Category Archives: Books

Review: Divergent (Possible Spoilers!)

I don’t like complaining about something I know nothing about, and so in the light of a recent eye-opening top sellers list I’ve decided to see what the fuss was all about before I start bitching about it, which is obviously my favourite thing to do. Since I conveniently named the title after what I’m doing my review on I can’t troll you guys and pretend I’ve read 50 Shades of Grey, which I probably won’t ever read unless someone was paying me a life time salary to do it.

It seems like this Divergent book by Veronica Roth is a big deal recently. Now considering recent trends in “literature” it was very optimistic of me to think that perhaps that there would be a refreshing change in the reading preferences of today’s generation, but I’m not going to lie, I read the book in four hours and it was quite fun. And yes, there was a refreshing change in the main character, and instead of being the typical immature protagonist of teen series who wonders why anyone would like her and denies her obvious attraction to the love interest, she is quite honest with herself. Despite the fact that the love interest feels like the typical dark and brooding type of male character I found the romance quite well written, only it was so well written and took up so much of the book that I could not take the rest of the storyline seriously. Like Twilight, it felt like the rest of the plotline was written to propel the romance.

And that’s fine! I read it like it was a fan fiction of a teen age girl’s life, in which the circumstances are perfect for meeting that prince charming. It was fun, it wasn’t that frustrating, and it was grammatically correct. At the same time it felt like The Hunger Games all over again, except Katniss doesn’t have to choose between two people and she doesn’t delude herself into thinking that every single hint of romance is for another purpose because there is no way anyone could possibly love her (which by the way, is one of the most irritating things female protagonists do).

Instead of a dystopian novel that revolves around the importance of choice set in a parallel universe that strives for utopia, it is for all intents and purposes, a cute, fun romance. For anyone expecting anything else, you might be disappointed.

However, for those who are only expecting a romance throughout the series, you will also be disappointed, because it’s sequel is completely different. And the conclusion of Insurgent, if not corny, is extremely disappointing.

I should really find other books to read. I feel like it was disappointing only because I am not within the range of its target audience. Which means I should also stop looking for books to read from the top sellers shelf, because it is a terrible reflection of good reads in general.

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50 Shades of I don’t want to live on this planet anymore

So I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and talk about 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James. Ironically, opinions about this book are rather black and white, and I am going to be one of those people who are on the rather negative side.

Before I start, I would like to congratulate E.L. James on publishing a fan fiction made up of what used to be the worst thing that happened to literature and her own fantasies, which, being what they are, should’ve been kept inside her head. And I lied about not starting yet, because I would like to dive right into it: Hide yo kids, hide yo wife, because E.L. James’ fantasies are raping erryone’s brains out there. Unfortunately it’s not rape if you enjoy it, and to be very harsh, the worst thing about this book is that people like it. Well not the worst, because there are many things about 50 Shades of Grey that are the worst, like being the fastest selling paper back since Harry Potter. Those two things shouldn’t even be in the same universe, let alone the same sentence.

Usually I like to have pictures and videos dispersed throughout my post that relates to the topic, but the topic causes me so much physical pain that I’m just going to leave this video here that has two things that I love: cats, and Ellen.

To be completely honest, I have never read the book myself, and I don’t even read erotica, which makes my points less credible and I just sound like someone who’s on the bandwagon of being pissed off at something that a lot of people are pissed off at. I’m also not even famous, and I’ve never published an entire book, so that makes me even less trustworthy, but there are some things that might help:

Sweaters For Days and Moves Like Jagger: A blog by writer Jennifer Armintrout, with this part specifically dedicated to 50 shades of grey recaps, and no I’m no longer going to be italicizing the book or capitalizing it because it’s really just a fanfic.

And here is a video by Alex Day of Chameleon Circuit on the same topic, in which he makes some excellent points:

I don’t want to publish this post riding (haha that’s an unintentional pun that makes me want to vomit slightly) on the words of other, funnier, and more successful people than me, so I will say that from my perspective as a prospective writer, I am terrified that this is allowed to be a published book! I would be completely fine with it if it was this incredibly popular fan fiction, but that it stayed free and stayed online, but now it’s clogging up our bookstores, taking up the top sellers list, like so:

What has happened to the world of reading? The entire trilogy of E.L. James’ fantasies are in the top two of Chapter’s most popular books, and there’s definitely something not quite right with that. Might I also point out that in 10th place is a boxed set of the Hunger Games trilogy, all of which have already made their appearance in the top 10? There should be some sort of rules with what they put on these shelves.

Just for a measure of what the entire top seller’s list is like at Chapters:

#12: this isn’t even a book.

#14: …

Again, RULES.

I guess instead of a specific rant on 50 shades, this is just a post about how little hope I have left for humanity. I am sitting here with a choice.  I could either choose good, and write real literature, with original characters, conveying an actual story about issues that I see around me in the world. This will require hard work, research, days of pulling my hair out and crying myself to sleep and getting rejected by publisher after publisher before I actually get anywhere. On the other hard I could choose evil, and write what I know people want to read just so I can get my hands on some cash and a lot of fame, and expand boundaries of acceptable social conduct, creating chaos within homes, and breaking the shackles holding back the monsters that live within each of us. And I won’t care if people hate me because I’ll be so rich I won’t hear the hate through my soundproof mansion made up of wads of cash.

So in conclusion E.L. James wants to take over the world with an army of masochistic, sadistic, horny animals created through subtle subliminal messaging.

for fear of my own personal safety.

Should I remind you that she has two teenage sons? Highschool is already tough enough …

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The Night Circus

There is something different about this book, something special that I haven’t experienced for a while. Even the most mundane things in the book, the things that I knew would happen, sends a chill up my spine. It is not the fact that it happens but the way in which it happens that surprises me and delights me. I feel like this book has enchanted me in some way, just like the circus performers enchant their audience. The book in itself is like the circus which it describes; what it contains within it outshines whatever cover that could possibly hold it, but at the same time the two compliment each other subtly.

It is books like these that make me believe that magic still exists, not in a practical, physical form, but in the art of words. It restores my faith in the storyteller, in the writer, and in the child that imagines these fantasies for us.

It is not political, and it is not so deep that it is beyond our comprehension. It is an escape away from the real world, like a good story is meant to do. It makes us forget our worldly troubles, takes away our need to constantly philosophize. Speaking from an English Literature student’s perspective, it is a relief to read a book like this that while carrying some deeper meaning with it, does not need thorough scrutiny in order to be enjoyed. Perhaps it doesn’t speak about society or of human nature, but it speaks to something inside us that we learn to ignore as we grow up.

Like with many good books, I felt this book changing me as I read it. Slowly I began to adapt the voice of the narrator, become part of the book. I love this feeling, of being so immersed in the book that when I finally resurface it feels like waking up or arriving home after a long trip. I don’t remember the last time I finished the book in a day, and certainly I don’t remember the last time I spent the better part of my day reading.

This isn’t a perfect book, one with an ending that I am not entirely satisfied with, but gives me a feeling of closure all the same. It makes me happy, and I think that’s what’s most important.

Some people like to shy away from books that make the best sellers list, but I think the world of literature has become too small and unappreciated to have a barrier between “mainstream” and “indie”. However there is a big difference between a good book and a bad book. But I’ll get to that later.

 

kwin

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