout the book, really, were the Tributes. Peeta, Katniss, Clove, Cato, Thresh, Rue, even Haymitch. And I wouldn’t say that was so much Collins’ writing them into three-dimensional characters, but her ability to write their actions so well that I could imagine them and read into them my own images of desperation and longing and madness.
And because so few of the characters stood up to my strict rules characters have to follow to please me, the relationships I enjoyed the first time around fell apart. It’s blindingly clear, even through the first of the book, that there’s no way Katniss and Gale could ever be happy--at least to me. In fact, when the mere thought of it is introduced in the book, it was far too late to make me even imagine that Katniss could entertain the thought.
The relationship with Peeta is stronger, for me, because I’m such a big sap. I like this sort of romance – built on helplessness and unrequited love – so I can’t help but eat it up and lift my microscope. Because if I doubt this relationship, I’m afraid my love for the books will disintegrate, and I don’t know that I could take it.
So what my review boils down to is that Katniss is the best thing Collins has going for her in this book. Her love for other characters is what makes you love them. Her fear of other characters makes you fear them. Her pity of other characters makes you pity them. It’s a strength of having the book in first-person, but also a curse. Luckily, it’s easy to see things that Katniss misses, and make the characters even deeper than she portrays them. (Which is the only thing that saves Peeta for me, as a character. Although Katniss is often callous toward him, it’s easy to imagine his goodness that is often referred to throughout the rest of the series, and thus latch onto the love I had for him from the very beginning.) And the action keeps it going so fast you almost forget about checking to make sure everything seems real.
So, dear Hunger Games fans, is your attachment to Katniss real or not real?(less)
It’s been a while since I’ve picked up a new book in a bookstore and bought it for the cover price. So, City of Thieves was a very calculated buy. I p...moreIt’s been a while since I’ve picked up a new book in a bookstore and bought it for the cover price. So, City of Thieves was a very calculated buy. I pored over it for almost an hour before I finally decided to take it home with me.
I have this knack for picking up books about World War II/The Holocaust without ever looking at the cover, even. And this was one of those. I was intrigued by the title, even more intrigued by the cover, and the back sounded good. So I read the first page. Then the first chapter.
And I took a risk and bought it because it seemed funny and touching and very relevant to my interests.
And I’m so glad I did. The characters, or, at least Lev and Kolya are interesting and make you fall in love with them. And they give you so much potential for slash, too, which is terrific ^^. The characters are always the most important thing in a novel: You want to love them and care what happens to them, or at least strongly hate them and want to know what happens to them.
I’m predisposed to like most any book (particularly fiction) that takes place in World War II, so the plot was automatically of interest to me. But it’s something I’ve never really seen before. The basics are general (a journey!) but there are plot twists that left me reeling. The language is a little vulgar, which I really like, especially in war novels. The plot is fresh. The feelings are relatable and painful.
I couldn’t put it down. But, I will say that the ending was a little bit of a letdown, even though I figured that’s where it was headed. (less)
First off: I read this for AP Lit and Comp... aaaand I absolutely adored this play. It's perfect. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the characters, play o...moreFirst off: I read this for AP Lit and Comp... aaaand I absolutely adored this play. It's perfect. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the characters, play off of each other and balance each other out, all at the same time. For the most part the play is a wild ball of nervous energy. Ros & Guil are constantly getting on each others' nerves, annoying each other until they can't stand it anymore. But, then, when Rosencrantz gets worked up to the point of tears Guildenstern always comforts him. They really remind me of my relationship with my own bestie.
The player is also an integral part, showing them their own destiny through the blood, love and rhetoric of his daily life with the Tragedians. There's also a Hamlet, Claudius, Polonius and Gertrude, going through the same lines they go through in Hamlet. (The language is updated when it's just Ros, Guil and the Player, but when other characters from Hamlet are present they go back to Shakespeare's original words.)
It's basically the story of Hamlet, focused on the lives of two confused men who can't find out where they're supposed to be and what they're supposed to do -- or why they have to die.(less)
The Phantom Tollbooth is an essential. For someone who loves words, it’s beautiful. And I’m sure it’s the same for people who love numbers. The charac...moreThe Phantom Tollbooth is an essential. For someone who loves words, it’s beautiful. And I’m sure it’s the same for people who love numbers. The characters and the plot are a little shallow, a problem that’s hard to resolve in a book meant for kids, but it’s written in a way that’s both enjoyable and informative.
This book is just incredibly clever. There are a lot of little plays on words, etc. that I don’t know that children could actually even understand it.
That said about the shallowness of the characters, however, I thought Milo was absolutely adorable. The Humbug made me laugh. But Tock was probably my favorite – brave, smart, etc.(less)
I've read so many books about the Holocaust, particularly the ones aimed toward young (mostly adolescent) readers. I own a huge collection and I re-re...moreI've read so many books about the Holocaust, particularly the ones aimed toward young (mostly adolescent) readers. I own a huge collection and I re-read them frequently. I've owned The Diary of a Young Girl for YEARS (so long that the inside cover has turned yellow) but I've never read it until now.
