Literature: Rate and Discuss

Discussion in 'Literature, Films, Music, and Comics' started by Asknoone, Jun 29, 2009.

  1. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    Library was out of their only copies of both "Anna Karenina" and Stephen King's "Darktower" series, so I'm reading Christopher Priest's "The Prestige" which Nolan's movie is based on, and Stephen King's "Misery" in the meantime.
     
  2. Ennui

    Ennui The Freeman

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2003
    Messages:
    22,653
    Likes Received:
    56
    A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin - 8/10.

    I absolutely LOVED this book. To be honest, it sort of rekindled my interest in reading fantasy... I used to read tons of fantasy when I was a lot younger and really enjoyed it, but after I turned 14 or 15 I basically stopped altogether (after grinding to a halt midway into the fifth Robert Jordan novel). I have to say though I had more fun reading this book than any other book I've read in years. GRRM has a superb way of creating and portraying characters and I love how rich and well-imagined the world is. His writing style isn't anything too special but it's very solid and readable and I do like how he is pretty consistent about using certain grammatical forms and structures (as well as words) that give a very Middle English feel to the whole thing.

    I also like how each chapter follows a different character... when I get bored with what's going on in one character's story (which doesn't happen often, mind), I know that there are only a few more pages of it before I get to something I find a lot more interesting and personally engaging. I'm hungrily tearing through the next book A Clash of Kings at the moment, about halfway through that so far.
     
  3. dfc05

    dfc05 Tank

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2003
    Messages:
    3,110
    Likes Received:
    4
    Stitches - depressing/10
    I don't really know how to rate or judge this. The Publisher's Weekly synopsis says all you need to know about this: "The story starts when the narrator is six years old and follows him into adulthood, with most of the story spent during his early adolescence. The youngest member of a silent and unhappy family, David is subjected to repeated x-rays to monitor sinus problems. When he develops cancer as a result of this procedure, he is operated on without being told what is wrong with him. The operation results in the loss of his voice, cutting him off even further from the world around him."

    The artwork was great and I admire the author for putting his traumatic childhood out there. It was well done, etc etc. But it's depressing. Not in a cry-sob way, or in a poetic fictional The Road way. Just straight-up depressing. This is going to sound stupid, but... reading it made me feel bad. It's appropriate for the subject matter but not pleasant. The only nice things are that the author somehow turned out ok in the end, and that if you have parents who are anywhere near normal, you'll appreciate them more. :\ I might give it one more read though; kinda rushed through a little. For me, doesn't really seem like a story I'd want to re-read over and over again.



    Halfway through Principles of Uncertainty now. From the description, I thought it'd be maybe a little like the film Waking Life, but as far as I could tell it's just artsy stream-of-consciousness stuff about nothing in particular. Lots of bizarre random connections, but no overall theme to it. Like, "when I was walking down the street I found this green United Pickle tag. [drawing of tag] I like chairs. [drawing of a chair]. You can see this stuffed dog in a museum. [drawing of stuffed dog]" Sure it's amusing and/or "clever" for a while, but there's only so much of that one can take before it starts looking pretentious. But I'm thinking maybe it's just a problem of perception. Maybe I'd like it more if it were advertised as a book of art with artist's commentary, not as a graphic novel. Once someone gifted me an Art for Children book on Diego Velazquez. It had paintings with handwritten descriptions, like "Look at this ORANGE! See how nicely it leads your eye to this GLASS!". Really awesome stuff; I highly recommend that series. Maybe that's the way to approach Principles of Uncertainty, because in the first half at least, there are graphics and there are pretty handwritten words that go with the graphics, but there's no story. So I can't see how one would categorize this as a graphic novel.

    I think I'm going to go back to just normal novels after this.
     
  4. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    Your description makes me think of "Night" by Elie Wiesel, which was about the holocaust. A great book, but it's so unbelievably depressing. I read it when I was 10? 12? and I haven't been able to get through it again since.
     
  5. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    "The Prestige" by Christopher Priest - 2/5

    Spoilers for both the film and the movie.

    Short version: The movie is a much tighter, better structured story.

