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