What a book. WHAT a book. I’m scared my review won’t do it justice.
At the time that Carl was hosting a Mistborn group-read, my book was still travelling all over the world, desperate to get to me. Oh, Universe, why? Why did this book take so long to arrive? And then, when it did, of course it was perfectly timed with my mid-terms. Of course.
So, I’ve been a good little girl, and I’m done with exams for a while, and I even put up a Never Let Me Go post before I put this one up, but I can’t take it anymore. There’s something you should know.
This book is bloody brilliant.
I mean it. Go out, pick up a copy, read it. Now. Now!
To start with, this book has got to have one of the best first lines ever.
Ash fell from the sky.
What did I tell you? One line, that one line, and my brain exploded. Ash? ASH?! From the freaking sky?! This man is mad.
The rest of the book is like that, too, mind you. There where times when (oh, and this is a super quick read, by the way. Don’t count on getting any sleep till you’re done) I doubled back and just stared at sentences like they had three heads. Ash falling from the sky, I tell you.
And the magical system! Probably one of the most creative that I’ve ever seen. And incredibly real. Well, as real as magical systems can be anyway. Pfft, no, I can’t tell you, that’s the best bit unfortunately.
Okay, I take that back. The characters were the best bit. Sanderson had me hooked from page one, and pretty much every character that came after just added to the fervent page-turning. There were a few secondary characters that weren’t as well fleshed out, but I think I’m going to let that drop. Who cares, eh? Who cares.
First, there’s Kelsier, who reminded me a LOT of Durzo Blint (if you haven’t read The Night Angel trilogy, that’s another one I highly recommend. One of my favourite fantasy trilogies, that.) Okay, no limelight stealing allowed. But, well Durzo Blint is the awesomest character in the world – ever. Except for maybe Morpheus. (ARGH! FOCUS, WOMAN!)
What was I saying? Ah, yes Kelsier. A character as mad as the author, he dashes about, wreaks havoc, waves charmingly and dashes away, somewhere else, wreaks havoc there.. Do I have to explain why I love him? Listen to this:
“How do you ‘accidentally’ kill a noble man in his own mansion?”
“With a knife in the chest. Or, rather, a pair of knives in the chest…”
Yikes. I don’t think I’ve ever used these many caps in a post before. Sorry?
Then there’s Vin. And finally! Another strong female protagonist that I can add to my pathetically tiny list of Alanna, Matilda, Maya and Sonea. Very, very few authors can create a realistic, yet strong, female character. This man does it beautifully. And while Vin is the main focus of the book, I like how balanced the narrative is. Vin’s story of a scared, distrusting orphan-Skaa (non-nobility) turning into this lethal, strong, determined individual who gives as good as she gets (sometimes better) and manages to resolve some, if not all trust issues (Yay! Disney? Learn! (I still love you (Sorry! (Don’t stop making movies!!)))) was completely engaging. But if Sanderson had focused on that, and just that, I’d have put the book down mid-way and picked another one up. No, this man realises that we don’t want a plain old Bildungsroman, no no, we can get that anywhere. We want you to talk about the rebellion, too. (What, you thought there wasn’t going to be a rebellion? Psh.) But too much about rebellions, and we get bored. Now, I don’t know how he put these two together so perfectly, but he’s sneaky like that. There were a few “fantasy-cliches” here and there, but you know what? I didn’t get mad. I lapped it up, asked for more, and now the next two books are sitting across the table from me waiting to be devoured.
But, before that. I need to see what Carl, Grace and Lynn have to say about the book. I’ve religiously avoided their posts, because I didn’t want their thoughts to influence this review, but now I’m going berserk.
I’ve made a lot of references to other books in this post. Just in case you’re interested, here are links that will tell you more about them. For Durzo Blint, go here. Morpheus, here (if you do plan to read Sandman, I’d avoid this one. Summaries!) and here. Alanna is from The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce. You also HAVE to read what Cheryl has to say about her. Matilda - Matilda by Roald Dahl. Maya from the Game World Trilogy by Samit Basu (book one here, book two, I can’t find book three), and Sonea from the Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan (the link takes you to her website. Her rec-reading list is amazing, by the way). I would, um, recommend all of them. If in doubt, convince you I shall!
This post is going to be super-quick. Lightning McQueen, ka-chow, and all that.
1. In the book Bilbo gets visited by 13 strange dwarves, and just lets them in to eat his cakes and drink tea. In the modern world it would be really weird if people just started barging in your home. Why didn’t Bilbo just tell them to go?
Like Tolkein said, I think it was the Took in him. If dwarves came barging in and asked me to serve them food and ale, I’d ask them to go boil their heads. If I happened to overhear talk of dragons and epic adventure, however, I might reconsider. I think Bilbo was more than a little curious about why all these bearded hungry things had turned up there in the first place. The first time I read this, I remember thinking all the other dwarves were okay, but thinking Thorin was a pompous little bratface. Of course, that changed as I kept reading.