    I tried to not let my feelings about the movie interfere with reading the book it was based on. In most cases, it's academic since I like the book more anyway, but in this case I didn't care for it.

    The book is told by way of reading people's diaries, but where it might be interesting to get snippets here and there, the entirety of each is presented in order, and most of the information given feels either like fluff, or something we've heard before. At times the question of having a "reliable narrator" is used, and quite well.

    Telling the story from both sides does illuminate some things. For instance, when Borden begins the feud, he thought that all he had done was embarrass a fellow magician, when in fact he caused Angier's wife to miscarry their first child. There is also a scene to towards the end of Borden's life, told from both perspectives, that has quite a lot of depth because of how differently each diary perceives it.

    Most of the feud and details of their lives are told fine, but because of the inherent problem with "reading about it after the fact" is that you don't see a lot of what happens, you're simply told it. Many relationships feel underwhelming in that sense, except where the two magicians are concerned. For instance, we never see the Borden twins struggling to maintain their dual-life, we just get Angier theorizing about it. Which one of them married the wife, is it the same one who fathered the children, does the wife know, etc. The idea of twins is presented somewhat poorly.

    In what I feel is an even worse development, the story is bookended by very few "present day" chapters, in which the two remaining descendants of Angiers and Borden meet to unravel a mystery from 20+ years ago, and the feud that began the whole thing. I didn't care for that at all.

    Having the feud carry on for so long felt meaningless and silly, especially when both diaries explain how it was wrong, and they didn't know, and wish they could take it all back. Instead we get Kate Angier telling us how as a child she witnessed her father kill the infant Nicky Borden. Oh but wait, I'm pretty sure he's you, that's why I brought you here. And then the main character explains how he's always felt like he has a twin, who he's psychically linked to. (A development which did little more than provide some very silly "tension" and misplaced resolution at the end.)

    The idea of twins is brought up a lot, but it always seems to fall short. The Borden Twins are barely mentioned as such with any certainty, the main character's twin is seemingly little more than a voice in his head, and Angier's eventual cloning is flawed at best.

    By far some of the best parts were those with Tesla. He was fantastic.

    Coming in at 380 pages, I don't think it's fair to say that the story was too short, or that not enough was explained because it was glossed over, I think more than anything it was simply the wrong way to tell that kind of story. It had all the pieces there to be wonderful, but they weren't put together in the best fashion.
     
  6. JUL3

    JUL3 Space Core

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,320
    Likes Received:
    21
    Tomorrow, When The War Began - 9/10

    Since the age of 12 I've had people recommending me this book. Now, on my 17th birthday, I know why.

    John Marsden expresses humanity so well, our behaviour, our thoughts, our nature. There are pages when you forget it's like an Australian novelisation of Red Dawn, reading Marsden's long ass tangents about human philosophy is very entertaining and enjoyable.

    Tomorrow speaks to teenagers, posing the question; What would you do if your country were invaded? The novel being Australian and rich in our culture and mentality is icing on the cake. Beyond this, the novel focuses not just on war and invasion, but on human response to such things. And he does it excellently, characterization is an extreme strong point in Tomorrow. Narrated by Ellie, the story is action action action from Chapter 6 until the very end.

    Only two negative points in this, both very minor. The first is pacing, Chapters 1-5 are really quite slow and uninteresting, basic character development. Developing the 'normal' teenagers so as to juxtapose them with what happens next. Second is the time period, this series were published during the 90s, when I was born. It is fun how it thrusts you back and nostalgically reminds you of the 90s, but coming across some of the terminology makes you cringe shockingly, words like 'Dunny' and 'Daks' have thankfully been dropped since that time.
    Still, those are minor complaints.

    The only conclusion I can come up with for this review is that you should read this novel if you are/were a teenager. Which I think should be about 99% of the members here. 9/10
     
  7. kineaesth

    kineaesth Guest

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2006
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    0
    One of the most important questions one could ever hope to answer
     
  8. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    "Misery" by Stephen King. 4/5

    To describe this as "extreme" would be fitting. It's a simple idea that works in the situation. Paul's legs are extremely broken, Annie is extremely crazy. It's a fast and intense read, one of the King books I have enjoyed most.
     
