Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: A Book Review

I admit that reading romantic novels , except pink  ones, is not my cup of tea. I may be such  a consummate misogynist or misandrist, or  I just believe in the Filipino  bromide  , “Walang Forever .” ( laughs)  In fact, I have no any clues about Nicholas Sparks’s best-selling novels yet except their movie adaptions. I do not even include them in my required reading.  Nevertheless, there are two love stories that always remind me of whenever I think of this kind of genre: the classics Jane Eyre  by Charlotte Brontë and Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence. Both  novels are the outcomes of  the writers’  desires  to paint the picture of what was love like in a suppressible generation. But when it comes to modern ones, so far, among the ones I  have read, this Me Before You is the one I would say is the catalyst of my elusive finickiness and  the springboard for  a new genre on my list instead.I did not expect to have read a book that would make a difference to   my reading preference. I hate you Jojo Moyes.

As a matter of fact, I did not find this book romantic as what I had expected. It is not similar to the ones you are giddy about in that you are almost gaga for the  main characters, typical of teenyboppers’  reaction. Oh, my gosh!  I feel like fainting! Instead , the book is  enveloped  in  bipolar atmospheres.  Lou Clark ,on the one hand, the main character is a funny lady who loves wearing weird getups. Will Traynor ,on the other hand, a  quadriplegic man who  emits gloomy ,sombre, and dour responses around him. It is a matter of black and white. Romantic? No. My heart broke for Will. I was just being amused by Lou’s  dramatic but optimistic and humorous dramas.So, it is  as though the love that prevailed is compassion. Furthermore, honestly speaking, I am fully aware of the controversial issue on euthanasia, the desire of a patient to end his/ her  life on account of unbearable  body pains and feeling of uselessness.  I  was subjectively reading it  in light of my pragmatic view. My opinion? Again, it’s  a question of white and black.

Rather, its other themes are  realistically compelling  like Lou’s relationship problem with her boyfriend and family.Anyone out there except me may relate to her  love story. And for those self-proclaimed ” bread-winners ”  financially depended on by their ” poor ” families, Lou Clark be like. Hahaha  Besides, if you are a certified book worm, you will nudge at your chair in excitement because both the main characters discuss  different literary books I have read  such  as  Red Queen , Flannery O’Connor’s stories , to name a few. Oh, it  makes sense after all, indeed.

The themes would be inconsequential if it were not Jojo Moye’s  riveting and  beautiful sentences. She really knows her stuff. The pacing and prose  are natural  without  any smidgens of  conspicuously  patched  drafts that she had gathered for a long time.  That’s why I did not feel bored. I just kept on turning the pages  though as I was watching an  a la Mary-Lennox-and Colin-Craven  scene in the  Secret Garden.

Surprisingly, Jojo Moyes  was able to hold  me in  her unconscious target to  be teetering on the edge of  what we call  ” emotional attachment.” Its ending cracked the carapace  of my tough heart. I blinked my tears away, but I have learned  the same lesson again and again : Life is a choice. If you don’t think so, hang in your drama. Bow.

Trivia:

Jojo Moyes was inspired to write the story on euthanasia based on late American rugby player Daniel James who  took his life at the Dignitas clinic on 12 September 2008.

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

 

 

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Diary ng Panget (Diary ng Panget #1) by HaveYouSeenThisGirL: A Book Review

diaryngpangetDiary ng Panget ( Diary of an Ugly ). This romantic-comedy novel became so successfully phenomenal that it was eventually adapted for a movie in 2014. In fact, the said movie   did well at the box office and redounded its main casts, Nadine Lustre and James Reid to fame. However, it is just the way around when I checked the feedback of the readers here on Goodreads. Most of them gave it  1  out of 5 stars. Most of their reasons are : first, The concept of the story is  “ obviously tweenie boppe-rish  ” and “ immature” as two  of the  readers put it; second, it is out of reality; third,  it  could symbolize the poor literacy in the Philippines as another reader put it; and finally , the part  they cringed at  is that it is  tattered with poor English grammar.

