I don't remember exactly when I was inspired to create the website, but you are looking at it's beginnings. The reason why should be covered in another annoying autobiographical pause - more than likely with the 500th review if anything soon. But the when is what's important. The inception of this website was between the days of Friday and Saturday, March 13th and 14th. (And to think it's lasted this long since a day of bad luck?) Oddly enough, though my website was largely based around movie reviews (and at the time "news") the first thing I ever reviewed was the 1999 novel Speak. We had just finished it in class. Likewise, the first movie I reviewed, Finding Nemo, also happened to be seen for the umpteenth time in that same LA Class back in 8th Grade. The reviews here had fallen out of existence for two reasons. The LA Class in sophomore year decided to go to some stageplays before finishing up the year with The Kite Runner. I decided not to review them on the grounds of a different format. Then I read IT by Stephen King, a novel so big that my ramblings might span so long as to give me carpel tunnel independently. (God save us if I ever read Tolstoy.) The next novels I would read would be mostly by The King, and I find reviewing a mass of one's novels becomes a wee-bit tedious. 7/10 of King's novels remain part of the game in style, philosophy and atmosphere, and the 3/10 tend to be avoided by even his most loyal fans. (Hence why The Dark Tower is sort of this giant-ass black sheep.) So when it comes down to it, you got so little reviews on this page, enough to count on two hands - and the good ones are probably counted on one. Recently, a guy named Arm Leg Gamer (and it's Mr. Arm Leg Gamer to all you strangers out there) asked if I was ever going to reboot this thing. So I decided I did. My first "new" review is of Life of Pi, the book that's supposedly going to be a movie in a few months...odd. Soon I will be meeting some of the recommendations that Mr. ALG, Banana Monkey King V, and several other popular fiction gobblers have brought my attention to. Not to mention, maybe read a few things of my own taste, eh?
Structure of this page: Below the introduction and ad space is the "new" reviews. Under this is the Retro reviews that vary highly in quality.
The order of quality of the Stephen King novels I read while I wasn't reviewing books.
#9: The Drawing of The Three (Bad)
#8: Carrie (Good)
#7: The Waste Lands (Very Good)
#6: Black House (Very Good)
#5: The Talisman (Very Good)
#4: The Gunslinger (Revamped) (Great)
#3: From a Buick 8 (Great)
#2: Misery (Awesome)
#T-1: IT (Drool Inducing) and On Writing (Spectacular)
SHORT STORIES (6):
#6: Paranoid: A Chant (Good)
#5: The Reaper's Image (Good)
#4: For Owen (Pretty Good)
#3: World Processor of the Gods (Pretty Good)
#2: Cain Rose Up (Pretty Good)
#1: Here There Be Tygers (Awesome)
MOVIES & TV (3):
#3. Dreamcatcher (Average)
#2. Haven (Very Good)
#1. The Shawshank Redemption (Drool Inducing)
...So, how do you plan to make a movie out of this?
Existence in 3.14159265 is Canadian/Spanish author Yann Martel's first popular novel. Not surprising he became popular in some form considering he looks like a mesh between a hand-puppet and carrot top. Who couldn't love that guy? His works since and before have, unfortunately, not seen much success. They moved slower off the shelves than KFC through your intestines. The novel has become regular course at several school districts (selfish plug aborted) and is being adapted into a movie...I'm really not going to get over how weird that is. I cannot fathom how it's going to be visually stimulating....*
*Oh, 3D, that's their excuse.
Life of Pi comes to life with Yann Martel's unique and fresh character Piscine Patel. He is clearly the odd one out of his family, and would definitely not fit in at any established schools - the American ones being the least so. He practices three religious, and seems to imply his belief in all of their mythologies. However, being that in addition to Christianity and Islam, one of those religions being his birth-right in Hinduism, it's possible a unifying approach could have been taken. In that in Hinduism, all beliefs are seen in a unifying diety as like a diamond - and the purest of Hindus tend to accept any quest to find the answer of spirituality (religious curiosity) within their practice. In short, any form of personal religion, agnosticism, deism, or anything but conclusive beliefs are part of Hinduism.
Pi's natural ability to challenge contemporary religious beliefs with unusual perspectives is impressive. It's preachy-ness originates from the character only, and not the author's want to describe something to you. But Pi's odd beliefs are not the one part of his character that seem fully fleshed and unique. His vast knowledge of zoology provides a giant list of loosely related facts that are either A.) Useful if you happen to find yourself in this odd situation, B.) A distraction to us who are brought to insanity by OCD, or C.) An easy tool used by the author to immediately bring the story to life.
In fact, it's almost like a big ol' trick. In most stories of this nature, the main character may invent rules with misty backup knowledge, and by the most miraculous cliches it works. Here, Pi seems to have come into this situation with all the backup knowledge. And not with no explanation, he grew up in a freaking zoo. Not to mention, that's used as an excuse why there were animals in the first place. Pi's literary magic does not originate from him attempting to explain why his story works so well, it's just that it does. This is the Life of Pi. Not the story of my character, it's the Life of Pi. In the realm of fiction, he is real.
Pi growing up in a zoo and finding three religions - which is also found perfectly naturally - makes him something not seen in many popular stories. He's the right man for the job - and also that most likely to be found in this situation. Everything is grounded in some form of reality and creates this incredible storyline with complete believability. The only portion which might be found a little too "that's not right..." is a scene involving an "island" (no spoilers here.) To those without much botanical knowledge, 8/10 things seem "oh yeah, I guess that could happen." But I suspect to anybody who has even taken a week's course in the stuff - or Hell, watered their plants - would know this as complete nonsense. Thus, Pi even introduces it that way.