  9. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    John Green - Looking for Alaska. 4/5.

    Maybe it's the kid in me, but I like this book quite a bit.

    Stephen King - Cell. 2/5.
    Jesus Christ this book. How could anyone actually make a zombie story boring? Especially one inspired by Richard Matheson? I wouldn't say that anything about it was "cliche", but it was definitely typical and predictable. The main character, Clay, is an artist, something that's only mentioned with any significance when it's necessary for the plot. Stephen King needs Clay to notice something, so he sits him down to "draw" in his imagination what he has seen. It's a neat effect, but used in a very deus ex machina fashion.

    The original ideas that the story does have are solid and interesting, but there's not enough substance in them to carry the story. You're left with an "escape the city" story with zombies that 'adapt' to keep them from getting too stale early on. Their motivations and plans are never revealed, and almost everything in the story has a feeling of being really arbitrary.
     
  10. Asknoone

    Asknoone Newbie

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    2
    Please stop reading Stephen King. Unless it's Dark Tower next. In which case, whatever.
     
  11. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    It will be if I can ever find a damn copy of it.

    I'm actually reading John Fowles "The Magus" now.
     
  12. Ennui

    Ennui The Freeman

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2003
    Messages:
    22,653
    Likes Received:
    56
    A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin - 7/10

    Great, entertaining read... but not nearly as good as

    A Storm of Swords by GRRM - 9/10

    Easily my favorite of the series so far (I'm about halfway through book 4 right now). So much epic stuff happens. I love this series.
     
  13. Dan

    Dan Tank

    Joined:
    May 28, 2003
    Messages:
    4,187
    Likes Received:
    1
    Get ready for lots and lots of walking and other non-epic events.
     
  14. Ennui

    Ennui The Freeman

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2003
    Messages:
    22,653
    Likes Received:
    56
    Yeah, I already noticed in the first three hundred pages or so of A Feast For Crows that it's quite slow, plodding even. That's fine by me. Bought A Dance With Dragons while I was out today...
     
  15. Sliver

    Sliver Companion Cube

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,070
    Likes Received:
    35
    I'm still trying to get through A Feast for Crows. The
    Iron Islands and Dorne
    are boring as shit and don't interest me in the slightest. ADWD finally being out is a good motivation to get through it at least.
     
  16. Dan

    Dan Tank

    Joined:
    May 28, 2003
    Messages:
    4,187
    Likes Received:
    1
    I skipped all of the chapters about that southern desert area (Dorn?) I couldn't for the life of me figure out why any of these characters were relevant or tied into the rest of the plot, and I finished the book without feeling like I missed anything.
     
  17. ríomhaire

    ríomhaire Moderator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2004
    Messages:
    20,876
    Likes Received:
    371
    To sum it up:
    The prince of Dorne's daughter (also his heir) tried to organise a coup a have Dorne name Myrcella as queen of the Seven Kingdoms. This is foiled and the prince reveals that he had planned to marry his daughter to Viserys until Kahl Drogo killed him and now plans to marry his son to Dany instead.
     
  18. KiplingsCat

    KiplingsCat Space Core

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2009
    Messages:
    446
    Likes Received:
    23
    I tried to read George R. R. Martin but couldn't. I found his writing style gratuitous and distasteful.
     
  19. Dan

    Dan Tank

    Joined:
    May 28, 2003
    Messages:
    4,187
    Likes Received:
    1
    I just finished A Dance with Dragons. As far as the books go it's pretty similar to A Feast For Crows. It just kind of feels like the side shows are getting out of hand and the main story is now becoming the side show. Tyrion's chapters actually became dull and repetetive this time around. Arya is still building up an array of midievel super powers but doesn't have any interaction with the story at all. Jon and Danny (Denareys is that how you spell it?) are really the main plot points, and I really don't like the Danny story much. At least things in the East are hopefully coming to some sort of conclusion really soon. A lot of smaller characters get a chapter, but mostly they are just giving us extra input on things we are already reading.
     
