I'm a bit torn on what to rate this book. It's complicated and interesting and contains Big Themes. But it's not the most enjoyable reading experience...moreI'm a bit torn on what to rate this book. It's complicated and interesting and contains Big Themes. But it's not the most enjoyable reading experience. And some of the characters I downright didn't like. I am glad I read it, though, and made it through.(less)
This has got to be one of the strangest books I've ever read. Mostly because it was so different from what I was expecting (which was more along the l...moreThis has got to be one of the strangest books I've ever read. Mostly because it was so different from what I was expecting (which was more along the lines of the dystopian YA fiction published recently, for some reason), but also because the world Anderson creates and the language he uses to do so are so bizarre. So brilliantly bizarre and so totally familiar.
This book was written in 2002. I didn't start using Facebook until probably 2004. And I don't think Facebook had ads - or at least the kind that follow you around, I guess maybe that's thanks to Google? - until a few years later. At least, I don't remember being aware of the phenomenon until like 2007 or 2009. So all I'm trying to say is that Anderson perfectly and scarily predicted the future in the way that only science fiction. Like, he got it completely perfect. The unending consumerism. The emotional manipulation by giant corporations. The always being tied to technology. The disengagement on a personal level because we're too wrapped up in our technology. The constant tracking of trends that just get more and more bizarre. It was scary how much Anderson predicted, especially when you look at the rest of his world and wonder if that won't come to pass, too.
For some examples of how brilliantly Anderson predicted the crazy online world we're living in today:
"[The feed,] it knows everything you want and hope for, sometimes before you even know what those things are. It can tell you how to get them, and help you make buying decisions that are hard. Everything we think and feel is taken in by the corporations, mainly by data ones like Feedlink and OnFeed and American Feedware, and they make a special profile, one that's keyed just to you, and then they give it to their branch companies, or other companies buy them, and they can get to know what it is we need, so all you have to do is want something and there's a chance it will be yours."
"It's all streamlining our personalities so we're easier to sell to. I mean, they do these demographic studies that divide everyone up into a few personality types, and then you get ads based on what you're supposedly like. They try to figure out who you are, and to make you conform to one of their types for easy marketing."
"Everything I think of when I think of really living, living to the full - all my ideas are just the opening credits of sitcoms. See what I mean? My idea of life, it's what happens when they're rolling the credits. My god. What am I, without the feed?"
I didn't really like the plot in this book. I wasn't so much involved in the story, and the characters aren't the most likable. But the world is fascinating, and the book felt very similar to many other classic science fiction stories: 1984, We, Brave New World. It's the ideas that are important.
But this book has something those others don't have. Sometimes, it's just so incredibly hilarious. And mostly this is due to that annoying teen-speak that Anderson uses. Because the teens aren't the only ones to use it. Everyone talks like they're some doober teenager who can't even remember what they're saying. Even the doctor talks like this: "Okay. Could we like get a thingie, a reading on his limbic activity?" Even Titus' father: "'How's Mom?' 'She's like, whoa, she's like so stressed out. This is ... Dude,' he said. 'Dude, this is some way bad shit.'" It's just too funny for words sometimes.
And then you get to the part where their skin starts falling off.
So even though this book takes some getting used to, it's totally worth reading because it will blow your mind. (less)
Done! Oh thank goodness. I had to give it 4 stars, of course. The world building really is fantastic, despite how much I wanted to finish it and move...moreDone! Oh thank goodness. I had to give it 4 stars, of course. The world building really is fantastic, despite how much I wanted to finish it and move on with my reading life. I think that was more about me and my current attention span than it was about Dune. (view spoiler)[And despite that ridiculous cliff-hanger ending! No, Dune, you are not going to trick me into reading the rest of the series! (hide spoiler)] I feel like I didn't fully understand a good 1/4 of this book, and I'm sure it would bear another reading. Or that reading the appendix would help. But I'm not going to do it, Herbert! But really, I can see how the world of Dune in its infinite detail caught the imaginations of a generation and became a classic. It really is the LOTR of SciFi.
So, yes, a grudged 4 stars.