I could talk about this guy forever but I'll try to stop. Essentially, Pi is the most believable incredibility that could be imagined. The author's prose is easy to read but by no means common speech. It is not poetic yet feels exotic. It is in this limbo of prose that perfectly matches the feeling of being stranded on the Pacific Ocean with only so much land to roam around. It is also a half-sharp contradiction to his characters, who talk with perfectly believable speech. His description doesn't go for the medium size soda - super size that bag of fries, and I'm going to scrape that box for any last bit of salt I can taste. However, he incredibly finds bits of bag he confuses with salt rarely and forgivably.
When you get down to it, this novel may ask the reader several things (how much can the human stomach take? How many human traits can we hand down to over species?) but only one is the focal point: What do you believe? And the answer: Only what you want to believe. And the expansion: Only what you believe, not what others believe, nor what you want to believe, nor what you want others to believe, not what is important. Only what you believe. And I'll tell you something. When you get down to it, it may not be the most entertaining book you've ever read at first; but the course of events is so tightly wrapped together yet explained to a minimum that it succeeds without question. Pi Patel is an immortal character, sometimes imitated, never duplicated.
The Rating? 5/5
If one thing is responsible for Batman's modern popularity, then it would be this.
The Dark Knight Returns was the result of a twenty three year long pregnancy with it's inception in 1963 and a four month labor. Frank Miller, a six year old, became a fan of the Batman comics one day in an 80 page giant comic staring Batman. Barely twenty one years into the pregnancy, he has many a conversation with Dick Giordano about Batman. They surmise that the recent drop in Batman sales is not the character itself being outdated, but the material he is in. Why hasn't he aged in fifty-sixty years? When they decide to pick up Batman at the age he should be, the child gained proper shape. It's still a mess of cells, but you can make out that it will one day be a child. Staring in February 1986, and ending in June 1986, the process of labor was executed, and the most iconic Batman comic was born.
Next to Batman: Year One, very closely, of course.
Now for an annoying, interrupting blurb about moi. My comic book experience is, unfortunately, not too much. The only other graphic novel I've read other than this is Watchmen (often cited as the greatest graphic novel ever, not bad for the first one I read). The single issue comic books I've read are also scare, we've got Ultimate Tales Spiderman #4, the back-story of Cyborg in the Titans (don't remember the issue or number), Batman Confidential #33 (my favorite single issue I've read) and Blackest Night: Green Lantern #44. And of course, I'm very familiar with the "Sunday Funny" Opus and have watched many a comic-based movie.
That is pretty much the backstory you want to know going in. Now let's talk about the graphic novel itself.
When you watch a movie, the first thing people tend to notice (aside from maybe a top actor) is the aesthetics of the picture. Similarly, when you read a graphic novel (practically a movie storyboard) the first thing you notice is the artwork. There are two different types of comic book artists, and they are like the two types of screen formats. Standard Definition looks better when the screen is smaller, and High Definition looks better when the screen is bigger. Comic artists tend to do better in either cramped or expansive panels. I am happy to inform you that this is an example of the latter - but carrying a big bag of salt on my shoulders as I do it.
I wish I had a scanner, but alas, I do not. As of now, anyways. I wish I could show you some of the images for reference. But let me go over a few aspects of the art. Every cover to be released for both the original single issues and the graphic novel compilations have been beautifully colored, showcase an expansive scenery and depict an accurate representation of the material - with the exception of the Warner Bros. cover on the last aspect, and book four's cover when it comes to the character models.
Inside the comic we get, as I said before a mixed bag. My main issue is character's faces. When Frank Miller (he is the penciler, not just the writer) is confined to a smaller panel, his creations look more and more like something that the common conscious holds as an image of Cheesy Batman. Jaws grow by 50% and lips become swollen. Sometimes detail is lost and it looks like a very good doodle of Batsy. That said, this shows up much more in the second half of the novel, and is not a constant by any means. When you get to the big pictures (let's say, the picture featured on page 52 - I read the 1996 release) then HOLY MOSES. Between the detail, the scale, the color, the way he captures action, I would give Frankie here a lifetime contract. The only thing that doesn't jive with me is the draw distance, and when you're reading a COMIC BOOK that's not that big a deal.
Though it becomes a bit of an issue when Batman is leading an army to war.
Each book seems to have it's own color scheme. The first is a calm darkness before a storm. The second is an uncomfortable mix of browns and ugly blues, which represent the time when the storm is at it's peak and create the most destruction. Book three represents what Gotham would look like seconds after the huge storm has passed. Finally, book four takes place with explosions, intense light colors, and snow - the end of the year, ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, friends and neighbors, Batman and Superman, that dude smoking marijuana in the background, etc.
And when you get down to it, what else do you need to say then quote King Stephen VI: "...probably the finest piece of comic art to ever be published in a popular edition...."
We move into the characters. Batman is handled perfectly. A man who has grown old and stuck by the virtues that propelled him to doing good, yet not able to adjust his view for the current conditions and causing an adverse affect. No more needed to be said. Alfred is drawn in a very cheesy manner, Hell he sorta looks like a giant golfball, and I feel like he didn't have enough emotional variety. It seems as if he had one surface emotion and one superficial emotion throughout the entire graphic novel, and that's fine, but have the guy move through at least remote change.
Robin is a girl. This is genius. An effective and efficient way to put a Robin (and not Night wing) into a serious Batman story without straining yourself but still using opportunities for creative exploration. In other words, making an interesting character without straining Frankie. Yeah, it might be a bit of an easy way out, but actually doing Dick Grayson for a serious comic was going to be a challenge for another author. As John Bryne said, "Robin must be a girl." And while the father son complex is intriguing, it is over explored in these stories. A father daughter relationship is something few comic authors venture into.
It works. While being subtle. Never does Batman say anything about "having a daughter" or "loving Robin," but he does mention adopting a Robin very out of context and he does hug Robin a couple of times. In fact, near the end, he tells Robin to "sit up straight." Cheesy, yes, but familiar to the situation and emotionally satisfying a line. Here's my one problem. What the Hell is up with Robin's personal life? It feels very artificial. She leaves really quickly from her family, nobody seems to care or miss her or report her missing, and the only things we hear about her parents were that they were tripping balls in Chicago. Sorry, I don't buy it. I buy Angela's Ashes and that stuff is crazy, but I don't buy Robin's backstory.
