The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: A Book Review

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Along with her The Blind Assassin, this is one of the most convoluted and elaborate novels I have ever read. The story is too cloudy to understand that it requires your powers of concentration, especially if you are not analytical enough to grasp its complexity, the style I have proven Atwood bears the hallmark of.

Instead of analyzing it in a broader literary context with intellectual bravado since everyone can turn to Wikipedia, I’d rather review it in a manner of  what I found out in her writing styles: I’m envious of her skilled mastery for turning into beautiful prose her train of thoughts or whatsoever plays  in the figment of her imagination. Furthermore, she is an unfathomable female writer who can be as genius as any writers mostly celebrated in world literature.

This novel from the first pages to the last is strewn with vivid, beautiful, elegant, graceful, sumptuous sentences which I enjoyed reading rather than   gripping its main idea. The sentences are so lyrical that I chanted them again and again. They melt in my tongue like sweet, dark chocolate, or smell good like a garden,  full of a variety of colorful flowers hovered  above by a swarm of butterflies.

Under an unlikely scenario, if there were still such a world that men were superior to women over skills in writing stories or any literacy pieces, and Atwood were into such a literary show-off ,surrounded by supercilious writers looking down on her feminism, I bet my life that Atwood could dominate or catch up with them at any cost of literary bouts. Don’t dare her write one because this her The Handmaid’s Tale has proved me   wrong that there is something Atwood could make her rather genius. Her novels may appear complex, much more if she writes a simpler or more intricate one. In other words, there is nothing to find fault with her more; it’s crystal clear that she is an extraordinary writer. Roll down the red carpet and pay homage to Her Majesty.

Now, I freely  acknowledge that reading another Atwood’s books could be challenging since I have now the clearest idea of her writing style. Sometime in the future, if I have a great deal of time, perhaps when I reach my mid-life , no longer preoccupied with how to embellish my life with youthful experiences, hers would be one of those books I want to read again and again.As American musician and filmmaker, Frank Zappa put it , so many books, so little time to read.There are still thousands of  books in the world I haven’t read yet.

Also, the best course of technique I should use when I happen to read Atwood’s other books  and others books which have little resemblance to her style  would be a matter of full concentration ( regardless of  how poor my reading comprehension skill is .) Then, I will seat myself at a coffee table with a voluminous dictionary and colorful highlighters scattered around , par for the course in my reading repose. Ho-ho!

P.S . It is now being adapted for a TV series  broadcast live on  Hulu.

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it. )

Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard : A Book Review

22328546When I tried to flip though the first pages ( since I don’t want to read PDFs), I noticed that the story seemed to be new to my taste :  I thought stealing was the theme. So, I talked through my hat that it could be the moral talk of the town. Is stealing really morally bad? It’s not a question at all.  With this  arousing idea, I  let myself  dig it  whenever I  couldn’t read a real book on a bus , or I didn’t want to bring my  bag full of the books I haven’t read yet. As the story went deeper, there were ambivalent revelations I had feared to read cynically. First, I found the themes, settings, and backdrops   garden-variety such as the love-story scenes, the climatic conflicts, and indescribable places beyond imagination, which could have been mutated from the ideas of other famous fantasy writers, and so on.  I’m almost familiar with them in other YAs I have read or in the movies I have watched. Nevertheless, what I liked about the book is its unconcealed but  irresistible  romance among the three main characters, theme on social stratification between the SILVER and the RED, and the unexpectedly tremendous  impact  upon me at the ending. Duh, I still can’t get over it.

In a world full of accessible and vicarious  information  where people tend to have the same ideas from one place to another, from one  generation to another, we tend to be almost familiar with the same work of different authors. Consequently, we look for something new whenever we are sick and tired of it. No doubt the culture  in different aspects changes. No doubt something unique stands out among the others. This case happens to a wide reader when he/she has read the same story over and over again. Let me now stop blathering. So when it comes to reading books, specifically romantic YAs,  for instance, I am almost familiar with the same settings such as a man meets a lady by accident. Then, they will fall in love with each other until they  have reached the  complete blissfulness . Of course, the climatic conflicts they will  go through is  the  love triangle.  The supporting-actor man will comfort the  main-character  lady , but he turns out to be a bad ass. But some YAs endings are so tragic that you may need a diaper for your unbearable flow of tears. Since the book is intended for young audience, nowadays, the theme should be about a la Edward –of-Twilight style- enchantingly dour and tough. Gee, for sure,  you may be tired of it if you’re no longer a teenybopper.

