So I have been reading a lot lately- an alarming amount, actually- so once again I have enough material to do a repeat of Short & Sweet Book Reviews. The first one seemed to be popular, so hope you enjoy!
Hag-Seed, by Margaret Atwood
I loved this quirky retelling of The Tempest, a modern story in a series of retellings called the Hogarth Shakespeare. The book’s plot centers on a fifty something kind of crazy man who has lost his wife and daughter. Hag-Seed was a wonderfully all encompassing story that includes theatre, prisons, revenge, and easy prose. While there was a lack of character development for everyone in the large cast, I would recommend this to any fan of The Tempest or Margaret Atwood. Also if anyone has any recommendations for more books that talk about prisons, I would love to read more about the inner workings, etc.
Handmaid’s Tale, also by Margaret Atwood
Okay, so this is probably the most unpopular book opinion I’ve ever had. I didn’t like The Handmaid’s Tale. Yes, I completely appreciate how revolutionary and important this book is/was, and I think that the idea is terrifying. But I thought it could’ve been written better. Some of my problems:
- There was a random lack of quotation marks most of the time. Bad grammar does not equal art.
- The story would move between present and past in a way that was very disorienting.
- It felt like the book was taking advantage of me, dangling what had happened in front of my nose for more than half of the book, then throwing in random affairs that meant nothing and a frustratingly unresolved ending. I don’t always mind open endings. In The Giver, for example, it is left unknown whether Jonas lived or died and what happened to his Community. In contrast, the ending of The Giver felt thought out and purposeful in a way that The Handmaid’s Tale’s just hadn’t.
Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
I had very different feelings about the first and second halves of this book. I loved the first half. The plot was inventive and fun, making two things I knew little about (video games and the 80’s) accessible to me. I’m sure people who are interested in those things would like this book even more.
The front cover called it a combination of The Matrix and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and that is so true. I don’t want to get into spoilers, but it basically starts as a near-future dystopia Easter Egg hunt for billions of dollars. Wade, his friends, his enemies, and practically every other video gamer on the planet looking for the Easter Egg. The second half was worse. Parts captured my attention, but most of this formerly exciting book was repetitive and predictable. I spent the first half thinking things would change, that the action would develop. After all, Harry Potter doesn’t spend all 7 years fighting off trolls in bathrooms.
The Long Walk, by Stephen King
The Long Walk is my second Stephen King book, after reading Carrie last year, and it just keeps getting better. The Long Walk is the story of a dystopian world where willing teenage boys get to walk until they drop- literally. This book is violent without being gory and has perfect characterization. Stephen King manages to make a book where all the characters do is walk, talk, and die action packed and engrossing. After 370 pages I cared about every character so much, and the reality TV aspect of the Walk draws clear parallels to our own world. I literally couldn’t stop reading.
“They walked through the rainy dark like gaunt ghosts, and Garraty didn’t like to look at them. They were the walking dead.”
–The Long Walk
At the Edge of the Universe, by Shaun David Hutcherson
In this very mediocre book, Shaun David Hutcherson tries to mix sci-fi with speculative fiction with gay romance, and it really doesn’t work. The book felt like it was trying too hard, and while kind of fun to read, was overall just okay. The main speculative points were undeveloped and just kind of lost. I thought At The Edge of the Universe seemed like a wannabe More Than This, and not in a good way.
Have you read any of these books? Leave your own opinions in the comments!
“Sleep tight, ya morons!”
– The Catcher in the Rye
“I am haunted by humans.”
–The Book Thief
I read The Book Thief in two days. It was not particularly suspenseful, but I was eager to find out the fate of Liesel and Rudy and their families (and Max, of course). And then, about three-quarters though the book, the narrator revealed who would die and what would happen. And now, like Death narrating The Book Thief, I am going to outline the rest of this review for you. First, I am going to say some spoiler free thoughts about the book. Then I will say what I liked and disliked about this immensely popular bestseller.
First of all, I liked reading The Book Thief. Honestly, I loved it. Markus Zusak’s work of art reminded me what I love about reading, and why the lasting power of books is so important. The characters were lovable, if a bit two dimensional, and the setting was clear in my mind. For more than 500 pages I was happily immersed in the happenings of the fictional town Molching in Nazi Germany. The action was slow to start, and some sentences that Liesel was supposed to have thought were obviously written by an adult man.
I think it’s very interesting how the children in this story are so separate from everything that’s going on outside of their Heaven Street. They go to Hitler Youth, but are just too sensible, perhaps, to get caught up in the hatred and fear most German’s must have felt in those years.
One of my favorite parts of The Book Thief was how in opposition to Hitler’s use of words- to gather the aforementioned hatred and fear- Liesel just needs them. She reads the stories not in any kind of political defiance, but more as a defiance of how other people are using words.
Overall, if you haven’t read The Book Thief yet, because it is seriously good- minus a few problems that will either not really matter to your or lower your rating to one star.
And if you are going to be put off by the weird sky metaphors, you’ll know by the third page.
Now, onto the spoiler part of this review.
These are the main reasons I read books:
- To learn about something
- To entertain myself
- To feel some kind of human emotion- laughter, satisfaction, and the ultimate one, sadness
I primarily read The Book Thief because I thought that it would make me cry. Maybe this just shows my privilege, being able to want to cry. But that is why I picked it up at the library. Regardless of whether wanting to read a sad book is right or not, there is a simple fact. The Book Thief did not make me cry. Now, I know from reading Goodreads reviews that most people did cry reading this book. Leave a comment below- did you cry during this book?
The thing is, when it was first announced that Rudy and Liesel would never ever kiss because he was going to DIE, I was sad. But unluckily for my eager tear ducts, I had about 200 pages to adjust to this news before it actually happened.
Death in books is sadder if it is unexpected.
