Thursday, October 28, 2010

Life of Pi - Yawn Martel

Well. Now I know.

I mean I knew, but I didn't "know" know.

All my instincts about this book were right. First I gave up on the paper version 75 pages in, and then I read Beatrice and Virgil. This book SCREAMED leave me a alone, and yet I was so curious to see what all the hullabaloo was about.

I really don't get the popularity of this book. I found it, first and foremost, exceptionally boring. How a shipwreck and 227 days at sea with a Bengal tiger could be boring, only Yawn knows. And of course, I found it pretentious as well.

Here is an excerpt:

"I opened it and found the following:

A paper Map
A list of skin conditions
Wet Ones Antibacterial singles (3 packages, 1 used)
An ink pen
Motion sickness pills
A pack of wooden matches (Bare: Las Vegas) 6 matches in the box
An empty eye-glass case
Deserving Thyme Lip Care Balm
A generic ibuprofen bottle containing 12 Advil brand caplets
an open package of trident original flavor gum, 4 sticks left, one covered in old tobacco
One half-eaten bag of Chocolate Twizzlers"

Oh wait. That's the contents of my purse. My bad.

This is how the story went for me.

Blah blah blah, how cool am I that I believe in 3 major world religions? blah blah blah.
Blah Blah Blah, tarpaulin, blah blah blah Richard Parker, blah blah blah tarpaulin, blah blah blah Richard Parker
Blah Blah Blah, tarpaulin, blah blah blah Richard Parker, blah blah blah tarpaulin, blah blah blah Richard Parker
Blah Blah Blah, tarpaulin, blah blah blah Richard Parker, blah blah blah tarpaulin, blah blah blah Richard Parker
Blah Blah Blah, tarpaulin, blah blah blah Richard Parker, blah blah blah tarpaulin, blah blah blah Richard Parker
Blah Blah Blah, tarpaulin, blah blah blah Richard Parker, blah blah blah tarpaulin, blah blah blah Richard Parker
Blah Blah Blah, tarpaulin, blah blah blah Richard Parker, blah blah blah tarpaulin, blah blah blah Richard Parker

Incidentally, I've apparently been pronouncing the word "tarpaulin" wrong my whole life. Fortunately, I've never had a Martel-like occasion to use it.

I'm just baffled.


Seriously. The whole section at sea was "OMFG! I'm about to die, Richard Parker is killing me right now....oh, that was just a rain drop. I've got to make that tiger my bitch."

"OMFG! I'm about to die. Richard Parker is killing me right now .... Oh, that was a flying fish. I've got to make that tiger my bitch."

"OMFG! I'm about to die. Richard Parker is going to pounce on me right now. Screw that. I'm going to make eye contact with him." (75 hour dissertation on why that will work.) I made Richard Parker my bitch.


Incidentally, and I know it's primarily because I didn't like this book so I don't care which ending was true, but I DEFINITELY think the 2nd ending was the "real" ending. And that the RP/Tarpaulin adventure was what he made up to keep himself company on the journey, like Wilson in Castaway.

2 many taurpalins out of 5

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Discovery of Socket Greeny - Tony Bertauski

Support Independent Authors!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and honestly - I really liked it! Since you've probably not heard of it, here's a description:

Work has always come first for 16-year old Socket Greeny's mother, especially since his father died. But when she shows him the inner workings of the Paladin Agency, he discovers why it's so important. It's an underground world of technological wonder including bat-like grimmets, spherical servy-mechs and humanoid butlers with brightly lit faceplates. They traverse the planet through wormholes to keep the world safe, but from what, they won't say. Although his mother is not actually a Paladin, and neither was his father, both have worked for them for most their lives. Socket, however, is different than his parents. He somehow is a Paladin and soon finds himself in the center of controversy and betrayal when he's anointed the agency's prodigy. He didn't ask for the "blessing" of psychic powers and the ability to timeslice and he doesn't want to be responsible for the world. He just wants to go home and back to school and be normal again. But, sometimes, life doesn't give us that privilege, his mother tells him. And when the world is soon threatened and the Paladins are forced into the public eye, Socket discovers what his mother means. If he doesn't embrace his true nature, life as we know it will change forever.