2. Where would the dwarves and Bilbo be if Gandalf wasn’t with them? It’s seems to me that it’s him who saves them from the scary situations.
I think it’s standard, this. The thing is, though, I never would have thought it so had I not recently read Neverwhere. I think Bilbo needs to grow into what he could be, and to show the transition, he needed to go from depending on Gandalf to learning to fend for himself. I’m already starting to like the thoughts he’s having, though. What with the troll-incident and all. He could have just come away and reported, but no. He tried to pickpocket a troll. I ask you. Good old Bilbo.
3. Bilbo plays a game of riddles with Gollum. He ends up winning by asking “What have I got in my pockets?”, which Gollum is unable to answer. Do you think it was a fair, as it wasn’t actually a riddle?
I feel sad for Gollum. I wanted to hug him, but then nasty things would happen to my head, so maybe…that’s a bad idea.
But then again, and I know this is cold, but from the point of view of the story continuing, maybe this had to happen?
4. For those of you who haven’t read The Hobbit before, is the tone of writing one you’d expect from a book that has been loudly proclaimed as a classic? And for those of you who have read it before, how did it feel – like coming home to a much-loved book, or were you surprised by how much you’d forgotten?
A lot. I read this two years ago for the first time. And I was surprised that I had forgotten more than I remembered. For one, it seems like it was written for a much younger audience than I remembered. And it didn’t feel like a classic at all (don’t ask me to explain that, I won’t be able to). It felt..like a very long bed-time story. Wow. Imagine being read Tolkein every night as a kid.
5. We’ve seen quite a few songs so far. Do you pay attention to them, or do you skip them altogether? Do you like how silly they are, or do you think them an interruption?
I’m trying to think of a nice way to say this, but I think it’s a huge interruption, having to read all those songs. But then again, I don’t really like songs in books. I’d make an exception for every one Roald Dahl wrote, and I loved the Sorting Hat’s songs, but that about sums up my list.
The first time I read it, I skipped them all. Except, maybe one or two. I’m trying to pay more attention this time, though. Because some of them tell you a lot (Like the first one the dwarves sang).
6. What has been your favourite scene, so far?
Like Lynn, I’d have to choose the one with the trolls. The first time I read it, and they turned to stone, I remember shaking my head in awe. I did it this time, too. That Gandalf.
“Trolls simply detest the very sight of dwarves (uncooked).”
Looking forward to what Matt comes up with this week!
What do you say about a book that makes you want to jump in and take care of the characters? To give them a hug and tell them you’re there for them and it aches not to be able to?
Ishiguro has been on my to-read list for quite a while now, but I was very particular about this book being my first – a sort of gateway into the world of Ishiguro-loving-awesomeness, if you will. Why was I so particular? I saw the movie earlier this year as part of my 50-50 Challenge. I’ll come to that in a bit.
I’ve heard a lot of people praise this book to the stars, always along the lines of, “Ishiguro is amazing. You have to read his work!” But WHY is this man amazing? What is it about him ? I’ve never heard a single bad review of this book, and I never thought it strange until I started reading. I’ve always just nodded eagerly and made a mental note to get my hands on the book.
So, let’s look at this man, shall we? For the first fifty pages or so, I felt nothing. Sure, it was interesting, but his writing wasn’t particularly scintillating – certainly nothing I’d be impressed by having just read Angela Carter (review coming soon, this woman is mad. In a good way, of course).
Was it the characters? No, not really.
Was it what he was writing about? (I’m not telling you, this book has been falsely advertised as a lot of things and it makes me very angry. I’ll direct you to the Goodreads summary, though. But please don’t look through the reader reviews. Do you trust me? Yes? Good. )
“Get on with it!”, you’re thinking. “Tell us!”
Honestly? I don’t know.
Never Let Me Go is the most beautiful, depressing piece of art I have ever come across. It isn’t one whose magnificence you’d shout from the rooftops, but one you’d carry around with you, stare at lovingly from time to time, flip through pages long after you’ve finished – just to remember the journey it took you on.
It’s the kind of book you’d recommend with sparkly eyes and a secretive little whisper. The kind that you’ll think about long after you’ve finished reading and occasionally shake your head in wonder. The kind that’ll make you want to review this before Mistborn even though you read that one first and it was fantastic.
Is there anything extraordinary about this book? If I have to be honest, no. But it’s a special book. A very special book. A very, very, very, very…you get it. I expected to weep buckets, because that’s what happened when I watched the movie for the first time. But I was dry-eyed for the most part. There were just two sentences that set me off. Two sentences, two choked sobs. That’s it. But in those few moments, I felt such a deep connection to Kathy (Goodreads link, clickety-click), that it felt like..I can’t tell you what it felt like. I don’t have the words.