As I said before, I like to have a sort of aftertaste when a book ends. A feeling of-
“I just read this whole entire book and it affected me and now I will grip it to my chest for a half hour and then recommend it to everyone I know.”
After I finished The Book Thief I did not feel that. The last thirty-something pages felt like they were teasing me, killing off so many characters, and then reuniting Max and Liesel like it was no big deal. And there was an epilogue, which I always hate.
The fact that I’ve written this kind of lengthy review that mainly concentrates on the bad things about The Book Thief might make you think I hated it. No, it was pretty much a four and a half star read, maybe even five (I’m pretty generous). This was a pretty magnificent book and you can read all about how great it is everywhere on the Internet and WordPress. I just wanted to open the conversation on The Book Thief’s ending, and how it leaves (to me, at least) something to be desired in terms of emotional resonance aka tears. So please, comment below your opinion on my opinions, and open the conversation a little wider. Thank you so much for reading my thoughts on this book, and have a great, wonderful, book-filled day.
If you want to read similar books about that time period I recommend:
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas- from the point of view of a small child
Code Name Verity- a captured spy is forced to write her story
Between Shades of Grey- not the porn one I promise!
The Dragonfly Pool- this one is middle grade but great
I was given the Sunshine Blogger Award by hotshotheadlines, so thank you so much. I honestly think this is my first Award, not counting the goat show participation medal that everyone got. Anyways. These are the eleven questions I had to answer:
Do you have a favorite sports team?
Nope, sports do not interest me much.
What movie are you most excited about for 2018?
I heard that The Miseducation of Cameron Post was coming out as a movie then, and if that’s true I am so excited. Hopefully the adaptation will do the book justice.
If money was no object, what would be your dream job?
Stunt pilot, or actress. Unfortunately I’m not brave enough for the first and not talented enough for the second. It would also be amazing to be a professional writer.
If you could do your school experience over again, would you have changed your field of study? If so, what would you pick?
I’m still in high school. But there is SO much about PreK that I would change…
What is your favorite breed of dog?
Definitely Bedlington Terriers. Look them up.
Do you have a dream pet(s)?
I’ve always wanted goats, and a huge snake. I realize that both are unrealistic, though.
If you could embark on a week-long trip in the United States, where would you go?
I would go to California. I’ve been there once, and it was so fun and people are so friendly there.
What’s your favorite breakfast food(s)?
I know this makes me evil, but I don’t really like breakfast food. Maybe cereal?
If you could meet any author, who would you choose, and why?
Probably Adam Silvera, I really love his book More Happy Than Not and it would be great to just talk to him about life and sexuality and writing. Or like, Shakespeare.
Is there a particular time period that you would want to live in?
This one is really hard. I like the romance of the 20th century, but I think I would really miss modern comforts. It would be cool to just visit the future and see how bad it is for a day or two, though.
Do you have a favorite vacation or trip from your childhood?
Probably when I went to Mexico for school. That was just really awesome, the views, the weather, the people we met. All great.
For the Sunshine Blogger Award, you have to tag eleven bloggers and ask them eleven new questions.
- If you absolutely had to burn a book, which one?
- Favorite adaptation of a book into a TV show or movie?
- Favorite sandwich?
- Last time you held someone’s hand?
- Favorite time of day or night?
- Turn to the first page of the closest book to you right now. What is the first sentence?
- Why do you have a blog?
- What is our first memory of reading a book?
- How many windows are in your room? Do you wish there were more?
- Biggest pet peeve when it comes to books?
- To what extent are you superstitious?
And the recipients of the Sunshine Award:
Thanks for the award!
Hi everyone, this is the How I Choose Books Tag- describing how I find the books I read. I first saw it at thriceread.
1. Find a book on your shelves with a blue cover. What made you pick up the book in the first place?.
I think I found The Bell Jar through a list of books everyone should read, and it’s true. I got it for a Hanukkah present, and loved it.
First of all, this is not a sex guide. This book is the story of a butch Chicana lesbian- Karleen- who wants more than anything to get pregnant. I didn’t think much of this sypnopsis, just saw it on iBooks for a car ride and it looks short and easy. But halfway though I was rooting for the main character so hard, we have little in common but the book made me sympathize with her in a way that I forgot a book could.
When I saw this book tag- my first- and decided to do it, the first place I saw it was on bookendsandendings.
Ebook or physical book?
In fifth grade I made a presentation on why I believed Ebooks should all be burned. Now I occasionally read books online, but I still prefer paper.
Hi! I’ve read so many good books lately, and some… Not as great books, that I wanted to review all of them at once. So here are some short & sweet book reviews, all keeping to one or two sentences. Like if you enjoyed this format and want to see a post like this again!
Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters
This thrilling and tightly woven book is set in Victorian England, centering around a girl growing up amongst criminals and a girl with a fortune, and is basically what would happen if Charles Dickens wrote about lesbians.
The layered characters and intriguing plot make for an entertaining- and really hard to put down- historical novel.
Nothing by Janne Teller explores questions of meaning in the story that shows how horrible seventh graders can be. This is one of the strangest books I’ve ever read, but it feels terrifyingly realistic.
Nothing matters. I have known that for a long time. So nothing is worth doing.
I just realized that.
Pretty fun, right?
Hi, and happy almost Valentine’s Day! Congratulations to every couple, and to those staying home reading like me, well here are-
9 Valentine’s Day Reads for when you’re happy, sad, or lovesick:
This story within a book by Rainbow Rowell is a cute, classic take on first loves, fanfiction, and college. Any Harry Potter fan should read it for the Harry Potter references and throwbacks. The plot centers around a shy college freshman named Cath, who is an avid Baz and Simon shipper, an identical twin, and about to fall in love.
Why I love you- The light tone and the two love stories.