Monday, March 25, 2013

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Before I even went online to find out who wrote which part, I already guessed that the first Will Grayson was by Green and the second will grayson was by Levithan.  Let me preface by saying that I love John Green.  I've only read one Levithan book and I like him, but I don't love him.  This book pretty much supports my initial opinions on both authors.  

Will Grayson is a typical nerdish teenager.  Just trying to keep his head down, trying to attract as little attention as possible and trying to feel as little as possible.  This is was getting pretty hard considering that his best friend was the most flamboyant, HUGEST gay ever.  Who is named Tiny.  And is a football player.  The aforementioned Tiny sets Will up with a cute girl and basically totally ignores Will's pledge to himself to FEEL NOTHING and ATTRACT NO ATTENTION.

But there is also another will grayson.  One who is the most depressed and dark teenager ever.  He likes nothing and no one, not even his only friend, a goth girl.  They only thing they have together is their misery.  The only thing he likes in the world is his online boyfriend (I forgot to mention that this Will is gay).  But ***SPOILERS*** it turns out that his boyfriend is just his goth friend (not a very good friend) pretending to be somebody else.

Will 2 finds all of this out on his trip to the city where he is is heartbroken when his date does not show up.  But it is there that he runs into Will 1 and events that change both their lives unfold.

I got to say that I like Will 1 much better that will 2.  Maybe it's because of my impatience for emo characters, which is not very empathetic of me, I know, but I can't help it.  I also like John Green's writing style more than Levithans'.  However, I did not like this story as much as I liked every other John Green book.  I think it has something to do with Tiny, the huge gay friend.  I found him annoying,  I know he was supposed to be this really amazing guy, but my grumpy self just could not get into his exuberance.  And the ending.  Was cheesy and improbable.  Americans, is Will Grayson really a common name?

Hmm, it would seem like I hated the book.  But I really don't.  It had its funny and touching moments but I just couldn't get that into it.  Personal preference.

Monday, February 11, 2013

CBR V # 4 - Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Nick and Amy Dunne  moved to Missouri after years of gallavanting in New York.  
The novel starts off with a first person narrative from Nick Dunne, who is suspicious as fuck.  He is constantly hinting upon a secret, and how he's not a good guy and how his wife disgusts him.  Even sounding incest-y (or maybe just too much reddit for me).  I mean, I really got into disliking the guy.  Anyway, it's their anniversary (I forgot which number) and he discovers his wife is gone. The house is ransacked (like there has been a struggle) and his wife is just.. GONE.

The book then inserts excerpts from his Amy Dunne's diary, narrating their meet-cute up to the days prior to the disappearance.   Her entries also appear to make nick look guilty as hell, and it contradicts his present-time narration.  By this time in the book, you get start to get an inkling bout what's really going on.  


Then the books includes Amy's present day narration.  No, she's not dead.  She is just simply evil and manipulative and one sick fuck.  She is scary. Turns out she had this convoluted plot to make Nick pay for his adultery.  She has some serious psychological issues.  Not surprising since she is the inspiration for a children's book series about a perfect little girl named Amazing Amy authored by her therapist parents.

*end spoilers

I really enjoyed the book as a psychological thriller.  The characters weren't particularly likeable (not even Nick) so the author was very successful in making you doubt everybody.  Who was really telling the truth?  All the characters were interesting, not just the main ones.  And the ending was brutal.  Not in a gory, kill everybody way.  Just, brutal.  Suspenseful and mysterious.  I liked it a lot.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

CBR V # 3 - Between a Rock and A Hard Place by Aron Ralston

I first heard about this guy from the movie 127 hours. I wanted to watch the movie, but again, I always want to read the book before the movie.  Ralston first learned to love the outdoors when his family moved to Colorado when he was just a kid.  He was an outdoor sports hobbyist until he quit his cushy engineer job to work at a ski shop in order to be nearer to the mountains he loved and have more time to climb them.

Aron went to a weekend trip to Utah for some trekking and maybe partying after.  Since the destination was spur of the moment (his original plans fell through), Aron told no one his itinerary.  It was an ordinary hike with a difficulty level well within his capabilities as an outdorsman.  However, as fate would have it, he met a loose boulder which managed to pin his arm to a wall of the canyon.  After spending five days pinned to the wall, he did the only thing left to do to save his life. He cut off his arm.

When I first heard about the book, I thought why the heck would it take a whole book to talk about how you got trapped and cut off his arm.  I mean, its not like he had to hunt animals to survive or anything like.  I thought it would be a fairly monotonous (albeit harrowing) 5 days.  The book doesn't just dwell on the actual event itself.  You learn about Aron and his life and how he thinks it is that he ends up where he was.  These memories are interspersed between the time spent trapped, which was actually pretty interesting too since he didn't just spend it lying down (or standing up, as it is) but actually tried to devise some ways to try to free himself like digging and making a pulley to try to pull the boulder off him.

