Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Top 5 Wednesday: Top final sentences

I had quite a hard  time finding these, as I often do love endings in books, but final sentences are rarely ever fascinating when standing on their own.

These are in no particular order :)

1. "I am haunted by humans."
          - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
2. "And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
     Shall be lifted - nevermore!"
          - "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe
3. "As soon as they had strenth they arose,joined hands again, and went on."
          - Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
4. "P.S. please if you get a chanse put some flowrs on Algernons grave in the bak yard."
          - Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
5. "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
          - The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Want to join in top 5 Wednesday? Check out the goodreads group :)

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Review: Lolita

Title: Lolita
Author: Vladimir Nabokov 
Pages: 361
My Rating: 4.5/5

“Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece”

"Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged, fastidious college professor. He also likes little girls. And none more so than Lolita, whom he'll do anything to possess. Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? ...Or is he all of these?" 
I had, as I assume most people do throughout their lifetime, heard many things about this novel. I had heard it was brilliant, but more prominently, I had heard people talk about how terribly appalling it was. The latter, I could not quite comprehend: it is only a novel, merely a made-up story - how could such a thing ever be so horrifying? 
Even though Nabokov's writing style is flawless, and the story is over all incredibly fascinating, I somehow felt it was at times repetitive. Also, towards the ending I got rather confused, but I will not spoil that on here, assuming some of you may not yet have read the novel.  Therefore, along with the fact that I could not read it in one go and had to take a reading pause of about a week, I 'only' rate it 4.5 stars, rather than 5. 
I have never before read a novel like Lolita, and believe I never will again. 

Now, I do not feel like I should be saying too much about this novel, because so much has already been written, but I do want to get some things off my chest.

This was the first novel that I ever had to put down because the writing was too brilliant. Let me explain this. The perspective this novel takes on, is that of the pedophile Humbert Humbert. The novel is written as a kind of plead to the jury who are about to decide whether he is guilty or not. Therefore, the narrator tries to justify his actions. He does this by explaining how beautiful Lolita is in his eyes, and how she supposedly seduced him - He couldn't help himself, it was her fault. Readers will at this point understand that Humbert is not a reliable narrator at all, and that he truly is a pervert. Despite his effort to defend himself, he will never mislead the audience. However, because of Humbert's excellent command of the English language (as it is not his first language, and nor Nabokov's), and impeccable description of feelings, we will understand exactly what he is feeling, and we will believe it is real. This is, I then started to understand, why so many people had a hard time reading this novel, and I must admit, I did too. Because of Humbert's grusome imagination and Nabokov's brilliant writing, I had to quit reading for about a week - just to cut myself loose from this mesmerising pedophile. 

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Pages: 359
My Rating: 5/5

This novel tells the story of Ari - an angry boy who has never really had any friends. Until he meets Dante, who tries his best to teach him how to be a friend and how to get rid of his anger.

This is probably the most beautiful novel I ever read about a basically normal boy, dealing with everyday problems. Ari as well as Dante are such real characters: they are amazing but also have quite significant flaws. This makes it easy to empathise with both of the characters, even though Ari may seem like an unlikable person at first.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz is a poet, and that is evident when looking at the writing in this novel: it's gorgeous. Every sentence is well thought through, there are so many interesting quotes in there, and there is a lot of imagery: it's not just a simple Young Adult novel - there are events one has to think about, but also sentences, words even.
Mostly, the story made me feel so calm when reading it, but at one point I did get truly angry. When reading other peoples' reviews, however, I felt like they did not feel the same way. I would like to know, if you've read the book, did you feel angry at some point? I do not want to spoil anything but I think that if you felt the same way I did, you would know what I am talking about.

I find it difficult to properly review books I really like: I think it's important to consider both positive and negative points in a good review. However, I can really not think of any negative aspects to this novel - so I am sorry I cannot provide you with an adequate review.