Did I just mention Angela's Ashes in a review of The Dark Knight Returns?
How are the villains? We get introduced to Harvey Dent first, and he is no longer Two-Face, he has been "cured." But it explains, pretty blatantly, that the scars were emotional and not just physical. And before you know it, he's dead. Or locked up. One or the other, the narrative doesn't agree with itself sometimes. I feel like this incarnation, this emotional incarnation, of a post-Two-Face Harvey Dent had so much potential and so little of it was used. Ah vell. It's better than how shoe-horned The Green Arrow was put into this graphic novel, that's the epitome of bad use of a famous character.
The Joker gets introduced, and I'm not 100% decided on him. He feels like his villain has been aged. Between all the animated "epics" (some not needing quotations), Tim Burton's incarnation and Christopher Nolan's incarnation (or you could say Nicolson's and Ledger's), the Arkham video game versions, etc., he feels kind of done to death. I realized this reading this graphic novel. One who is not very familiar with the Joker and has not been acquainted with Batman media could read this and see The Joker as the extremely intriguing villain that he is. However, when you take into account later versions, he feels sort of basic. This came out in 1986 and inspired all live-action adaptations of the clown in minty colors, and it shows. The Joker is becoming the new Dracula or Frankenstein, a villain that has done the same exquisite and philosophical style to death.
I feel like a sinner for saying that.
Scarecrow is hinted in this book, his gas that creates nightmares is used and one of Batman's disguises on top of a disguise looks like Scarecrow's mother. (Shows up early in Book Three.) Unfortunately he doesn't actually show up, which makes a lot of sads in me because Scarecrow is my favorite Batman villain ('side from Joker, 'course.) Humpty Dumpty of ALL VILLAINS actually makes a couple of cameo appearances as Joker's right hand guy when he's locked in the Asylum. He is quickly disposed of when Joker makes his escape, though. There's also a group called "the mutants" but they're just background events to make the story seem more active. It works, but I can't talk about them much for being such a focal point.
Commissioner Gordon is a bit of a whiner in this book. He is completely justified for going over his grievances and his mourning in the police department, but I mean, c'mon dude, it comes with the territory, most of us who are smart enough to read a novel of any kind gets this. Oh, and, he keeps referring to a girl named "Sarah." This is the one reference I don't get. Could somebody point out who Sarah is to me? I'd like to think she is his wife, but I'm not 100% sure. Oh, and there's one more side character. One more that's very familiar. But I won't give away his "secret identity." That would be a bit of a spoiler.
Wooph, I've talked so much and it feels like I haven't even talked about a majority of the stuff here. But, I guess I have. There are a few things I want to talk about before I wrap this up. Interior monologue. Would you ever believe that this would be a heavy portion of a comic book? It's a risk, something that doesn't seem to match the art form. It's like, so much of the story is told through the art, that we don't really need the point of view of the characters there. But at the same time, it can be offered as a second POV. It would work if it was good. But it comes off as less descriptive and thoughtful as preachy and forced.
They bring up the Cold War in this novel. WHY? The Cold War was coming to a close around this time, though it wasn't the 1990's, and it provides nothing to the story. It is the most violent and disturbing big lipped trumpet playing starving children moment I have ever seen. And that's saying something. It gives the opportunity for some awesome artwork (some things stolen from Horror of Dracula, 1958) but overall feels unnecessary. It's not like the issues were already the size of very small novels to begin with. It has no longer term effects on the characters, and the stage it "sets" is really not utilized to it's fullest potential.
This is coming to a close ladies and gents. Overall, The Dark Knight Returns is an extremely mixed bag. Some characters are handled extremely well, some are handled lukewarm, and a couple are used very poorly. Some are mixed bags in and of themselves. The artwork is like the tastiest piece of bread with a few spots of mold growing on it, it's so awesome for the most part but there a couple of "DEEEEEERP" moments that keep me from saying it's perfect. Not to mention, draw distance. Dialogue feels very real but monologue doesn't. In the end, this graphic novel is important primarily. This, Year One and The Killing Joke were the basis for all Batman movies and animated films to come. But it is still an awesome read if you're willing to soak the good and accept the bad.
The Rating? 4.4/5
I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.
"Deduction Number Two: After you're dead, you won't shit when somebody drops a brick on your ass...Oh, dear God, we're off on another tangent"
Dance of Death is Stephen King's attempt to tackle Dracula, Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde, The Thing, Giant Ants, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Harlan Elleson, Peter Straub, Haunted Houses, and a slew of other huge names in horror, not even wearing a football helmet. When he proposed this idea to his friend, who's name is never revealed, that friend slaughtered The King with reasons why he's going to be lynched by his fans for even trying to write the thing. His own doubts in his mind were not helping, and he didn't have a list of forty-five best sellers like when he wrote On Writing. So he took a giant mental risk writing this. But, in reality, we all know it would be accepted with open arms by his friends. And does he succeed?...I'M NOT EVEN SURE!
If you want a comprehensive, coherent history of horror fiction of all mediums between 1950-1980 with analysis thrown in for kicks, so sorry, you might as well skip it. The book doesn't flow like a river, in one direction, with notable rocks on the bottom that making pausing reality worth it just to stare and drool. The book drives it's analysis like an inter-connected water park. Imagine a water park, say, for my home boys, WaterWorld, (although apparently they also have one in New Zealand and California), where all the rides are inter-connected and each one is somehow connected to the other. And you go through them with no real overall strategy, but understanding of where you are between with each ride.
