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I have to say I was a little wary when I took on yet another challenge in the form of the 1% Read, but I am so glad I did, because I don't think I wouI have to say I was a little wary when I took on yet another challenge in the form of the 1% Read, but I am so glad I did, because I don't think I would have got around to reading this book as quickly as I did and I thought it was wonderful.
The book is in three parts and each part deals with the relationship between an older woman,Hannah Schmitz, and Michael, a fifteen year old boy coming to terms with puberty.
The first part of the book is about the illicit and illegal affair that occurs so naturally between them. Michael is completely infatuated by Hanna, a ticket girl from the trams, who helps him when he is really sick. He cannot keep away from her and Hanna takes advantage of this situation and the two become lovers. She is everything to Michael and he will do anything she requests. They begin to spend every spare moment they have together. Their relationship follows the same pattern, they shower, they make love and then Michael reads to Hanna. She loves to hear him read and participates in all the stories he reads to her,commenting on characters and story lines.
One day almost a year after their affair begins, Hanna just disappears. Michael discovers that she had left her job and moved out of her house, with no forwarding address. Michael is heartbroken and it takes him years to get over it.
The second part of the book follows Michael's unexpected discovery of Hanna. He is a law student working on a case against people who had worked for the Nazi's during the War and were guilty of being involved in the of murders of so many Jewish people. Hanna is accused of allowing many Jewish women to die in a fire in a church, when she could have let them go. Hanna is one of a few of women charged with this, but she is completely unprepared for the trial. It then occurs to Michael, that Hanna is unable to read or write. She was unprepared for the trial, because she had not been able to read any of the information provided for her. Hanna is scared to reveal her inabilities and ends up being jailed for twenty years, because she would rather say she wrote a document that condemned her, than admit her inabilities.
The third part of the book looks at a new relationship that develops between Michael and Hanna during her prison sentence. Michael, older, divorced and wiser, starts to record books on tape for Hanna to listen to. For many years, he sends the tapes to her without any written response. Eventually she writes back to him, telling him what she enjoyed about the book and showing her new skill of writing. I won't give away the end, as I feel I have revealed so much of it already.
This story is beautifully written. Even though, you are aware that the relationship between Michael and Hanna is wrong, the way it is written shows a young boy's innocent love for an older woman.
One of the main themes of the book occurs in the second part of the book, where it deals with the Holocaust. However it doesn't just deal with the Holocaust, it also deals with how younger generations coped with the actions of their beloved families during the Holocaust. They had to come to terms with what they did and struggle to live with the terrible guilt caused by the atrocious actions of members of their own families.
The following passage explains how many must have felt.
'At the same time I ask myself, as I has already begun to ask myself back then: What should our second generation have done, what should it do with the knowledge of the horrors of the extermination of Jews? We should not believe we can comprehend the incomprehensible, we may not compare the incomparable, we may not inquire because to inquire is to make the horrors an object of discussion, even if the horrors themselves are not questioned, instead of accepting them as something in the face of which we can only fall silent in revulsion, shame and guilt.'
You may wonder why Hanna had become involved in the extermination of Jewish people, until you realise that she literally fell into the job, all because of her inability to read. Whenever reading and writing came up in her life, she ran away to a new start. Her life would have taken a completely different route, if she had admitted in the beginning that she was unable to read and write. You can not help but feel sorry for Hanna, because her life was destroyed because she was too proud to admit she needed help.
When discussing the title, you realise that Michael is not the main Reader of the book, but the book is actually referring to Hanna. Although she was unable to read herself, she loved books and devoured all the stories that were read aloud to her, even in the concentration camps.
I would definitely recommend that everyone read this book. It is a very powerful story, which deals with very strong issues. It is also a beautifully haunting book, that will stay in your memory, long after you have read it, showing that you cannot be held responsible for the actions of other. It had the same affect on me as the first time I watched Schlinders List back in the nineties.
Two things attracted me to this book when I saw it. Firstly the cover, it just looks so ghostly and chilling, I couldn't resist. Secondly, the idea ofTwo things attracted me to this book when I saw it. Firstly the cover, it just looks so ghostly and chilling, I couldn't resist. Secondly, the idea of a bay drying up and an eighteenth century ship appearing adrift in the bay. What a fabulously original story line. I was completely intrigued by this book and couldn't wait to read it.
I actually took this one on holiday with me, as it appealed to my holiday mood - set in a seaside tourist area revolving around tales from the past.
I have to be honest and say their were some things that were too obvious in the plot line. The occasional event occurred that were just to easy to predict. Although on the whole I was urged on to read to find out the ending. In some scenes, I would have also liked more action, but that is just my personal preference.
I really liked Vicki and Peter, the two main characters within the book. Vicki seemed to get away with murder as her parents were so busy with their restaurant, so she seemed to have a lot more freedom of a twelve year old than I would have expected.
There are some dark and chilling scenes within the book which I really enjoyed. To me, this was a good old fashioned mystery story with a modern setting. Give me a mystery and a curse and I am a happy girl. If you liked the ' Secret Series' by Enid Blyton or you have read and enjoyed the more modern equivalent,' The Adventure Island' series by Helen Moss, then I think you might enjoy this one.