The concept of the story is said to be “ obviously tweenie boppe-rish” ( or for teenyboppers)  and “ immature” , for the character of Eya appears  to be like a teen-ager. The readers  in their  twenties who  gave it a go or  just the teen-aged  readers who claim to be “mature’    may  expect  her to act her age since she is  in college. In other words, at her age, she is expected to be mature and responsible  as what young adults usually do. How do the readers find her so? The way she speaks? Well,  who knows when and how a person should be  mature at her/his age?

The concept of the story is said to be out of reality. The readers must not have known that this is fiction. If  they do, they should not have read it  in the first place. Kung makapag-comment naman, parang hindi nag-aral ng literature in high school.  In short, this is the pigment of the author’s imagination. On the contrary, sometimes fiction can be drawn based on an author’s personal experiences and observations. Therefore, the concept of the story can happen in real life. So if you are ugly,  you can  choose to have a romantic life.

This book  is said to be symbolizing the poor literacy in the Philippines. Maybe because of   the noticeable  parts that raised the brows of the “grammarian” readers and  thus made them  not giving it a quarter of one star : It  is tattered with  some  English grammar mistakes. For instance,  the author must not  make uncountable nouns countable such as “advices” instead of  “ advice”, “ luggages” instead of  “luggage”, “jewelries” instead of “ jewelry”. Also,  she must  not forget the past tense form whenever she refers to something that happened in the past. Furthermore, she should be careful  about using the words she wants to use in describing situation since we have this” word territory” or ‘polysemy “ in English language. For instance, she  should not be confused about the difference between “ invicible” and “invisible”  when Eya describes herself that  you-know-who ignores her as though she cannot be seen  since she is not much of a good look. Invicible means unconquerable , so  invisible is the accurate word , and I believe this is what Eya means to say. Therefore, the revoltingly   conspicuous grammatical mistakes  must be the primary vortex of the readers’  negative opinions of this book .

On the contrary, dear readers, tell it  to the marines! Put the blame on the publisher taken possession of capitalism. It should have helped the author  be guided by a proof-reader. Look at  the credible  publisher of Bob Ong. If you still remember his book Stainless Longganisa,  there is a part that mentions about his publisher   who was always  sending him messages whenever   his proof-reader  found some mistakes in his writings.  As a  matter of fact, don’t  forget  the fact that the author was still 18  when she wrote it. Besides, she is not that typical of a brilliant writer who knows how to write  as efficiently and fluently  as  a  professional  writer who have obtained a Master’s  Degree in Creative Writing.

Admittedly, I even revolted at it  when I  thought of the same ideas above. I am not typical of a reader at my 20’s who is not supposed to read such genre. My friends even you might find me” baduy” ( of bad taste )  . I am no  longer a teen-ager to read it.  But as one of my friends on Goodreads put it, I have this reading horizon. In other words, I read any kinds of books . Besides, it just so happened that I did not read such  YA in my teen-age life. Now I have this regression or recidivistic habit. Gee!  Kinikilig pa rin ako (laughs)

So in the end, I gave it 3 stars because  not only that  I was giddy and I giggled and laughed  my head off , but I also  want to disabuse the readers of their comment that it does not make sense.

The book makes sense. Do you know why? Forget the negative comments above.  Forget being such an intellectual and intelligentsia.  Do not be a hypocrite. The author  educates us all along about   some moral lessons as usual whenever you read a book.