Oh, and another thing, Herbert. When you make a glossary, please don't just include words that you have already fully defined in the text. Please also include all the other random words that you sprinkle throughout the dialogue and don't explain at all! ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I can see how this became a cult classic, but the narrative style isn't really my cup of tea. But I do love the happy non-traditional family that Bloc...moreI can see how this became a cult classic, but the narrative style isn't really my cup of tea. But I do love the happy non-traditional family that Block describes.(less)
Wow, this book is seriously well loved. Basically everyone I follow on Goodreads has read this book and rated it 4-5 stars! I read it because it's abo...moreWow, this book is seriously well loved. Basically everyone I follow on Goodreads has read this book and rated it 4-5 stars! I read it because it's about time that I found out what all the hubbub was about. And I ... liked it OK. Unfortunately, I didn't love it like everyone else seems to have done. Maybe because I've only read the first one and haven't continued on with the whole series? It was just a little too scifi for me, I think. A little too alien. And I just didn't connect really with any of the characters, and I really need at least one character that I really like in order to really enjoy a book. Maybe if I were to read the rest of the series I would learn more about Arthur or Trillian or Ford. The narrative tone and humor were great, though. There's some really funny, snarky stuff in there. And how cool is it that in 1980 Adams had already invented the e-reader in order to make the hugely gigantic Hitchhiker's Guide portable?! (less)
I loved this book, not because it was an especially easy or fun read but because books like this one discussing tough topics need to be written. So th...moreI loved this book, not because it was an especially easy or fun read but because books like this one discussing tough topics need to be written. So thank you, Richard Peck, for writing this book. This whole review is going to be a big spoiler because to talk about why it's awesome I kind of have to give away the big surprise. So, be forewarned.
(view spoiler)[ Despite being filed often as mystery/suspense, this book is really only half mystery. In the 1970's in a small, conservative suburb in western Connecticut, Gail starts getting a lot of hang up phone calls while she's babysitting or home alone. Then, someone starts leaving obscene notes in her locker at school. Finally, about half way through the book, Gail is raped and beaten by her best friend's boyfriend and the town's golden boy, Phil. End of mystery.
The whole second half of the book is about Gail dealing with the aftermath. Many of those around Gail don't want to believe she was raped. The police officer who questions her insinuates that she deserved it. She's pretty, after all, she must have been teasing her boyfriend and he got a little riled up. You can't blame a guy. The lawyer Gail's family hires, who's awesome, basically says she'll probably lose if they go to court because a) Gail's taking birth control, b) she's having sex with her steady boyfriend, and c) she's pretty. Basically, she's a scheming, easy, delinquent youth trying to ruin the chances of an all start athlete and son of the richest family in town. I just about lost it at this point and sat silently fuming and muttering to myself for a while until I was calm enough to continue.
There are a lot of reviews of this book on Goodreads talking about how the subject matter is too adult for this story to be considered young adult. The book starts with Gail and her boyfriend skinny dipping, and there's a few discussions between Gail and her mother about how she's been to Planned Parenthood to get birth control and how Steve and her are sleeping together. And there is the rape scene. But Peck was obviously very careful to avoid anything that could be considered obscene or indecent. The contents of the notes left in Gail's locker are only alluded to. The rape scene ends before any actual rape begins. And not once is there an actual sex scene. This book is downright clean compared to some of the passionate scenes found in other YA novels. The only thing that this book has that others do not is frank discussion of a young woman's sexuality and her right to identify as a sexual being without being harangued for it.
Yes, it's difficult to read at times, especially during and after the rape scene. It's an intense experience, what Gail goes through. But it's so important to continue this and similar kinds of discussions with teen girls. This book made me want to get down on my knees and thank the women's rights activists who fought to change the perception of rape in this country since the 1970's. But girls still need to know that these things can happen, that it's often someone you know, that their silence will only further hurt themselves and maybe even others (as Gail's does when her silence leaves Phil free to strike again). Young adulthood is the perfect time to read this kind of story and begin discussing these issues. (hide spoiler)]
End of rant.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I can see why The Haunting of Hill House is a classic. The atmosphere that Jackson creates of everything about this house just slightly off, just slig...moreI can see why The Haunting of Hill House is a classic. The atmosphere that Jackson creates of everything about this house just slightly off, just slightly disturbing, is really awesome. I found parts of it very chilling, but I didn't really find it that scary overall. (Which is a good thing for me since I'm not the biggest fan of horror, especially the kind that relies on shock.) It reminded me a bit of The Shining as all this creepy, crazy stuff keeps happening in this house and you're left to wonder if it's really happening or if it's all in the mind of the character we're following. And Jackson's dialog and characterization is topnotch, as always.(less)
I was pleasantly surprised by my first foray into Western. I'm not big on the whole "cowboys 'n Indians" scene. But L'Amour's Hondo had a sparseness a...moreI was pleasantly surprised by my first foray into Western. I'm not big on the whole "cowboys 'n Indians" scene. But L'Amour's Hondo had a sparseness and conservation of language that fit in perfectly with the arid setting of the Arizona desert. True his Hondo is the epitome of a cowboy, all hard, quiet loner with an easy relaxed manner that belies his constant awareness and a sweet gentleness just underneath. But the way L'Amour writes him, Hondo feels real rather than a stereotype. The best part of this book was the descriptions of Arizona's landscape and the respect for the land that came through. There was also a lot of respect paid to the Native Americans and their way of life, which was unexpected.
