Friday, March 27, 2015

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Published: June 2013 (First published in 1953)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 249 pages
Series: -

Synopsis: Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television "family". But when he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn't live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.

Review: This book was a bit odd. It had a really weird feel and atmosphere. The main character in this book is Guy Montag. The thing about Guy is that he’s a very ‘hollow’ character. By that I mean that I couldn’t get a lot out of him. His character felt empty.

However, maybe that was the point. Guy felt like a clean slate, and that was kind of nice. Reading about a character who wasn’t quite set in stone.
On the flipside, you have other characters such as Mildred and Clarisse. They’re both literally the opposite of each other, however they’re also alike in the sense that neither of them is particularly memorable or remarkable. Especially Clarisse, considering that she’s supposed to be a catalyst to change, to put it mildly.

Where Fahrenheit 451 shines, is in the story and the message of the story. It’s interesting to see how Guy changes and how he develops over time. The actions he takes later in the book are completely different from the ones who would have chosen if he was the same person that he was at the beginning of the book. The obvious and most important aspect of Fahrenheit 451 is the message of the book. Literature and books are important, and we shouldn’t let technology and other innovations completely replace or obscure them.

The downside to this book though, is that you don’t actually get to know a lot about the actual world that it’s taking place in. Which is a shame, because I would have really loved to learn more about the politics and what was going on in and around that world.

Overall, Fahrenheit 451 is a great book with an amazing message. Captain Beatty was my favorite character, because he’d go on these weird yet insightful rants. If you had read the book, please let me know you think of him~

Rating:

3.5 out of 5

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Published: April 17th, 2012 (first published 2011)

Publisher: Speak
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 264 pages
Series: If I Stay duology, 2nd book

Synopsis: It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I StayWhere She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

Review: Okay, so I read this book a while back. Unfortunately, I was really busy, so I hadn’t had the opportunity to review it. But hey, at least I’m getting to that now~

First thing I want to mention, is that I hadn’t a clue that this was going to be in Adam’s perspective. Which is probably weird, because it says that it’s in his point of view in the blurb. It’s in the freaking blurb!

Now then, that aside, I liked the book. I liked getting to see everything through Adam’s eyes, because it gave me a better understanding of how the events of the first book affected him then, and now. It was interesting to compare If I Stay Adam to Where She Went Adam, because you can clearly tell how much the events of If I Stay – and everything that happened in between prequel and sequel – shaped Adam’s life in Where She Went.

While If I Stay wasn’t a tearjerker for me, it was definitely a powerful book. Where She Went, however, doesn’t pack as much of a punch. The main reason why, I think, is because Adam was – for the most part – pretty sullen throughout the book. I can’t blame him, I imagine that I’d be the same in that particular situation, but as the reader, I found him to be a tad bit too whiny at times. He was kind of lackluster, but then again, that also gave a good view of the change between book one and book two.

What I really loved – or rather who – was Mia. She was like a ray of sunshine cutting through Adam’s murky waters. I had to get used to the feeling of being out of her head. Considering I was so used to being there in If I Stay.

As far as the story goes, it’s more of a character interaction/development heavy plotline. Which I really enjoyed. Mia and Adam were endearing, in different ways than the first book, but still very much so charming. They were human. So good job Gayle Forman.
Good job.


Rating:

4 out of 5

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Published: August 31st, 2010 (First published 2005)
Publisher: Vintage Books
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 288 pages
Series: -

Synopsis: As a child, Kathy – now thirty-one years old – lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.

And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed – even comforted – by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now.

Review: This book had left me extremely conflicted. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good solid read. I definitely enjoyed it. However, it was one of the few books that truly left me feeling bothered. Bothered about what had happened in the story, bother about what happened to the characters, bothered by how everything was resolved.
But mostly, I was bothered by the character’s reactions to everything. How they were so complacent and how they never really asked, “why does it have to be this way?

However, I also enjoyed that aspect. I’m so used to characters in books revolting against their respective societies that the way Kathy, Ruth and Tommy simply accepted everything the way they are, shocked me. And at the same time, I understood why they simply accepted it, because as you discover and learn from Kathy’s point of view, you also realize that she can really only tell you what she has experienced, and what she herself knows to supposedly be true. She doesn’t try to break out of any mold, simply because it’s not something that has ever been done or considered. She’s there for a reason, and she never once was put in the place to consider anything else. No one came up to her and told her to revolt.
She never had reason to doubt or to do anything other than to follow the rules.