  • Be strong despite that life is unfair. Eya lost both her parents when she was still young, but she never gives up on her life. She remains tough, cheerful, and positive. So, do dare it is out of reality!
  • Believe in yourself. No matter how much you lack of your physical appearance , do not ever underestimate yourself.  It is not about the physical beauty. It is about  the inner beauty that radiates on the outside.
  • There are some quotes which could awake you to what is LOVE. Ponder over them , and you will bring back to your senses. ^^

Finally, the author, Denny, has the potential to be a good writer.  You have to hand it to her.  How come she is able to write such story which young teen-agers can relate to?  I was even  moved.  Hehehe

I have been reviewing  books since I took an active part in Goodreads in 2013. The longer I am into this passion, the more I come to the realization that books of any   genre  could be good reads. There are books that  do not placate you, so you could decide against giving it 1 star which means you did not like it. However, as I always put it , 1 star does not necessarily mean the book is a crap  contrary to what  Virginia Woolf  put, “Books are the mirrors of the soul.

Denny, the real name of the author , wants to be a writer. She hopes to  produce a novel which she can call her  masterpiece someday, so  this book will be the springboard for  her dream.  I hope that she has taken the negative comments above as constructive criticism.

P.S

A piece of advice: Denny, just be careful with the consistencies of your plots. For instance, I was confused when Eya  is not able to speak English  as fluently as Lory and Chad. Eya is expected to be smart since she is  a scholar of the academy.  Keep it up! ^_^

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

Every Day by David Levithan: A Book Review

every-day-coverThe concept of the story is what I had thought of before.  How if you were given a chance , or you had this special ability or power to transfer into  a body of a certain person just to know how it feels like to be in that body as well as  to understand the life  that person has? .  ( You may come up with the  idea that this situation is sorta  parasitical entity in paranormal psychology or a Dybbuk in Jewish mythology.)  What a bizarre thought! But just the heck of  fun, just in a day or for good , whose that  person would you like to possess and why? Whee, I can read your mind!

The question above is what the concept of the story is all about.  A as in A, with capital A, is a man who  has never had this permanent body is like a soul  which  transfers from one body of a different person , of  different gender to another  since he was born. The drama turns when he   has an awakening moment in a day with   Rhiannon, the woman  he   falls for out of the blue,  possessing  the body of her boyfriend, Justin. Thereby, Rhiannon has intimate relationship with A  when she finds out his  unimaginable situation. However,  this fantasy will test the mettle of their relationship. That is! A very outlandish story !

In the beginning, I read it  giddily like a teenager back in my high-school life when I was fond of reading pocketbooks or chit lits. (If you are Filipino born in the 90’s , I guess you get what I meant to say. ^^) I enjoyed every page   written with beautifully lyrical and poetic lines as if I was just reading a romantic poem. However, this   impact vanished  as the story centers around the two main characters trying to understand  and get connected to each other  with different aspects of life: one lives  in the reality while the other one in a fantasy. Correspondingly, I lost that romantic feeling  taken that I am turning to my 30’s next year. Hmp! In short, in Filipino, hindi na ako naiinog.( I  was no longer giddy.)  What a spoiling plot! Nevertheless, I liked its ending as what I had predicted: It is more realistic to let someone  go than let  a situation that never clings to the reality unless such thing really exists.

On the other hand, the book is OK because it   has good intentions. It teaches us  two moral lessons.

First,  since we are all different beholders having no ideas of what  we see in the world, notably of understanding the people around us, we should not be judgmental  and prejudiced toward them. It is like what  the cliché  goes that we can understand a person if we were in his/ her shoes.

Through A, being described as an empty man, having no permanent body and a family he can live with, we learn to understand  those different kinds of people he takes  possession of , such as of  a blind girl, a suicidal teen-ager, an obese man, a slut, a mean woman, a depressed girl, an actor with a perfect life, et al . At the end, we come to ourselves that there is a reason why life should go on.

Second, after reading it, it also occurred to me   that in the context of psychology, if you had this bizarre thought of transferring to  a different body,  you may  not be  completely satisfied  in a sense that physically, you want to have a beautiful body , so that you could have a good-looking boyfriend or girlfriend; in a sense that  emotionally, you want to fill up that empty feeling; in a sense that socially, you want to have self-belongingness; in a sense that mentally or intellectually, you want to be smart or howsoever ; and many , many reasons  more.