It was so weird because when he talked about his love for the mountains, it actually brought tears to my eyes.  Maybe I was hormonal, but I think I got what he was talking about.  I used to climb here. admittedly, our mountains here much less grander in scale and way more tropical.  But when he waxes poetic about that feeling of achievement, and beautiful isolation about how it feels like to be on top of the world, I get it, and it touched me.

Aron (the Aron in the book) was far from perfect.  He was arrogant and reckless and seemed to have a deathwish or felt invincible.    Well, we all at one time in our lives, felt invincible.  I know I felt that before I had my kids.  However, there was so much more good and inspiring in his attitude.  It was so cool how his logical mind just jumped to try to find solutions and his steely resolve made him able to execute it.

The experience was harrowing.  His journey to how he got there was interesting and instructive.  His escape was inspiring.  It's pretty good writing and it's a pretty compelling story.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

CBR V # 2 - The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

I have been resisting reading Philippa Gregory books for a while cos it's the kind of books my sister reads, girly historical fiction/romance and I've read that many scholars are disputing the accuracy of the book.  But I got curious so...

This is another long-ass book.  It tells the story of how the Boleyns/Howards caught King Henry, but not really.

The story focuses and is narrated by Mary Boleyn, the youngest of the Boleyn siblings (in the book).  Mary is married but catches the eye of the King Henry.  She becomes his mistress and the scheming family try to make her queen.  But then beautiful and volatile Anne comes home from French Court and through strategic flirting, manages to catch the King's heart and steal him away not only from Mary, but from the Queen.  And thus begins the race to bear an heir for the king before he finds a new distractions among the many willing ladies in waiting.

The story is told from the perspective of Mary Boleyn, who was relatively innocent and good hearted.  A simple sort of girl who wants true love and a quiet life.  Anne is portrayed as very smart and cunning but kinds of evil with a raw ambition.  Like she would totally do her brother for an heir kinda ambition.

It was fun to read about the machinations and a sort of insidey look at what purportedly went on at court during the Tudor times.  It was a horrible time for women, that thing is for sure.  They were portrayed as nothing but pawns to gain power for the family and were either mere objects of desire or a vessel for an heir.

However, the book got kinda boring in that the cycles would repeat.  Mary would go to her children in the country estate, Anne would call her back.. so on.  It was quite repetitive actually.  We have numerous paragraphs about Anne looking drawn and being sooo tired from all the acting, prayers that offspring would be male.. That sorta thing.  What I'm saying is, they could have skipped a few years and went a little more directly to the point.

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I had an urge to read about the real historical happenings being referred to in this work of fiction.  I will probably read the rest of the series.  I think the other books are shorter.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

CBR V # 1 - Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

A long long time ago, Northern England was ruled by a powerful magician king, The Raven King, John Uskglass.  Magic was abundant and many famous magicians learned and taught the craft.  However, for hundreds of years since its heyday, magic has been dead in England.  Gentlemen who call themselves magicians, are in fact, mere scholars of magic, debating and collecting spellbooks without doing any practical (or even impractical. heh) magic.

But in the 1900's, along came Gilbert Norrell, the only living practical magician and the only practical magician England has seen in a long time.  Norrell is secretive and bookish and not very unlikeable, quite unlike what one would think a magician is (as the book itself points out).  However, Norrell manages to rise in society and government by bringing back to life the dead wife of a high ranking official.  

Then along comes Jonathan Strange, who is quite the opposite of Norrell.  He has and innate talent in magic and taught himself with very little books (since Norrell hoarded most of the magical spellbooks). He is sociable and genial.  Because they the only magicians around, Strange becomes Norrell's student.  They ultimately quarrel and break apart due to different philosophies. From then on moves the story which includes humans enchanted and kidnapped by faeries and other such magical matters.

The book is divided into 3 parts, the first is where we are introduced to Norrell.  The second is when we are introduced to Strange and his path intersects with Norrell.  The third part is entitled John Uskglass and takes us to the final story.

The book is written in a charming and formal manner but the writing is very witty.  In fact, I who am known to be humorless among my peers (i.e. I don't watch comedy) chortled a few times.  The book is veery long but its the kind of book I like.  It wanders around for quite a while but never becomes boring.  The story gains momentum during then end and becomes quite exciting.  There are wonderful footnotes, and really, it's like an alternate history of England if magic were around to help in the Napoleonic wars and other historical events.  

I really liked it and would recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy and doesn't mind long books.