Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 7: The Death of the Adversary

Day 7: The Most Underrated Book

I'm going with Hans Keilson's The Death of the Adversary (see my earlier review here).

Set in the time of World War II - the beginning of, actually - it tries to answer the questions ripe in everyone's heads. Why did so many people succumb to the tyranny that Hitler brought upon the world? To Germany and the Jews? We know of the fear and the hatred people held for him, but what about individuals who were just content living their lives?
This book is very anonymous, in that the 'adversary' is never named, but we all know his identity because we know history. It is designed to try and explain to you the simplicity of it all. The path of a human life in a time when it was questioned.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 6: Villette

Day 6: A Book that Makes Me Sad

It took me a while to think through which book might possibly qualify as one that makes me sad. Villette by Charlotte Brontë wasn't foremost on my mind, but it does make for this category.
Lucy, though not my favorite protagonist, is one to be reckoned with. The themes of the book, the loneliness, repression, and the intense feminist theme that's familiarly Miss Brontë, keep you glued to the pages.
Without giving away too much of the story, I must say that it would be the ending that made me think of this book as a sad one. The story has its plot twists and a very literal ambiguity to it, and will keep you hooked.

The Host

Once you've read the Twilight series, you know what to expect from a Stephanie Meyer book. The Host is definitely, in my opinion, much better than the tales of vampire love, probably because it's just one book that takes you through the life of a Soul inhabiting a human body. It's a quick read - took me less than two days to finish it - and an entertaining one.

Wanderer, a silvery centipede-like alien, is implanted into the body of a human host, Melanie Stryder, with the hope that she will be the key to finding the human resistance that lies hidden and seems to be, in some way, fighting the invasion from these peace-loving creatures. Now living in the body of another, Wanderer finds that she cannot suppress Melanie. Her memories are too strong, and Wanderer begins to turn... human. She falls in love with the people that Melanie loves, and turns against her own kind to find Jared and Jamie. At first, she isn't accepted, because she is, after all, an alien. No one is aware of Melanie's presence in the deep dark caves of the mind. Slowly, she begins to make friends and is accepted as one of them. Only, one of them, falls in love with Wanderer.
While most of the book deals with life in the depths of caverns in the Arizona desert, it takes you through the conflicting emotions of what makes us innately human. And this being a Stephanie Meyer creation, it deals with love.

I've read my share of science fiction novels, so will refrain from putting this book in that genre, because it isn't about the actual invasion and a resistance, as much as it is of one person of a species, that turns and mingles with the 'hosts'. But, it definitely makes for a simple read. One that you do not have to pay much attention to because, let's face it, it isn't great literature, but it is good writing, for a young adult novel, not an 'adult romance' novel as I've seen it being categorized in some places. There is depth in the character of the alien, from whose perspective the story is told. The supporting characters are predictable. There is the love triangle, between Jared, Melanie and Wanderer; and the love quadrangle that is so reminiscent of the Bella, Edward, Jacob relationship; and the yearnings of 'inseparable love' which has been the theme of all of Ms. Meyer's books so far.
If you're looking for a quick fling into the romantic side of science fiction, where alien planets, names and history sound a bit too silly to have even existed - they are original names, but they have no essence, so you needn't pay attention to it - this is a good book to start off with.

To justify my rating of the book of 'it was ok', I'll just say that I don't expect anything great from a Meyer book (the Twilight series simply threw me off), hence I was able to get through the book without a feeling of wanting something more from it, as I do with most of the books I read.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 5: Gaudy Night

Day 5: A Book That Makes Me Happy

An unconventional choice this shall be. Generally, any book would make my happy, but if we're going by the story and writing, then my vote (at this point in time) would go for Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers.
A mystery novel published in 1935, this book is pro-feminist novel. Very unique, it stands out in the series of Lord Peter Wimsey's investigations in that Harriet Vane is the primary investigator and there isn't really much of a mystery to look into. Importance is given to women and their struggles in society. For someone who places education and independence above all else, this book is definitely the perfect choice.
I love Sayers' humor in Wimsey's lines, and I love Lord Peter even more. It's also probably one of my favorite books in the series because Harriet finally accepts Peter's hand in marriage.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 4: Lost in a Good Book

Day 4 : Favorite Book from a Favorite Series

I may have picked 'The Eyre Affair' had I not read through most of the series. The first book definitely remains the one that got my hooked onto the series but for literary purposes I love 'Lost in a Good Book' most.
Thursday Next (see here for my review of the series) is now married to Landen Park-Laine, lives in Swindon and is happily chasing after literary crimes, while dealing with stardom born from her having changed the ending of Jane Eyre (in the book, Jane actually goes off to India with her cousin, but Thursday's intervention - after killing her nemesis, Acheron Hades, which causes Bertha Rochester to die in the fire and Rochester to lose his eyesight and an arm - results in Jane returning to Thornfield and marrying Rochester), then coming to terms with Landen's eradication by a rogue member of the ChronoGuard who is working with the Goliath Corporation's Brik Schitt-Hawse, who is in the course of avenging the entrapment of his half-brother in Poe's The Raven.
I think I liked this book the most due to its vast allusions to literature. Like, Thursday's trial in Kafka's The Trial, her investigating of the sudden appearance of Shakespeare's Cardenio, joining JurisFiction - the policing agency within fiction whose meetings are held in Norland Park, learning the ropes of the BookWorld, apprenticing with a high-speed-driving-obsessed Miss Havisham. There're a bunch of other interesting characters too - Emperor Zhark, Yorrick Kane, The Cheshire Cat (Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat), and Granny Next - who cannot die until she has read the 10 most boring books.

It's a very well executed book, in terms of characters, writing, story-telling... If you love literature, and are familiar with it, you'll know why this book (and series) are currently trending on my 'favorites' list.