King Stephen IV disassembles horror fiction into ten categories. The first is an introduction to why we indulge into the genre. The tenth is an analysis of why artists continue to make this genre thrive. The second chapter cover the "essential" stories, stories so household that everybody knows 'em. The ones he speak of that are relevant to this genre are: The Boogeyman and The Hook...although, if we were talking about popular culture, we could throw guys like Santa Claus and The Tooth Fairy in there as well. The third chapter covers The Tarot Cards, which covers The Vampire, The Thing, and The Werewolf...it also mentions The Ghost, but since there was no true inception of the myth, he saves it for his discussion of recent horror literature.
The fourth chapter is self-explanatory in it's title, "an annoying autobiographical pause." If Chapter 1 was creating the idea of food, Chapter 2 and 3 were gathering ingredients, then you can say he made the meal while he was distracting us with Chapter IV. In Chapter V, he finally gives us an appetizer, talking about horror radio - as short lived as it is. He then spends two chapters on talking about movies. You sometimes wonder why he only directed one movie in his entire career. He briefly but thoroughly discusses Television, and then finally we get the steak we've been wanting this whole time. Horror novels.
It's good he separated this book into ten chapters, because if he didn't, he might have swam into dangerous waters. He mentions that each medium deserves it's own book, and I couldn't agree more. The majority of his movie discussion was: 1954-1959, 1970's movies that called back to the 50's, The Exorcist and Psycho. He finds Phase IV more important to discuss than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But, in the end, maybe it is. He talks about movies not because he really wants to talk about movies, he wants to study them. He wants to analyze why we go to these things. He likes to analyze our patterns of behavior, and in that sense Earth vs. The Flying Saucers might be more important than 9/10 Hammer pictures.
...Ooph. Let's admit it ladies and gentlemen. What I'm referring to is rambling, and that's what I'm doing. I think, in the end, he knows those old 50's movies better than any movie directed by George A. Romero, and we can see the same basic patterns in all horror movies. So he uses his most familiar examples to conduct analysis. And when you see his conclusions, you can apply them to any horror picture you like. The sense of relief is seen in both Gojira and The Exorcist, examing taboo can be seen in both I Was a Teenage Werewolf and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
That said, I could myself find a few errors he made. And according to the introduction to the third edition, which I read, he had his fans comb hundreds upon hundreds of errors after the first and second edition. And yet he still refers to the horror boom in the 1950's as starting in 1955 when he mentions Creature from the Black Lagoon. That's interesting, ain't it? So if I, the movie aficionado, and not even the best of it, could find errors in that one chapter, I can imagine all-time horror nuts scrambling in their beds. And let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, I might like one form of jiggling, but I have a feeling the horror fans scrambling in their beds might not be the one I want.
You can skip the TV Chapter. My treat. Here it is in a nutshell: Horror on TV has had a few gems, but for the most part, it has sucked Andre the Giant's massive ballsack. It's a bit of a drag. When he gets onto the horror novel, I was mostly a newbie (my reading before had been between realistic fiction and fantasy). So I had no fucking clue whether or not Peter Straub ever did cite 'Salem's Lot as an inspiration for Ghost House. Despite this, I found it extremely fascinating. When you get down to it, he's talking about what scares us, and what gives us the compulsion to tell these scary stories, and while a sentence might not even be close to this wording, the basic message is there: "I felt something. I want to share it with you."
That said, it's also really fun to kill people. In the final chapter, he says "Yes, folks, in The Stand I got a chance to scrub the whole human race, and it was fun!" And this comes back to the other point he makes when it comes to all forms of horror. We want to exercise our love of the taboo, our psychotic nature, without ridicule. We can do that by watching Regan masturbating with a crucifix in The Exorcist....excuse me, I'm going to puke now...The King talks about how we are really all psychos, how if we are all alone, a lot of us will resort to talking to ourselves, touching ourselves in public, or the elementary school version of retardation: picking your nose.
While The King plays with us in total brightness (telling a story about a kid wanting to kill his pet turtle for instance) he also plays with us (fuck you Regan) in more subtle forms. (Unlike me.) He mixes heavily vulgar language - though clearly not excessive - with a few words that I don't even know. It creates a joining between the "intelligent literary" and the "constant reader." This implies that Harlan Ellison, so known for stuff like Strange Wine, might have a jumbo TV which he uses to marathon The Legend of Zelda with a six-pack of Mtn. Dew every six weeks...in fact, The King mentions that Ellison has a big ass TV. Or at least, what was considered big in 1980.
Uuugh...where was I? Yeah. I think it might be time to rape everything up. Or wrap everything up, that might be a little more P.C. Danse Macabre is a book where The King talks less about the horror genre itself, but more about why the horror genre? He rambles, for sure, but it's not like he doesn't get to the point enough to close the book at four hundred pages. You might not see all your favorites, but tell me there ain't going to be one happy fan who loves it when he talks about Night of the Living Dead...and then want to crucify him when he says that most zombie movies are missing the point and garbage. If you even have the vaguest interest, or are fully familiar with the genre, and are willing to accept it's going in one direction (or twenty-two) and not the one you specifically selected, I definitely recommend it. Two thumbs up!
I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.
So that I don't have to delete my review of Of Mice and Men to erase some of my humiliation.
I consider Books a visual media. They are usually entertaining or educational, and so is a lot of other media. That clears up half of it. The second half visual, is quite simple. You read it with your eyes. Unless you are blind, you don't hear it. Unless you really like the smell of books (Me) you don't smell it. (Hey, you can smell film to. As in film, the material.) Unless you eat paper as a source of nutrition (My friend Atticus,) you don't eat it. And well, you do feel it as you pick it up, but I am not sure if there is a physical touch media besides Theme Park Rides. (No funny guys allowed.) So that's why I talk about them here, and I think you should know.
By Laurie Halse Anderson. Her first novel. Also the writer of Fever 1793.
Now, I notice something, Laurie Halse Anderson writes about two things: Teenager Girls, and Torture. Yet she is NOT a freak of any kind, as the girl always succeeds in the end of the story. So that makes me wonder...Why?