It is very rare to read a German author, in fact the only other German author I have read is Cornela Funke who also is published by Chicken House. I love that Chicken House embrace all nationalities providing us with a wider range of fiction. ...more
Originally posted on www.serendipityreviews.co.uk I have lost count how many times this book has been recommended to me over the past couple of years aOriginally posted on www.serendipityreviews.co.uk I have lost count how many times this book has been recommended to me over the past couple of years and I always dismissed it. It was a screen writing book for God’s sake. Why on earth would it be of any use to me when I am writing a book? Well, I will no longer scoff at this very thought because this book is awesome and totally relevant to writing fiction! This book saved my plot! I had reached a stage in my MS, where I had lost sight of what was actually happening. I was writing scenes but I couldn’t see where they would fit in the grand scheme of the story. By reading this book, I could easily see the bigger picture. I was able to put all my chapters into an order and look at the plot as a whole. The style of writing is conversational and you feel like you are sitting in a room with the writer, drinking coffee and discussing your next steps in a casual manner. I warmed to the author straight away and felt confident that he knew what he was talking about. You trust his judgement. I loved the beat sheet. I thought it was tremendous and I quickly made my own copies to use alongside my plot. I also found myself looking at books I had read recently with a clearer and more critical eye than perhaps I would usually have done. I could easily pinpoint problems in them that previously I wouldn’t have noticed. In future, I will actually use the beat sheets to examine the plot in other books which I hope will help me get mine just right in the future. There are parts of the book that are irrelevant to writing fiction, but they are easily identifiable and I was able to skip right past them. I thought this was one of the most useful and most accurate writing books I have come across in ages. So I would definitely advise reading it to help save your plot from the death spiral!...more
When I requested is book from Netgalley, I had no idea that it was republished and had been around for quite a few years. I also wasn't aware that theWhen I requested is book from Netgalley, I had no idea that it was republished and had been around for quite a few years. I also wasn't aware that the author was well known for her Point Horror books. Now thinking about it, I can see the writing lacks modern appliances which we tend to find associated with life these days. There are aspects about this book I really enjoyed and yet there are also parts that I really didn't enjoy, so this is very much a sit on the fence review. I loved the idea of the story - the strong beginning had me entranced and the personification of the sea was excellent, allowing me to view it as the real villain of the story. The ending had an excellent twist which I really didn't expect. The atmosphere was excellent and I did feel a chill on reading the scarier parts. Some of the main characters were very strong and well written. Christina dealt with everything that was thrown at her well after initially being a little upset. I adored the wistful, almost angelic Anya - I wanted to save her from the lonely road she was being lured down. However, other characters lacked personality and often felt surplus to the story. A couple of them seemed to appear in the story surrounded by intrigue and then disappear without any explanation as to who they were connected to, so by the end I felt a little confused by their very existence. At times the writing seemed to jump around a lot and I would get a little lost in the story, which I felt was a shame as it showed such promising potential to begin with. On reflection now, I am surprised how often it has been republished, so maybe I am missing something that others have enjoyed within it. I loved the idea and the atmosphere surrounding it, I just felt it lacked a clear plot and had unnecessary characters added to it. This book is part of a series, so maybe the extra characters appear in future books. I would love to think that the series gets better as you progress through the trilogy, as the author is well known for her Point Horror books. Unfortunately this book didn't really work for me. ...more
I have to admit to being a little confused when I started reading this book. The first two chapters seemed to be set in completely different settingsI have to admit to being a little confused when I started reading this book. The first two chapters seemed to be set in completely different settings and eras with no explanation and I found myself rather lost. The second chapter was set in what appeared to be the 17th Century whilst the first chapter felt like a scene from a Dickens novel. It was only when I got to chapter 3 that I seemed to find my feet, becoming aware of a dystopian feel. It gave me the impression that the author had set the story on Earth, yet in some descriptions it felt too far fetched to be Earth and was more likely to be a fantasy world.
I felt I had to make this clear, because I really want you to read it. You need to have an idea of the settings of the story in order to see the bigger picture. Once I reached the third chapter, I could not put the book down. The book is over 450 pages long and I read it in two evenings! That is how good it is.
The book takes place in two very different places as I mentioned above. Firstly you have Finn, a prisoner inside Incarceron, who has a vague impression that he may have originally lived on the Outside, but as his memory seems to have deserted him, he is unsure. He is determined to find his way out of the prison which has been sealed for centuries. Only one person has ever managed to escape before.
On the outside, Claudia lives in a replica world of the 17th Century. She lives in a manor house, with servants, a tutor and an absent father, who happens to be the Warden of Incarceron. Underneath the period visage, you discover that her world is run by computers, yet they are treated as they though they don't exist. All modern elements of our world are rejected and discussed in a whisper or hidden from view. Claudia's father has arranged for her to marry a Prince she abhors. Claudia knows that something is not quite right with the world that she lives in and is desperate to get inside Incarceron to find out what is really going on in there.
As you begin to get sucked into the book, realisation dawns that both characters are really in prison. Although Claudia's life on the outside might appear to be more tolerable with all the finery's around her, you begin to realise how her life is so controlled by the society she lives in. You begin to wonder whether it is better to be inside Incarceron or out.
Catherine Fisher has managed to build an incredible world in this book. I could not help but stand back in awe of her world building abilities. She has created a prison that is an intelligent living organism and a 17th century world that is a sham. It is amazing and believable.
From the beginning, you are desperate for Finn and Claudia to find each other, yet you are totally lost in the belief that it will never happen. They both have to hurdle such difficult obstacles, that you just can't envisage an end in sight . I kept thinking they were both doomed until I reached the last couple of chapters , I just couldn't see how they would escape.
The prison is extremely scary and very unpredictable. I couldn't help but imagine it as a rather large snake, that could see and feel everything. It reminded me of the intenseness of 1984, only the Incarceron prison scared me a lot more, as it seemed to absorb its inhabitants. Extremely suffocating!
I was surprised to discover that this book is aimed at children. I found it to be quite indepth and felt that many younger children would struggle to understand it. I would have aimed it more at the teen market.
I really enjoyed Catherine Fisher's world of weirdness and can't wait to read the follow up Sapphique.