I'm so glad I waited to read it. I don't think I would have appreciated it as much when I was younger (I would've thought it was boring.) But now I'm able to appreciate it for what it is: A breathtakingly beautiful diary of a young woman who had a huge talent for writing and a depth of emotions that are painful and familiar.
Anne Frank's diary is not a famous book because of plot. There is none. It's her diary. The book is famous, and deservedly so, for the way she wrote. Every word in the diary is so honest. The reader is able to see Anne grow up from a happy thirteen year old enjoying boyfriends and bike riding in Amsterdam, to a lonely fifteen year old whose physical existence was confined to a few small rooms and a few people who couldn't understand her - but whose emotional and mental existence was almost omniscient, noticing and feeling everything.
I came so close to crying after finishing this book - and I've only ever cried reading one book before in my life. Although Anne Frank lived for two years in hiding she still ended up in Auschwitz, survived Auschwitz, and died of typhus in another camp...but despite all that she managed to live her dream: she became a famous author who has touched the lives of millions upon millions of people.(less)
I’ve heard so many good things about this book. I don’t know anyone who’s read it and hasn’t loved it. Usually, I steer clear of books like this if I...moreI’ve heard so many good things about this book. I don’t know anyone who’s read it and hasn’t loved it. Usually, I steer clear of books like this if I can help it because I build them up in my head so much that they fall flat of my expectations unless I give it a little time.
So I did that with this book and I didn’t have to. There’s no way this book can fall short of your expectations, unless you’re expecting something worthy of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
It’s a pretty simple story told by a very complicated narrator. I can see why it was published by MTV – it’s kind of like The Outsiders of its day in a way. There are drugs and cigarettes and alcohol and homosexuality and Rocky Horror Picture Show and sex and violence and all of those things you’d see on any given channel on the television.
But the way the story is told is what makes it so original and beautiful. It’s told through a series of letters sent to a person who is never named in the book, who the narrator, who calls himself “Charlie” has never even met.
I don’t even know what to tell you about this book. It’s such a quick read and it’s edgy and innocent and sweet and shocking and all of the things you want in a good book. The plot isn’t full of suspense, but it keeps you turning the pages, and the characters are so real because they’ll remind you of people you already know – with some little differences that make them likable enough to care about within the context of the novel.
And the literature geek in me was very happy that Charlie was reading so many famous novels. It made me want to go out and buy them all and read them.(less)
This was my favorite book as a child. I read it a thousand times and I was ridiculously in love with Justin. I always loved it because of the little t...moreThis was my favorite book as a child. I read it a thousand times and I was ridiculously in love with Justin. I always loved it because of the little twists and turns and the simple but smart way it was written.
I haven’t read it in five years or more, however, so it was interesting going back to it for the first time in so long. First of all, it used to take me days to read the entire book. This time it took me two hours.
I think the pace I read it at indicates how entertaining the book can be for adults, or little girls who loved the book and only grew up a bit, anyway.
It’s still a smart little book. All of the little pieces of the puzzle are laid out so well and nothing is too easy or too sugar-coated. The rats in the book do a good job to put an end to their bad reputation in the human world, without being completely ridiculous.
The characters in this book are genuinely charming and lovable.
But, now, I have a few problems with it. Because it’s meant for children, perhaps, the book is too shallow and short. I wanted so much more depth in it. I wanted to know so much more about all of these characters and I wanted them to grow and develop. However, the only character who seems to change at all is Mrs. Frisby herself.
The plot is well done, but it lacks some little intricacies and details I would’ve liked. It was fascinating and I found myself wanting to know more about things.
And although I appreciate books with open endings, that let you mull over things and figure out and draw conclusions, the way this book ends really hurts me a little bit. And I can remember being devastated over it as a child.
I’m very interested in re-reading the two sequels that I know exist (that I don’t remember the plots to at all) and seeing what I think about them.(less)
I read this on my own in 3rd grade and then in 4th grade we read it as a class. 80% of the students hated the book because they just didn't understand...moreI read this on my own in 3rd grade and then in 4th grade we read it as a class. 80% of the students hated the book because they just didn't understand it. I was flabbergasted. I'm not typically into "science fiction" but this book is so much more than creepy creatures and cool technology. The emotions, the characters, the plots of all of Madeleine L'Engel's "Time Quartet" (I haven't read many of her others, so I couldn't tell you) are so powerful that it's hard to put the book down until you've finished it.
You become so close with the Murray family through the course of the book and you genuinely care what happens to all of the characters.
It's such a good story, even almost ten years after I read it for the first time. (less)
I absolutely, blatantly refused to read The Outsiders in 5th grade when my teacher asked me to. In 8th grade I was pretty much forced to read it....an...moreI absolutely, blatantly refused to read The Outsiders in 5th grade when my teacher asked me to. In 8th grade I was pretty much forced to read it....and I adored it. It introduced me to one of my favorite writers, S.E. Hinton. I don't think that The Outsiders is her best book, but it's definitely her best known.
She wrote the book when she was fifteen or sixteen years old, and even though that was thirty years ago or more, it really has a familiar teenager-ish feel to it.
The language is informal yet descriptive, the characters are real and almost tangible, and the plot is engrossing.
It's really a great book, especially for reluctant readers. I've read it so many times I've lost count.