Well, anyways, for what it is, it is God Dang good! This is very realistic for a lot of schools, but not all of them. The thoughts and personality of this character, Melinda, is absolutely correct. Guess what? Our innocence is lost by the time we reach 5th Grade, then, it's torture for the next 5-15 years. We go through puberty, boom, most of our time that we used to spend happy is now confusing, disoriented, and disgusting.
Well, now that I've gotten that out of my system, lemme give you the (MINOR SPOILER ALERT) synopsis:
Speak is about a young Melinda, a Freshmen, in Syracuse, New York. She is trying to make friends and eventually, a clan. But however, there is something keeping her from having her old friends, and keeping her from having the "right personality" to make new friends. She suffers, as her grades go down by a hell of a lot, (except in Art,) she starts skipping classes, is not talking, and hates nearly everything about High School.
The book goes pretty fast, not to fast. It is long, but not too long. And the characters are fun, but not imaginative. Not exactly my style, but absolutely great for what it is. I say, if you like gloom and doom, realistic gloom and doom that is, check it out.
The Rating: This was great, as its own style I say it is a 4.8/5, but in comparison to all books from MY opinion...egh...4/5 being generous. However, I did have a good time reading this book, and you should to.
Oh boy, where to begin with this one?
You know, when doing a review of practically anything, I typically have an idea of what I’m going to say, and I expand on that throughout the review. But here, I don’t know where to begin. Typically I’ll do the storyline somewhere earlier in the review, but this story I could fill up a 13 paragraph essay about. Would it be a good idea to talk about that? Or what about the characters? But here, the characters are attached to the story so deeply it’s not even funny. Should I talk about the pacing? The word choice and grammar? The action scenes? What?
Well, here goes. I guess I’ll start off talking about the pacing. This book is what you would call a “page-turner.” This book could easily be done in one sitting, but during school I don’t exactly have that type of time. This is one of the more exciting books out there. Understandably, you might put the book down during the first and second iteration, because that is mostly science and financial talk. I will mention this book is pretty much focused on scientific, philosophical, financial and evolutionary discussion, so if you’re not a fan on intellectual dialogue, don’t read this.
But then you would be labeled “dumb and impatient” now wouldn’t you? Speaking of that intellectual dialogue, damn is it awesome. So many theories, facts, ideas, philosophies, debates, and all of those things through many, many variations, are mixed in. They are so interesting. Page 284 and 285 contain one of the best discussions I have ever seen on read on modern science. People talk about evolution of science, what is important about it or not, they talk about what is right or wrong about creating this park, and it even boils down to details like evolutionary behavior but it still remains engaging and interesting page 1 to 399.
I guess that leads into the characters. In the famous Hollywood version directed by Steven Spielberg (one of the greatest films ever made), they focus mainly on the tourists. This movie has a lot of focus on the tourists, but it also has an equal focus on the scientists. Although Dr. Allan Grant is a worker, scientists and important role in creating Jurassic Park, for most of the book he plays the role of a tourist, as he gets lost with two children, Tim and Lex. The reason that one of the creators has to do this is because the park is not open to the public yet.
Dr. Allan Grant is an understanding individual, he is tolerant and overall a nice person. But he isn’t afraid to get in your face and scream “STOP BEING A DUMBASS AND SAVE OUR SHIT!!!” He acts as the guardian of Tim and Lex, but at the same time instead of trying to work for them, he works with them to reach a common goal, as one would do with a colleague in this situation. Nevertheless, Dr. Grant remains a very interesting character but he isn’t an amazing one.
Tim and Lex are your typical brother and sister. One is an intellectual for his age, and the other is a spoiled rotten brat who somehow still cares a lot about her brother. (Yeah…if it doesn’t make sense you’ve never had a little sister.) These characters would normally be annoying but somehow they pull off being real, authentic characters. Although they are naïve and children, they aren’t as dumb as a doorknob. They have normal reasoning abilities for their age, and thus you are able to tolerate them and when they are in danger you are truly worried.
In fact, that worry comes into play during several scenes where it appears Tim & Lex die, followed by a brief pause in the text, and then revealing that they are fine but injured and tired. There are positives and negatives about this. On one hand, these characters play very important roles in the story and they need to stay alive to keep the story going, while it also makes extra drama and suspense. On the other hand, if they actually had been killed, the sadness and drama would have been amplified.
Muldoon just is there are a character. There isn’t much about him except he is a drunk-ass douchebag who jumped no it for the money. Yeah, I wanted to see him die. For some reason they didn’t kill him. At first you might be thinking “oh, well Michael didn’t want the deaths to seem happy.” Yeah, well, several other characters who are jerks in the story get killed. They’re mighty disturbing kills but they are kills. And we will segway into the action & gore in a second. Ellie is another character who is mainly there as a character.
As opposed to Muldoon, Ellie is relatively likable and I wish she was explored more in this story. She has a bright personality but also has a very dark and mysterious side, and I think there is a lot of potential with this character. However, my favorite character BY FAR, and clearly Michael Crichton’s as well, was Ian Malcolm. This guy is on a level of intelligence, understanding, morals, critical thinking and spirituality all and above all other characters in this story. He is the true voice of reason
He understands how science, religion, nature and the world works. To describe his intelligence in this review would be like stating the gigantic size of an Apatosaurus that roams around Jurassic Park in a piece of text. It will NEVER do it justice. So, just trust me, if you have a reasoning beyond the common man, or even the potential to do so, then you should really like this character. Even if you are not, he will still create some provoking thoughts that may or may not change your view of the world and how the world works.