I love playing Tag. Love it. So when I got Blog-tagged by Matt Watson over at Wanton Creation, was I going to let a silly thing like big scary exams get in the way? HA.
What is Blog Tag, you ask? Tsk tsk.
1. I must post the rules.
2. I must answer the questions the tagger listed for me (since I got tagged more than once, this isn’t going to be a nice pointy eleven).
3. I must create (or reuse) 11 questions for those I tag.
4. I must tag 11 people.
5. I must let them know they’ve been tagged.
1. What is your favourite recipe (as in, what food does it make – you don’t have to provide the ingredients and method (unless you really want to))?
Blueberry muffins. I can never have too many or have them too often. I could live on these things and still love them.
2. What is your favourite thing to spend money on?
Books. And..things that smell nice. I’m not talking scented candles and the like, just everyday things that smell nice. If I happen to be at a craft store, and they’ve got little keychains carved out of wood, I’ll pick them up. I love the smell of wood. Same with pizza. I love the smell of pizza more than I actually like eating it. If I pass by a cafe, and I can smell freshly brewed coffee, or bread! I love bread! ..I’ll walk straight in.
Oh, and. Crayons.
3. What time of day do you read/write the most?
The reading? Really, really, really late at night. And lazy afternoons. The writing bit depends on what I’m writing about, and the weather. And the presence or lack of my comfy, warm quilt.
4. Do you prefer summer or winter, and why?
Comfy warm quilt! Winter.
5. What is your favourite holiday destination?
Erm. I don’t really have one. I prefer spending holidays at home, doing things I didn’t have time for throughout the year.
6. What is the best book/film/album you’ve read/watched/heard this year so far?
Book? Easily Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Album would have to be Colour Haze’s Tempel. And film? I expected Dark Knight Rises to be the film of the year for me, but I was very, very disappointed. I still have my Fifty-Fifty challenge to complete, though, so I hope my answers will change. For now, a tie between The Avengers (I couldn’t help it, it had me grinning from start to finish), The Beaver and Invictus. Wow, that’s a strange list.
7. If you could be anybody for just a day, who would it be and why?
Mozart. I need to know how that mind worked, damn it.
I’ve always wanted to do this, and now I finally have a chance to.
As part of our new weekly feature at Writers’ Bloc (Wordsmith Wednesdays), I get to make my very own
very lame book-spine poem!
Excuse the lighting (should’ve taken this in the morning, but eh)!
Should I be apologising for inflicting this on you? Heh heh. Probably.
Let me start by saying I did like Love Story. So you really can’t hold this against me.
I hated this book. HATED it. And I very rarely hate a book. Sure, some books fail to live up to my expectations, some are just disappointing after being hyped up and receiving rave reviews, and some just aren’t my kind of books. With Oliver’s Story, the problem was this : it was plain terrible.
I’m reviewing this book a week after reading it in the hope that some of the anger would have subsided. I can’t say that it’s worked, but at least I’m not employing every swear word I know.
- Oh, where to start? If there was a list of things so cheesy you could make ten cheese burgers with it, this book would make it on that list. At the very top. Actually, make that thirty burgers.
- Take Oliver himself. He’s whiny, annoying, and he stalks the first female he decides to let in after Jenny died. Because he thinks she’s keeping secrets from him. The hell? They’ve gone out ONCE. And he thinks he’s entitled to know everything about her? Please.
- Listen to this:
“For some unfathomable reason, Oliver, I like you. But you are impossibly impulsive“
“You’re not too possible yourself,” I answered.
I’m sorry, what? What does that even mean?! “You’re not too possible yourself”?! Erich Segal, have you completely lost it?!
- I can’t handle so many stuck-up snobs. I just can’t. I don’t care if that’s how all corporate heiresses and people born into truckloads of money act (and somehow I doubt they’re thaaaat pretentious), but all the conversations about money in this book made me nauseous.
- There’s this bit towards the end of the book where they visit Tokyo. And I swear, it feels like he’s looked up the place and Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V-ed everything he could find. Or he actually visited Tokyo and somebody gave him a dreadful brochure. Which he copied out of. Either way, there was copying. Violation of the first rule of calling yourself a writer, I think?
- I liked Jenny. I did. If this was actually a book about him coping with Jenny’s death, it might have been better. I’ve never cared about Oliver much, and I doubt I’d ever be able to read Love Story again because of this.
- None. Oh, wait. At least I’m one book closer to my year’s goal. I suppose that counts.
Final verdict: I can’t stress how bad this book is. Do yourself a favour and stay away.