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nclagrimas

nclagrimas

“A word after a word after a word is power.” --Margaret Atwood

Lord of the Flies (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century)

Lord of the Flies - William Golding I've been meaning to read this book for the longest time, but not until I found a cheap, second-hand, permabound copy of it in a bookshop in my university did I actually get around to finally doing so. I will be talking quite a lot here, so if you're not up for that, I'll give you one word: metaphors.

In this classic work by Golding, a group of British school boys get stranded on an island after their plane crashes. Very quickly, they form into one body. They elect a leader, assign hunters, and make a fire whose smoke they aimed to signal passing ships of their presence. However, little work actually gets done because the children would rather play around. Things spiral down into fear and disorder when the younger kids, the 'littluns,' start seeing the Beast. This, among other events, mark the beginning of their descent into madness. These prim and proper English schoolchildren turn into savages.

Golding traces back the problems of society to the defects of human nature and portrays the whole of it within the confines of an island, where children represent the population. The way I see it, Golding shows that humans have a natural flair for putting things together then taking them apart again. The boys--there are no girls, and this is interesting--try to govern themselves, but of course, not everyone is happy with the leadership. They challenge each other, and this takes up their time, causing them to neglect their real problem: they are stranded on an island and they are not paying attention to the fire that would mean their rescue. They fight, then they start fearing things they can't see. And when someone realizes their flaws, they start drawing blood.

I like this book primarily because I like my metaphors straight and direct to the point. I also like this book because it is a very good adventure story. Short and sweet. Not to mention violent. I disagree with the people who say it's boring.

I dislike this book because there isn't so much of a plot than there is representation of real-life situations. The island mirrors the world, only there's more mirroring than anything. Also, I don't think the characters develop--they remain the same throughout, and that's unfortunate.

But maybe that's the point. Maybe the whole island adventure is a distraction from reality, and the novel is ambitious this way.

As much as I like the metaphors, I have a few concerns:

1. No girls. Things would have been very, very different had there been girls.
2. The ending. I feel as if the rug was jerked under my feet. Not in a good way. (Again, maybe that's the point, but still.)
3. It sort of drags at times.

Overall, this book is very much worth reading. It's perfectly figurative and very well written. But if we were actually made to care about the characters, it would have been so much better.

I'm not dissing a classic, lovelies. But we're allowed to have opinions.

The Giver

The Giver - Lois Lowry [NOT (YET) A REVIEW, MORE OF A NOTE: I sort of promised myself that I'd write a review for every book I read this year, but alas, I failed to consider a set of circumstances (read: my life) and now I have to leave this here for a while because I'm sleepy and I could not really put my thoughts about this book together. I read this really quickly, so I'm not particularly sure what to think about it yet.]

Anonymous

Anonymous - Jason Tanamor First off, thanks to Jason Tanamor for sending me a copy of this novel for review. I will try to be honest about it.

Anonymous is all about prisoners telling each other stories of their lives and crimes through the toilets, the drainage pipes carrying the sound to their cells. There is a conman, a scammer, an owner of a strip club, a pedophile, a stalker, a guy who has had sex with 150 women.

It's about as disgusting as it gets. Yet the brutal honesty with which this novel is told--where no shortcuts are taken, where truths are handed out casually and without a thought of a shudder--is what makes it appealing. Jason Tanamor writes with a voice that is reminiscent of Chuck Palahniuk, only less rough, less sharp, so the feeling one gets when he drives home a point is more like being punched repeatedly than being stabbed once. Here we have criminals, ashamed and unashamed, going through their personal histories and yelling them down waterless toilets. Their stories are neither refined nor wholesome. But they do have a single point which sort of gives them importance, or as Unknown would put it, 'relevance': they are the people who made laws get enacted, the people who made their neighbors more vigilant, the people who made changes in other people, because they are the proof of the sicknesses of the world and good folks must be wary of them. This twisted logic, sustained all throughout the novel, is entertaining, and admittedly thought-provoking.

However, as much as I liked the things I mentioned above, I felt as if there was no real plot to the novel. Stories kept going back to the past, and there are no events to move the action forward. Also, the author's style of constructing sentences was a bit repetitive. I understand that this reflects the attitude of the characters, but still, it was increasingly tiresome. There are a few technical errors as well.

Tanamor ends Anonymous in the true spirit of Palahniuk. Because I was bored towards the end of the novel, I kind of missed it, and I was another two paragraphs in when I realized that I had been, once again, not paying enough attention. My reaction was at first an enthusiastic 'Oh!' and then as I remembered Fight Club and Choke, the degree of enthusiasm decreased and I was left with a tired, forced, 'Oh.'
Still, I gave this book three stars because it was strange, funny, and at times disgusting (make that most of the time). It's the kind of story that people think about but never really get down to telling, and the fact that Tanamor accomplished it is in equal parts reckless and brave.

Coraline

Coraline - Neil Gaiman When I was going through my list of to-read books, I found Coraline and decided I wanted it to be my first read for the year, thinking I could not go wrong with it because I've never been disappointed by a Neil Gaiman piece. I was right. Coraline is the story of a little girl who found another world, a replica of her house and its surroundings, behind a door she found from one of her explorations. It was a world so similar to hers, yet so different. Her parents were also there, but they had pale complexions and black buttons where their eyes should have been.

