Monday, February 21, 2011

The Book Thief by Mark Zusak

The Book Thief

Good Reads Summary

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Narrated by Death, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young foster girl living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she discovers something she can't resist- books. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever they are to be found.
With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids, as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

My Thoughts

Let me be honest. It bored me brainless the first two hundred pages in… the only reason I read on was because it is basically a story told by Death. So in way I guess THE BOOK THIEF is but an addition to my recent reads on death and grief. But I oversimplify, it simply isn’t just about those things. There’s lots and lots more to it.

What did I Love? DEATH. Specifically? It was how he beat everyone to the punch, by simply starting at the end (instead of working his way toward it.) I enjoyed knowing what was coming and still feeling sad because it was inevitable. And in a twisted (dumb) way hoping things would turn out differently from what was said. Let me change that “enjoyed” sounds so simple. Was I impressed? Heart broken? Hooked? Enthralled? There is no one word to describe what I felt with each “ending.” At times saddened, often raw… I suppose one just has to read it to get it.

So many things in this book BROKE MY HEART. Mainly, it was Rudy. Not all books need a “great love” to keep me interested. But Rudy, with his constant request, with his loyalty just made an impression… It’s almost as if he did not deserve what happened to him. And knowing that it was going to happen, had me hoping otherwise. Then there were here parents. Rosa with her strict/demeanor; her Papa and his accordion… knowing what happens to them, still had me hoping otherwise.

So in the end, for me at least the book is more than just a bout a German girl during the war. It’s more than a father- daughter or mother-daughter story. It’s more than a Jewish fist fighter hiding in her family’s basement. It’s more than best friends who constantly find themselves in trouble. It’s all of those things I suppose but more: It’s knowing the inevitable, and hoping the good turns out. It’s about hope.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Good Reads Summary

Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie is navigating through the strange worlds of love, drugs, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", and dealing with the loss of a good friend and his favorite aunt.

My Thoughts
"And in that moment, I swear we were infinite." 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower doesn’t tackle anything new… drugs, music, sexuality etc have all been dealt with in other books, this book just sets itself apart for me because the protagonist while being absolutely honest is also absolutely naïve. I have no real reason to like him. Other than his being… absolutely honest. BUT it is was also this honesty that had me doubting his authenticity.

The book is written in letter form to an un-named friend. With each letter, Charlie recounts with absolute honesty the things that he’s seen and done and the people he has met and become friends with (after school specials do not have anything on this kid‘s life.) And yet, I can honestly say that I was never as naïve as Charlie was when I was fifteen.

So despite this Mary Sue of a lead, I read on. And enjoyed myself. Wha..? How? Well, among the people who take him under their wing are Sam and Patrick. One, I loved the matter of fact treatment of the latter’s sexuality all the while being contrasted to the sexuality issues of another. Two, it is this group that manages to sound more real than Charlie does. They read poetry, they hang out in cool places, they drink, they smoke… in an attempt to be cool. Isn’t that what most teenagers do anyway?


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Iron Witch (The iron Witch # 1) by Karen Mahoney

The Iron Witch (The Iron Witch, #1)

Good Reads Summary

Freak. That's what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna's own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.

When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.

My Thoughts

“Memories are stupid things. Why is it that I can only remember the u
seless stuff?”

Truer words have never been spoken because right now I am remembering rather stupid stuff, but not only that I’m nitpicking over them too!

The book wasn’t terrible, in fact it was rather good at certain moments, most of which involved boy-girl interaction, get your minds out of the gutter! I was referring to Donna and Nav talking the way best friends do and to Donna and Xan, flirting away.

That said, I found the 'parnormal' side of the story a bit weak. Everything was too pat, too clearly explained. Then if you consider her decision to reveal everything - Did telling all make her a good friend, or was this just a convenient means to an end? Couldn’t she have kept on lying? Would it not have been safer? Her blase explanation of what was what and Nav’s acceptance of everything was very contrary to the need to keep everything secret.

Love triangle. All right, I complain about love triangles all the time but since I haven’t read one in quite some time I was not as bothered as much as I normally would be. There’s Donna Underwood, Alexander Grayson and Navin Sharma:

Donna Underwood, survivor of a wood elf attack that left her essentially orphaned, is special. She’s so different that she is even considered special in the Order of the Dragon, what with being the daughter of legends, the niece a rising star AND with having “iron” hands.

Navin Sharma, her best friend kind of reminds me of Puck from Iron King etc. It's his story that got a bit predictable (We all know he is in love with her and that she is the only one unaware.) Nonetheless, I enjoyed his sense of humor, his allusions to Orlando Bloom and Charmed at the beginning of the book already told me that he was my kind of guy (read geek.)

Then there’s Alexander Grasyon. Xan is, again a bit predictable, being older, cool and cocky (Ash, is that you?) But underneath it all, a tortured soul (Why, Ash it is you! JK!)

The chapter endings were all a tad melodramatic because I kept hearing this “DUN DUN DUN DUN” after each. Otherwise Iron Witch was cute, trying hard at times but cute nonetheless.