He talks about things like thintelligence, corporate science, evolution of knowledge, who is at jeopardy in reality, and many other things that most people never think about.*SPOILER.* When Malcolm dies, it is very intentional to be a symbol. This scene is one of the most peaceful, most enlightening, most at nature scenes ever written. I could either decipher it as a symbol for the death of reason and quest for knowledge in the scientific community, or a symbol of the death of Jurassic Park. He was against this whole thing in the first place, yet he was one of the main people to help build it. *SPOILERS OVER.*
Now, I know I’m going to haft to talk about the gore, action sequences, and overall disturbance of the kill scenes. So lettuce get it over with. Simply put: that is disturbing. The kill scenes are described not only in disgustingly great detail, but also from the point of view from a person. For instance, instead of “he died,” you will read “and the world turned cold, black, and silent…” How he does this while still remaining in the 3rd person perspective and for many characters is genius. This book also has a lot of intense chase scenes. It almost plays like a movie, but more convincing as you are reading it for yourself and forming the images yourself.
Well, there is probably more to talk about, but I think I’ve told you enough to convince you that this is an amazing book! 5.25/5
I, Da Ca$hman signing off.
The back cover describes it perfectly, The story of a childhood in a sleepy southern town and the crisis that rocked it. I usually don't buy the back cover hooplah, but come on! Read it, I'M BEGGING YOU! Everybody who has had a childhood should read this book! Unless you are clones from outer space, you should read this book. That is what I am saying. Full of absolute symbolism and meaning.
I love how Harper Lee perfectly tells the story of childhood, not only does she just tell a story, she tells a soul story. Everybody feels that they miss their childhood, and this book, if you can be smart reading it, totally tells you why.
The only problem with this book is that it is written in a fashion made a little too difficult, it implies things where it should just have an answer after a little mystery. It also has a few breaks in the page and, heck, the grammar is just not the best. But those are my only problems!
It seems to me that the smart people are the good people. Harper Lee understands what went on back in 1932-35. Not only was their a great depression and Hitler (which this book touches on in a good amount,) there was racism, there was no visual entertainment besides books (look at the top of the page,) and you couldn't go to plays or movies unless you were super lucky and rich. And that was few, 25% of Americans didn't have jobs.
But here comes this wonderful boy named Dill, who brings his stories of movies, riches, adventures, and awesomeness. Then, things turn on him later in the book and the children hearts are crushed. Oh yeah, the children. They are named Scout and Jem son and daughter of Atticus Finch, single dad. Perfect setting. That definably touches on the modern family a lot. There's also the mysterious Radley place, and as the young children they are, they start to develop myths about them. Man, just saying all this, you gotta go read this book for God's sakes!!!
And there's all the characters we meet as children, the strict one who tries to re-mold us, the perfectionist (actually there are two in this book,) the one we want to help but we can't (also two in this book) the person who loves us and knows what's right (also two,) the terrible awful person that hurts us so much (1) and of course, ourselves and our siblings and friends (3.) Several other characters also come into play, but those are negotiable.
But, it all comes down to "How is To Kill a Mockingbird to relate to this book?" Well, Atticus says it's a sin to kill a mockingbird, they don't do nothing but sing their hearts out for us. Well, think about it, ain't it a sin to kill a childhood? Ain't it a sin to convict someone who doesn't deserve it? Ain't it a sin to, basically do wrong to someone who does no wrong for your own gain?
It just touches me so well, because childhood is something I've examined over and over and over, and I totally see what Harper Lee is trying to say with this book!
The Rating? 6/5
Shit Hits the Fan, by a Baby Chinchilla--err, I mean Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe.
Damn, looking at this section of the website, it looks as if I have made some idiotic mistakes critiquing literature over the last year and a half. Now look where I am!!!...Rambling, Rambling, Rambling, a little Snootyness and summore Rambling. And a misspealeaing every once and a while. Now let's stop giving myself an emotional, self-serving speech and get onto this review!
I have mixed feelings about this novel. Short version, it's a great story but not a well written book. Now for the long version. Originally written in 1958, to be released in America a year later, this book is a milestone in the African Literature department. It was written fully in English, so that translating it for massive English speaking countries (America, England, Australia, and yes even Japan) would not be such a challenge. So then they quickly published this book and it became a success, allowing America to become more accepting of African literature. How cool it came in 1959, early in the Civil Rights movement.
Written by a Nigerian Author and taking place in Nigeria in about 1890, this novel gives us a depiction of the fictional village of Umuofia, inhabited by the very factual African Tribe called the Igbo People. For 75% of the novel, it mainly focuses on one of the village's most revered elders, Okonkwo. So I get it out now - this book has some really cool names. And ones that make me hungry for almonds. Okonkwo was originally a wrestler (MUST. RESIST. ABRAHAM. LINCOLN. JOKE.) and was the first to throw Amalinze the Cat for a very long time. He then gained his statues of leadership through many other myth-like actions.
He ends up marrying many wives and having many children, but when he adopts one Ikemefuna - who Okonkwo loves VERY much - the title of this novel starts to become relevant. That's all in the first couple of chapters, and it's very discreet, I didn't spoil anything. But now that we have an introductory statement, let's actually pick apart this novel. As I said earlier, I don't consider it a well written book. I was talking with a friend during lunch today - who some [none] of you may know as The Laugh Track - and he said that should be excused because it was originally written in the native language.
As you can see earlier in this review, that statement is indeed false. It was written in English. However I do understand he must have learned it as a second language, and only wrote the book so that it would be easily translated to English speaking countries (USA, Japan, Australia, England, Iceland). So in that case I can say that I won't hold it against A Baby Chinchilla per say, but the book itself still isn't well written. Chapters range from approximately 4-12 pages. The book itself isn't depressingly short, a good 209 pages. Short but it's still good for a novel.
But you wanna know what's really hilarious? There's PARTS! In addition to separating chapters to depressingly small amounts, you get parts! Part 1 is more than half the book, so you would assume that Part 2 takes care of the rest?...Nope. There's a Part 3. Parts 2 and 3 are also depressingly short. Subjects are covered for a typical maximum of 2 paragraphs, and key events in the story can range from 1 paragraph to 2 pages. A prime example is of Okonkwo's past, beating Amalinze the Cat. This is probably a very big part of his life, but it is only mentioned once before and it NEVER tells of Okonkwo's emotion during that match. Seriously Chinchilla?!?!