Anyway, if you  have not yet gathered this from what I wrote: I just loved this book and I think everyone should read it. It's not a difficult read (I read most of it within a day), yet it has so much depth to it. It's just beautiful.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Review: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Title: Hollow City 
Author: Ransom Riggs
Pages: 396
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Hollow City is the sequel to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and takes off right where the first one ended. Jacob and the other peculiars go to London to try and save their headmistress.

One of the aspects I was bothered with in the first novel, was its slow pace, and Hollow City definitely makes up for that. It is a lot more action-packed, and therefore much more exciting - it makes you want to keep on reading. Also, the first novel was rather predictable, in my opinion. Even though some events in Hollow City were too, the were much more twists and turns, making it impossible to truly know where the story was headed.
Character development is another feature which I thought was really well done in this one. While the first novel is really getting to know Jacob and generally exloring the world of the peculiars, in the sequel we learn some new things about these peculiars, as well as getting to know so many more new characters. I felt the characters were all so well explored and I loved their back-stories.
Another thing I'd call an improvement is the way in which the pictures are inserted. In the first novel, I was sometimes annoyed by the interruption as at times the pictures did not necessarily belong at that point in the story. I also felt it withheld my own imagination in the way that the pictures provided me with how I should imagine certain people or places. Even the latter problem is present in the second novel as well, this bothered me much less. This may have to do with the fact that I was used to it and expecting it as it was not too long ago that I had read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, but it was also because the pictures were always added in the proper place in the story -  you knew what they were supposed to depict.
Now, I only awarded this book .25 more stars than Miss Peregrine's. This is mainly because after I read the first one I felt overwhelmed by the world. It was so new to me and its originality was one of the reasons why I felt it earned 3.75 stars. After having read Hollow City I obviously did not feel the same - I already knew all about the world. However, I felt in this aspect the story lacked - the author could have explored the possibilities of the world he created some more.

Over all though, I truly love this novel and cannot wait for the third one to come out. Ransom Riggs has created such an interesting world and such intriguing characters - there are so many more things to find out.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Review: The Third Man by Graham Greene

Title: The Third Man
Author: Graham Greene
Pages: 124
My Rating: 4/5 stars

In 1948 the film The Third Man premiered. The director Carol Reed had asked Graham Greene to write the screenplay, and he agreed to do so. He quickly found out he could not write a film without first writing a novel. Although the concept (thus the book) was never meant to be published, it later was. This should be kept in mind when reviewing this novel. Greene knew he would be able to edit it when turning it into a script and thus may not have focussed too much on writing the perfect novel. I have to admit I've never read another novel by Greene, so I cannot agree nor disagree, but many other people think the novel can pass as a concept, but canot compare to Greene's other works which are said to be more complex and much better written. As I thought The Third Man was a very well-written and well developed novel, I am quite excited to be reading more by this author. 
The Third Man follows Rollo Martins, an author of Westerns, who goes to Vienna to visit his old friend Harry Lime. Upon arrival, Rollo discovers Harry has been killed in an accident. The protagonist is suspicious about this, and tries to find out what really happened. 
The narrator of the story is detective Calloway, who recounts the story Rollo told him. Although this is sometimes confusing, it also adds depth to the story in the sense that credibility is almost completely gone. Rollo probably was already biased telling the story to Calloway, who in his turn gave his own twist to it when informing us. Our job as a reader is to figure out to what extend the plot is to be believed. 
Although a significant part of the novel is rather predictable, it does remain compelling until the very end. The characters are complex and we become interested in their fates. Greene elaborately shows how our characters end up. This may, however, be one of the flaws of the novel: it has such a closed ending that there's no space for interpretation for the reader (which is solved nicely in the film version). 
An interesting feature of Greene's writing is the way in which he inserts humour. Everything is slightly exaggerated which makes the characters caricatures and the story less serious - which is positive in this case. The humour is also highlighted by the voice. The language used is simple yet highly entertaining, although at this point I cannot quite pinpoint exact quotes. 
In short, I'd say go and read the novel. It's just over a hundred pages, and you will not regret having spent time on it. I'd also recommend seeing the film by Carol Reed, which is, in a very interesting way quite different from the novel.