Saturday, October 31, 2009
"Life of Pi" by Yann Martel
My grade: C
Yes, it has been brought to my attention that this book has won a number of awards - that doesn't necessarily mean anything to me. I didn't like it at all.
Firstly, I have no idea what this book is about. I guess something to do with philosophy, but I'm not really sure what the message was. I suppose the biggest story within the story was the sinking of the ship, consequently placing Pi in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for some 7 odd months. However, it took a long time to get to this part within the greater story, largely not to my understanding. Virtually all of the previous information is useless.
Secondly, I'm not exactly sure what the problem is specifically, but this was an incredibly boring read. I can't really say that it is poorly written; the writing itself, especially in certain parts, is excellent. Perhaps it is the total lack of tension. Even in moments where there should, and normally would be lots of tension, the reader is not at all moved to feel much of anything.
Friday, October 23, 2009
"The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger
My grade: A-
This novel has an extremely interesting idea behind it, which isn't new: time travel. But, the way Niffenegger draws it out and the details she provides are not something I have thus far seen in literature. This alone is worthy of, at least, mention.
As the back cover states, this book is essentially a love story. But it truly is written in a very believable way, even the time traveling itself. And, unlike most love stories, it really does force you to stop and think about what's going on, because the time travel makes things a bit confusing. To put it simply, this is a love story told through bits and pieces that are not necessarily in chronological order, and do not necessarily make logical sense.
In general, this book is very well-written, if a bit on the girly side. The first 200 pages or so may be a bit boring at parts due to stylistic repetition, but it definitely gets better after that. I cried during most of the last 100 pages or so. I found the overuse and the unrealistic focus on sex to be a bit too much, but would otherwise recommend this book.
Friday, October 9, 2009
"Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts" by Samuel Beckett
My grade: A+
This is a really short play that can be read in one hour, and is definitely worth your time. I'm not fully sure what it's about, as it's definitely not as straightforward as it might seem. In fact, I have many more questions now than at the start of the play, but I guess that's the point. If you want to be confused, and have something to think about, try this play.
"Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway
My grade: A
It actually took me a relatively long time to understand the full brilliance of this book (more than half way in), but I suppose that is just another part of its genius. This is quite a straightforward story about some pretty normal people living in France some time after WWI, although the war has nothing to do with it (mostly). Through this book, Hemingway makes quite a statement about society in general, and more specifically, about the different groups of people that are encountered in the book.
My only criticism of the book is the 'Brett' character, who reminds me entirely of Dostoevsky's 'Nastasia Filipovna' (from "The Idiot"). As these things always go, though, Nastasia was a much more sympathetic character, despite all of her many flaws and being a woman of low morality, and this served a huge (and vital) purpose in the climax of the book. With Brett, the reader never fully understands her and only sees that she is largely liked by people around her, but the reasons for that are not fully clear. I think this book could have been that much stronger if Brett's character were more developed.
I recommend this book only to people who truly like fine literature. If you are just out for a good story, this book is not for you.
Friday, October 2, 2009
"The Maltese Falcon" by Dashiell Hammett
My grade: B-/C+
This is a classic detective story. It takes place in America of the 1920s, and does a pretty good job in portraying the San Francisco of that time. This part I found to be pretty interesting. The story itself, however, is too twisted for my taste. New details arise at every step of the way, but almost in a forced manner. The final twist is also not enough of a climax, as it is firstly partially predictable and secondly, implicates a character that the reader is not particularly sympathetic with. It's possible that this book has simply outlived its time. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it.