As you can tell, Detail is deprived in this novel. But that's the negative. Let's get to the positive, shall we? Story is great. It flows great 80% of the time, and if you find the time this is easily readable cover to cover - not just because of it's low difficulty. It is Historical Fiction, and it that respect is does deal with themes like religion, invasions, and cultural technology. More so, it is about Okonkwo, and his transformation from rampaging tyrant over the village to humble, sorry, wise elder. So I want to talk about Okonkwo now. He is a well balanced character, who's emotions are clear, 3D, ever changing and interesting.
But I'm not entirely sure we get to know him that well. Again, his past as a kid and teenager is not well explained at all, so we've already lost the prologue. For about 11 Chapters or so he is someone completely unsympathetic, a tyrant who beats his wife and children. He doesn't do it out of psychotic nature, he does it out of self-awareness. We can easily assume after the Wrestling Match and become a head of the Clan, he felt the need to keep his self-image manly. But in fact, I hold less of an opinion of that kind of person. A Psycho is Psycho, and he needs help. With this character, even if subliminally, he is forcing himself to do it.
When he transforms into someone who isn't The Devil's Devil in the end of Chapter 11, it's very sudden. After Part 1, his transformation seems more natural, but is too quickly dealt with for a real sense of transformation. Chapters are sped up to years...yeah, no. You'll end up learning things from this character, and overall he's a very interesting subject, but he's filled with flaws as far as the writing goes. I know the detail and such should be major, but since it is A NOVEL it tends to affect...I dunno EVERYTHING. That's all my opinion though - some might find it refreshing for less detail.
Surrounding characters play sadly small parts, and they have complex personalities that warrant more exploration of their character and his/her life. Still, I'm glad we got to meet characters such as Unoka and Ikemefuna. Even if Ikemefuna's role is relatively small in actuality, in the form of emotion it drives the entire novel. Being an ignorant American, I haven't been well educated in the Nigerian culture. So this book presented a REALLY interesting religion to the reader. In addition to finding it really exotic, I don't feel like any detail needed to be added to this.
I feel as if maybe a few Gods/Goddesses were thrown out, but the ones that are featured - Chukwu, Earth Goddess - get very good treatment. Even though Chukwu has a small explanation, we get to learn enough about him that is satisfactory, and the Earth Goddess is just everywhere. In a couple places in the book, there are folklore/fairy tale stories told through characters. One most people remember is the story of the Tortoise. I like these, they help make the culture feel real and 3 dimensional, and are just well written folklore tales in general. I do haft to wonder why the hell a Tortoise has Machetes and Cannons in his hut.
This novel also deals with women's rights, and how it is treated with in this culture. It is extremely primitive, and the depictions of how women are handled range from sad to barbaric. I won't say our cultures haven't done the same, but it's quite sad how women are viewed as the weaker part of the spiritual circle. Is it portrayed well? I wouldn't know, I'm a stupid dude, but it was very interesting to see how women are treated in this culture. Could it have been expanded? Yes, but everything in this novel can. Characters speak with grammar that of course is understandable but represents a primitive culture, and I'm a sucker for that.
May I just mention again that the characters names are great? Unoka, Okonkwo, Ikemefuna, Nwoye, Ezinma, Amalinze, they're really cool. I'd like to finish this off with the ending. No, I won't tell you what happens, but I will tell you something about it. You read it once, you don't see too much in it. You turn the page to the appendix, put it down on your nightstand, and sleep on it - it's a great ending. It had to happen for historical accuracy, and A Baby Chinchilla did a great job handling the end of this story.
Final Thoughts? This book is worth a read by far, but you will constantly come by annoyances with how it is written. It's a story that is worth a check out by everybody who is interested in this kind of culture, historical events, and I'd even recommend it just out of being a good story. I'm surprised it's given in High School courses with the same material written by William Shakespeare, but it's pretty damn good. I'd give it a 3.5/5
I, Da Ca$hman, singing off.
Oh yeah, were getting GEEKY in the house of the Nerds!!!! (Not really.)
Turn on the epic music people! Turn on the epic music! Cause it's Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey, Thorin Oakenshield, Fili and Kili, Bifur and Bombur, The Elves, Bard, EVERYBODY IS GOING AROUND THE WORLD GOING CRAZY! ALL BECAUSE OF SMAUG AND HIS GOLD! To be fair, a geek will enjoy this book very much for the same reason Hobbits enjoy The Red Book (reference to Fellowship of the Rings.) However, I enjoyed this not only for those reasons, but for the true treasure and personality that create heartwarming and heart breaking stories throughout the tail. The characters are both familiar to our every day lives and magnificently mythical. Reading this book is like going through life, and that comes in very handy during the final couple of pages. Why must I say that? Well, that is when you finally uncover the true meaning of this book.
Oh, and just a note, that's awesome. The fact that you don't uncover the meaning until the very end, doesn't make you wanna put it down early. That is genius of J.R.R. Tolkien...or is it? It all seems accidental but apparent, because John Tolkien of South Africa, actually hates analogy and symbolism. He simply wants to create a fun book, and that is why so many geeks are attracted to such a tale. But, I can't help but feel stuff like this is there. The Hobbit represents the ordinary person. The dwarves represent the experienced yet cocky that unfortunately you must go along life with. However, you will be thanking yourself in the end, but that will be when they leave your lives. I guess you could say the Dwarves represent your relatives.
Gandalf, good o' Gandalf Da Grey, WHO DON'T LUV GANDALF DA GREY!!!! He represents the wisest of mentors that you will ever have, but cannot stay with you throughout most of life. Who is the best example of this person? God. Or in some cases, Jesus, Zues, Alah, every religion has one. But even the Athiests have this character, but he is more apparent to them. Or she. Well, scratch Jesus. (offensive comments follow) they've turned the lord (Christians) into some terrifying force. Now that, is Bull$#!T! However, I am religious. Jewish, but that is a topic for another day. Smaug, represents, that old stranger offering you Marijuana. That $1U77Y girl/guy pressuring you to have $3X with them. The billionare pressuring you to become corrupt. The evil people in your life that try to make you leave what is good, out of your own taste for Greed.