  20. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    I recently read:
    "The Magus" by Fowles, which was a 5/5. I had a lot of trouble putting it down, really sucked me in.
    "The Orchid Eater" by Marc Laidlaw, which was a 3/5. Decent story, but lacked anything terribly special/unique. It was just okay.

    Now I'm reading "The Plague" by Camus, which I am (surprisingly) strongly disliking.
     
  21. Dandan

    Dandan Medic

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2011
    Messages:
    317
    Likes Received:
    0
    Reading the Forge of God by Greg Bear:

    Simply put so far it gives me the creeps when I read it and its a very easy summer read so far. I highly recommend it plus theres word of a screen play being made so it could hit the silver screen
     
  22. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    Albert Camus "The Plague" - 2/5

    Though this had some interesting ideas and themes, I found the detatched style it was written in to be a pretty large hindrance. Everything is sort of glossed over (almost a year passes in the 280 pages of the book) and for a story about suffering and isolation, you don't really get to know the characters very well. At times it actually feels more like a summary of events than a novel, with how things are said instead of shown. To describe it as it dull would not be wrong.
     
  23. Dan

    Dan Tank

    Joined:
    May 28, 2003
    Messages:
    4,187
    Likes Received:
    1
    Blindness, 7/10

    I heard a lot about this book and lots of rave reviews. My take on it was kinda meh. It's got a cool premise and an interesting style, but that's about it. The plot drags and doesn't really evolve much. The characters are pretty meh, maybe this is part of the style though. It has some weird sex. It kind of reminds me of The Road, but less depressing and less stuff happens in it.
     
  24. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    Milan Kundera - Ignorance. 3/5

    Kundera's works tend to revolve around the human condition, and this one is no exception. Ignorance explores the concept of nostalgia, and the ever-present bond an emigrant can feel to their homeland, to the bond of a first love. In typical Kundera style, it combines philosophy with character, using (as I said about The Unbearable Lightness) characters as examples and symbols. He has a way of taking the entire scope of a character's life into consideration that I find enchanting. Most books focus on a particular time in a character's life, but Kundera takes all of them, because all of them is important.

    "On the trip home he decided to leave the country. Not that he couldn't have lived here. He could have gone on peacefully treating cows here. But he was alone, divorced, childless, free. He reflected that he had only one life and that he wanted to live it somewhere else."
     
  25. 15357

    15357 Companion Cube

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2005
    Messages:
    15,217
    Likes Received:
    15
    Can't rate as I've just started reading it, but I finally picked up the first book in the series A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones. Hopefully it's going to be good as everyone claims it is. Also got the English version for twice the price because translations are usually horrible.
     
  26. Xevrex

    Xevrex Still believes in Santa

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    Messages:
    782
    Likes Received:
    0
    The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini - 9/10

    Absolutely amazing book. A little slow to start, but the grotesque hook that comes along sets the suspense and excitement going for the reader, then calming down but still going at a good pace as the protagonist reckons with his internal conflict. The themes of redemption and inhumanity of Afghan society make this an eye-opening book both personally and for anyone interested in the image of modern Afghanistan. The first-person perspective adds emotion instead of just describing the guilt and flaws of the protagonist. The chronological/episodic nature makes a great contrast between not only childhood and adult life, but also pre-Russian occupation and modern Taliban Afghanistan. The twists that don't stop even after the climax of the book (one of the most exciting climaxes I've read) kept me reading for an amount of time far longer than I usually do. The plight of the protagonist really highlights human capabilities to redeem themselves, and is an inspiration to anyone who reads the book. Fantastic.
     
  27. Dandan

    Dandan Medic

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2011
    Messages:
    317
    Likes Received:
    0
    The Forge of God by Greg Bear 8.5/10

    Very great sci fi novel written in the 80s that puts a different spin on alien invasion. Really interesting and kept my attention, plus they may make this into a movie from what I keep reading.
     
  28. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    Leo Tolstoy - Resurrection. 5/5

    Of the Russian texts I've read over the past year (Crime and Punishment, House of the Dead, The Master and Margarita) this is the first one that I could say actually feels like a classic "Tragedy", in the likes of the Greeks or Shakespeare. And I absolutely adored it.