In the story, apparently, the only thing A  wants is to be as emotionally  complete and normal as people.

Therefore, the novel  has got to deal with what is reality and with what is fantasy.  Not that I know of! @_@

Just for the heck of fun, I wish I were in the  body of the famous Filipino fashion designer, Francis Libiran, or of  the best-selling author and notorious atheist, Sam Harris. Wheeee! ^_____^

Rating: 2/ 5 stars ( It’s ok. )

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx: A Book Review

brokeback“There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can’t fix it you’ve got to stand it.”

Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain

What would be the differences had I not seen its movie adaptation yet; rather, I had read its book first, or vice versa?

Prior to the movie, I would have immersed myself in the pure, vivid prose of Annie Proulx, not having the slightest idea of the fact that the two rough-mannered cowboys living in a not-open-gay countryside will have sexual and intimate relationship. Then, at the end, I would have thrown it into the air and sworn blue murder, for the must-have-been happy ending will end up as a tragedy. In other case, since I have been aware of its homosexual immortality among the international confederation as well as seen it several times, I still found it the same. In fact, the love scenes are more febrile in my imagination although I had expected something flamer. A. Proulx spiced it up! However, the content of the book is not as detailed as in the movie. But I don’t give a damn on it. ^^

“I wish I knew how to quit you.”

Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain

Annie Proulx limns not only the highlighting love story between Ennis and Jack but also the typical rural life of cowboys in a countryside in Wyoming as well as the culturally bigoted meme of homosexuality in the said place. The story may bespeak that the homosexuality is incorruptible and incorrigible in rustic places no matter how rough culture is. ^^

So far, it is second to the A Home at the End of  the World  by Michael Cunningham  ( 5 stars ) as one of best “pink ” novels I have ever read. ^^

michael

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

The Pearl by John Steinbeck: A Book Review

pearl“For it is said that humans are never satisfied, that you give them one thing and they want something more. And this is said in disparagement, whereas it is one of the greatest talents the species has and one that has made it superior to animals that are satisfied with what they have.”
– John Steinbeck, The Pearl

I hung back a few times whether I had to give it five or four stars on account of the Goodreads members’ opinions. I was wondering why. For me, I wanted to give it 5 stars. First of all, since it is a novella, I was not expecting something unnecessary puddings to make it Pulitzer-prize winning. The story is neat and organized- suitable to John Steinback’s goal, enough to give a moral lesson that materialism brings about EVIL. I learned that he had a hard time finishing it, which is normal among writers. It could have been as great a novel as his other works. Nevertheless, he paid off. ^^

It reminded me of its excerpt we studied in high school literature. Alas, I did not take it seriously. Neverthess, its caricature, of a man holding the pearl up in the sky while floating in the sea is still marked in my memory.

It is subject to different interpretations because of the symbols Steinbeck used such as the Song of the Family, the Song of the Evil, The Pearl, and so on.

What gave me an impact was when the jewelry dealers examine the pearl whether it is valuable or not. It is up to you if you think the three jewelry dealers cheat on Kino, the protagonist. But their opinions might dwell upon your mind, for they have something to do with what the PEARL as the symbol of materialism is all about.

For me, since I read John Steinbeck’s biography in Wikipedia, the crux of this novella is that CAPITALISM is the root of evil. Do you think so? ^^

If I read his immortal novels The Grape of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, would I regret having given it 5 stars? If I had read them, in comparison, I would say they were better than this one. Since I haven’t read them yet, it is just my first reaction to this novella – amazing! ^^

Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( It is amazing.)

By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho: A Book Review

by-the-river-piedra-i-sat-down-and-wept-book-cover“All love stories are the same.”
Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

If I were an idyllic reader, I would give it 5 stars. Paulo Coelho wrote something unique about the twists and turns of the common story.

If I were a dreamer, I would give it 5 stars. I would dream and work. ^^
If I were a deeply religious reader, I would give it 5 stars. Paulo Coelho inspired people to be more faithful.