L'Amour wrote this in 1958, and I found myself wondering how much the concerns of the '50's influenced the themes of a story set in the late 1800's. There's a lot in here about what makes a Real Man and what a Woman's role is. (To save the suspense, a Real Man is independent, gruff on the outside but gentle underneath, and works with his hands outside. While he can wonder, a Woman's place is by the home caring for her children.)
But despite that, I still liked this short, atmospheric novel.(less)
I'm surprised at how much I really really liked this book. As I said in my status update, it reads a bit like an episode of "16 and Pregnant." All the...moreI'm surprised at how much I really really liked this book. As I said in my status update, it reads a bit like an episode of "16 and Pregnant." All the same emotions (on the part of the viewer/reader) are there, hope for the kids and their baby, sorrow for the parents' and their own crushed hope, frustration that the parents won't listen to the kids and that the kids are too young to communicate maturely. July and Bo Jo are both so sweet and trying their hardest to be grown up it just about breaks your heart.
I like how the blurb on my book put it: "Out of a situation achingly familiar in countless American homes, Ann Head has wrought a strong and beautiful novel of the growth and meaning of love. For despite all the things that are working against them, July and Bo Jo respect each other and share a fierce pride and stubbornness that will not let them give in."
Also, I loved the late-60's slang. Every other page someone's saying "oh lordy" or "don't worry kid" or "he just didn't dig the furtive nuances" or "holy stubbed-tail cats!" While some teens may find that kind of dated language hard to relate to, I found it charming. And I thought that July's honest narrative voice and the simple, true emotions of the story shine through.(less)
**spoiler alert** I really really liked Annie On My Mind. I thought Liza had a very sweet narrative voice, and Liza and Annie are adorable together. I...more**spoiler alert** I really really liked Annie On My Mind. I thought Liza had a very sweet narrative voice, and Liza and Annie are adorable together. It broke my heart the scene where Liza describes imagining one day sharing a house and a cat - a life - with Annie, knowing what was to come. I couldn't write this review without spoilers because I'm so glad that this book ended the way that it did, with Liza and Annie at least talking again, not completely separated.
The only thing that I wonder about is if this book is a little too outdated for teens today. It's central message remains an important one, but something about the tone of the book kept feeling a little old fashioned to me. Either way, I think that this book is a classic for good reason.(less)
I had never read Harriet the Spy when I was younger, so when I saw it at the library I decided to try it. The story was very different from what I tho...moreI had never read Harriet the Spy when I was younger, so when I saw it at the library I decided to try it. The story was very different from what I thought it was going to be, from the little I knew from general cultural osmosis and the movie previews, but I really liked it. The narrative voice is hilarious, and I think I want Ole Golly to be my nurse. Harriet is one of those main characters that you can just imagine as a real kid, rather than one of those main characters that acts way older than they are supposed to be in the book. Altogether, the tone reminded me a little bit of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and Cold Comfort Farm. It has that same affectionate yet slightly ironic narrative tone towards the characters. It was my favorite part.(less)
So far, this book is hilarious. And pretty awesome. I was a little worried I wouldn't get into it because of all the rural dialect. I was afraid it wa...moreSo far, this book is hilarious. And pretty awesome. I was a little worried I wouldn't get into it because of all the rural dialect. I was afraid it was going to be all Joseph and Nelly from Wuthering Heights. But it's not. The characters are really interesting, and I wish I were still in school so that I could have a discussion on this book! And maybe write a paper on it. Anyway, it's not at all difficult to read, which is unusual for any "classic," even my favorites.
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Update: I loved this book. It was so funny and such an enjoyable read. I'll have to go watch the movie now.(less)