Obviously, Gollum took the pressure and became addicted to the ring. What is the ring you ask? In it's extremely addicting powers, it represents drugs. Tobacco. Alcohol. Cocaine. Marijuana. Meth. Stuff like that. In it's power to make you invisible, it represents Ca$h, Money, Dough, My Name. (You haft to see my soul laughing right now.) In which stuff makes you terribly corrupt, but offers you powers unknown to a mortal man. Eventually, you either eliminate the mortal man, or play the masses against each other. You become a monster, George W. Bush, I hope your listening! What a wonderful tale, full of accidental symbolism, but the big question is..........what does it all mean?
I think, not matter which way you turn, bad decisions or good, long tales of ultimate journey, immediate success, or a life in your little hobbit hole, fame and fortune, or crime and corruption, poverty and hate, or wealth and generosity, no matter what you do, no matter what you decide to follow your life in, in the end, if nothing else, you have the great friends that have lived with you your entire life. Make sure you keep them, and not become the great terrible creature that Smaug is. Bilbo did almost become a Smaug, by handing the stone...SPOILER ALERT...of Arkenstone to an enemy. He did lose the friendship of a dying legend, Thorin Oakenshield. I still can't believe, writing these so far 5 paragraphs of awesome lineage, that J.R.R. Tolkien does not like analogy's and symbolism.
The book is quite a read, 305 pages. But it's a worthwhile read, and I expect The Lord of the Rings trilogy to do so as well. And if I love those three, I'll pick up every single J.R.R. Tolkien book that I can find! However, I must say that because it was accidental, the analogy's in this literature are hard to find, and thus not very apparent. Also, if you expect a magnificent hero story that the characters are legendary, then probably, you'll only be half satisfied.
The Rating? I say, it deserves a great 4.98/5
Cheese and Christmas Trees, how long has it been since I've done a book review?
In 1895 H.G. Wells published one of his earliest novels and definitely the earliest one to be in public eye, The Time Machine. Under the unabridged version, it runs 76 pages counting breaks between chapters. Several abridged versions lengthen the book to 100 pages and make the language more contemporary. This brings up the first debate of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. Is it unfairly difficult?
One side of the argument would say that a book is only fairly hard if there is more story to be told, and if the story is complex enough to require thought at the specific degree for what the subject material and author is trying to go for. It is unfairly hard with its hard 1890’s language and not for the length of the story. So it becomes increasingly hard with not enough in the story. There are three different time periods in this book. One in “the present” of 1895, one in the year Eight-Thousand and Two, Seven-Hundred and One, and finally one near the death of the earth.
There is not much to the story that is told in 1895, but what is there works just fine as the relationship between The Scientist and his fellows is automatically strengthened through the telling of the 802,701 story. As that story strengthens, you feel that the people listening become more attached to the scientist as well. As well as during the story, you also realize more what trauma the time traveler has been through and how much he appreciates the simple things in life more. This makes these characters much more 3-dimensional.
The story is told by one of the followers, who is telling us that the time traveler is telling of his travels. This is a clever tactic that translates easier to the audience yet breaks the boundaries of a single narrator still not totally broken 116 years after this book is published. The story told by the traveler, the one that takes place in 802,701, is a thought-provoking story that starts to make you think of what can or cannot be accomplished given the circumstances of human reality and what it has lead to, as well as the possibilities of change in course.
It also starts up the thinking of how humans treat other animals using a metaphor of putting some humans in the human perspective while putting other humans in the animal perspective. It remains subtle throughout most, however the subtleness is stubbornly broken when the time traveler proclaims what he sees as humans being treated as cattle. Most other times though, it remains subtle and other metaphors written between the biggest metaphor also remain subtle.
Unfortunately the explanations of the areas are a little weak. H.G. describers certain areas of the landscape very well, as well as the appearance of most if not all creatures in the story. But areas between these areas that become key in order to keep track of events are given no explanation, when a simple “and after 3 meters of this hill there is a palace of porcelain” would have sufficed, instead of just jumping straight from the hill to the palace of green porcelain.
H.G. Wells includes word choice that is flavorful but does not strictly come off as flavorful thus subtly enhancing the experience. The final part of the story, in which The Time Traveler (who remains nameless, thus enhancing the experience with the character as not a character but an emotional force), goes to the end of the earth, has much potential but is told in too short of time. Most of the story focuses on 1895 and 802,701, thus making this portion of the story feel rushed. However, it does have the potential for a great sci-fi novel of it’s own with the creatures and atmosphere featured here.
The book explores how humans may or may not evolve in the future. It is a negative stance on the issue that is the theme and claims that ‘humans will always have brute force and instincts come back over reason and we will create dominant factions of our species over less succesful’. It is a more positive theme than 1984 by George Orwell than claims “humans will always be hungry for power due to instincts and will kill every other person, and not just other groups, to gain power.’
It is also more negative than the Culture Series. As for literary devices in the novel, we could probably use the easiest one to spot but the hardest one to name. Mirrored-Personification, I shall call it. The opposite of personification, or more like, animalistication. During 802,701, half of the human species have been put in the position of cattle. This is also irony, as now humans and cattle have switched place. It can also be called satire, as it makes fun of what most politicians want you to see as the future.
Whatever this book is trying to say, it is a very well written, very well thought out and very thought provoking book. It leaves some important things behind but remains a great story on its own. It is only 76 pages unabridged, over 100 pages abridged but with better language. So it should be a fast and interesting but very detailed read. It is also done by H.G. Wells, so of course it’s a good book! He was the man who wrote War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man! The Rating? 4.5/5