If I were a Creative Writing and World Literature teacher, I might give it 5 stars. Paulo Coelho is such a genius; he writes a book peppered with beautifully and poetically written passages. But if I were an absolute atheist reader, I would give it 2 stars. Luckily, to some extent, Paulo Coelho put some emphasis on the traditional customs of Christendom beyond human logic and reason.

Also, if I were some kind of bookworm with taste for horrors, thrillers, or cliffhangers, I would give it 1 star. I would find it boring.

The story is about a woman who has “forbidden love” for her childhood friend who later on sought his life by leading a monastic life. A story that is very common in TV dramas and films. Thanks to Paulo Coelho’s writing skills. He is indeed a wizard; he can make readers fix their eyes on it IN TRANCE. No doubt he is one of the most beloved writers of our time.

Writer wannabes have difficulties in putting their ideas in a sentence, particularly how they begin with their first draft, so in doing so takes a lot of time. One needs to draw a deep inspiration from one’s experiences. So you might wonder how the writer of this book forms such inspirational passages, enough to convert a wisdom of atheists to a mosque of Muslims, to a church of Catholics, to a temple of Buddhists, or to a mandir of Hinduists.

The remarkable thing is that Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian. Kudos to the translator.

The book, on the other hand, might cause the skeptical to raise some questions:

(a) Does love originate in religion?
(b) God is found in everything since one can never find God in any books of religions. Therefore, this kind of ideology is an example of New Age.

For the satisfaction rating, I found this book pretty good. I want to try his other books more, especially the Alchemist

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

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton: A Book Review

ethan-frome-cover

How do you rate your books on Goodreads?

When I joined Goodreads in 2013, I had no conception of what criteria I should have based on rating the books I read. I just rated based on my satisfaction. But the longer I use this site, the more I come to the ideas that there are two bases how I rate a book. First, I rate the books objectively based on the writing styles although I have no background in literary studies. Second, I rate the books subjectively based on their impacts upon me.

Giving it 1 star does not mean that this Edith Wharton’s novel is inferior, nor did she make hash out of it. Not that. In fact, I was impressed by her neat writing skills as well as how she used the literary device flashback in creating this novel. She began the story under the auspices of a man narrating at the present situation, observing a crippled man, Ethan Frome, he finds mysterious. Then, the preceding chapters tell the historical background of the characters. The final chapter will make readers realize that the ‘smash-up” referred to in the first chapters has something to do with the middle parts. Reading it was like a retrograde step. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Therefore, objectively speaking, I would give it 4 stars. Hahaha However ,it just so happened that I abandoned myself to its story. I did not like it.

Why didn’t I like it? I found the story IMMATURE, ANNOYING, and LAUGHABLE .

Immature

Obviously, the love story between Ethan Frome and Mattie Silver is illicit passion. In other words, the act is no longer morally appropriate, for Ethan Frome is married and Mattie Silver is his wife’s cousin. Besides, Ethan appears to be childish. He does not act his age . On the other hand, Mattie is fucking coquettishly demure. So their dialogues drove me crazy.

Annoying

Edith Wharton may have intended to write such plots with some “bologna” settings. Would you care about the broken plate and how they will repair it with glue ? Their insistence on buying glue added to the fuel more. Grrr! Also, Would you not get upset about Ethan’s sentiment in how nostalgic he is for Mattie?

Laughable

The romantic dialogues between Ethan Frome and Mattie Silver make my toes curl. In addition, both decide against committing suicide by hitting the elm tree on sled. (In fact, this scene is now classic. ) Eventually, both will be miserably crippled. The ridiculous part is that Ethan Frome’s wife Zeena will be the one to take care of them.

It’s not that I am trying to be the immoralist. As a matter of fact, I consider myself an amoral Babbit. Hahaha

Now I have understood why it is said to be Edith Wharton’s most revealing novel. There is a method in her madness, but I’d rather go sledding.  ^^

Rating: 1/ 5 stars ( I didn’t like it. )
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