    At its core, the plot is very simple: A prince feels guilt over something from his past and goes above and beyond what most people would do to atone. The beauty of the story is in the reveal. The awakening of the Prince over time, and the horror of prison situations that comes more and more into focus. Tolstoy's talent of writing extends beyond settings that you can picture, to portraying characters using a deep understanding of human psychology. It is a story about redemption, not just for the Prince, but humanity as a whole.
     
  29. Ennui

    Ennui The Freeman

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2003
    Messages:
    22,653
    Likes Received:
    56
    I haven't read that one. Tolstoy is a goddamn master though. Anna Karenina is one of the most finely-crafted novels I've ever read, and War and Peace and Childhood are both fantastic too (those three are all the Tolstoy novels I've read). Some of his short stories are great too, not just Ivan Ilych and Kreutzer Sonata but also some of the less well known ones like How Much Land Does A Man Need? as well.
     
  30. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    You should definitely read it. Anna Karenina is one of the next books I'm going to dive into, but I might take a break and read something "light" first.
     
  31. Kadayi

    Kadayi Newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Messages:
    6,035
    Likes Received:
    0
    'The Unbearable lightness of being' is the book he's most famous for, but I really do recommend 'The Joke' which is something I've returned to a few times over the years.
     
  32. Asknoone

    Asknoone Newbie

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    2
    I'd put 'Immortality' up there.
     
  33. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    Immortality was on my list even before Ignorance, but the Library did not seem to have it. I'll keep an eye out for The Joke, too. I am a big fan of Kundera.
     
  34. Acepilotf14

    Acepilotf14 Sucked so much dick for this title

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    Messages:
    13,012
    Likes Received:
    42
    Have you read The Idiot? It's a must.
     
  35. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    I haven't yet, that's on the list as well!
     
  36. Ennui

    Ennui The Freeman

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2003
    Messages:
    22,653
    Likes Received:
    56
    By Dostoevsky? I read half of it (about 300-400 pages) a couple years ago, been meaning to go back and reread/finish it ever since. I loved what I did read, interesting character, and I hear that the ending is superb.

    I sort of want to re-read Brothers Karamazov first though, seeing as how I like to claim it's my favorite novel of all time... feel like I should revisit it after a couple of years.
     
  37. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    That's on my list too!

    I need more time to be able to read. I've been using Shelfari to keep track of what I read and when I read, and I'm (generally) happy with how many books I read per year (31 last year, 25 so far this year) but goddamn there are always more that I want.
     
  38. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    Went to the Library today, picked up Milan Kundera's "The Joke", as recommended by Kadayi, as well as Andre Gide's "The Immoralist" and Bohumil Hrabal's "Too Loud a Solitude", both recommended by Samon.
     
  39. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    Milan Kundera - The Joke 3/5 - I'm not sure if it's because it was his first novel, or because there were multiple narrators, but it felt less structured and refined than his later works. I still enjoyed it, and his skill at creating characters still really shines though, but I didn't "love" it like I did his other works.

    Bohumil Hrabal - Too Loud a Solitude 4/5 - Filled with excellent imagery and just the right dash of existentialism. A very bittersweet story, about the love a man has for the books he is forced to destroy. Throughout the books are equated to living things, and Hant'a fills his house with them. Marvelous.

    Andre Gide - The Immoralist 3/5 - Just okay. Predictable and kind of dull. It's pretty Freudian, whose theories I've always found outdated. An interesting approach to responsibility and hedonism, though.


    I've now picked up "The Collector" by John Fowles, and (finally) "Anna Karenina" by Tolstoy.
     
  40. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    The Collector by Fowles was amazing (5/5). It's a shame he only wrote a couple of books, he's one of my favourite English authors.

    Anna Karenina by Tolstoy was excellent (5/5) as well, though I think I might prefer Resurrection overall.

    I've just picked up Dracula. I also discovered a used bookstore recently that I'm going to hit up and try to find a few books that my library never seems to have in. Such as The Idiot, Kundera's Immortality, Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther, and Stephen King's Gunslinger. I also expect I'll dive into Faulkner sometime soon.
     

Share This Page