So when I noticed the blatant commonality, I was almost stooped to terminal boredom. I was somehow disappointed, and lost my interest. I wanted to X the PDF and find something new to read. Besides, I am sick and tired of the same   settings and backdrops  that have gone down in world literature. In fact,  the prose appears  not to be well-written but “ simple” , to put it mildly. Victoria Aveyard may have wanted  to reach out to all kinds of  readers   since it is a YA.  So, I should blame it on my literary standard.

To distract my careful scrutiny and make this book susceptible to my negative criticism, V.  Aveyard wants to impress me  by her  ingenious plot twists. She may have come up with a theme I as her audience might find new, fresh, and original. (I wish I were right. You may cite some literary works   from which she may have drawn impression. ) To be unique, the center of the theme is the social discrepancy between the Silver and the Red. The Silver are superior to the Red.They are powerful and the privileged, the god, but the Red are considered the dredge of society.All the rage in the story is the blood distinction. Your blood can be traced: If your blood is silver, you’re a Silver. You should not live in a world apart from the inferior- the Red whose blood is red. In short, the theme is literally about social stratification.  So, the book is shed with silver and red blood which curdled my blood.  

There is something somewhat different in this book despite that I did not feel these so-called “ romantic-excitement scenes”. The love triangle among the main characters is suppressible but irresistible, which somehow  gave me a little thrill. Hihihi Let me chortle in this coquettish way. In fact, I didn’t predict  the conflicts that would  center around them wherein the supporting  man turns out to be a protagonist despite the fact that I  could have predicted it too. Therefore, I was trapped! I wanted to cry bloody murder that I was betrayed too as the book has mentioned many times the quotable line:

Anyone can betray anyone.

When I was close to its ending, at that time, I lost sight of my finickiness. All the hell let loose. The clash of the Silver   revealed  the real drama of the bogus drama. I felt the adrenaline rush in my veins. I had this burning sensation of rage  as did the main  character: I also wanted to REVENGE , and now I am ready to do so in  the book 2: Glass Sword.  Grrrr!!!

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I  got angry.)

Animal Farm by George Orwell: A Book Review

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The Seven Commandments:
Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
No animal shall wear clothes.
No animal shall sleep in a bed.
No animal shall drink alcohol.
No animal shall kill any other animal.
All animals are equal.”

-Animal Farm, George Orwell-

I was always intrigued by this book. It is on the list of the The Guardian’s 1001 Best Novels of All Time, TIME’s 100 Best Novels, The Modern Library’s Voting List. This is even part of my students’ literary studies. I could not even avert my gaze from its literary fame on bookshelves at bookstores. In the end, I tried to borrow it from my co-teacher-although it is my number one rule that I should never, never borrow from anyone’s, over my dead body. The book, after all, may be about Stalin-ism. Besides, it is easy to read, for George Orwell used simple standard form of language. However, if Orwell intended to write a satirical fable -although the preface insisted it is not- I did not feel the connection between the animals involved and the people.

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

-Animal Farm, George Orwell-

George Orwell’s intention to express his political viewpoints in writing a story involving animals- anthropomorphism in literature- is an astounding idea. I guess writing was his means of freedom of expression and speech. I guess his time , since he is a British writer , may have been restricted by the atmosphere of imperialism. In the light of writing this, isn’t it amazing to praise that it had a clashing impact upon his ( Orwell) targets? It was like as if I were the target being alluded to or insulted. No doubt this book is well received by readers and considered as a literary classic. Like reading Aesop’s fables or fantasies , his sentences are so light but very dashing though.

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

-Animal Farm, George Orwell-

On the other hand, although I enjoyed the story , I cannot deny the fact that I had a hard time connecting the unimaginable with the imaginable- animals living apart from humans, granted that the Animal Farm may be a symbol of dystopiac Stalin era whereas humans are the universal standard of government (democracy ). Well, my reactions could be another puny, minor impact of this book.

“Let’s face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short.”

-Animal Farm, George Orwell-

Politically speaking, I believe there is no such a perfect form of government. But if a form of government just what the like of Communism manifested in the history , this is one of the revolutionary books which could open the eyes of the peoples.

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)