This is an amazing book on how rules and censures shape society. It requires you to actually reflect after having read it, but it’s truly worth it.

The main downfall to this book, for me, was Ruth. She was just such a bitch. I really didn’t like her. Even towards the end, when she ‘makes up for it’, I can’t find it in myself to forgive her.


Rating:
4.5 out of 5

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Published: September 10th, 2014
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 461 pages
Series: -

Synopsis: Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life.

Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible ...

A tale of fanfiction, family, and first love

Review: Fangirl is one of those book that I had a lot of expectations for – high expectations – but that ultimately, didn’t quit satisfy me. That being said, I definitely liked this book.

Fangirl follows Cath, a girl who doesn’t quite fit in, and who loves writing fanfictions. She was super relatable to me. I was surprised by how well Rainbow Rowell had managed to craft Cath. She felt real and I saw a lot of myself in her. Unfortunately, I can’t exactly say that for every character. While Cath, Wren and their dad felt like characters who were shaped and molded as the story progressed, and who changed according to how events influenced them, some of the other characters didn’t have the same feel of development.

While you do get to know more about certain characters, I can’t really say that I consider them round characters. Courtney was obviously flat and superficial, a shallow puddle of water has more personality than her. Rowell probably meant to write her that way, but I personally found her a bit too superficial. She was just downright annoying.
But Courtney wasn’t ever really meant to be a big part of the story, which I could forgive. But then there's Levi, and I can't forgive that. Honestly, Levi was the one who outright disappointed me the most. His character was so constant. He’s always happy, always smiling. I never felt Rowell gave Levi a lot of depth. Which is really disappointing, considering he’s important enough to go on the cover of the freaking book.

The lovey-dovey parts of the book were also a bit meh. The only other Rowell book I’ve read till now was Eleanor & Park, which was bloody brilliant. The romance in Eleanor & Park was on point, and it felt genuine. In Fangirl, I couldn’t help but feel like it was a tad forced at times. That being said, Fangirl did have it’s cute moments, romance wise.

What really made me like this book, were the family dynamics. When I bought this book, I hadn’t expected such a complex family setting. I was expecting a white picket fence kind of life for Cath in terms of family. But it wasn’t like that. It was interesting to see how everything developed. There was something touching about how Cath wanted to be there and take care of her father, but also in the way Wren tried her best to forge her own identity and strive for her independence. It was beautiful to see that regardless of all the shit this family goes through, and had gone through prior to the start of the book, they all come out of it with a stronger bond with each other.

All in all, if you decide to read this book, read it for the family dynamics and developments. If you happen to enjoy the romance along the way, that’s a bonus.


Rating:
4 out of 5

Monday, October 27, 2014

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Published: April 25th, 2011
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 487 pages
Series: Divergent trilogy, 1st book

Synopsis: In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Review: Before I get into the thick of this review, I want everyone to know that this is the third time I’ve read this book. The first time I had read it, I was head over heels in love with it. This time that I had read it, I was – without meaning to be – a lot more critical about everything.

Divergent is a good book, especially if it’s your first time reading it. During my third reading, I couldn’t help but find somethings that just didn’t add up. Plotholes. And certain things that were said, I couldn’t wrap my head around.
However, even though I was scratching my head now and then, by the halfway point, Veronica Roth had managed to pull me into the story of Divergent, and I loved it. Even though I noticed certain oddities, it was still a fun and awesome read.
Divergent is action-packed, with characters who you can easily get attached to.

Tris and Four as a couple didn’t make me cringe. Bless. Another thing that made me happy was that they – like Adam and Mia from If I Stay – had a realistic relationship. Though not quite the level of Adam and Mia, it was still much better than the usual YA romance.

The story was fast paced and enjoyable, though I did find the writing a bit blunt and straightforward. Though in the end, I found that it suit the story well. Not to mention it helped in keeping the pace fast by not bogging it down with excessive description.
All and all, Divergent is a must read for everyone, though, maybe not a re-read. But I'll leave that decision to you. ^-^


Rating:
3.5 out of 5