I found it original and fun.

If you like video games, you'll like this book. I felt like I was plopped right in the middle of a game, and it grabbed me right from the start and kept me interested through the end.

It's sort of sci-fi/fantasy, with some cyberpunk elements. It's fast-paced, original and fun. Definitely a young adult novel; if you liked The Maze Runner, you're likely to enjoy this too.

I thought some of the writing could use a bit of finessing, but it didn't detract from the storytelling which was well-done and entertaining.

I'm definitely interested in the next book in the series.

4 virutal realities out of 5

If you've got a Kindle, this book is available for just .99cents.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Room - Emma Donoghue


My recommendation for this book is don't read anything about it. Don't read the reviews, don't read the dust jacket, don't read the tags ... Just pick up the book.

What you need to know:
It's disturbing and discomposing
It's brilliantly executed
It's dark, but beautiful too
Don't start it at night, because you won't want to put it down
If you have to put it down, you will be thinking about it while you aren't reading it
It's probably not something you've given a lot of thought too

5 out 5 feet of space

Monday, October 4, 2010

Beatrice and Virgil - Yawn Martel

Pretentious Pears, and other inanities

I gave up on Life of Pi 75 pages into reading it, for the same reason I hated this book. The arrogant, pretentious, blather. I've often wondered if I should give Pi another go, but after reading this I know I made the right decision.

This is the message I got from the author:

"I love me, don't you? Hark! I shall now describe a pear."

For 20 minutes (or at least, what felt like 20 minutes, but at least 15 or 20 sentences longer than was necessary or interesting.) We were also treated to such fascinating tidbits as Flaubert Cliff Notes, and the author's practice of reading and responding to his fan mail. Another of his self-love moments. Dull. Dull. Dull. Blah. Blah. Blah. Silence. Blah.

Then we got to the play within the story, (enter the pear). Allegory, Schmallegory. Martel left nothing to the imagination. Heaven forbid the reader interpret anything as they saw it, every little bit of the story was explained. It felt like a lecture.

The human characters in this book were awful. Unlikeable. Maybe that was by design considering the subject matter. But I didn't care what happened to who, and I couldn't wait for them all to just SHUT. UP.

I listened to this on audio, which was 6 hours long. The first 5 hours, I eye-rolled so many times I think I actually improved my vision with the workout I got. However, there was some redemption in the last hour (and it saved this book from a 1-star review.) There were fleeting moments of brilliance and it could have been great if the author didn't seem so bent on impressing everybody with his descriptive power of Pear, and his need to explain every little tidbit to an audience who was apparently unable to figure it out for themselves. I had both affection and sympathy for Beatrice (though most of the sympathy was a result of the fact she had to be in this awful book.)

The only time this book didn't miss the mark for me was "Gustav's Games" at the very end. If the rest of the book had been written with this degree of sensitivity and rawness, it would have blown my socks off.

2 Boscs out of 5

Friday, October 1, 2010

Little Bee - Chris Cleave

I loved this book. It was getting a lot of buzz (ha! bee? get it?) so naturally I was skeptical.

At a very high level, a Nigerian girl ends up in the UK as a refugee. This is her story and the story of a British couple she met on a beach when they were vacationing in Nigeria.

The writing was lovely; at times poignant and beautiful. There were passages which reminded me of The Book Thief. A carving out of something beautiful in the midst of something horrific. It was fast-paced, engaging, sometimes funny, sometimes sad. The characters were unique, flawed, interesting. It could have been depressing, but it wasn't.

It alternates both points of view, and timelines. I felt like that worked really well for the story.

It wasn't a perfect book. In fact, for my taste, I found it a bit timid and some parts felt a bit like filler. This was a book that could have punched me in the gut, but the only time I felt "punched in the gut" was in the Q and A section where the author told the true story of what inspired the book. I think it's important to say, though, it takes a lot to punch me in the gut, so while I found it a bit timid, others may not feel that. It definitely is an intense subject matter.

It's an important topic, to be sure. I would encourage anybody on the fence about reading the book: Pick it up. If you've never thought of reading it: Pick it up.

It's absolutely one of my favorites of the year.

5 buzzes out of 5