Archive for November, 2013

I gave myself the goal to read every one of Stephen King’s books (except his dark tower series which I’ve read a couple books of and didn’t really get into). It’s going to take a while, and this book ‘It’ took longer to read than most.

I loved this book. Sure, it was slow to start with, and at first it did seem like he was bogging it down with a lot of needless information, but as the pace picked up I think that made the book a lot richer than it would have been. You feel like you know the town, and more than that, that you know the characters as much as if they were your own friends. With most books it’s like watching something on the television, sure it’s enjoyable, but you are a passive observer, but with this book it’s like you are right there in the middle of things with them. That’s the best way I can think to describe this book. I feel like I’ve gone on a journey, just like they had, and come out better for it.

I admit I had my doubts at first. Starting to read it, it was too slow, had too much information I didn’t care about, the characters Eddie and Stan were too similar. I had to push myself through the first 100 or so pages, but then I started to care about them, all of them, and from that point the book had me. As for scares, I didn’t find this very scary until the last 100 pages or so, but it was still good reading, and had loads of creepy moments before then.

Overall I think this is a book that will stick in my mind for a long time, and one that I will look back on fondly, and that is what is important.

I gave this book four stars. It lost a star for the slow start, and I’m still not sure that scene between Beverly and the rest of the gang in the sewers was needed. Overall though, I really enjoyed it.

 

Stephen King goal: so far read:

Firestarter
The cat from Hell
The thing at the bottom of the well
Most of the dark tower series
The stranger
The other side of the fog
The dark man
Popsy
Cycle of the werewolf
The reapers image
The man who would not shake hands
Sometimes they come back.
I’ve got to get away
On Writing
It
Thinner
Cujo
Jerusalem’s Lot
Graveyard Shift
Night Surf
I Am The Doorway
Grey Matter
Battleground
Strawberry Spring
The Lawnmower Man
I Know What You Need
Children Of The Corn
The Man Who Loved Flowers
One For The Road
Quitters
The boogyman
The last rung on the ladder
The ledge
The mangler
The woman in the room
Trucks

With all the hype lately, most have heard that there’s a new movie coming out called ‘Ender’s Game’. Here’s the trailer:

As I do when I come across a film I like the look of, I checked out the book.

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Yup, see films, think of books. That’s how my mind works. I get disappointed when a film I like isn’t based on book.

Anyway, here’s the blurb:

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

Sounds exciting, huh? I really liked it, but I found it more sad than exciting. You’ve got this little kid, and from the age of six people are just shoving way too much responsibility on his shoulders. I’m one of those people who thinks that kids ought to have more responsibility than they have these days, but even I stop before putting the weight of the fate of humanity on a six-year-old.

I’ve read a couple reviews of this book that say Ender and the other kids act too mature, and some that say they don’t act mature enough. I think that’s the point of the book. These kids are being raised in a pressure cooker, and some like Ender aren’t even allowed friends to help them through it. They aren’t going to be normal kids.

What I loved most was the ethical issues the book raised. What lengths would you go to in order to ensure your planet’s safety? What does it take for a person to be considered evil?

Some issues were raised that I really agree with, like concentrating on colonising other planets instead of just squabbling over territory and worrying about overpopulation and the fate of the world. Whether by asteroid, age or alien attack eventually the earth is going to die, but the human race doesn’t have to die with it.

If I were to describe Ender’s game in one phrase, it would be ‘Thought Provoking’. The characters are deep, even the aliens are well explored. It made me think, and I love it when a book does that. This book left me with a lot to mull over, but the biggest thought was this: we’re all pretty scared about alien races, or threats from the big unknown space while we sit happily on our little planet, but as the human race we’re pretty darn scary ourselves.

I gave this book four stars. The only reason it wasn’t five was because the kids did get a little annoying at times. I don’t really hold that against them, but it took away just a little from the enjoyment of the book.

Looking forward to seeing the film. I hope it includes some of the ethical issues that make the book so interesting, and doesn’t decide to drop them for ‘crash, bang, pow, destroy all aliens.’

I’ve been in a dragon mood lately, so I found and made my way through the first five books of the ‘how to train your dragon’ series. For those not in the know, this is a book series about a boy called Hiccup and his dragon Toothless. It’s the book series that inspired the recent film (which I loved). As an aside, the film is going to have a sequel which I am overly excited by.

The book series is a bit different from the films. In the books Toothless is a LOT smaller, and he’s a common garden green dragon, not a night fury. He starts off very very small, and with no teeth which makes Hiccup the butt of more jokes than usual. By book five (there are eleven books) he’s still only the size of a Jack Russell.

In the film dragons are something to be feared and killed, while in the books the Viking tribe Hiccup belongs to routinely uses dragons in everyday life. In fact, the first time we meet Toothless in book one is when Hiccup in a coming of age Viking tradition steals him from a cave to become his first hunting dragon. Hiccup is a lot nicer to dragons than most in his tribe, which gets him mixed results.

In all I’d recommend the series to anyone who really likes dragons and doesn’t mind a bit of juvenile humor (there are a lot of fart and snot jokes here). The targeted audience seems to be boys around ten (which is the age Hiccup starts off at), but as a twenty-six year old woman I still got a lot out of it.

Some of the books were slightly better than others (the first and third books were my favorite), but I enjoyed all of them. I’d give the first five books an overall rating of 4.5 stars.

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A Monster Calls is a great horror book written by Patrick Ness and illustrated by Jim Kay.  I gave this one five stars! That’s how much I loved it. It has an average rating of 4.3 on goodreads at the time of this post, so I’m not the only one that thought it was a great book. Here’s the blurb:

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

It might sound like it’s pitched at a younger audience. The language isn’t that complicated, and the main character is just thirteen, but don’t let that put you off. This is a dark book. The opening scene reminded me of the BFG. That horrible terrifying moment when the main character knew there was a monster at their window, except there’s a twist. I’d describe the tone as that chilled feeling you get after reading a grimms fairy tale, except this book is more morally complex. It makes you think.

On the surface this is a book about a boy in a horrible situation. His mother is sick, and he feels his world is falling apart. Underneath that it makes you think about human nature, and how complex we and the world are. For a better feel what this book feels like to read, have a look at the trailer. I think they did a great job matching up the tone with the book.

There are very few books that will get me emotional. I’m the rock of my family, the one people turn to because I don’t get emotional. I’m not afraid to admit that this book tore me apart. It did such a good job at drawing me in, and making me care about the main character that even though I guessed the ending early, it still broke me into tears.

I’d recommend this one to everyone. I don’t care whether you only read romances, or books with adult main characters. Try it. Really, just forget your preconceptions and try it. It’s a dark book, but there’s something almost magical within the story.