I liked this novel immensely because 1. it was short enough not to drag but long enough to hook a reader and finish a story of an adventure, 2. it was simply, but masterfully, told, 3. it was creepy and imaginative--I was a willing prisoner until the very last page.

I understand now why this book has been called by some as the new Alice in Wonderland. Also, I think I have a new favorite author.

Every Day

Every Day - David Levithan I kept looking for answers to A's identity. I wanted closure on the matter and I didn't get it. Maybe that's why I wasn't too impressed. But what I did get was a deep but fleeting sadness from how it all turned out, and if that was the author's goal, then he succeeded greatly, at least for me.

Choke

Choke - Chuck Palahniuk I was prepared to give this book two to three stars, until I reached the ending. I guess I should have seen it coming, but, no, I was too busy letting Palahniuk screw with my head to realize that he could, and ultimately would, screw with it even further, the sort of screwing that isn't the least bit frightening but admittedly a little surprising, but maybe that was because I hadn't been paying attention. For a long time afer finishing it, I kept thinking about the whole thing, reading into it so much I couldn't sleep. What a read. So smart, at times so funny, and so utterly disgusting. This was my first Palahniuk book, and I was so deeply disgusted by it I immediately decided I would read all of his works. That's the kind of effect it had on me.

Allegiant (Divergent, Book 3)

Allegiant  - Veronica Roth I'm still under the influence of the feeling that one usually gets when parting with a well-loved series, so I only have half-hearted praise for Allegiant--half-hearted because I'm vaguely disappointed about how it all turned out.

I might take my rating down one star (or two), for reasons I might not be able to effectively phrase until the aforementioned feeling wears off and I can read the novel again, this time without the element of surprise to throw me over the edge and make me think it's such a great read.

The Year of Fog

The Year of Fog - Michelle Richmond This novel made the possibility of having a child you love disappear without a trace all too real and frightening. That reality was presented very well. I also liked the interesting bits about memory and photography, which sort of saved the book for me. But boy, was it boring--I skimmed about a fourth of it just to get to the last part, which I already knew, thanks to a GR review whose writer did not care to include a Spoiler Alert mark to spare a bored reader the premature discovery of the ending of the story. Spoilers. What a way to ruin a reading experience. Moral lesson: Don't look at reviews in the middle of reading a book.

Go Ask Alice

Go Ask Alice - Beatrice Sparks, Anonymous I find it hard to believe that this is an actual diary. Although quite moving at times, it lacked any substantial depth. It wasn't exactly a waste of time, but it wasn't a real treat, either.

The Child Thief: A Novel

The Child Thief - Brom Let me breathe for a moment to process this. I may come back to write a semi-decent review that no one will read, but in the event that I don't, know that I'm recommending the holy jeebus out of this dark, thrilling, Devil-infested adventure of a novel.

Room: A Novel

Room - Emma Donoghue Because it was narrated by a five-year-old, Room didn't quite provide a full measure of the emotion and insight it had potential for. It could have been more powerful had the narrator been Ma or an older Jack, but the sense of wonder of a five-year-old boy is powerful in a level of its own. The driving elements of the plot receded considerably halfway through, so I had to be extremely patient to reach the ending, which was a fitting one, if not somewhat predictable. Nonetheless, I liked this novel enough. It's not undeserving, but I think that the hype about it may be a little too cranked up. But that's just me.

Manila Noir (Akashic Noir)

Manila Noir - Jessica Hagedorn, Gina Apostol Dark, gritty, wayward, lost, hopeless, but still thriving: that's the world for you, that's Manila.

The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy The God of Small Things revolves around the life of an Indian family and how it changed significantly upon the arrival of two relatives from England. The prose is appealingly literary, the tone dark, and the plot sad, tragic, haunting, and soulful. After reading the last sentence, I only set the book down for a few minutes then started again from the beginning. It is a story so completely told, yet I could not get enough.

Oh, the jewels I find in book sales.

Neverwhere: A Novel

Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman Imaginative urban fantasy at its best. Neil Gaiman never disappoints.

Have a Little Faith: A True Story

Have a Little Faith: a True Story - Mitch Albom Simple, touching, inspiring. The usual Mitch Albom genius piece, except this one's based entirely on the truth. Recommended if you're itching for a very well-written heartstring-puller. Mitch Albom is nothing short of amazing.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson - 'John Green',  'David Levithan' I started reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson back in November last year, and got about ten pages in when I realized that ebook reading is hurting my eyes. I was forced to put it down, and wait for some cash to roll by so I could get myself a printed copy. The cash never came, but a really good friend bought herself this book. And, ta-da. Borrowed. That's what friends are for.

Now, about the book. I know I've said this before, but I'll say it again: I'm naturally predisposed to liking everything John Green does. With WGWG, he has reached a new level of high in my eyes. I've never heard of David Levithan before WGWG, which, I guess, is a personal shame. The two alternating points of view are seamless. The characters are real and believable and convincing and, honest-to-God, amazing. The plot itself is original; it's one of those plots where nothing big ever seems to happen but at the end leaves your mind totally blown. I admit that I do not understand the LGBT community; all I know about homosexuals is what society thinks of them. WGWG helped me learn a little more. And for that, I am thankful.