I have mixed feelings about this book. The style is a bit cumbersome, but it works. It draws you in to the narrator. It helps to show who he is. He's...moreI have mixed feelings about this book. The style is a bit cumbersome, but it works. It draws you in to the narrator. It helps to show who he is. He's just awfully verbose about it. The narrator is also the subject of the story. It goes in and out of past and present tense as he is telling his lover about his fantastical past, starting with the unusual courtship of his grandparents. Saleem (the subject of the story) was born at midnight exactly on the day of India's independence and his life is forever linked with the fate of the country. He is also connected to the other 1001 midnight children of that day, those who were born between midnight and 12:59. Each child born in this hour has special powers, the ones closest to midnight have the strongest (his is the power to read thoughts). If you are a fan of Garcia Marquez you will most definitely like this book. I felt like every time I picked it up, no matter where I was starting from, the book was speaking to me as Saleem was speaking to his lover. My frustration matched her frustration, and the relief and sadness at the end were both hers and mine. I even feel I got more of a sense of India's recent history through reading this fantastical fiction than if I had read the actual history.(less)
With each Foundation book I finish the more surprised I am at myself for not reading them sooner. They are pretty light reads to be honest. I got thro...moreWith each Foundation book I finish the more surprised I am at myself for not reading them sooner. They are pretty light reads to be honest. I got through the 386 pages of this one in maybe 7 hours total. And it was as captivating from start to finish as the first. But the scale of his stories are massive, spanning several universes and encompassing multiple facets of the societies contained within those universes. Asimov says volumes with very few words, which goes to show that the success of good sci-fi rests within the authors ability to inspire the readers imagination. And oh man is mine inspired. I've a clear vision of what the Empire and Foundation universes are like without even really knowing much about the universes themselves, but plenty about the people that live there. They say good characters are the ones that are driven by their needs to the absolute extreme limit, and this is another example of how true that is. Something else I noticed about how he tells these stories is the absolute lack of judgement between which side is "right" and which is "wrong". When talking about the rise and fall of civilizations he simply observes characteristics of people. From those at the top to those at the very bottom. And heroic acts by any one person or group of people are simply turning points in the story. He gives no value to the acts themselves beyond what they mean to the characters. Which to me is a pretty accurate portrayal of the "bigger picture" in reality.(less)
I'm the kind of person that doesn't usually read books twice. There are a few authors who are exempt from this general rule, however: Kurt Vonnegut, T...moreI'm the kind of person that doesn't usually read books twice. There are a few authors who are exempt from this general rule, however: Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins, and Michael Chabon. This is the second of Chabon's books that I have read and I see why it was awarded the Pulitzer. It is exceptional. Not only is the story unique and interesting, but it is so artfully written. Occasionally I would read a sentence or a passage again just because it was so well written. The story follows Joe Kavelier, a 19 year old Jewish kid from Prague, as he escapes from the country in 1939 just before his family is exiled to a ghetto by the Nazis. He makes it to New York, via Lithuania, Japan, and San Francisco... starting out hiding for 24 hours in a Golem's casket. He studied illusion and escape techniques ala Houdini as a teenager, and when he gets to New York, where he hooks up with his cousin Sam (an aspiring artist who is obsessed with comic books), they create a comic book character, The Escapist, whose power is to free the exploited and the oppressed. Joe (who also happens to be a better artist than illusionist) pours all his energy into the comic book, using it as his outlet for all the fantasies he has of destroying Hitler and the Nazi regime while stashing all the money he makes away to rescue the rest of his family from their plight in Prague. Along the way he develops friendships that turn into his new family, he runs away and then returns to find everything different and yet somehow the same. The book explores the feeling of New York both just before and just after the war, and how the war, as well as the general feeling of the American public, especially the youth, affected the rise of the superhero comic. The rise and fall of The Escapist just so happens to parallel the rise and fall of Joe Kavelier, and his cousin Sam Clay. I highly recommend this book. I could hardly put it down.(less)
I admit I enjoyed this book overall. The story was interesting though I feel it was kind of awkwardly written, possibly because the story was really s...moreI admit I enjoyed this book overall. The story was interesting though I feel it was kind of awkwardly written, possibly because the story was really secondary and I'm not used to reading that kind of fiction. It might only appeal to people who are into Eastern philosophy already and have done some previous reading on it. The stuff Pelevin talks about is pretty much right out of almost every single book I've read on Taoism and Buddhism, but he obviously understands it or he wouldn't have been able to work it into the dialogue as well as he did. But I couldn't help but feel preached at, and wonder to what extent this philosophy really impacted the characters. The philosophy and the characters didn't necessarily go together, at least not with the character of Alexander. It was as if he was put there for A Hu-li to simply bounce her ideas off of. I didn't feel like I really got to know either of the characters enough for their behavior to be all the believable, though admittedly that probably wasn't the point. Even so, it drew me in enough for me to be compelled to finish it. (less)
Of all the Murakami books I have read this is probably my least favorite, which is not to say it isn't good. It's just a bit slow and didn't keep my i...moreOf all the Murakami books I have read this is probably my least favorite, which is not to say it isn't good. It's just a bit slow and didn't keep my interest the same way the others have.(less)
It took me a few tries to get into this book. Even around page 80 I was still wondering what the hell the book was about... but then around page 100 s...moreIt took me a few tries to get into this book. Even around page 80 I was still wondering what the hell the book was about... but then around page 100 something really interesting happened. So it took me a few weeks to get that far, but I sped through the subsequent 600+ pages. I say "sped through", but it didn't feel like I sped through. It's a long winded book, have no doubt about that. Clarke's prose meanders in much the same way as the proper English gentlemen the book is about. I did occasionally wonder why she wouldn't just get to the point, but I found that when I only had 50 pages left that I was in that often felt conundrum of not wanting the book to end, so I took it more slowly. And when it did end, it felt pretty good. Not like "thank god that's over", but more like "man, that was really satisfying". Like eating a really good meal and eating just enough to be full, but not enough to feel uncomfortable.
And there were so many unexpected things that happened! Clarke created a wonderful and unique magical world that is wondrous to some and equally dismal or horrifying to others. She brought each perspective of each character in each situation to a full realization. And that was pretty amazing.(less)